Wedding Venues: A Complete Checklist for Your Special Day.

If it’s not long until your wedding, don’t panic: we’ve got you covered. Check out the complete guide and checklist for your special day.

Glengariff Historic Estate - Brisbane Wedding VenueGlengariff Historic Estate | Brisbane Wedding Venue

Things To Look For In A Wedding Venue

Size & Venue Capacity

Not all couples have the same weddings or reception requirements and that's okay! Some weddings are small-scale affairs, while others are large. Some couples need a central location for convenient travel for guests; others may prefer a mini-destination wedding. And some are working to a budget, while for others, it’s the atmosphere that matters the most.

You might think that a potential function room looks "roomy" when visited empty. But take some time to think about how it will look once it’s filled with all your guests, photographers, videographers, DJs, caterers etc.

Ask yourself, is there sufficient room & seating? Most venues will be able to tell you their capacity, however be conservative with these figures: sure, a venue may be able to accommodate 200 people, but ask yourself, can it do so comfortably?

Next, create a series of zones for various activities to check that the venue can accommodate all the features you’d like your wedding to have. Is there space for the cutting of the cake, for instance? Does the DJ & Photo Booth have space? Can all the guests fit on the dance floor? Is the kitchen large enough? Do any room features or columns impede the view for guests?
 

The Crown Melbourne Wedding Venue - ABIA Award Winning Hotel ReceptionCrown Melbourne | Melbourne Wedding Receptions | Capacity: 350

Small & Intimate Indoor Wedding Venue Brisbane | Cloudland | ABIA Award FinalistCloudland | Unique Brisbane Wedding Venue

Costs & Value

Finally, calculate the cost-benefit of each location. Are you getting good value for money? Does a more expensive location add anything you feel is essential compared to a cheaper venue? If you decide to spend less, what will you miss out on, and could it impact your wedding day?

Wedding Reception Catering Options

  • Taster Menu. Some caterers offer wedding guests the opportunity to sample a range of foods in a taster menu. This option is best for food lovers and weddings with a food-related theme.
  • Sit-Down Meal. Perhaps the most expensive catering option is the sit-down meal. Guests choose from a set menu and are served their food by the waitstaff. Formal weddings suit this option best.
  • Sharing Plates are a brilliant option to get your guests mingling, it's a beautiful gesture to share not just your special day, but something we all love, food!
  • Buffet-Style Wedding . Buffet-style weddings are great for informal venues, allowing your guests to help themselves to whatever food they like. Cheaper than a sit-down dinner, this catering option is ideal for couples on a budget.
     

Melbourne wedding catering | Crystal Palace Catering | ABIA Award WinnignCrystal Palace Catering | Melbourne Wedding Caterer

Melbourne Wedding Catering | Your Private Chef | ABIA Awarded FinalistYour Private Chef | Melbourne Wedding Caterer

Moreish Catering | ABIA Award Winning | Oysters at a WeddingOyster Canapes | Moreish Catering | Melbourne Wedding Caterer

Going Gourmet | Wedding Catering | ABIASharing Plates | Going Gourmet | Brisbane Wedding Caterer

Buffet Style Wedding | ABIA Awarded | Queensland Wedding CateringBuffet Style Wedding | Going Gourmet | Brisbane Wedding Caterer

Travel Time - Choosing Locations

Location matters too, especially when inviting guests who struggle to travel long distances. Choose a site which is accessible to all of your guests or arrange transport if you believe there may be difficulties. If you are planning on inviting older folks, think carefully about whether your venue is close to public transport links and whether it is easily accessed. Are there long flights of stairs, off-road sections, and so on.

Location is also an important consideration if the couple's families live in two different areas. An ideal location may be one that is of equal distance from both areas.
 

Is The Reception Venue Nearby?

Ask whether you could have both thewedding ceremony and reception at the same venue? It’s not uncommon for most venues these days to offer both as part of a package.

If your reception venue does not offer ceremony locations, be sure to consider travel time between the ceremony & reception.

Both the ceremony and reception locations matter, especially to your guests who may have to travel from one to the other. Think about the distance between the two venues. Can guests go by foot or will they need vehicles to transport them?
 

Maleny Manor Wedding CeremonyMaleny Manor | Sunshine Coast Ceremony Venue

Maleny Manor Reception Maleny Manor | Sunshine Coast Wedding Venue

Parking

If your venue is a hotel or resort with ample accommodation, the guests can easily drive to the reception venue and leave their cars overnight.

When visiting venues, take the time to assess the parking situation. Many city-based venues do have some parking availability, but often it is limited and may not accommodate all your guests. If you like a particular site but don’t believe that it has sufficient parking facilities, search for nearby car parks or park-and-ride facilities and provide your guests with information and travel instructions.

Some venues do not have any private parking facilities at all. Inform your guest ahead of time about any roadside or off-street parking options.
The other option is to arrange transport for your guests. Hiring a private bus is always a popular & great option.
 

Brighton Savoy | Melbourne Hotel

Seating & Table Options

Be sure to ask the Coordinator about the table & seating options as how you seat your guests matters a lot.

Also, take the time to think about how you want food to be presented. Will caterers bring food out, ready-prepared on plates? Or will guests help themselves from sharing platters on the table? If you do decide to use sharing platters, ensure that there is enough table space and that your chosen crockery is cohesive.

In most traditional weddings, there is a VIP table with the couple & their bridal parties, the additional tables accommodate guests are split into familiar or mixed groups.

Table styles can make a big difference to the atmosphere of your wedding.

  • Round Tables are popular in banquet halls and ballroom venues. Not only do they evoke a sense of luxury, but they’re also easy to manage.
  • Serpentine Seating is excellent for couples who want to create a Bohemian atmosphere and work exceptionally well outdoors.
  • U-shaped Seating is excellent for indoor venues and helps direct audiences attention to the VIP table, especially during speeches.
  • Family Style seating brings everybody together on one big table and is ideal for small weddings, indoors or outside. Great for sharing platters!
  • Square Seating arrangements, similar to roundtables, break people up into groups and are more suited to traditional or rustic weddings.
     

U Shaped Tables | Summergrove Estate Carool Weddings
Summergrove Estate | Voted Best Wedding Venue (ABIA 2018)

Serafino Wedding Venue in Adelaide - Round TablesSerafino Mclaren Vale

Long Table Seating | Cuisine on CueCuisine on Cue | Brisbane Wedding Catering

Bram Leigh Estate | Wedding Venue in MelbourneBram Leigh Estate | Outdoor Wedding Functions

Hiring Furniture & Delivery Access

Some wedding venues make life easy by providing on-site hiring options. But often you’ll find that their selection doesn’t meet your criteria. If so, you may need to look further for things like chair covers, candelabras, centrepieces, chairs, furniture, lighting, backdrops, dance floors or letter lights.

Hiring other services can be complicated, especially if you are communicating with more than one supplier. Ensure that all suppliers can deliver to your venue on the date set for your wedding and that they have a clear understanding of your requirements.

Ensure you discuss the loading dock access with your Coordinator and bump-in times as this can determine which suppliers you can book and if they will be available to access the venue during the bump-in time.

Wedding Hire Tables & Chairs | Greek Club Weddings in BrisbaneGreek Club | Large Brisbane Greek Weddings

Research Ratings & Reviews

When planning your wedding, please, please do your research!

If you like the look of a venue, what it offers and its website, great! However, be sure to read the experiences of previous couples through real wedding customer reviews. Look to various platforms including Google, Facebook and ABIA to get an idea of not only the aesthetics, but the service, the food, the communication, the attitude of staff etc.

Furthermore, when booking a wedding venue, ask for their ABN and what their insurance policy is, and when paying for any service, always make sure a contract is signed to protect both parties.

ABIA Wedding Directory | Top Wedding Venues
 

Frequently Asked Questions About Wedding Ceremonies

Should You Choose Indoor Or Outdoor?

Pros Of Outdoor Venues

  • Unlimited space
  • Stunning views and scenery (ideal for nature lovers)
  • Excellent lighting
  • Can be cheaper
  • Great for families and children
     

Zonzo Estate Wedding Venues | ABIA Award WinningZonzo Estate | Melbourne Restaurant Venue

Albert River Wines Outdoor Wedding Venue


Albert River Wines | Queensland

Cons Of Outdoor Venues

  • Unpredictable weather
  • Can be difficult to book in advance
  • Some areas may not allow wedding ceremonies
  • Requires insurance against bad weather, such as a marquee

Pros Of Indoor Venues

  • Weather can’t disrupt your fun
  • You can choose practically any theme
  • No need to worry about power requirements
     

Cloudland Wedding Ceremony Venue in BrisbaneCloudland Brisbane | Indoor Ceremony Venue

Unique Brisbane Wedding VenuesCloudland Brisbane | Indoor Reception Venue

Cons Of Indoor

  • Size can be a problem if you have an extensive guest list
  • Lighting may be an issue in terms of photography
     


Do You Need A Plan B?

If you are planning an outdoor wedding, then it’s a good idea to have a plan B. Plan Bs can take a variety of different forms, but the most obvious contingency is hiring a marquee.

  • Provide umbrellas to all guests on arrival
  • Celebrate the possibility of rain with cute, weather-themed items such as decorative wellington boots with flowers, windbreaks, and cocktail umbrellas in drinks
  • Keep guests warm with space blankets
  • Block out wind noise in the marquee with microphones for speeches.
  • Provide wellington boots if things get muddy
     

Marquee Event Hire | Wedding Plan B

Events in Tents | Queensland Marquee Hire

Maleny Manor | Tipi Hire | Queensland

Mayfield Gardens

Mayfield Gardens | New South Wales Venue

 

What Is A Traditional Wedding Ceremony?

A traditional wedding ceremony follows a set order of events.

  1. The Procession. The procession is the first part of the ceremony. Traditionally, the groom waits at the altar, and the bride is led down the aisle to the altar by her father.
  2. An Official Begins With Opening Remarks. Only somebody with a license can perform a wedding ceremony. They begin proceedings with comments like “Dearly beloved, we are here today to celebrate …” etcetera.
  3. The Exchange Of Vows. This is the part where the couple makes promises to each other about the future of their relationship.
  4. The Exchange Of Rings. The official conducting the ceremony will prompt each party to put a ring on the other’s finger.
  5. The Marriage is Announced
  6. The Exchange Of A Kiss
  7. Final Remarks. Here the official may encourage guests to celebrate the newly wedded couple.
  8. The Couple Exits The Venue Together. Frequently, they will be followed by bridesmaids and groomsmen.
     

Kalbar Wedding Chapel | Queensland

Kalbar Wedding Chapel | Queensland

 

What Is A Modern Wedding Ceremony?

The definition of a modern wedding ceremony is vaguer than its traditional counterpart. It is generally considered to be any ceremony which departs from the conventional order of events.

A modern ceremony, however, must still be legally valid, and must, therefore, meet specific criteria. For instance, the officiant must introduce himself/herself at the start of the ceremony, both partners must exchange vows, there must be at least two witnesses over the age of 18, each member of the couple must have their name read out in full, and each party must say something that reminds them that their wedding is a solemn and serious event.

Once those conditions are met, everything else is personal preference.

Coolibah Downs Private Estate Mount Nathan

Coolibah Downs Private Estate | Mount Nathan, QLD

 

Pets at Weddings?

You can get your pets involved in your wedding in all sorts of ways, from having them dressed up as a groomsman or bridesmaid to taking on a serious responsibility, including carrying the ring.

Pets at Weddings | Formal Dogs

Pets at Weddings | Formal Dogs

 

Should I walk down to the Bridal March?

Choose A Unique Song. Forget the Bridal March. Try playing a song during the ceremony that’s special to both bride and groom.
 

Which Seating Arrangement Should I Choose For My Wedding Ceremony?

  • Amphitheatre Style. If your wedding ceremony is outside, try seating people in a semi-circle for the best acoustics.
  • Lounge Style. No need to be formal. Guests will love lounge-style seating as if they’re at home or in a coffee shop. This one is best for small weddings.
  • Woodland. Woodland weddings provide a magical backdrop to any ceremony. Try experimenting with wooden benches.
  • Seaside. Seaside weddings usually have rows of chairs or benches with an arbour as a backdrop for the vows.
  • Standard Seating with groups of individual chairs seperated by the aisle.


Amphitheatre Style Ceremony Wedding at Riverdeck Restaurant Wedding

Riverdeck Restaurant | Queensland ABIA Venue

Beresford House Wedding Venue

Beresford House | Adelaide, South Australia

Eco Studio Felini Weddings Ceremony

Eco Studio Felini | Gold Coast, QLD

the Courthouse Restaurant Ceremony Venue IDeas

The Courthouse Restaurant | Near Brisbane, QLD

Wedding Ceremony Seating Styles - Serafino Mclaren Vale

Serafino Mclaren Vale | South Australia
 

Should Smartphones Be Allowed?

The answer to this question depends on your personal preferences. Smartphones can be distracting, especially if people are playing with them during the ceremony, and they can take some of the magic out of the wedding with poorly-shot photos and live Facebook & Instagram Updates.

If you're having a professional photographer/videographer, having an Unplugged Ceremony will ensure no smartphones will be in those special moments.

On the other hand, you might allow smartphones if you want to broadcast your wedding, capture exciting moments, and take video footage.

How Long Should The Ceremony Last?

Again, this comes down to personal preference. The average wedding ceremony, however, lasts between 20 and 30 minutes.
 

Unique Wedding Location Ideas

Beach Weddings

Beach weddings can be spectacular. The romance of the setting sun, the soft sound of the waves up against the shore, the white sand underfoot: it all makes for a rather special experience.

Beach Wedding Ideas | Beautiful Weddings Styling

Beach Weddings | Styled by Beautiful Weddings

Barn Weddings

Barn weddings are great for couples who want to get hitched in a rustic setting. Old barns are reminiscent of a time long past when life was simpler. With long banquet style & decorated tables, barns are transformed from the merely functional to the sublime.

Gordon Country House Weddings

Gordon Country House Wedding | Barn Style, QLD

Vineyard Weddings

If you are a couple who loves wine, then a vineyard setting plonks you right in the thick of it, in amongst all those precious grapes ready to be made into wine. Vineyard weddings are chic and work best with rustic decor and classical music.


Sirromet Wines | Vineyard Wedding Venue | Photo by Evernew Studio

 

Wedding Reception Ideas (More Things To Think About)

Table And Venue Decoration Ideas

Choosing the right table and venue decoration can be a challenge if you’re not experienced. If you feel confident, then, by all means, make the decorations yourself. If not, then hire a wedding stylist to follow your brief.

  • Candelabras are a classic choice for many weddings and can make for a classy atmosphere.
  • Floral Centerpieces are are a gorgeous option if you love colour! The flexibility of which colours you would like featured in your ballroom are endless and with the right Floral Designer, you reception will look next-level.
  • Lanterns. Lanterns are an excellent way to introduce texture contrast on your tables, especially if you’re looking to add metallic accents.
  • Mason Jars. If you want a DIY look, mason jars are the perfect go-to. Decorate with candles, flowers, or your own artwork.
  • Rustic Books. Are you a bit of a bookworm? Celebrate this with your guests by decorating your tables and venue with old books like Robinson Crusoe and Moby Dick.
  • Photographs. Why not add a bit of context to your wedding by showing your guests photos of you and your partner while you were dating? Let them see just how far you’ve come.
     

Styling by Beautiful Weddings | ABIA Award Winner

Beautiful Weddings | Stylist & Hire, Queensland

Jewel Phon Flowers | Wedding Stylist

Jewel Phon Flowers | Stylist & Hire, Sydney

Rustic Wedding Styling by Weddings of Distinction

Weddings of Distinction | Stylist & Hire, Melbourne

 


Elana K Weddings | Voted The Best Wedding Stylist in 2018 (NSW)

Elana K Weddings | Stylist & Hire, Sydney

 

The Wedding Schedule

Create A Timeline. All weddings should follow a set timeline. Timelines make sure that there is enough time in the day to get everything done and help guests who may have their own schedules. The wedding timeline needs to delineate the order of events. Typically, this would look something like:

  1. Setting out when various parties should arrive at the ceremony, including the groom, ushers, bridesmaids, VIPs, and other guests.
     
  2. The start and finish time of the ceremony.
     
  3. The time for transport to arrive if the reception venue is separate.
     
  4. The time of pre-dinner drinks before reception and during wedding photographs.
     
  5. Seating of the Guests
     
  6. Entrance of Bridal Party & Wedding Couples
     
  7. Speeches
     
  8. The cutting of the cake.
     
  9. The first dance
     
  10. Entrees, Mains & Desserts
     
  11. The departure of the couple and arrival of transport.

Woodburn Homestead ABIA Wedding Venue

Woodburn Homestead | South Australian Wedding Venue