7 Tips For Choosing The Perfect Wedding Venue

7 Tips For Choosing The Perfect Wedding Venue

Choosing the right wedding venue for your day is arguably one of the most crucial decisions you can make in the lead up to your wedding day. It’s only once you’ve found the ideal setting for your day that you can truly begin to visualize how your wedding day might look and feel.

I frequently  meet couples who fall head over heels in love with a venue to the point where they’re  prepared to change the preferred date of their big day, purely to accommodate the venue’s availability.

I can only liken your venue search to house hunting. You might look at dozens of places and not find the right one, or you could get lucky and fall for the first place you see.  It’s important you love your venue and whilst the temptation is there for your heart to rule your head, I want to arm you with some tips that will ensure you make this first, important wedding decision the right one. Afterall, it’s no exaggeration to say that  your choice of venue can have a big say in how successful your wedding day turns out to be.

Here are my 7 tips to consider when deciding on your venue;

  1. Bring the outside in – Unfortunately, all the planning in the world won’t guarantee  Pimms weather on your wedding day. So with the all important wedding photos in mind, hope for the best but prepare for the worst.  A good wedding venue will ideally have the best of both worlds – Picturesque grounds outside and some interesting and photogenic backdrops inside just in case the heavens open.
  2. Go open plan! – I’m lucky enough to play at some stunning wedding venues including Grade II listed country manor houses. There’s no doubt these will provide your wedding day with the kind of grandieur you might be looking for but they were never built with a modern wedding in mind. If I could take a sledgehammer to some of the internal walls then I happily would! They may look stunning on the outside, but inside, many contain a myriad of rooms that won’t necessarily help with the flow of your wedding day.  The bar might be in one room, the buffet served in another and the entertainment takes place it yet another room.  Give your guests too much space to explore and with all those distractions your evening entertainment  may  fall a little flat.
  3. Alfresco Agogo! – Marquees are becoming increasingly popular as a wedding venue option. They‘re a great way to link the outside space with the inside and give you the best of both worlds.  Most marquee venues will form a single focal point for the entire day so everything takes place in one open plan space, from your wedding breakfast through to your evening entertainment.  Marquees are also a ‘blank canvas’ allowing you more scope to make the space your own with decor, lighting and layout.
  4. Time for bed! – Accommodation for you and your guests is a factor to consider. Some of the best venues I play at have little or no scope to allow you and your guests to stay overnight. If you’re considering a venue with little or no accommodation then you might want to block book a good hotel or bed and breakfast close by.  Then lay on a coach to take your guests back there at the end of the night. That way, no-one needs to worry about driving and more importantly, it’s a great way to ensure your guests all stick around til the last dance.
  5. Simpler can be better – Some of the best weddings I’ve been to have taken place in a good, old-fashioned village hall.  They bring the bar, food and dancing into one space. The 3 key ingredients for a great evening! Bear in mind you’re unlikely to have a wedding co-ordinator to pull everything together for you when choosing this type of venue. So you may need some friends and relatives who are happy to muck in and help but most of the time this gives you a lot more freedom to make the day your own without some of the restrictions associated with a traditional wedding venue.
  6. Exclusively yours –  A lot of venues will give you the run of the whole venue, guaranteeing you exclusive use and  leaving you and your guests free to explore and use every nook and cranny. Whilst exclusive use gives you that reassurance that you
  7. Less is more – Please, don’t feel obliged to use your whole venue just because  you want to get your money’s worth. I know it’s a big financial commitment for just one day but sometimes it’s best to just focus your day on the parts of a venue that will work for you. Give your guests too much scope to wander off and the day may lose it’s focus, guests will get lost and you’ll spend your day chasing round after people!

Here are links to some of my favourite Kent wedding venues

In summary, choosing the right space to celebrate in is a key factor in the success of your wedding day.  A venue which allows you to have the bar, food and dancing as close together as possible is a big thumbs up for me. Good entertainment, food and drink are all the ingredients for a great night so try and find a venue that lets you bring them all together. I wish you every success in your journey to find the perfect wedding venue.   Happy hunting!

A Humdinger of a NYE at Swarling Manor!!

A Humdinger of a NYE at Swarling Manor!!

Last year saw my first New Years Eve wedding, celebrating with Kelly & Rory together with their friends and family at the beautiful Swarling Manor near Canterbury, Kent. Frankly, hosting a wedding on the one night of the year when everyone will be in the party mood was a stroke of genius! The fact that everyone present clearly knew how to have a good time was a big bonus too!

After meeting with Rory and Kelly to discuss some ideas and options, they decided to entrust me with taking care of all their music on the day, from the wedding ceremony onwards. The ceremony took place in Swarling Manor’s barn and Rory and Kelly chose The Vitamin String Quartet for the bridal party entrance. The ceremony concluded with the new Mr & Mrs Brace being cheered down the aisle to ‘You & Me Song’ by The Wannadies.

1007.1597The wedding breakfast took place under the starlit canopy of the marquee to a soundtrack of Ibizan chill out tunes chosen by the bride and groom. I was on hand as Master of Ceremonies to ensure Rory and Kelly received a rapturous welcome from everyone present and introduce the speeches and cake cutting.  Rory and his best man used my vintage mic to ensure no-one missed a word of the speeches.

Then with only a few hours of 2014 remaining, it was time to see out the year in style! The barn had been transformed using my mood lighting service to set the mood for the evening’s partying.  The newlyweds got the evening underway with their first dance to Ben Coleman’s version of ‘How Long Will I Love You’. From then onwards things didn’t really let up on the dancefloor all night.  Once we’d introduced the party packs of inflatable instruments, hats, maracas and Blues Brothers paraphernalia it all got a little messy in the best possible way! After the traditional Auld Lang Syne at midnight, guests were ushered outside to witness the firework display Rory and Kelly had laid on as a surprise for their guests. Then it was back to the dancefloor for more dancing til 1am.

Special mention must go to Kelly & Rory’s chosen photographer Dominic Whitten. Not only was he the most dapper dressed photographer I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet, but a lovely chap to boot! Dominic was booked for their entire day and stayed to the bitter end and to capture  the carnage on the dancefloor and the spectacular firework finale. It was an absolute pleasure to work with him and you can see the stunning fruits of his labours here;   www.dominicwhiten.co.uk/

Rory & Kelly, I had a lot of fun, so thank you so much for letting me be a part of your Winter wedding. Here’s a list of the songs that filled your dancefloor xx

Ben Coleman How Long Will I Love You
Backstreet Boys Everybody
Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars Uptown Funk
Bruno Mars Treasure
Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams Get Lucky (Radio Edit)
Michael Jackson Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Ed Sheeran DJ Beats: Sing
Disclosure White Noise (Radio Edit) [feat. AlunaGeorge]
Wankelmut My Head Is A Jungle (MK Remix / Radio Edit)
Avicii DJ Beats: Wake Me Up
Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne DJ Beats: Real Love
Naughty Boy feat. Sam Smith DJ Beats: La La La
Rihanna feat Calvin Harris We Found Love
Flo Rida DJ Beats: Good Feeling
David Guetta – Akon Sexy Bitch (Featuring Akon) [Explicit]
LMFAO Party Rock Anthem
Pitbull feat Ne-Yo Give Me Everything
Five DJ Beats: Keep On Movin’
Meghan Trainor DJ Beats: All About That Bass
Chris Brown Yeah 3x
Swedish House Mafia vs. Tinie Tempah Miami 2 Ibiza (Clean Radio Edit)
Tina Turner Proud Mary
Mark Ronson Feat. Amy Winehouse Valerie
The Jam Town Called Malice
Katrina and the Waves Walking on Sunshine
Queen Don’t Stop Me Now
Guns N’ Roses Sweet Child O’ Mine
Arctic Monkeys I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
Kings of Leon Sex on Fire
The Killers Mr. Brightside
blink-182 What’s My Age Again? (Album Version)
The Libertines Don’t Look Back Into The Sun
Shola Ama Imagine (Asylum Remix)
DJ Pied Piper & The Masters of Ceremonies Do You Really Like It? (Full Length Original Version)
Artful Dodger Feat. Craig David Re-Rewind (The Crowd Say Bo Selecta)
Sweet Female Attitude Flowers (Sunship Edit)
DJ Luck & MC Neat Feat. JJ Master Blaster 2000
Olly Murs Dance With Me Tonight
Pharrell Williams Happy
Taylor Swift DJ Beats: Shake It Off
OutKast Hey Ya! (Radio Edit)
Scouting for Girls She’s So Lovely
S Club 7 Reach
Wham! Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
Mastermix Soul Banana (Happy Version)
Paolo Nutini Pencil Full Of Lead
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons December, 1963 (Oh What a Night!) (2007 Remastered LP Version)
Bee Gees Stayin’ Alive
Various Artists New Year’s Party Mix
Oasis She’s Electric
The Strokes Last Nite
Iggy Pop Lust For Life
Wideboys & Dennis G Sambuca
Doolally Straight From the Heart
Shanks & Bigfoot Sweet Like Chocolate
Oxide & Neutrino Bound 4 Da Reload (Casualty)
Beyonce Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
Rihanna Pon de Replay
Shakira Hips Don’t lie
Apache
Florence + The Machine You’ve Got The Love
Oasis Champagne Supernova
Fun. We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monáe)
Oasis Don’t Look Back in Anger
Semisonic Closing Time
Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars Uptown Funk
Kinobe Slip Into Something More Comfortable (instrumental Version)
Fun Lovin’ Criminals We Have All The Time In The World
Jean Jacques Smoothie 2 People (Mirwais Extended Mix)
Jakatta American Dream

Top Wedding Reception Dance Songs. Getting It Right!

Top Wedding Reception Dance Songs. Getting It Right!

Dear reader, I have to be honest with you, planning the various elements of your wedding day  isn’t always  going be fun.  In fact, choosing the precise shade for the ushers’ ties to compliment the floral displays  can verge on the downright tedious!  The good news is that there are so many aspects of planning a wedding that you should revel  in. Afterall, when else to you get to sit down with a caterer  for a ‘taster session’ to  sample the sumptuous food you and your guests will be eating on the day?!  Similarly, you  should have fun choosing your wedding reception dance music . Yet so many couples find this a daunting prospect. This is about planning your wedding reception music, so put your stamp on the celebrations and make it your own. Choose some fun wedding reception songs!

Here are some tips to help you plan the best wedding reception ever!…….

1.       Think of those timeless, floor filling classic songs you’ve doubtless danced to at other parties. Which ones forced you onto the dancefloor? Ensure you include a health smattering of these in the playlist you give your DJ.

2.       Don’t hog the music!  – When I look back at the playlists at some of the best wedding receptions I’ve been a part of , they’ve featured a good mix of some of the bride and groom’s favourite tunes. However, they’ve also featured a healthy dose of songs requested by their friends and family and some of my own choices as well to gel the whole evening together.

3.       Choose your tracks carefully –  You and your guests should think of songs that you can dance to rather than songs you like to listen to.

4.       Take a little look at the Top 100 list below for some inspiration….. 

The UK’s Top 100 Wedding Reception Dance Songs in 2013

1

Black Eyed Peas

I Gotta Feelin’

2

Kings Of Leon

Sex On Fire

3

Killers

Mr. Brightside

4

Bon Jovi

Livin’ On A Prayer

5

Maroon 5

Moves Like Jagger

6

Journey

Don’t Stop Believin’

7

Bryan Adams

Summer Of ’69

8

Beyonce

Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)

9

ABBA

Dancing Queen

10

Whitney Houston

I Wanna Dance With Somebody

11

Psy

Gangam Style

12

LMFAO

Party Rock Anthem

13

LMFAO

Sexy And I Know It

14

Daft Punk

Get Lucky

15

Queen

Don’t Stop Me Now

16

Robin Thicke

Blurred Lines

17

Rihanna

We Found Love

18

B-52’s

Love Shack

19

Beyonce

Crazy In Love

20

Michael Jackson

Billie Jean

21

Foundations

Build Me Up Buttercup

22

Katy Perry

Firework

23

Van Morrison

Brown Eyed Girl

24

Dexys Midnight Runners

Come On Eileen

25

OutKast

Hey Ya!

26

Guns N’ Roses

Sweet Child O’ Mine

27

Bruno Mars

Marry You

28

Beatles

Twist And Shout

29

Kenny Loggins

Footloose

30

DJ Casper

Cha Cha Slide

31

Rihanna

Only Girl (In The World)

32

John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John

Grease Megamix

33

Cyndi Lauper

Girls Just Want To Have Fun

34

Village People

Y.M.C.A.

35

House Of Pain

Jump Around

36

Sister Sledge

We Are Family

37

Billy Joel

Just The Way You Are

38

One Direction

What Makes You Beautiful

39

Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes

(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life

40

M.C. Hammer

U Can’t Touch This

41

Los Del Mar

Macarena

42

Pitbull

Give Me Everything

43

Oasis

Wonderwall

44

Proclaimers

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)

45

Take That

Relight My Fire

46

Kool & The Gang

Celebration

47

Justin Timberlake

Sexyback

48

Neil Diamond

Sweet Caroline

49

Take That

Never Forget

50

Vanilla Ice

Ice Ice Baby

51

Rednex

Cotton Eye Joe

52

Michael Jackson

Thriller

53

Salt ‘N Pepa

Push It

54

Lionel Richie

All Night Long

55

Lady GaGa

Just Dance

56

Olly Murs

Dance With Me Tonight

57

Bee Gees

Stayin’ Alive

58

A-Ha

Take On Me

59

Amy Winehouse

Valerie

60

Stevie Wonder

Superstition

61

David Guetta

Titanium

62

Swedish House Mafia

Don’t You Worry Child

63

Taio Cruz

Dynamite

64

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Sweet Home Alabama

65

Pink

Raise Your Glass

66

Queen

Bohemian Rhapsody

67

Michael Jackson

Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough

68

Lady GaGa

Poker Face

69

Bruno Mars

Locked Out Of Heaven

70

Carly Rae Jepsen

Call Me Maybe

71

Rudimental

Feel The Love

72

Queen

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

73

Cee Lo Green

Forget You

74

Weather Girls

It’s Raining Men

75

Jennifer Lopez

On The Floor

76

Aretha Franklin

Respect

77

Rihanna

Don’t Stop The Music

78

Usher

Yeah!

79

Aerosmith

I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing

80

Supremes

You Can’t Hurry Love

81

Wild Cherry

Play That Funky Music

82

Ben E. King

Stand By Me

83

Flo Rida

Low

84

Snap

Rhythm Is A Dancer

85

Arctic Monkeys

I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor

86

Yolanda Be Cool

We No Speak Americano

87

Eric Clapton

Wonderful Tonight

88

Rudimental

Waiting All Night

89

Wham!

Wake Me Up Before You Go-go

90

Jessie J

Price Tag

91

Gloria Gaynor

I Will Survive

92

Temptations

My Girl

93

Earth Wind & Fire

September

94

Avicii

Wake Me Up!

95

Madonna

Like A Prayer

96

Robyn S

Show Me Love

97

Kanye West

Gold Digger

98

Nicki Minaj

Starships

99

Deee-Lite

Groove Is In The Heart

100

Frank Sinatra

New York New York

Choosing the perfect venue for your wedding day

Choosing the perfect venue for your wedding day

Choosing the right venue for your wedding day is arguably one of the most crucial decisions you can make in the lead up to your wedding day. It’s only once you’ve found the ideal setting for your day that you can truly begin to visualise how your wedding day might look.  I frequently  meet couples who fall head over heels in love with a venue to the point where they’re  prepared to change the date of their big day, purely to accommodate the venue’s availability.

I can only liken your venue search to house hunting. You might look at dozens of places and not find the right one. You might get lucky and fall for the first place you see but whilst your budget will play a part in deciding where to book, my experience is that it’s a decision made more by the heart than the head. You’ll know when you’ve found  YOUR venue, hopefully from the moment you walk through the door!

Here’s my checklist of factors to consider when deciding on your venue;

  1. Bring the outside in –  Unfortunately, all the planning in the world won’t guarantee  Pimms weather on your wedding day. So with the all important wedding photos in mind, hope for the best but prepare for the worst.  A good venue will ideally have the best of both worlds – Picturesque grounds outside and some interesting and photogenic backdrops inside just in case the heavens open.
  2. Go open plan! – I’m lucky enough to play at some stunning venues including  Grade II listed country manor houses. There’s no doubt these will provide your wedding day with the kind of grandieur you might be looking for but they were never built with a modern wedding in mind. If I could take a sledgehammer to some of the internal walls then I happily would! They may look stunning on the outside, but inside, many contain a myriad of rooms that won’t necessarily help with the flow of your wedding day.  The bar might be in one room, the buffet served in another and the entertainment takes place it yet another room.  Give your guests too much space to explore and with all those distractions  your evening entertainment  may  fall a little flat. Look out for a future blog where I’ll detail some ideas to help keep your guests on the dancefloor.
  3. Alfresco Agogo!  – Marquees are becoming increasingly popular as a wedding venue option. They ‘re a great way to link the outside space with the inside and give you the best of both worlds.  Most marquee venues will form a single focal point for the entire day so everything takes place in a single space, from your wedding breakfast through to your evening entertainment.  Marquees are also a ‘blank canvas’ allowing you more scope to make the space your own with decor, lighting and layout. 
  4. If you are planning on holding your wedding reception in a local hotel which is part of a national or multi-national chain, beware! At first glance what they have to offer may seem very tempting, reasonably priced and good value. You may have seen some of them advertising a wedding package for £1000? How can they do this? Well, invariably this is achieved by standardising every aspect of your day which leaves you very little freedom to do things your way.

In summary, whilst your venue decision might be governed by your heart, don’t neglect your head. I wish you every success in your journey to find the perfect wedding venue.   Happy hunting!