Expert advice about venues

Here is a selection of Q&As from Your Sussex Wedding magazine whether it be about flowers, hair and makeup, fashion, wedding themes, health & beauty, cakes, stationery, legal advice. If you would like your question answered by our experts, please email it to


Rain or shine

Rain or shine

Q. We love the idea of a springtime al fresco wedding, but are concerned about the unpredictability of the weather. What would you suggest?

A. Stephanie Bone says: We'd recommend you always have a plan B in place with your venue and wedding coordinator. That way, if the weather does take a turn, there's no stress about where you'll be saying “I do.” At The Ravenswood, for example, we give you an hour before your wedding to decide if you want to get married outside or indoors, and once you've given the go ahead we'll have the ceremony area set up and ready.

Another great idea is to ask your venue if they have any umbrellas you can have on standby, then if it does rain mid-vows, you and your guests won't get wet – it also makes for a great photo opportunity! Speaking of photos, ask your photographer before the day to make sure they have ideas for wet weather. We've found some of the most stunning pictures here have been taken in the rain.

Stephanie Bone,The Ravenswood


Tentative about marquees?

Tentative about marquees?

Q. I didn't realise how much choice there would be when it came to choosing a wedding marquee. Can you help to steer me through the options?

A. Katherine Hudson says: Let's look at the benefits of each to find the perfect structure for your big day…

- Frame tents are versatile, being cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Ours are made with a specialist UVblocking coated polyester fabric, thicker than the usual, meaning our range of 10 different interiors stay looking true.
- Pearl tents. There's an air of royalty to these iconic structures, with their high vaulted ceilings, and they're actually exclusive to The Arabian Tent Company. They're best erected on grass due to the guide ropes around the perimeter.
- Pole tents are the traditional village fete-style, which have seen a resurgence of popularity in the last few years. They too benefit from high ceilings giving them a light and airy feel.
- Clearspan marquees might not be the most exciting aesthetically, but they are versatile and useful for maximizing a tight space. They're also great in winter as they can be erected alongside a building.
- Stretch tents can quite literally stretch over any space creating a party area where it wouldn't be possible to erect a standard marquee. They're ideal for undulating ground with different levels.
- Tipis have a rustic charm about them. They're atmospheric with an instantly discernible look. A tipi creates an instant festival-vibe, making for a great chillout space, lounge or dancefloor, with fairylights wrapped around the interior poles.

Katherine Hudson


Venue checklist

Venue checklist

Q. We're poised to start our venue search. What should we check before making any final decisions?

A. Cresta Jerrard says: Choosing the perfect wedding venue is one of the most exciting parts of planning your big day, but it can be tricky to settle on the right one for you. Here are some handy tips to aid your search…

- Magical environment – from luxurious interiors to charming gardens, look out for a venue that offers a setting as special as your big day.

- Exclusively yours – a key consideration is whether a venue is exclusive use. If you don't want to share your venue with other guests or weddings make sure you check out its policy.

- Budget-friendly – we know how difficult it can be to get married affordably these days, so talk to your prospective venue and find out if they're prepared to work within your budget. We offer a number of packages and special deals as well as a number of flexible payment terms to help you spread the cost.

- Everything 'in house' – from getting ready before your ceremony right through to breakfast the next day, does your preferred venue offer you the chance to relax in the knowledge that everything will be taken care of in one place from start to finish?

- Help with planning – does it offer a dedicated wedding and events planner to help make your vision for your big day a reality?

- Flexibility – it's the biggest day of your lives, you want to make sure you have your wedding your way. If your venue offers set packages, how flexible can it be to make sure your wishes are accommodated?

Cresta Jerrard


Your happy place

Your happy place

Q. How do we choose our perfect venue?

A. Paul Sandell says: Choosing your perfect venue can be a difficult decision, but it really shouldn't be. Much like you know your intended is the one, you'll encounter a similar sense of knowing with your venue. The one should be somewhere you feel instantly comfortable, somewhere you can relax and feel totally looked after. So the best advice we can give you is to choose a place that feels like coming home.

Your venue will play a huge role in shaping the ambience of your wedding. It becomes a third character in the narrative of your wedding story, so it's important to start with creating a vision of what you want to portray for your big day before you begin the search. Your style and personality as a couple will come into play when you consider how to reflect those traits in your venue. Consider whether you're likely to feel more at home in a hotel, stately home, barn or even in the open air.

Part of finding the perfect place to say “I do” is finding a natural rapport with its wedding team. They'll be the ones to ensure your day runs impeccably, so you need to sense that trust from the time they look after you at your initial viewing right through to the last dance.

Paul Sandell


Country elegance

Country elegance

Q. How can I add an element of romance into my wedding day?

A. Mariella Fleming says: If you're getting married in a barn venue, we suggest making use of the beams by adding romantic drapes, twinkling fairylights or festoons of fresh foliage.

The benches that line your ceremony room can be used for hanging wooden hearts or posies of flowers from, while the aisle can be scattered with rose petals. Another nice addition to ceremony room décor is a beautiful bespoke floral arch, which could incorporate traditional red or pink roses.

If you've always dreamed of getting married outside, don't be put off by the weather in February – a clear and crisp winter's day can provide a stunning backdrop. If your venue offers a year-round outdoor space in which to get wed, they should offer rugs, blankets, patio heaters and the like – as we do here at Southend Barns – to ensure guests are kept cosy throughout the service.

To continue the romantic theme, why not treat guests to heart-inspired wedding favours and go for a red velvet cake? You could even fill your venue with flowers or dress it with coloured paper lanterns and oversized helium balloons in shades of red, pink and white. If you're after a magical effect, a fairylight canopy cascading from overhead looks breathtaking and perfect for the most romantic day of the year.

Mariella Fleming