I would advise, as soon as possible, to have a visit (or section of a visit) specifically aimed at looking at the space and asking questions about decor. It’s really important to find out if they have any restrictions so that these can be incorporated into your designs from the beginning. These restrictions may include; how decorations can be hung, what can be attached to the wall (or not), where items can be placed… If this is a popular wedding venue they will probably have many solutions already set up. If it’s not a usual wedding venue, don’t panic, just be very thorough with your questions and observations, then go home and do some research before discounting anything.
On your trip to the venue, I recommend taking;
A decent camera (this can be a camera on a phone if it’s good enough quality). You might need to be able to zoom in to see the details of areas at a later date.
A tape measure. You probably won’t need to measure the whole room but maybe some little nooks and crannies. Places you might want to add candles or flowers. You may need to measure the space where your handmade bunting will hang to figure out how much you’ll need to make. Be accurate with the measurements.
Paper and pencil. I always like to do a little sketch of spaces, it doesn’t have to be amazing, its only for your reference. Take note of where shelves or ledges are. Beams. Doors. Note plug sockets on here too. You might not use this much detail but it’s always good to be aware of them. You can add your measurements on here too.
A list of questions for the venue.
It is really important to consult your venue about decorating their space. They may have restrictions but they may also have solutions. Keeping an open dialogue means that everyone is happy. Here is a list of questions you might want to ask.
When can I access the venue to decorate it?
This is so important. If it’s the day before you may feel you can do this yourself (with a team of minions). If it’s on the day, can the venue do it? Or can you find friends or family, who aren’t in the bridal party, but who you trust to follow your instructions to display your wedding decorations?
How are decorations usually hung in the venue?
If this is a regular wedding venue you’ll find they probably have fittings in place such as, hooks that bunting can be tied from (take note of these on your sketch). Where possible use these fittings. This doesn’t mean to say you have to use bunting because the venue has the facilities. Hanging fishing wire from the ceiling by these hooks means you can hang whatever you like on it. Think Pom Poms, paper lanterns, banners, fairy lights.
If the venue isn’t usually decorated it is even more important to talk openly about your plans. Be creative with solutions. They may be a little more flexible with what you can do.
Can decorations be hung on the wall?
Most venues won’t allow nails, masking tape, blu/white tac etc to be used to hang from the wall because it will damage the plaster or paintwork. Does the venue have picture rails or a beam that you could hang your wedding decorations from? Picture rail hooks have saved me so many times but please test them out long before the installation date to check they will balance ok. Are there existing pictures on the wall that they will allow you to move for the day, to be replaced by your images? Easels are a great solution too and can be picked up pretty cheaply nowadays. They can also be resold after the date to get (some) of your money back.
Are there any areas that need to be kept clear for staff or fire exits?
Be aware that if you stand your lovely table plan in front of the access to the kitchen it could be a hazard or at least a frustration for staff.
Which plug sockets will be available for you to use on the day?
You don’t want to have to rearrange the decorations on the morning of your wedding because the venue needs to plug their plate warmer into the same socket as your neon light.
I would also advise that if you are considering using fairy lights, use battery powered ones. This will make installation so much easier, and you won’t have as many restrictions on where to put them based on available plug sockets.
The most important thing to remember when planning your handmade wedding decorations is to enjoy yourself. Don’t panic if the venue won’t let you do something that you had your heart set on. Be creative, maybe you can think of an alternative solution. I’d be happy to answer your specific questions in the comments section below.