I've read loads of forums and blogs where brides-to-be say they viewed dozens of venues. I have no idea why. Obviously we couldn't visit venues, and so adopted an approach that worked with that. But our approach was very simple, and could be used by any couple.
We set out a list of essential and ideal criteria. We did hours of google searching, with a variety of search terms (the best one was actually "pubs with function rooms" - it opened up a whole range of options that we didn't see when we looked the first time), to get the list of 43. Then we looked for the information we needed on their website. Once we had that, we sent them an email explaining that we were in NZ, asking them to answer any remaining questions, and finding out if they were available for April 2013 (we decided march was a bit optimistic!).
- Has to seat 50 people for dinner
- Has to allow a DJ
- Has to have "character"
- Within 30 minutes of the church
- Parking (actually a major problem in York)
- Exclusive access, or at least no other weddings
I sent 21 emails, and did not get 21 replies. A couple of obscure places (we were trying to think outside the box) didn't reply, which is understandable. Hotel du Vin have no excuse though. Others replied with comments that clearly showed they hadn't read our email - please see website/here is our brochure/please call us to arrange a visit. If you can't even read an email, you are not being trusted with my wedding.
A surprising number would not allow DJs. This will be linked to the fact that most of the city's buildings are listed, but it ruled out a lot of places, including our favourite restaurant Melton's Too.
Others were too small, or wouldn't give us access until very late in the day. An early front runner was the barns at The Maize Maze. It's in the next village to my parents, looked very cool, and they were really flexible. They were also fully booked, and didn't bother to tell my mum that over the phone.
We had a short list! A top six, with four in reserve in case of emergency.