Every couple, when choosing their venue, have to take into account their guests. How they’re going to get there, how much it will cost them, and all that jazz.
But don’t worry yourself to death over it. Yes, it’s handy if your venue’s in the place where most people live, but what with universities and people moving for jobs, the chances are your loves ones, like ours, are spread out across the country – or the world. And people do expect to travel for weddings, take trains, drive long distances and stay overnight. The effort people will go to for a wedding is quite touching. I suppose it all comes down to – they just love you that much.
So don’t upset yourself worrying about them, but don’t go out of your way to make things difficult for them either so that you can have your fairytale dream. Common sense.
But here’s something which may not be common sense to everyone. Making things easy for the guests is not about proximity, but access.
What do I mean by that?
Well, we’re getting married in the centre of Oxford. It’s within 10 minutes walk of the train station, 5 minutes walk of the coach station and 5 minutes walk to a main car park. There are park and ride facilities and we even have a few parking permits for slightly more central locations, which we have mentioned (quietly). I think this means pretty good access. We have friends and family coming from Sheffield, Bristol, London, Wales, Germany, Malta and Australia. These are not proximate.
We’re also having a daytime wedding, so guests from the UK can come that morning, leave that night and are not obliged to stay over. Some of our friends are “crashing” at another’s place (as we have at least a couple of friends from Oxford). So they might have to spend a bit on travel, but they don’t have to pay for a bed that night – the cost isn’t prohibitive.
As someone who doesn’t have a car, I’m always noting that most wedding venues are crap for access. Not just inconvenient, but totally and utterly crap. They tend to be very out of the way, with no nearby train station, poor or not too close by bus services and expect all their visitors to drive.
I don’t have a car, and I think it’s a disgusting reflection upon society that I’m expected to. If we came in a car, someone would have to not drink, or we’d have to stay in the venue, or we’d have to park at a hotel and taxi in and out – all things which spoil enjoyment or significantly compound the cost.
I’m talking about manor houses, the bigger, more expensive and more picturesque hotels and other countryside resorts. They’re lovely, but they’re mostly very inconvenient for most people, and personally that’s a big deal to me. When I RSVP to a wedding I check that I can get to it.
Worse are the church weddings where you have a reception venue miles away and needs to be driven to – not a great idea if there’s alcohol after the ceremony, and again puts people under pressure to order taxis (yeah, because weddings never run over time, do they…) to ensure they make it on time. When everybody else is fighting for them too, of course.
The basis function of all this is, if your venue is out of the way, you are going to have to check your guests are okay with that too – yes, ask them for permission. If you don’t have enough people able to get there, it is your responsibility to help them. One popular solution is hiring a vintage bus to transport guests to the reception venue and to off-site better value hotels at the end of the night.
The other suggestion is carpooling. Your guests won’t all know each other, so it’s best to include something in the invitations. I’d recommend hosting a spreadsheet on google docs, asking drivers to fill in how many spare seats they have on offer, and those not driving to fill in requests for seats. Share and share alike. It would take you minutes to set up such a document and be hugely appreciated by all your guests.