Blank canvas wedding venues have become increasingly popular over the last few years, and for good reason! Whether it’s an industrial mill, a woodland wonderland, a barn or an abandoned warehouse, the term “blank canvas” covers all those fabulous venues that act as an empty shell to house your wedding in, giving you complete creative freedom.
While having total control of your venue is a massive plus - it can be overwhelming and there’s a lot more work involved than getting married in a hotel for example. But don’t worry, unconventional venues are my specialty and I’m here to help!
1. Think about why you want a blank canvas venue.
Is it because you are up for a project? You have a big vision for what you’d like your wedding to be and you love the idea of having total freedom to do whatever you want? Or have you just fallen in love with the gorgeous textured walls of that industrial mill? Either is fine, but your answer will inform whether you actually want a fully blank canvas venue or an unconventional venue that's already set up for weddings - which brings me to my next tip...
2. Do your venue research.
If you want the atmosphere of an unusual venue but the amount of work involved puts you off, there are loads of amazing unconventional venues that are set up specifically for weddings. You may have to sacrifice some control over things (for example some venues have preferred caterers etc.) and it might come at a higher starting cost, but if you'd rather have a simpler planning experience then these venues can be a really great option.
3. Don’t try and do everything yourself!
Take this from a girl who knows, weddings are a LOT of work, especially in a blank canvas venue. The more you can delegate, the less stressful it will be for you and ultimately it will save you disappointment on your wedding day. The ideal way to combat this is by hiring a wedding stylist that specialises in unconventional venues (hi that’s me!) because they can take your ideas and help you turn them into reality in a practical way that will work in the space you have.
4. Plan your budget wisely.
Sometimes a blank canvas venue can seem like a really affordable option, and they often are, but don’t forget to factor in hidden costs that are usually included in other venues. Things like marquee hire, table ware, furniture and even toilets may all need to be hired and paid for separately, so definitely don’t just look at the cost of the base venue hire. I have a free budget planning spreadsheet to help you with this if you need a starting point.
5. Find out what’s included.
Think about ALL the different aspects you’ll need to make your wedding a success. For example, if you’re hiring a teepee in a field, will you need to hire a power generator, or does your venue supply one? What about parking, kitchen facilities for your caterers, a bar, lighting? A pro tip from me is to do an imaginary walk through of your day from start to finish, and think of all of the logistics based things that will need to be in place to make everything happen.
image by Kate Ignatowski via Style Me Pretty.
6. Ask the right questions.
Be sure to visit your venue ahead of time and ask lots of questions so that you are on the same page in terms of what's expected, and any rules/restrictions they may have. It's hard to remember all of these things on the spot, so remember to take a list with you so you don't forget anything.
7. Where are you doing your legal bit?
If you are in the UK there are some pretty specific restrictions on where you can get legally married. If your venue is licensed, great! But a lot of blank canvas venues aren't, so you will need to consider where you are having your legal marriage ceremony if you want it to count in the eyes of the law. A lot of people go for the option of having a small legal ceremony a few days before, and then a bigger, more personal "blessing" ceremony on the actual wedding day. Another bonus of this is that you have much more freedom in what you can choose to include in your non-legal ceremony.
8. Find clever and cost effective ways to transform the space.
Decorating a blank canvas venue can be costly if you don't plan ahead. Think about the features of the venue and how you can make the most of them with your decorations. If this sounds overwhelming to you, this is something I can help you with!
9. Plan your set-up well.
There's nothing worse than buying your perfect set of hanging paper flowers and then finding out on the day that there's no ladder at the venue to set them up with. Setting up a wedding can take longer than you think, so planning for every eventuality will help avoid unnecessary hiccups.
10. Make the most of it!
Blank canvas venues offer an amazing opportunity to do something different for your big day and really make it your own. So do it your way; be bold, be brave, and dare to dream up a wedding that you and your guests will still be talking about on your ruby wedding anniversary.
Don't forget to sign up for your free wedding budget spreadsheet to help you to start your wedding planning off on the right foot: