• Ruqyyaha Deane

Things to consider before choosing an Unconventional Wedding Venue

Sometimes having your wedding in a traditional wedding hall just may not be your thing. Unconventional wedding venues have become quite popular recently with couples wanting their venues to reflect their personalities as individuals and newlyweds.

However, there are a lot of things to ponder about before committing yourself to such a venue and other semantics think about; One of the top event planners in the industry Magical Moments excel in outdoor weddings and have shared with us their tips and tricks through their fair share of trial and error.

Magical Moments have been leading premier wedding planners in Sri Lanka since their establishment in 2013. Their vast experience is quite apparent as they deliver their best to their clientele with exceptional attention to detail, creativity, and professionalism. They excel in executing both indoor & outdoor weddings with the perfect balance of elegance and class.


One worry is the catering, especially at a Sri Lankan wedding (since it will be the main topic guests will talk about other than who wore what!). The first thing to do is to inquire whether the venue themselves would be able to provide catering for the event. A recommendation from Magical Moments is to pick a venue flexible with allowing external caterers for the wedding as that might be more cost-effective.

If it is allowed, ensure that the kitchen is accessible and equipped otherwise an alternative space has to be arranged for the catering staff. Note that if it is a sit-down style event, plating would require an allocated space. Furthermore, bowsers may need to be hired if the venue does not have running water.

Venue policy

Check about venue policies beforehand! Things such as corkage fees, event fees, availability of in-house tables and chairs need to be considered. Another aspect of venue policies is what the minimum number of nights the venue requires to be booked for as suppliers may need extra time to set (and dismantle) everything up.

If you’re planning on ending the wedding with a bang, check venue restrictions of firework as some locations do not allow due to environmental reasons. If you are going ahead with fireworks, ensure that fire extinguishers are at hand and staff is trained to handle incidents.

Another thing to keep in mind when booking the venue is if it’s a poya day as alcohol is not permitted to be served.

Power supply

For large functions, the venue that you have chosen would generally need a generator to be hired externally as the venue generator might not be sufficient to power lighting, band/ DJ equipment, industrial fans or it may not be compatible with what the lighting supplier works with.

It is best to obtain the recommendation from the lighting supplier before proceeding with a venue generator as Sri Lankan electricity is highly undependable.

It is also advisable for the couple to visit the venue during the time that the ceremony will take place and at night as a feel for how much additional lighting is required. It is best to have lighting in the pathway and security checking areas as it provides visibility if any animals are present on the pathway due to location.

Guest Safety

Due to the unconventional location, guest safety has to be given a lot of thought. If the venue seems dangerous for children, discourage children before inviting them to a venue and ensure strict supervision of children should be adhered to if they are brought.

If the venue is near a railway, hillside or a large body of water, preparations have to be made to have a guard to signal trains, warning signs & guard rails and lifeguards (or caution there isn’t one) respectively depending on the venue.

A handy tip is to have contact numbers and be aware of the nearest hospitals/ doctors for emergencies as any accidents that require medical attention such as food poisoning, guests accidentally falling can be attended to promptly.

Parking and Accessibility

No one wants to start off their wedding with complaints of how parking was bothersome. Check if the venue has parking facilities and make arrangements to allocate another parking space if it is not adequate.

The parking needs to be kid/ handicap friendly (applicable only to instances if you have such guests).

Provide shuttle service for the guests, if the lot is away from the venue and have staff direct and usher vehicles to parking spaces. If the wedding venue is an island, then ferry facilities need to be looked into.

Check if the venue has a uniformed security team to assist with parking. If not, inquiry if the hotel handles the arranging of uniformed security at an additional charge or hire security through your wedding planner.

For your suppliers, it would be important to consider whether the venue has a road entrance spacious enough as the supplies may need to be brought in lorries. Parking facilities need to be considered here as well as some suppliers do not unload and leave the premises right away. Some need to remain until the end such as generator supplier.

The venue should have separate washrooms for the vendors’ staff use as it is not ideal for the guest washrooms to be used.

Noise Restrictions & Alcohol

Keep in mind that Sri Lanka has a restriction on sounds and how long it goes on for. You will have to look into venue policies regarding music as some already have mutually agreed upon times not disturb the neighbourhood.

Furthermore, check if sound & liquor licenses will be obtained by the venue on behalf of the couple or the wedding planner will need to arrange that. If the venue has adjoining villas, they can be booked to avoid disturbing the neighbours.

Heat and Air Conditioning

If the wedding is taking place outdoors hire industrial fans if they are not available at the venue and look into marquees as they will provide protection in case of bad weather

Consider how windy the location is during the wedding time period to check whether a marquee can be set up and give it a whimsical feel by including drapes. Note that although a transparent marquee seems very nice and aesthetic, it tends to retain the heat which is not ideal. Who would want to sweat through their wedding day?

Setup and Cleanup facilities

As mentioned earlier, easy access routes for the supplier to unload their supplies, and adequate space is a must and inquire if a janitorial service is needed for a post-wedding clean-up.

Beachfront availability

If the wedding ceremony is happening at the beach, the couple should do the site visits during the exact time period of their wedding. When booking the venue, the couple might see a beachfront but depending on the season and the tides, some locations will not have the beachfront during that time of the year. The sea might not seem so romantic if it washes away all your plans.

Taking the surrounding into account

In the case of a venue being surrounded by finicky neighbours, places of worship or even meditation centers, it is best to visit the neighbours before the event to provide food so that both parties are on good terms. Always start a marriage with the right foot!

Overall Cost

To book an unconventional venue with all its gimmicks, mysteries and fancies, you need to consider all the above costs as they add to the overall costs which in eventuality affect your budget.

Ruqyyaha Deane is a writer, a dreamer and an unfortunate procrastinator. She hopes that one day she will finish at least one of the manuscripts hidden in her journals. Currently, she's waiting for the man of her dreams and/or a decent living wage. Whichever comes first.

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