We’re Fazackarley a wedding photographer and wedding filmmaker duo based in Brighton and London and covering the whole of the UK. We’ve designed this guide based on some of the lovely village hall weddings we’ve photographed over the years to help you with your wedding planning.
Ok, so you’ve decided to have a village hall wedding, great idea! They can be an affordable option, and a lot of village or church halls are already ideally suited to events, with parking, plenty of space, kitchen facilities and the ability for you to make the space your very own. But the downside to using a community space can be how can you transform it to make it just right for your wedding?
We’ve photographed a fair few village hall weddings over the years throughout the South of England – from Sussex and Hampshire, to The Cotswolds and Oxfordshire. We’ve used our experience as wedding photographers to put together this handy guide of what can work and how to do it.
First up, have a clear idea of your budget. This helps you work out what might actually be possible with the funds you have available – a lot of our couples tell us how easy it is to lose track of spending when you’re doing it yourself, with small purchases here and there it soon adds up. It might not be very exciting but getting all your expenditures into a spreadsheet will really help you in your planning and will give you a clear idea of where your money is going to help you see where you can make savings.
Check with your venue what you are and aren’t permitted to use or do with the space. You might find there are things in the hall that can’t be moved (noticeboards, posters etc) or they might prohibit the use of candles and confetti so do try and book a visit before getting really stuck into planning.
It’s a good idea to take measurements of your venue and take a few photos when you go to visit. This will help you visualise how the space might look once you’re back at home and deep in planning mode. Have a look at where and how many plug sockets the venue has so you know whether you’ll need to provide any extension cables on the day.
Does the venue have chairs and tables available and are there additional costs for using these? Are there enough for the number of guests you are planning to invite or will you need to hire in more?
Next, it’s time to lose yourself in Pinterest to get inspiration on how to decorate a hall for a wedding. Create yourself boards for moods and colour schemes, decorations, lighting, table and seating placements and layouts.
Take a peek at Lauren and Tom’s wedding for some lovely village hall wedding inspiration:
One of the biggest considerations for transforming your venue is lighting. What time of year are you having your wedding? Will it be dark by 4pm when your guests will be sitting down to eat or will the weather be mild enough to sit outside?
A few fairy lights here and there might look really pretty but often don’t create very much light once it’s fully dark, especially in larger spaces. The secret is to use subtle lighting to brighten and actually ‘light’ your venue and just use fairy lights or festoons to add a bit of twinkle and atmosphere. Fairy lights alone will not only make your venue appear a bit gloomy but will also impact your wedding photographs – photographers need good light!
Once you’ve got decided on your main venue lighting you can use fairy lights to create atmosphere. We love these simple fairy lights to decorate window sills and drape over tabletops.
Cotton lights are really classy and the bonus is that you can use them to decorate your home after your wedding – a smart investment.
If you are looking for lighting to work indoors and outside then these festoon lights work well but do check you have access to outside power first!
For real impact (and to disguise boring walls) lighting curtains look amazing. Tom & Lauren used a beautiful lighting curtain like the one below and you can get a great value one here on Amazon.
Hide and disguise
Our biggest tip here is to keep things simple. If you are lucky your village hall will be a blank space, but in some cases, there might be notice boards or other posters and fixtures that belong to other users of the space. With permission, you might be able to move some of these to a storeroom but some things might not be able to be moved so you’ll need to come up with some methods of hiding or disguising. If you have the budget available you might want to hire in chairs and tables if there aren’t any available or if the ones provided aren’t suitable.
If you really can’t work with the room decor then you could consider putting up drapes from the ceilings or down walls like these amazing voile ones from Amazon.
If your venue aren’t happy about you hanging things then you might consider buying free standing drapes like these ones in the colour of your choice that you can place where you like.
Once you’ve decided on a theme or a colour scheme for your wedding you have the fun task of choosing decorations! Not on the High Street, Ebay and Amazon are all obvious great places to find bulk items like festoon lighting, fairy lights and bunting.
We found these amazing paper lanterns in neutral colours that you can use to hang from ceilings and beams. We also adore these paper lantern bags which you can buy with yours and your partners initials on them – a cute touch to add to your guest book table or for windowsill decorations. Just remember to use battery powered tealights rather than real ones for safety. We thought this pack on Amazon was great value.
If you have hanging space available then these delicate paper fans make a real impact, are low cost and are easy to assemble.
And of course no village hall wedding would be complete without bunting! For bringing a bit of joy to a plain venue we love this great quality colourful bunting from Amazon.
For a more natural look, we’ve seen lots of couples using this hessian bunting, which also works well outdoors.
If you are a colour lover and planning a contemporary wedding then these pom pom garlands are really lovely and something a bit different from bunting!
But don’t forget that if you are on a budget you can also find lots of affordable and quirky bits and bobs in charity shops.
Have a look at some of the cute decoration ideas from Lizzie & Duncan’s marquee wedding:
Design your room setup
Will you have a top table, a guest book signing area, a sweet table, a drinks table and a buffet spread? Think about the space you have available and allow space for your guests to mingle comfortably. If you are having trestle tables remember to allow space between aisles for your guests to stand for toasts etc. Also bear in mind whether you need to designate a space for pushchairs and walking aids for guests. Are you having dancing in the evening and if so, can tables be pushed to one side or cleared away to create a dance-floor space?
If you are having a winter wedding where will guests store their coats? Bulky coats on the backs of chairs will make your venue look cluttered and will impact the space for guests moving between tables – is there a cloak room or storage area where a coat rail could be placed instead?
Unless you are planning to provide your own flowers for the day you will need to find a good local florist. Chat to them about your plans and the ideas you have. Try to arrange a venue viewing for them and provide them with pictures of the venue if you can. If you don’t want to use a florist then you might want to find a local flower supplier who can provide you with fresh blooms for you to use to collect and then decorate the venue yourself. Jam jars, vintage jugs, vases and teapots all come to life when filled with colourful blooms and a few of these placed up and down trestle tables can really be all you to fill your venue with colour – or keep things fuss-free and use fake flowers like these stunning ones. Alternatively, don’t use flowers at all – these lovely windmills could make a lovely and low-cost table decoration in a vase and guests can even take them home with them as a gift.
Hire a catering company
The great thing about village and church halls is that there usually aren’t any restrictions on outside catering. There are a lot of catering companies that can bring their own cutlery and table decorations, as well as providing the food and drink and serving your guests on the day – this can take away some of the stress and is a good option to consider if you have the budget available.
We’ve photographed a lot of weddings where our couples have hired in street food vendors. If your budget allows this option can really take a lot of the pressure away from you on the day as well as the option to have hot food available (something that might not be possible if you are providing food yourself).
We do recommend providing water or some soft drinks like pre-mixed squash for your guests to help themselves to throughout the day. Lots of our couples use these lovely glass dispensers.
Check out some of the scrummy food Leah & Adam had at their village hall wedding:
There are lots of great companies online that can design your own DIY wedding table plans for you. We love these classy ones from Not on The High Street and we thought these modern ones were super classy too. We’ve seen a lot of couples using these little wooden easels for table numbers and table signage in their venues. Some companies, such as Moo.com allow you to make your own wedding invitations and postcards which you can use for table name places. It’s always worth asking the seller if they can offer you a package for your table signs and placenames to get a consistent look.
Find out whether your venue has its own sound system and how you can connect to this. It can be fun to curate your own wedding playlist and connect to your venue’s speakers. If you are using spotify don’t forget to make your playlists offline in case your venue doesn’t have wifi!
You don’t need to spend a fortune on entertainment for your wedding. Everyone loves a good garden game and with a bit of planning you can pick up some great games online to keep all your guests amused and mingling – and also look great in photos!
Here are a few ideas that have worked well from weddings we’ve photographed:
- Traditional games like giant Jenga are always a winner and we love this affordable version on Amazon:
- Bubble machines are great to keep little wedding guests amused and look lovely in wedding photos (just remember to buy plenty of spare bubble mixture and nominate one of your wedding party to keep it topped up). We love this one as it comes with a tub of bubble mixture to get you started.
- If you have a lot of children at your wedding then a pinata filled with sweets and hung from a tree outside can be a great way to distract kids. We recommend this colourful budget option from Amazon which you can fill with your own sweets to keep costs down.
- Mini sports day sets like these – nothing beats seeing your Nan win at the egg & spoon race
- You could even provide your own little prizes like these affordable medals
- Lawn games like Boules are great for your older guests who want some fun without too much running around. Jaques of London are a great brand and we love this silver Boules set available here.
- Old favourites like Twister are great for more lively guests and also make for great photos – especially once the guests have hit the bar! We found this Twister set with free delivery.
Want more inspiration?
We’ve photographed a host of village hall weddings in our time as Brighton and Sussex wedding photographers so if you are looking for more inspiration why not have a browse through some of the glorious weddings on our blog.