We're engaged! Where do we start?

If you’re planning to get married, either next year, 2023 or beyond – take a look at our top tips on how to start planning your wedding.

You’re engaged – Huge congratulations!

With Christmas and New Year being a peak time for proposals, we’ve put together some of our top wedding planning hints & tips.  It’s such an exciting time, but when taking the first steps, we hear all the time that people just don’t know where to start!

Reading this is a brilliant place to begin, and we’ll guide you through a clear list of “to do’s”.. (you might want to go and pour another glass of Champagne).

I’m Nick Gardner and have worked at Dine for 4 years; I’m often the first person that couples speak to when they enquire about hosting their wedding with Dine. I will guide you through the planning process, viewing, budgeting and much more – in those crucial first few weeks.

Dine Team | Highly Trained Staff Team | Nick Gardner
Nicholas Gardner | Sales Manager | Dine Team


I thought it would be useful to highlight a few of my top wedding planning tips and hope this will help you, if you’re newly engaged and are just embarking on this exciting journey. We’re here for you!

Wedding Planning Advice & Check List

Firstly, congratulations on your engagement! Enjoy this time of celebrations and sharing your news with everyone.  When you’re ready to start wedding planning, here are my 5 top things to consider to get you started:

Top 5 things to think about when wedding planning

  • Location – take a look at Dine’s top venues
  • Guest Numbers- a rough idea
  • Budget
  • Type of Ceremony (Religious or Civil Ceremony)
  • Time of Year

Once you have a reasonable idea of the most of the areas above, you’re in a good place to start your wedding planning research!

Dine Venues | Exclusive Stately Home | Howsham Hall | North Yorkshire
Luke & Emma’s Wedding at Howsham Hall, North Yorkshire | Exclusive Wedding Venue


It’s okay to have a blank canvas when you start off, but an idea of what type of wedding you’re looking for can be key. Whether it’s a Marquee set in a backdrop of beautiful British countryside or a town location with on-site spa facilities. Elements to consider are:

City Wedding or Country Wedding?

Rural areas may offer more opportunity for outdoor photography across all seasons, but city centre locations provide easier access to amenities & overnight accommodation nearby.

North or South?

Knowing the county or area you want to tie the knot in can also be a prime start.  Often you can get better value across the north of the UK, as venues can offer more in terms of value for your spend.

Historical Wedding Venue or Modern?

Grander historical locations often come with more originality, but there may be a few additional restrictions to consider; many historical buildings stipulate no open flames or candelabras due to the age of the buildings. Modern buildings may have better amenities such as wifi, facilities and access, but lack charm. At Dine, owner Daniel Gill is a stickler for tech, so we have the most up to date technology installed at all of our historic venues.

Exclusivity or Not?

The Gallery | Exclusive Wedding at Rise Hall
Dine Venues | Rise Hall Wedding | The Gallery

If having the place to yourself is one thing you’re not prepared to compromise on, then usually this comes at a cost. There is something quite lovely about being able to celebrate with only your family & friends around.  However, if you’re not concerned about having other people around the building and grounds, then a hotel can often help your budget go further. All of Dine Venues are exclusive use, so you never need to worry about watching handbags or bumping into strangers.


Guest Numbers & Budget

Setting a wedding budget can be tough, but if broken down into different elements, it can help itemise and create a good flow of spend. I’d advise doing this at the early stages of your wedding planning, so that you can focus on venues and ideas within your budget. If you book your wedding with Dine, we will give you a detailed breakdown of all the costs.

Venue hire and catering tend to be the biggest spends, which is worth keeping in mind when you are mapping out your wedding budget.

The average number of guests for a wedding in the UK in 2019 was 82 for the day with an average of around 20-30 additional evening guests.

Additional costs to consider would be for entertainment/wedding flowers/photography/accommodation/outfits etc. which can vary depending on each couple’s requirements.

The average cost of a wedding in the UK (as of 2018) was £31,000.


Vivienne & Pauls Destination Wedding in Liverpools Sefton Park Palm House
Dine Venues | Sefton Park Palm House | New York Couple, Vivienne & Paul | Botanical Wedding Style

Time of Year/Day of the Week

Wedding planning with a date in mind, or at least a season is always key.

The average lead time from booking your big day to it taking place is around 18 months.

Seasonality is obviously important but as we’re in the UK, you should embrace the fact that the weather can be changeable! There’s always a chance that if you booked your wedding on a Saturday in August and paid peak rates that on the day, you could have torrential rain. Luckily there are plenty of beautiful spaces inside our venues to take stunning pictures, without spoiling your hair and makeup in the rain.

Weekend or Weekday?

Saturdays, as we all know, are the most sought after day of the week to tie the knot, closely followed by a Friday which allows a longer weekend of celebrations.  As we look towards 2023, with many postponed weddings from 2021, we’re finding couples looking at other days of the week for their celebrations.

Saturdays over the next couple of years will be at a premium, especially in high season months. This is specifically the case with exclusive-use venues. Whereas hotels can accommodate multiple weddings on the same day, exclusive venues focus only on a private-use basis where the only people on site are you, your guests and your staff team!

Having the flexibility to have your wedding on a Thursday instead of a Saturday – or an early Spring-time month such as March instead of a peak, high-season month like August- can help you maximise your wedding budget.

Civil Ceremony or Religious Wedding

Most of our guests prefer to stay in one place on their wedding day, to make the very most of their time and fully relax into the day without worrying about various traffic delays.

Civil ceremonies in the UK can now take place at a number of licensed venues, offering a more intimate experience. It takes roughly half the time of a church ceremony and can flow easily into your drinks reception, canapé service and photography, before moving on to the main meal of the day….your wedding breakfast (the first official meal that the newly happy couple have after signing their marriage license).

The ideal time for a civil ceremony in the UK is around 1.30pm-2pm. The flow of the day around this works perfectly.

Dine Venues | Howsham Hall | Exclusive Country House Venue | North Yorkshire
Yousef & Agnes Wedding at Howsham Hall, North Yorkshire | Exclusive Wedding Venue | Ceremony Table Inspiration

Wedding Planning in a Pandemic

Naturally the past 2 years have changed a lot in terms of the way that couples traditionally plan their wedding.  We’ve all had to work around the circumstances with a determination to allow couples to continue their wedding planning!  The great news is that you can now find so much information online – from online wedding fairs and zoom viewings to virtual walk-throughs.

My advice is to make the most of all this information and enjoy the virtual tours when visits aren’t possible.  However, you can’t beat actually seeing the venue in all its glory and meeting the team in person.


Enjoy your wedding journey! We’re all here to help make this an exciting and enjoyable time for you. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, ask questions and book a viewing at one of our venues.  We love meeting couples, hearing your ideas and working with you to make your perfect day happen.  The best part of my job is helping couples to find the right venue, fall in love with it and begin their wedding planning journey with us at Dine.

And if this was helpful, sign up to our wedding tips newsletter for lots of top tips from our wedding experts!

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Call us on 0345 450 4545 or book a viewing today.