August 6, 2021

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS TO ASK THE VENUE BEFORE BOOKING

Believe it or not, there are lots of questions to be answered before committing to a venue. Think about it, potentially more than 50% of your wedding budget will go towards your venue. That said, you have to make sure your questions are in order before stepping into the venue of your dreams (or venues).

I’ve laid out the essential questions to ask within multiple categories to make it easier to grasp!

Category 1: General

The most important question and the question you’ll want to start with is: Is the venue available on the preferred date? Picking dates can be the simplest or the most difficult beforehand task. What most do not think about is selecting a handful of date ranges versus specific dates. Some other things that can have a significant impact on the date you chose are the key parties involved, no-go dates, season, year and how long you have to coordinate the wedding. You need to plan to be flexible and go into your venue meetings with an open mind because hey, the venue of your dreams might require you to be!

What about capacity? When it comes to this, you’ll need to know the safety regulations and what you’re comfortable with. This being, how many guests the venue can hold. It’s even worth asking the cut off.

Another thing that is good to know, is whether or not the venue is exclusive to YOU. If not, make sure your guests are super clear on where your ceremony and reception are being held. Also, you’ll need to know what other rooms you have access to on the wedding day. For example, where will the bathroom or coat room be located? These are necessary.

In terms of timing on the day of the wedding, narrow down a time you can arrive and a time you have to shut down for the night.

Category 2: Payment + Insurance

Ah, the fun part. Just kidding! Some questions you’ll want to screenshot / write down here are as follows:

  • What are the wedding packages the venue offers? Are there tier packages or just a standard? And, what do the rates look like? Also, make sure you know EXACTLY what they include. You want to make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck! This is where your wedding planner can take charge, if you have one. Oh, and always remember to start a safety fund at the start of the planning process. It could come in handy in your venue meetings if you do need to cough up a few extra bucks.
  • Is a deposit required? Typically there is always money you’ll need to put down to secure your spot. It can get competitive, so act FAST. If you need to go on a payment plan, be sure to get the scoop on that as well.
  • What type of payment do they accept? Do you have to give cash for the deposit?
  • For vendors, will you get charged if you decide to choose your own?
  • What’s the cancellation policy? This is pretty crucial.
  • For insurance, you’ll just need to understand the requirements and whether or not the venue has its own.

Category 3: Setting Up The Venue

It’s good to start with the simple question, how many visits do you get? You can ask the venue what they will have set-up and if you can drop in to check out the space when it’s occupied to see more of the look/feel. Then ask them, what you’re responsible for setting up.

Do they have an event coordinator on site or will you need to hire a wedding planner? Some venues have one, but they do not always cover the nitty gritty details such as physically setting out decor (signage, table numbers, place cards, favors, candles, menu card placement, welcome table decor, guest book, etc.), behind the scenes assistance for you, your party & your family,  overseeing all outside vendors hired for the day, ensuring end of wedding arrangements are made for decor, gifts, guest book, toasting flutes, and more. So, remember to always get clear on this so you aren’t scrummaging at the last minute.

Category 4: Decor

Decor can be intense. Some venues only allow so much time to get everything done.

  • The first thing to ask about here is, can you start the night before, even if just dropping items off for set up the next morning? You need to be clear on when you have free range to enter the room so you know the amount of work required ahead of time.
  • What are the restrictions (ex. candles, confetti, ceiling drops, etc.)?
  • What does the venue provide for decor? You never know, they might have everything you dreamed of and you won’t be spending as much on the decor side of things.
  • Can they remove something you notice you do not want visible?
  • Will you need your own place cards?

Category 5: Ceremony

The ceremony is the most intimate part of the day, it needs to be grilled a bit extra. For instance…

  • Can the venue even accommodate a ceremony on site?
  • Do they have separate rooms for the ceremony and the reception? If not, you’ll need to make sure you’re clear on the transition of the rooms since it will require some set-up and breakdown in between + how long that will take.
  • Is the rehearsal dinner held at the venue? If not, that’s a whole other ball game.

Category 6: Catering

In regards to the food provided, you’ll need to ask the following:

  • How can you serve? Buffet, individual plates? With today’s circumstances, it’s a toss up as to whether venues will allow buffet style.
  • How many servers?
  • Can you arrange a tasting in which you can taste test what foods you want to go with? Whether in-house or an outside vendor, it’s always good to incorporate a tasting of sorts. However, with some venues, you may not have a choice to hire an outside vendor. They might require you to use their services.
  • Can they accommodate diet restrictions? Ex. special requests such as gluten, vegan, etc.
  • What are the food choices and how many options are there? Most couples enjoy variety, but there could be a slight chance that the venue provides a set menu with limited foods.

Category 7: Parking Specifics and Accommodations

We all know accommodations can be a pain at times, so it’s best to get these questions out of the way in the initial meeting so you aren’t surprised later on when none of your guests have a place to park or a nearby hotel to stay. But first, weigh out your options.

  • Do you want to stay at the venue if they offer it or elsewhere? Typically, it’s best to have everything/everyone in one place if it’s an option, especially if it’s a larger wedding.
  • If they provide rooms on site, you’ll want to know the rates and whether or not they offer any discounts on room blocks. Chances are, the answer is yes.
  • As far as parking goes, do they valet or charge a fee to park in general or overnight?

We suggest including both parking and accommodations on your wedding website and invites for reference.

Category 8: Bar + Alcohol Policies

Some questions to consider around alcoholic beverages are:

  • Will you need to contact an outside vendor or do they do everything in-house? If in-house, do they have a liquor license?
  • What alcohol is included, some venues only to beer and wine for the open bar?
  • Do you need to pay a corkage fee?
  • Are there any extra charges to be aware of, for example, unopened booze or if you need a bartender?
  • For those that do not drink, what non-alcoholic beverages are available?

PRO TIP: It’s worth hiring a transportation service should you have guests staying in a hotel other than the venue for both general guest experience and safety.

Category 9: Music + Entertainment

How can anyone forget … MUSIC. This is absolutely necessary to get the party started. With music, there are normally some restrictions in place. Here are the prompted questions around music and entertainment:

  • Are DJ or band allowed?
  • What do they have for a sound system? Speakers, microphones, etc.?
  • When is set-up time?
  • How many people does the dance floor accommodate? This is important due to new restrictions put into place.
  • What time do they allow the music to play until?

Category 10: Rain Date

And last but not least, rain date. What’s their rate date policies?

That’s a wrap! I hope this not only prepared you for your venue meetings, but helped you narrow down what’s important to you in the process.

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