When it comes to weddings, saying "I do" should be easy; it's finding the right venue that will be the hard part. There are so many venues out there, and finding the right one for your big day can come with a lot of picture searching, time researching, and constant back and forth questions with the venue team. So we've narrowed down the top questions to ask your potential venues - to make your search less stressful, more enjoyable, and overall successful.
You can search for venues by location, budget, service type, and style. After your preliminary search, narrow down your venue search to those that could potentially be your dream venue. You’ll not only want to look at photo galleries but also learn about the descriptions, any amenities that are included, and what restrictions the venue has. We also recommend having an idea of your ideal wedding vision and have an estimated budget based on your guest count.
Once you have a list of venues you are potentially interested in, we recommend reaching out to them and/or visit them before you’ve chosen an exact wedding date. If you have a few date options or a range of dates that might work, as well as some dates that absolutely won’t work, you’ll have more flexibility and may be more likely to secure a spot at the venue of your dreams. If you have a specific date in mind, note that some venues might already be unavailable, therefore limiting your venue search. It’s also important to note that Saturday evenings are the most popular, and therefore, the most expensive option, so if you don’t have your heart set on a specific day of the week, you may find more available dates on a Friday or Sunday. Some venues also have seasonal prices, so keep that in mind when looking at venues and prices. Ideally, you’ll want your wedding to be the only event occurring on-site that day. When venues rent space to other parties around the same timeframe, this usually results in less set up time, limited venue access, and potential confusion for your vendors and guests. If the venue you are interested in can accommodate other events on the same day, you may inquire how much it would cost to do a venue buyout or ask how the staff accommodates multiple events in a day.
Finding your dream venue goes beyond pictures - you’ll want to make sure their specifics line up with your decor ideas, guest count, and overall wedding day vision. You’ll want to ask the venue some questions, such as these. How many people does your space accommodate? You want to know the capacity of the venue and how many guests they can accommodate, especially considering with or without a dance floor, a DJ or band, and a buffet. It’s also important to ask about the table layouts and if they can accommodate your guest count with just cocktail tables, round tables, or with a variety of size tables (cocktail, round, rectangle, farm tables, etc.). Do you provide both a ceremony and reception space? What is the distance between the two? Do you have a cocktail space? Most venues will have both a separate ceremony and reception space, which certainly helps with the transition between the two events versus finding two different venues. You’ll want to know the distance between the two spaces to help accommodate and communicate with your guests. If there’s a drive between the two spaces, it might be beneficial to provide transportation for your guests to get to and from. But if they are close together and guests can walk, you can use the space between for cocktail hour, guest books, appetizers and drinks. If not, how does the room flip work? Flipping a room isn't easy, but that's why you hire a full service catering team to take care of it! A room flip is where the ceremony and the reception are in the same place, so you will have just the cocktail hour to transform the space. It's quite the task for the catering, floral, and planning team, but it is impressive to show your guests how a space can transform flawlessly and fast! Do you have a backup plan for rain or inclement weather? What is the backup plan and how soon would we be required to make that change? They say rain on your wedding day is a sign of good luck, but it can damper a wedding day if there isn’t a plan b, or if plan b doesn’t accommodate your guest count. When visiting the venue, make sure you see their plan b option and look at it closely just in case changes need to happen - you want to make sure you like it just as much as plan a. What is included in the rental? While some venues include tables, chairs, linens, dance floor, etc., some venues don’t include anything, so it’s essential to understand what is included, what you’ll need to rent to bring in, and who will be setting up and tearing down. If the venue doesn’t include items in the rental rate, they’ll typically provide a preferred vendor list for you to call and get quotes from those companies. Do you have any decor restrictions? Every venue is different, and if your wedding vision is moody with a candlelight dinner, you’ll want to confirm which candles you should bring in and whether you can use open flame or you need to bring LED candles instead. Lights & drapery are also big decor items so you’ll want to see where and how those will be hung. What is the rental time for the venue, and does that include setup and tear down time for my vendors? Timing is crucial, especially on a wedding day, and we guarantee that your vendors will be asking what time they can arrive for setup and what time they need to be packed up at the end of the night. While some vendors and some wedding setups can be done quickly, others are more elaborate and need an adequate amount of time to bring the wedding vision to life. It’s also important to confirm what the venue staff will be doing and if they are involved in setting up and breaking down, and in what capacity they are helping. Most venues will allow you to purchase more setup and teardown time at an hourly rate, so communicate with everyone involved so everyone knows the timeline before the day of.
It’s also important to know what type of services and logistics the venue has, so here are some additional questions you may want to ask. Do you have any suites/rooms for the bridal party to get ready in? Can the bridal party leave their personal items in the room during the wedding? Can we provide our own food & drinks, or do we need to order from the venue? Most venues have room(s) for the bridal party to hang out and get ready in, but you’ll want to double-check those specifics with the venue. Do you have ADA-compliant facilities, entrances and restrooms for disabled or elderly guests? Do you have handicap parking spaces? If the venue doesn’t have any guest rooms for your bridal party or guests, you may want to see if there are any hotels nearby that they recommend for guests? Most hotels will provide a complimentary room block for wedding groups and some even provide transportation to & from the wedding for those guests. Do you have adequate parking for our guest count? And is parking free, self-parking, or valet? If there is a parking charge, it’s a nice gesture to pick up the parking fee for all guests, if the budget allows. Are there noise restrictions at the venue? Most venues have a noise ordinance, requiring music to either be stopped at a certain point or below a specific volume. You may want to find out how late you can play music or see if there’s a space inside to continue the dance party. Are we required to have security guards? Is that something the venue hires, or is that our responsibility to hire? What is allowed and what is not allowed? Are you a sparkler fanatic, or would you be okay with a glowstick send-off? There are plenty of alternatives to sparklers, but it's always good to check if there is a burn ban or other restrictions!
SHOW ME THE MONEY
Deposit How much is the deposit? Most venues will charge a non-refundable deposit upon signing a contract. Payments How do you structure the payment schedule? Most venues will have installments between the deposit & wedding date for the balance due. Cancellation What is your cancellation policy? What is your Covid cancellation policy? This is very important to know, especially now. You’ll want to ask and find out how long you have to potentially cancel and if/how you can get back all/some of your money. Do you have a refund policy? If so, what is it? Total Cost + Breakdown Does it cover service charges, tax, gratuity, and cleaning fees, or are those additional line items? You may see a “++” on certain items on the bill, called “plus-plus,” which means you’ll be paying tax and gratuity on top of the listed cost. Contract/Reservation Revisions If changes need to be made to your contract/reservation, what does that look like? When is the last possible date to make those changes? Right now, a lot of people have to postpone and change their wedding dates because of COVID, so you'll want to find out how long you have to do that and if there's a penalty or fee associated with that change. (Tip: Likely, there will be a fee unless directly mandated by a shutdown, so don't be surprised.)
FOOD + BEVERAGE
Does this venue have an in-house caterer/bartending team? If so, do you have a food & beverage minimum that needs to be met? If the minimum isn’t met, what happens? And are there upgraded options to choose from to help us meet that minimum if we are low? Does your in-house caterer provide all plates, silverware, glassware, napkins, linens, or do we need to rent these items? Do you have specific preferred caterers we have to use, or can we hire our own caterer? Is the caterer required to stay until the very end of the reception? Do we have to purchase the bar items through the venue? Does the bar come with glassware, ice, garnishes, napkins, etc., or do we need to provide those items? Are we allowed to bring in our own liquor, and is there a corkage fee or service fee? Do we need to hire the bartenders, or is that something the venue does for us? You’ll want to get specific details regarding setup & teardown from the venue, including who is in charge of what, especially the end of the night tasks. The last thing you want to do after your wedding is take out trash, so you’ll want to make sure you know the responsibilities and duties of all of your vendors before the night of.
DREAM TEAM OF VENDORS
Wedding vendors are just as crucial to your wedding day as the venue as they are the ones to bring your vision to life! If the venue you are interested in doesn’t require you to use their vendors, ask if they recommend any that have been at the venue before. Vendors who have already been to specific venues already know the space, and therefore, can make the planning process smoother for you and them. Do you have a list of preferred or recommended vendors we can use? Do you require us to use your vendors, or are we allowed to hire our own? Are there guidelines or requirements to bring in other vendors? Does the venue allow us to have a live band?
Even though you are renting a building for your wedding venue, you’ll also be working closely with the venue team. You might be assigned a specific point person to work with during the planning process, or you may work with a few people before your big day. Do we have a specific point person to talk venue specifics with? Will that person also be our contact on our wedding day? What are their duties versus a wedding coordinator on the day of?