A majority of your wedding decisions will ultimately hinge on your choice of a wedding venue.
A wedding venue can restrict you from having candles, partying past 11PM and even tell you how to style your space and add the additional cost of security. Want your big day to go of without a hitch? Be prepared when picking your dream wedding venue.
KNOW WHAT KIND OF VENUE YOU WANT:
Hotels, churches and ballrooms used to rule the wedding world – and a majority of weddings are still held at these types of locations. However, now more than ever couples are finding unique venues and spaces to showcase their styles. (i.e., wineries, museums, boats, golf courses, sports complexes, warehouses, etc.)
The more traditional spaces tend to have more restrictions, while the unique venues don’t always rely on weddings for revenue and are more relaxed and flexible.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT, KNOW WHAT YOU LIKE, KNOW WHAT IS A MUST HAVE:
Knowing your must haves in the most important. Things like: can it accommodate the amount of guests we plan on having, does it fit in the budget, can I host my ceremony and reception here - each are important during your research stages. You don’t want to waste your time, or the venues, by visiting a venue that has a maximum capacity of 120 when your wedding guest list is at 400.
Knowing what you want and your vision is just as important as knowing your mandatories. If your vision is a rustic wedding with an outdoor ceremony – make sure your venue can accommodate that request.
Know what you like and don’t like, and figure out if your “like” is really a “must have.” For Example, be prepared to have venues tell you open flames aren’t allowed - there goes your candle-lit aisle, perfect centerpiece idea and sparkler send off.
If these are actually likes not must haves, consider the venue. If you’re attached to the idea more than you thought - keep looking.
VISIT THE VENUES:
After you’ve done your research and found your top venues – make an appointment and visit!
Never walk-in, always make an appointment! If you do walk-in, you are setting yourself up for potentially walking in on someone else’s venue tour, actual event or rehearsal. Put it this way, when you are on your tour, having your rehearsal or saying your vows – you wouldn’t someone barging in, right?
It’s best to tour venues in the same season as your wedding – but if that isn’t a possibility ask about weddings from the same time frame. Be prepared and take note of the little details. Take note of the A/C or heat, parking, the restrooms, outlets, the route your guests will take from the ceremony to the reception, etc. Try your best to visualize the lay out of tables, DJ/band, bar, buffet, etc.
Ask questions! LOTS OF THEM! You can even follow up with an e-mail thanking them for their time and listing your questions. (I actually recommend e-mailing your questions. It gives you a paper trail of the answers incase you need to revisit those answers when planning.)
Doing this a few times in my day - below is a very detail list of venue questions to ask. You may not need all of them - be sure to adjust the list to your wedding and venue as necessary.
THINK BEFORE COMMITTING:
There is a lot that goes into a contract, a wedding contract is no different. There will be enough stressful factors during your wedding planning, you don’t want a detail in your wedding contract being one of them. When you ask questions, be sure to include the questions regarding the contract, cancellations, vendors, costs, contact etc.
Do not sign anything until you are fully aware of the breakdown and comfortable with all the answers you were provided.
Images: (left to right) Theknot.com, Thalane.com, Theknot.com
Your wedding venue is one of the first decisions you’ll make when planning your wedding. Not many things can occur until your venue and date are confirmed. Once you do your research, visit some options, ask the right questions and lock down the perfect option your planning will fall into place. A venue is a large investment, if not thee largest when planning a wedding. Be sure to ask all the questions before signing anything!
If your still unsure which venues to consider, look up real wedding pictures from previous weddings at your top venue picks. (It’s best to find them in the same season your planning on saying your “I dos.”)
If all else fails a glass of red & to-do list should get you through.
Questions to Ask your Wedding Venue Before Booking
- Is my date available?
- Minimum and maximum guest?
- Can my ceremony, cocktail hour and reception be held on site? (indoor, outdoor, both)
- Is there a rain option?
- Parking availability? (valet, self-park, cost)
- Is there a premium or discount charge for my chosen date?
- Is there an on-site bridal suite and/or groom’s lounge?
- Is the site venue exclusive, or will there be other weddings held on the same day? If yes, how many?
- How many bathrooms are available to my guests? Are they exclusive?
- Is the venue handicap accessible?
- Is the venue smoking or non-smoking?
- Sufficient heating or cooling depending on season?
- Are there any areas on the property we won’t have access to?
- Pictures allowed indoor and outdoor?
- Is there a coat check available? Is there an additional cost?
- Facility rental price? What does that cost include?
- Deposit amount? When is it due?
- Payment plan availability?
- Cancellation policy?
- How long will I have use of rental space?
- Can I add on additional hours? Cost for each additional hour?
- Is there an attendee fee? If yes, cost?
- Is there a set-up or clean up fee? If yes, cost?
- Is there a day-of-coordinator fee? If yes, cost?
- Is Security required? Cost?
- Is insurance required? Cost?
- Are tips, taxes and service charges included?
FOOD AND BEVERAGE DETAILS:
- In-house catering? Required to use them?
- Is there a preferred catering list?
- Can I use my own caterer? Is there an additional cost?
- Can the kitchen cost for outside caterers?
- Is there a food and beverage minimum?
- Is there a kids menu options?
- Is there Vendor meal options?
- Is there a tasting appointment option? Cost?
- Is a cake included?
- Do you have a preferred baker?
- Is there a cake cutting fee?
- Is there a late night snack option/menu?
- Is there a Waiter fee?
- Do you have a liquor license?
- Am I charged for alcohol by hour, head or consumption?
- Can I bring my own alcohol? Is there a corkage fee?
- Is there a barters fee?
- Is a complimentary champagne toast included?
- Are any of the following included: AV, Speakers, Microphone, Lighting, Linen, Flatware, Plates, Glasses, Tables, Chairs and Centerpieces?
- Any decorating restrictions? (i.e., candles, sparklers, confetti, balloons)
- Any music restrictions?
- Any alcohol restrictions (i.e., can my guests order shots)
- Does the venue require any specific verbiage on my invitations or programs? (Some historic or art related venues do)
- Map out your ceremony space. Make sure there are accommodations for an altar, backdrop, chairs, outlets, aisle runner, and if outdoors location of the sun.
- Map out your reception space. Make sure there are accommodations for a bar, DJ/band, cake, gifts, guestbook, dance floor, outlets, tables and chairs, buffet (if applicable).
- Is a rehearsal time allocated? (when, fee, includes)
- Distance to accommodations?
- Do they partner with any near by hotels?
- Is there a shuttle available?
- Are their any renovations or changes to the venue prior to my wedding date?
- How many rooms can we block?
- Am I required to meet a minimum?
- Am I required to purchase the rooms blocked if I don’t meet my minimum?