Courtesy of Lauren Moffett Photography
Looking for the perfect venue is not a simple task, but knowing the right questions to ask will help you navigate through these unchartered waters with ease. In the end, you will feel confident in knowing that you have selected the perfect place to say “I Do”. Here is the list of of the “must ask” questions when visiting wedding venues:
1. What dates are available in the month I’m considering? TIP: If the venue has every Saturday available in the month you would like to get married, don’t use this as a excuse to postpone a contract. Dates fill up quickly, and procrastination could cause you to miss out.
2. How many people can this venue comfortably and spaciously accommodate? NOTE: Sometimes venues will sell themselves by telling the client that the room fits 200, while in reality 200 is a very tight fit. You want to make sure that your guests are comfortable in a room with plenty of room for dancing and mingling.
3. May I hold my ceremony here, too? Is there an additional charge?
4. Are there dressing rooms for the bridal party? If so, how many people do the rooms accommodate?
5. What is the rental fee and what is included in that price? For instance, complimentary rehearsal time, tables, linens, chairs, glassware or decor?
6. How much is the deposit, when is it due, and is it refundable? What’s the payment plan for the entire bill?
7. What’s the cancellation policy? NOTE: Some venues will refund most of your deposit if you cancel far enough in advance, since there’s still a chance they can rent the space. However, after a certain date you may not be able to get a refund.
8. How long will I have use of the event space I reserve? Is there a charge for extra hours?
9. Are there decoration guidelines/restrictions? May I use real candles, rose petals, sparklers?
10. What time can my vendors start setting up on the day of the wedding? Is it possible to start the setup the day before? How early can deliveries be made?
11. Can the venue accommodate a DJ or live band?
12. Is there parking on site? If so, is it complimentary? Do you offer valet parking, and what is the charge? If there is no parking on site, where will my guests park?
13. How many guest restrooms are there? TIP: You should have at least 4 restrooms per 100 people.
14. What security services do you offer? Do I need to hire my own security guards, or does the site hire them or have them on staff? What charges will I be responsible for?
15. Does the venue have liability insurance? NOTE: If someone gets injured during the party, you don’t want to be held responsible—if the site doesn’t have insurance, you’ll need to get your own. For info on insurance, check out WedSafe Wedding Insurance at Wedsafe.com
16. May I hire my own vendors, or must I select from a preferred vendor list?
17. Do you have an in-house caterer or a list of preferred caterers, or may I provide my own? If there is an in-house caterer, do I have the option of using an outside caterer? If the venue does offer in-house catering, you will want to ask:
-What is the food & beverage cost on a per-person basis? What are the tax and service charges? Is there a food minimum that must be met?
-May we do a food tasting prior to finalizing our menu selections? If so, is there an additional charge?
-May I bring in a cake from an outside cake baker, or must I use a cake made on the premises? Is there a cake-cutting fee? Do you provide special cake-cutting utensils?
-May I bring my own spirits, wine, beer or champagne, and is there a corkage fee?
-Do you provide bartending services? If so, what is included in your bar packages? Is alcohol priced per person or by consumption? Are there additional charges for bar staff? Is there a bar minimum that must be met before the conclusion of the event?
18. What overnight accommodations do you provide? Do you offer a discount for booking multiple rooms? Do you provide a complimentary room or upgrade for the newlyweds? What are the nearest hotels to the venue? TIP: Some venues have partnerships with local hotels that offer a discount if you book a block of rooms.
19. What’s your weather contingency plan for outdoor spaces?
20. Will there be a venue staff member present during my wedding? How long will they stay on property during my event? What will be there their role for the evening? Will they be available to my wedding planner in the event of an emergency?
•If you really love the site, ask the venue representative to put together a proposal with all the pricing and policies—including the tax and service charge—so you have an idea of the basic cost.
•Pay attention to the venue as a whole: Check out everything, including the restrooms, the foyer, the dressing rooms, the outdoor lighting and even the kitchen. You want to be sure your wedding vision can become a reality at this location. If possible, make arrangements with the site representative to visit the venue when it’s set up for a wedding.
•Get everything in writing. Your date is not officially reserved until you sign a contract, and in many cases, give a deposit—even if a site contact says “you don’t need to worry about it”. Once you’ve found the perfect place to say “I Do”, make sure you ask what is required to get your booking locked in, and then follow through on satisfying those requirements. Before you sign a contract, read the fine print and make sure it includes everything you and the on-site coordinator agreed on. As new things are added or changed in your contract, have the updated version printed out and signed by you and the site representative. Also, document all your conversations in emails and keep your correspondence.