Planning a wedding can be a very exciting + overwhelming time in your life! There are so many different details you’ll need to consider when planning the big day, and one of the most important is choosing your venue. Selecting the right location that fits all of your needs + wants, while maintaining your budget can be tricky, and you might be wondering - “Where do I even start!? Booking a venue isn’t as simple as seeing a place you like + just putting that credit card down. You’ll need to make sure you’re asking all the right questions before signing on the dotted line.
Not sure what to ask? Don’t worry, girl - we’ve gotcha covered. From dates + availability to overall costs, vendors, and the details of the venue, this week we’ve compiled a list of helpful questions that you should ask every venue when on the venue hunt.
Bookmark this for later + take us with you when you’re searching for that perfect location. HAPPY SCOUTING!
- How far in advance do I need to reserve a date?
Many venues need you to reserve a date much in advance, so make sure you speak with the event coordinator regarding this information. We recommend booking about a year before the wedding. This gives ample time to to plan things without stressing, and gives you time to secure a venue without having to worry about it being completely booked.
- How much is the deposit?
Venues require a deposit when booking, so double check with the event coordinator as to how much you’ll need to put down to reserve the location. It is best to know the exact amount that is needed upfront - taxes, fees, and service charges included - so you can plan the rest of your wedding finances accordingly.
- What is the payment plan?
It is very important to become familiar with your venue’s payment structure so you can organize your finances accordingly + have sufficient funds throughout the year to make each payment. Payment plans are a great way to space out the amount of money you are spending on the wedding each month without having to worry about having an empty bank account (no fun!)
- What fees are included (or not included) in the total cost?
- Any service charges?
Be on the lookout for hidden fees! Don’t forget to ask about additional fees that may not be added to your original bill, but could creep up later - Some examples include a cake cutting fee, corkage fee, outside caterer fee, outside vendor fee, and purchasing day-of insurance
- Can you work around an X dollar budget?
Your venue coordinator should know the overall budget you are working with so that he//she can work with you accordingly. Clarify your financial breakdown + how much you are willing to spend. Do not spend something that exceeds budget. You’ll need several thousands of dollars for things OUTSIDE of the venue, and the catering + bar service that (sometimes) comes with it.
- What is the cost of cancellation?
When planning a wedding, the last thing you want to think about is canceling it, but you should still ask what the cancellation (and reschedule) policies are in case of an emergency - especially in the current social climate we are in.
- How many hours are included in the rental fee?
Before you book your venue, always look into the rental hours to see if they work well for your event. Also, don’t forget to look into additional fees if you exceed the allotted rental hours.
- Do you have a list of vendors I need to choose from or do I need my own?
Your venue may or may not have a list of approved vendors that are allowed on site. Most venues have a recommended list, but some have a mandatory list that you must choose from. This could be the deciding factor in booking a certain location based on your list of vendors that you wish to use.
- What time can vendors set up?
- Will my vendors need to provide proof of insurance?
Luckily, your coordinator will handle all load-in times + logistics with your venue + vendors, but here’s a #leilanitip: when you book your venue, make sure your vendors will have at least 3 hours to load-in + set up. Also be sure to ask about the vendor insurance policy so the vendors can come prepared. If they do require proof of insurance, ask when they will need it, and who needs to be listed as an additionally insured so all documents can be sent in a timely manner.
- Are there any additional vendor rules or regulations for vendors?
Whether it is you or your wedding planner coordinating these details, it is vital to maintain good communication with your vendors regarding expectations, rules, and regulations set by the venue.
- Can your venue provide power for a DJ or band or will we need to bring in a generator?
Music is a necessary element for every wedding celebration, so you’ll need to ask if the venue can accommodate a DJ or band. Most do, of course, but you may need to bring in additional power in the form of a generator.
- What is the capacity?
Before you start looking into venues, we recommend having an idea of a guest list established so that you know how many people the space will need to accommodate. It is best to pick a location that isn’t too big or too small to fit all of your guests.
- Is there parking?
- If so, is it free or do guests need to pay?
A big detail that many couples overlook when booking a venue is parking. In an effort to provide your guests a smooth experience starting from the time they arrive, you’ll want to ensure your venue provides easy parking for your guests - whether that’s using a valet service, providing a big, free parking lot, or convenient + plentiful street parking. Nothing is worse than spending over 20 minutes looking for parking when you’re ready to celebrate!
- How many bathrooms are there?
When mother nature calls, we must answer! First off, you’ll need to know how many on-site restrooms are included. Take into consideration how large your party is + from that, determine if there are enough available restrooms. You want your guests to spend more time at the party than waiting in line for the restroom.
- Are there any noise restrictions?
Depending on where your celebration is taking place, there may be noise restrictions. If your venue is located within a residential area, be prepared to obey the rules of the establishment. If your venue is located in a more isolated location, then noise complaints might not be as much of an issue, if at all (we love that!)
- Are there speakers or sound equipment provided?
Speaking of noise, another thing you should know about your location is all of the technological amenities they may or may not have. Ask your venue if they have any sound equipment installed that your DJ or band can plug into, or if your entertainment vendors will need to bring their own equipment in.
- Is there a dressing room for the bride and groom?
Throughout the years, we’ve noticed our couples (especially our brides) change into multiple outfits on their wedding day. Lots of couples like ditching their formal wedding attire + change into more of a cocktail style attire for the party. If that’s the case, it’s important to look into venues that provide their own changing rooms for the bride + groom. This will make it a lot easier to change, put away personal items, + get any touch ups done throughout the day. These spaces are also great “holding rooms” for the bride, groom + wedding party before the ceremony.
- Are you able to host the ceremony as well?
- If so, what is the cost?
Most venues can accommodate both your ceremony + reception with ease, but some locations will need to get creative + do what’s called a “flip” - turning a ceremony site into a reception site. If a flip is needed, make sure there is ample space for your guests to hang out in the interim, typically during cocktail hour. Flips can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, so chat with your venue manager about the logistics of this. Also another helpful task your coordinator will handle for you.
- Are you able to bring your own decor
- Are there any decor restrictions?
Between flowers, rentals, lighting + more, wedding decor can get very expensive! Some couples prefer to “DIY it” to relieve themselves of the financial obligation for some of these items (although we strongly advise against doing most things yourself, like linens + flowers - it’s just too much work!) Using your own items can be an option but just like everything else on this list, you must speak to the venue directly to see if this is even a possibility. If so, make sure to designate someone to be in charge of tearing down + packing up the items after the wedding has ended.
- Are animals allowed?
Many couples nowadays want to include their furry companions on their special day. If you are a pet parent + want your fur baby to attend, it is important to check what the pet policy is before you bring them to the event.
Food + Beverages
- Do you provide your own caterer?
- Are you able to provide your own caterer?
- Or is there a list of approved caterers?
Every wedding needs to provide food for each and every one of their hungry guests so they can enjoy the experience. Many ballroom type venues have their own form of catering + assist you with the food options they have! Have something else in mind? Like with the vendors, it is best to ask if you are able to provide your own caterer or if you need to stick to a pre-approved food selection. Don’t forget to ask about their menu if you have guests that have specific dietary needs!
- Is there a food or drink minimum?
- If so, what are the consequences or fee if it is not met?
You may not know this, but some venues actually require a certain food or drink minimum to be met in order to use their services. Find out what it is + if there are any additional costs if the minimum is not met.
- Do you provide alcohol?
- Am I able to provide my own?
Open bar at a wedding is the way to go! Your guests will inevitably expect to have a drink or two - and at no charge to them. Be sure to ask your venue what the bar situation is - do they include a bar package or allow you to bring in your own alcohol? Serve a full bar or only beer + wine? Get clear + ask precise questions to iron out these details.