20 Questions To Ask Your Venue
Choosing your wedding venue is a HUGE decision! Before making a final decision, be sure to ask these questions.
Questions 1 & 2
- Do you have my date available?
- How many people can the space hold?
"Do you have my date available?"
Most people have a specific date in mind when they are booking a venue, so before you even go in to check out a space it's a good idea to make sure they even have the date available for you. If you are flexible on your date then you can chat about picking a date after you find a space you love.
"How many people can the space hold?"
A critical aspect of a potential venue is how you plan to use the space and how many people you would like to have present. If a venue states that they can fit 200 people for a reception know that if you have 200 people present your tables will be seating more people and closer together, and you will have less room for any auxiliary tables or extra things you might want in the space. Requesting a floor plan is always a solid plan when deciding on a venue.
Questions 3 & 4
- What is the fee for renting the space?
- What exactly does the fee include/not include?
These are pretty obvious questions but it is super important to be very clear what exactly your venue is providing with their rental fee and what costs extra/what you will need to rent out from other vendors. Most venues include basics but it's not always a guarantee so make sure to know what you are going to need to bring in just to have a functioning space - lighting, bathrooms, heat, tables, chairs, garbage cans etc.
Questions 5 & 6
- How many hours total does the rental include?
- How much is additional time?
Many venues rent out their whole day and will automatically give you the whole day from open to close, but not always! Making sure you know how much time you have is essential when you start booking with your other vendors. Having a clear start time for getting ready and an end time is super important, especially for your hair and makeup team, DJ and photographer!
- How much parking is available?
Parking can be a tricky situation for some locations! There are many venues that can accommodate 200+ people but have parking for less than half that. If you are working with a venue that is tight on parking you will need to make arrangements for carpools or shuttles for guests which can mean extra costs so it is something you will want to take into consideration. Additionally, if you are wanting to have a food truck or any other type of vehicle present you will need a space for them and any other vendor vehicles that will need to be on-site that day.
- Can I choose any vendors, or do you have a list to choose from?
This is a BIG deal. If your venue is requiring you to use vendors from their list it is super important that you get pricing and make sure you like them BEFORE booking that venue. It is heartbreaking to see couples locked into using vendors that they don't love or can't really afford because a venue isn't giving them a choice. 9 out of 10 times in-house bar and catering is more expensive than if you were to bring it in yourself so do your homework on vendor choices before you contract with a venue!
- Do you handle set up and tear down?
Now generally speaking, if a venue is providing your tables and chairs, or other furniture pieces, they will set up and take these down, BUT it's not guaranteed and you want to be sure you know exactly what set up and tear down will look like. If you have any other decorations that you are providing yourself such as signage, table decor, favors, your venue will most likely not be responsible for setting those things up or cleaning them up at the end of the night. You will also want to ask about who is handling trash and disposal at the end of the night!
- Are the ceremony and reception held in the same space? If so how do you handle flipping the space, and where do guests go during that time?
Many venues have separate spaces for reception and ceremony, but sometimes it's necessary to utilize the same area. This is completely doable but you will need it to be handled by a team of people to get done in a timely manner, either provided by your venue or yourself. You will also need an area where your guests can go (and enjoy cocktail hour if you are having one) while this happens.
Questions 11 & 12
- Are there any restrictions on the use of the space?
- Are there noise restrictions?
Super important to know the rules of the space you are using before booking! It's common for venues to not allow certain kinds of decor ex. hanging items or items that need to be staked down, so you will want to plan accordingly. Almost any venue you find that is in a populated area will have noise restrictions, this is especially important to make note of because it will determine what time your music cuts off at, and most of the time once the music is done the wedding is over. So if you are paying for a venue until 11 pm but music has to be cut at 8:30 pm your timeline is going to look drastically different.
- Do I need any special permits or insurance?
This is one a lot of people don't know they need to know. 😅 Depending on the venue and what your event looks like, you may need a special permit or insurance coverage for your big day. Your venue should be able to tell you exactly what you need and where to get it! A small but very important detail!
- Is there a bridal suite and groom's room?
If your venue doesn't have an area for you and your bridal party to get ready in, you will have to make other arrangements which can become tricky, especially for hair and makeup. While it used to be common for brides to get ready at chain salons, that is not really the case anymore. Some hair and makeup artists have a studio or salon they work out of, but oftentimes they will be travelling to you and will need a space. Being off-site for hair and makeup will also add travel time to your morning so be sure to add that to your schedule!
- What is your bar policy?
Having alcohol at your wedding requires certain hoops to be jumped through. Every venue will have their own unique set of rules, regulations, and requirements depending on where they are located. The best thing to do is ask your venue about their alcohol policy upfront so you know exactly what you are allowed to have from the beginning. Nobody wants to get their heart set on custom cocktails just to be told that they can't have them. You will also want to clarify if the venue requires you to use them to purchase alcohol and if you need to use their bartenders. You will very likely end up paying more for your drinks and service this way compared to if you bought your own alcohol and brought in a licensed bartender of your choice.
- Can I see the items you provide?
If your venue is providing you with tables, chairs, linens, china, decor, or anything really it's always a good idea to actually see it before you book so you can make sure it all matches your vision. For example, your venue might provide you with drinking glasses - these can have very different looks, anything from mason jars to tumblers! Be sure to take a peek at what is being provided so you can bring in anything else you might need/want.
Questions 17 & 18
- How much is the deposit?
- When is the balance due?
Making sure you know exactly what you are paying and when is going to be crucial for a less stressful wedding planning process. Be sure to have very clear dates and amounts written out and planned for. Nobody wants to be caught off guard a month out from their wedding with an unexpected bill or fee! Be upfront with your venue about your payment plan and ask them to be very specific in their contracts about what is included in the price.
- What is your cancellation policy?
Before you book you are going to want to ask your venue about their catering options. If you are required to use their in-house caterer you will definitely want to get those prices prior to booking. This is also a good time to ask if they have a kitchen/prep space for catering. Make notes on if the space is a fully working kitchen or if it is just an area for pre-prepared food. Also ask if they have access to water, electricity, and if they have ice on-site or if you will need to bring that in. If you are wanting a food truck, make sure they have an area that is accessible to both the truck and your guests.
- What is your policy for catering?
If 2020 taught us anything it's to expect the unexpected. 😅 Though it's unlikely that you would ever need to cancel with your venue, it's good to know what the policy is, just in case. Make sure you read your venue contract thoroughly and ask any questions you need to clarify.