When you get engaged, one of the first things on your checklist is to find a venue. Your venue will most likely determine your wedding date, and will end up being a significant portion of your wedding budget. It's a big deal! But wedding venue shopping doesn't have to be a big scary thing.
In fact, if you hate calling people on the phone, scheduling appointments, are unsatisfied with google search results, or just dislike the time it takes to weigh your wedding options, you can use this trick to make your life a whole lot simpler.
One of the best ways to cut down on stress when venue shopping is to attend a wedding tour or expo. (Like this one I just went on!)
Once you've scoped out a few options you like, you'll want to dig deeper to figure out what booking each wedding venue entails, and the services they provide.
So whether you've picked out your dream venue already, or you're still in the shop-and-compare phase, it's a good idea to be prepared with some questions so that you can talk details.
If this is your first time getting married, (and if you're anything like me) then you might be approaching this task with a small dose of stress and confusion.
You know you need to find a venue... but you don't know enough about that process to even know what information you need, much less how to form intelligent questions about booking a venue!
(Hey, no judgement! It's stressful not to know what you don't know!)
While some questions are obvious like "is our date available?", there are other questions that only the wedding pros know to ask.
With that in mind, here are some essential questions you'll want to ask your wedding venue that will make it sound like you know what you're talking about (even if you don't!), and get all the info you need.
Is our date available?
Is there another day near our date that may be less expensive? (Alternate: what are your rates for booking Sundays, or during the week? During another season?)
What’s included in the venue rental price?
What would it take to reserve our date?
What is the deposit, is it refundable, and is there a payment plan?
Do you require event liability insurance? (Through a particular provider? Does it cost more if we serve alcohol/ less if we don't?)
What’s your cancellation policy?
Do you have special rates for veterans and members of the armed forces?
Do you offer on-site coordination?
How many guests can be accommodated?
Is your venue handicap accessible?
Is there air conditioning? Do you have fans if it’s hot? Heaters if it’s cold?
Where are your bathrooms?
What options do you have if it rains?
In the past, how have you handled last-minute changes due to rain/weather?
Do you find that there are any frequent ambient noises? Highway noise? Airplanes? Animal noises?
Are there noise ordinances or quiet hours in this city/county?
What main routes would guests take to get here?
Is there heavy traffic in this area, or local happenings near my date that would impede guest travel?
Do you have signage to help direct guests to the venue?
When would our rehearsal date/time be? How much time would we have for the rehearsal?
If I'd like to come back to visualize things, plan, measure the space, etc., would you allow that? Would I need to make an appointment, or do you have an open-door policy?
How early can vendors (or the bridal party) be on-site the day of the wedding?
What time do we need to be off-site?
Who will be our point-of-contact for the venue on our wedding day? Will they be on-site the entire time, or reachable by phone? (Phone number?)
How early can deliveries be made on the day of the wedding?
Where will guests park? Where will they enter?
Where does the bridal party get ready?
Where do the groomsmen get ready?
Where are the most popular photo locations on the property?
Do you offer assistance with clean up after the event?
Food & Drink:
Do you have a preferred vendor list, or a caterer you are contracted with?
Can we self-cater and bring in our own food, desserts, candy bar, etc.?
Do you have a full kitchen available for caterers to use?
Are you licensed to serve alcohol? Do you provide bartending services?
Do you require a food/beverage minimum? What will happen if we don't meet it?
Can we bring our own alcohol? Is there a corkage or service fee?
Is there a cake-cutting fee?
Décor & Set-up:
Do you provide chairs/tables? How many do you have?
Do you provide linens?
Do you set up chairs, tables, etc, or would that be our responsibility?
What are the dimensions of the tables? (You will want this for selecting linens)
Do brides typically decorate the day of, or they book the day before?
What décor or decorative items do you provide? Are these free, or is there a rental fee?
Do you have any decoration restrictions? (flameless candles, only attach things using tape... etc.)
Do we have permission to move or rearrange things that are part of your permanent décor?
How have past brides made the most of this venue? What great ideas have you seen?
Do you have ladders on site we could use to assist with set-up (for hanging lanterns, fabric, etc.)?
And finally a few catch-all questions:
In your opinion, what is unique about your venue that makes brides choose this location above others in this area?
What's the most common question you get from brides like me?
Is there anything that I forgot to ask about, or that you think would be important for me to know?
Hopefully these help you along your journey to becoming a happily married Mrs.
Remember, your wedding is the first day of the rest of your life together.
It's the marriage you're celebrating, and it's your marriage that will last a lifetime.
So that's what's really important!
And if you'd like to learn more about how to prepare for and support your new marriage (like how to build your marriage from the ground up, the 4 habits that will kill your new marriage, or questions to ask before getting married), please feel free to check out some of my other blog posts.
I'm a Certified Family Life Educator, so relationship stuff is my jam!
If you'd like to print this list, click here for the PDF.