You’ve found a venue you absolutely love. The website photos are amazing, and you think this has to be the one. Skrt skrt…hold up sis.
There’s more to consider than just whether or not it fits your budget and if your date is available.
So before you go, make note of these 15 questions that will be a lifesaver in the end! And remember: no question while you’re touring is too dumb. It’s not like you get married all the time and should know this stuff, right?
Be sure to take a friend with you to help you remember the details when you start reviewing your notes!
#1: What are the venue’s policies on refunds or cancellations?
Ask and get specific answers. In a world where we never thought we would have to postpone weddings due to a pandemic, you have to ask this. Have a full understanding of the venue’s refund policy and make sure it is spelled out clearly in their contract. Never rely on a verbal statement given during a tour; if it’s important to you, then make sure when you review the contract, it is stated as the same answer. If not, request it to be added before you sign.
#2: What’s the postponement policy?
Absolutely no-one goes into planning a wedding thinking they might have to postpone their wedding. But consider that there are reasons far beyond our control that could have an impact on your wedding: a natural disaster, eminent weather…an unforeseen illness in the bride or groom or their immediate family…military deployment. Even if you buy wedding insurance, knowing the venue’s policy on postponement and how willing and able they will be to get your wedding rescheduled will go a long way if the situation arises.
#3: What is included in the total fee?
Does it cover service charges, gratuity, and cleaning fees, or are those additional line items? There is nothing more discouraging than thinking you are touring a venue within your budget and then the add-ons send you well over, or worse, have you considering what you can cut out from your budget. Ask, ask, and ask.
#4: Does my booking require venue insurance?
Not all venues require it, but many do. It’s super important though to know what you’re covered for with wedding insurance, so do your research. Ask the insurance company if they will cover a cancellation of the wedding, and under what conditions. Our personal opinion is that, considering wedding insurance is very affordable, this may be the best money spent for peace of mind on your day.
#5: Do you have a one wedding per day policy?
Multiple weddings is especially common when it comes to hotels or other large properties with multiple event spaces but it’s still important to know how multiple weddings could affect the event space. From personal experience, my hotel assured me that we would never know there was a wedding in the next ballroom – that was until the band for the other wedding started to play so loud that the walls were no help. So yes, ask and be ready if all that is between you and the next ballroom is a wall or partition.
#6: Does my church venue have limited service options?
First, reserve your house of worship or at the very least, speak with clergy to find out what service times you must consider with them. Many places of worship have set service times that aren’t negotiable. You could find that you will be at your reception venue space for a shorter or longer amount of time because your church services had these set times.
#7: What is the max capacity of this venue?
Have a rough idea of your guest count before you tour venues: why tour a venue that only holds 150 guests when your guest list is likely to be 300? When looking at the venue space, is it too big? A small guest list may make the venue seem a bit empty and you may spend more money trying to make it feel full and intimate. On the other hand, don’t choose a venue that holds 250 people and max it out – your guests will be elbow to elbow at the tables and on the dance floor.
#8: Do you have minimum head count pricing or minimum spend amounts?
Some venues have food and beverage minimums which interpret into a minimum spend amount per person. Every venue is different, so it’s important to ask what services go toward the minimum and have all the information before you commit. If you think you may fall short of meeting a venue’s minimum, ask if there is any room for negotiation.
#9: What is the weather contingency plan for this venue?
When it comes to weather, it’s a good idea to hope for the best but always prepare for the worst! Outdoor venues do not always have indoor options. Make a Plan B for bad weather and get comfortable with the idea of what your wedding will look and feel like with Plan B in place.
Tip! Search a weather app and find out what month has the most rain in your area – you might be surprised. You can also find out the high and low temperatures for the month you are considering. Be well informed and realistic about things out of your control and be ready with a plan.
#10: May I use my own vendors or am I obligated to use only your preferred vendors?
Some venues allow you to use your own vendors, while others want you to use their vendors exclusively. If you are told during the tour that you can use your own vendors, make sure this is written into the contract before signing. Using a venue’s preferred vendors is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you have several choices of vendors. Consider this: a preferred vendor is familiar with the venue space and will already know the quirks and challenges, making your planning process that much easier.
#11: Do you require a Day of Wedding Coordinator?
Do not assume a venue coordinator will be the day of coordinator – these are two separate roles. Typically a venue will have a venue coordinator that will oversee the venue’s interest and make sure that everything promised in the contract is in place on the day of. Some venue coordinators will also be the day of coordinator for you for an additional fee. A Day of Wedding coordinator works for the bride and groom and will work with the venue coordinator to make sure the day runs smooth. Ask if the day of coordinator is suggested or required.
#12: Setup and Breakdown Hours
What time are you allowed into the venue on the day of? Is there an event happening the day before or maybe even on the same day right before or after? If so, your setup and breakdown hours will be affected and could add some unwanted stress to your planning if you’re not careful. Just know this: a venue most likely will have staff available to help arrange tables; but placing linens, dressing the tabletops with florals, etc. is not their job.
#13: City and hotel venues: Is parking limited or crowded for my guests?
If your wedding location is in a busy downtown area, it’s important to check out parking options or how easy it is to get a cab or rideshare. A parking garage may need to be considered and you will need to inform your guests ahead of time. Also important, consider more than one parking garage. Check your city calendar and consider that there could be festivals or other events in the area on your day and crowded parking could be an issue. If parking options aren’t easy, you can consider hiring a bus or shuttle to bring people to and from the venue. Just make sure you add this expense into your wedding budget!
#14: What amenities does the venue have for the groom and bride?
Case in point: A groom and his groomsmen want to golf all morning and arrive at the venue to get ready for the wedding. Is there a shower for them? This happens more frequently for the men, as most bridesmaids arrive ready to get dressed. But no showers will mean extra time into the grooms schedule or risk of them skipping it for the sake of time. Definitely not a deal breaker, but something to consider!
#15: Read multiple reviews
Don’t be so wow’d by the beauty of the venue space that you don’t do your research on other bride+groom experiences. Keep in mind that there are two sides to every experience, but if you have the same thread of issue happening repeatedly in the reviews, then make sure you consider it fully before committing.
And reviews aren’t just for looking for bad things – you might find information about features of the venue you hadn’t even thought to consider and other helpful tidbits. Look on third party sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google reviews, even checking on Facebook, and bridal forums on Facebook for your area that can be a great help as well.
Tip! Find a wedding professional, a photographer, caterer, wedding coordinator etc., that has been tagged in a venue you are considering and reach out to them for advice on that venue. Did the photographer like the lighting? Did the caterer say the setup was great or difficult? Did the wedding coordinator have a good experience with the venue coordinator?
A prepared bride is the best bride!
Delia & Madison
GET IN TOUCH
The very best way we can provide a dream planning experience is to make sure our styles are suited for each other. So before we ever say yes to helping you plan your day, we first take time to meet with you, introduce ourselves, and just chat a bit about what your dreams and needs are. We take this approach, because planning and working together is a personal service experience, requiring many hours of communicating and working together and is best achieved when we can make a connection of styles.