Choosing a venue is one of the first things that you need to do when planning your wedding. Picking the right venues for your ceremony and reception are invaluable to creating your perfect wedding day.
Before you start visiting your dream venues, you’ll need to know exactly what questions to ask to make sure you’re choosing the right place. Since you’re probably only going to interview venues once in your life, you might not know exactly what to ask. Luckily, we have got you covered!
The wedding ceremony site and reception venue are the cornerstones for your wedding event, so it’s important to pick a site that fits you and your grooms vision, your budget and the kind of day you would like to have. Of course going with a reputable venue is important – reliability is a big factor you need to consider.
When booking the venue for your wedding you are entering into a business agreement. While the person you are working with is not likely to be deceptive, they are in business to make a profit. Consequently, there are certain aspects you should confirm and get in writing to avoid last minute surprises. Also, when thinking about and comparing costs between different places, it’s important to understand the details so you can make a direct comparison.
Below is a long list of the things you should be checking with your wedding venue before making any decisions about where to hold your wedding. For a really comprehensive planning kit, get yourself the Sheer Wedding Planner and Budget tool. It’s got detailed worksheets for your wedding planning and budget tracker.
This list probably looks overwhelming, and I don’t recommend you sit the wedding venue coordinator down and interview them about everything all at once, but definitely read through it to help you avoid missing any important parts that you didn’t know that you need to know. You might be able to cover some of the questions yourself by reading on their website – they might have an information sheet already available.
photo credits: manhattan bride // zara zoo photography
Here are the all important questions you need to ask before signing on the dotted line.
Questions specific to the ceremony venues
- Where will the sun be positioned during the ceremony?
- Are we close to nice photo locations?
- Are there suitable spots for family/group photos?
- Does the ceremony venue supply a sound system or can they give us any advice on acoustics?
- Is there seating available for family/elderly guests?
- Is it wheelchair accessible?
- Are there restrooms?
- What sort of passing traffic can you expect to get at this venue?
If outdoors, you many not want cars and foot traffic walking nearby in the ceremony
Questions for Reception Venues
- Is it available on the day we want to get married? What days are available?
- How much does it cost to hire the venue? What exactly does it include?
Ask to see an itemized breakdown of costs. It is critical for you to clarify the agreement not only so you know the final cost, but also so you understand which extra costs could possibly fall on your shoulders.
- Are there reduced rates for winter or weekdays?
You could save as much as 40% on venue costs
- How many people can the venue accommodate?
Find out if that number includes the staff members
- Can I use my own vendors? Is there an additional charge for that?
Many locations have their own coordinators, caterers, or other professionals they want you to use for your event or included in the cost.
- Does the price include alcohol or is that extra? (See separate list of questions for alcohol further down)
Some venues will charge based on actual wine, beer, and liquor used. If this is the case, the quoted fee will not include those items.
- Are rentals included in this price? What items am I likely to have to hire in? Tables, utensils, chairs, or just décor?
Smalls like champagne coolers, table runners, napkins, candle holders and other adornments may or may not be provided. Find out what you can rent from the venue or what you need to outsource yourself – you don’t want to realize on the day that there are no table cloths!
- How many hours do we get at the venue? Is there a time limit?
- How much are additional hours?
The cost of going over on time can be substantial.
- Are there set up fees?
This could be especially important to make clear if you plan to have both your ceremony and reception at the same venue.
- When can we access the venue to decorate?
Sometimes only get access the day of the wedding – you’ll want to be getting ready then and would need to delegate to somebody else
- Do you do the set up and clean up or do I?
- What staffing/support is on hand for set up and clean up? During the wedding? Post-wedding?
- Is parking extra? Is parking free for guests?
It may or not be included in the quoted fee.
- Is it wheelchair accessible?
- How many restrooms are there?
Make sure you are happy with their appearance too! Ask if you would be allowed to decorate the restrooms, if you wish to do so.
- If there is an additional service charge – does it cover all tips?
Does the fee cover extras to staff or do they feel it is customary to tip certain additional staff?
- Is there a time limit and what’s the cost of going over?
There is often a set amount of time you can utilize the reception space
- How they will arrive at the final cost?
If you are charged per person for any piece of the reception, you will want to understand how it has been charged.
- Is there an additional cost for my other vendors (photographer, videographer, planner, and DJ/band)?
Your professionals will need to eat, so it is important to know if or how you need to count them. Should they be in the final head count or reported separately (In other words, if you can get a discount rate for the vendors)?
- Is there space for a band or DJ? Are there noise constraints?
- Is there a dance floor?
Sometimes that will affect the number of guests the place can seat, as there might be less space for tables if it is in one room
- Are there special considerations for children?
The child cost is most often less than the adult rate.
- What are payment terms, i.e. what sort of deposit is required and when is final account settled?
- What is the cancellation policy?
Questions to ask about catering
- Can I bring in my own food, other drink, and cake?
- If I do bring my own food, drink, or cake are there extra charges?
- Do they have an on-site caterer/chef or do we need to arrange our own caterer?
- Do they have an on-site kitchen? (If not, you will be limited to the types of food service available)
- Is there a range of menus?
- Will the menu be able to cater to different dietary needs (vegetarian, low-carb, gluten free etc)
- Will we need to inform the caterers in advance of dietary requirements, or can they cope with these requests on the night?
Questions to ask the reception venue about Alcohol
- Are you fully licensed?
- Do they have the brand of alcohol you favour?
- What’s the corkage fee – is it per person, per bottle or a set charge?
- What happens to half drunk bottles of wine, or left overs?
- Do I need to hire glasses or will venue arrange?
- Do I need to arrange bar staff?
- Do I need to arrange a duty manager for the bar?
- Do they allow bring your own toasting wine/ champagne?
- Do they do alcohol packages?
Are there any other questions you’d like to add to this list? Comment below with any questions we’ve missed or handy questions you asked.