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There’s more to the perfect wedding venue than just the aesthetics (though good looks are a huge bonus). There are all sorts of important details you’ll need to cover before you sign on the dotted line. We’ve asked the pros for the key questions to ask your wedding venue. You’ll want to ask these before you book.
Consider bringing this list of 28 important questions to ask potential venues with you on your site visits.
Pricing and Availability
- Is my date of choice available? If not, are there any surrounding dates available? Or do you have a wait list for dates?
Try to visit venues before you’ve chosen an exact date. If you have a few options or a range of dates that might work, you’ll be more likely to secure a spot at the venue of your dreams.
- How far in advance can I reserve my date?
- What are the rates for different days of the week and times (Friday, Saturday, Sunday; morning, afternoon, evening)? What about different seasons?
- How many hours are included in the rental of the space? How early can we arrive, and how late can we stay?
Pro tip: Ideally, you’ll want to be the only event on-site on your wedding day, as having other events happening can result in less setup time, limited venue access, and confusion for your guests. If you’re not guaranteed to be the only event that day, find out how much it would cost to do a complete buyout, as well as ask about how the staff handles having multiple events at once.
- How much is the deposit?
- How do you structure the payment schedule?
Pro tip: Most venues will have you pay a deposit upon signing the contract, and the balance in installments between the day you sign and your wedding date.
- What is included in the total? Does it cover service charges, gratuity, and cleaning fees, or are those additional line items?
Pro tip: You may see a “++” on certain items on the bill. Called “plus-plus,” that means you’ll be paying tax and gratuity on top of the listed cost.
- What is the cancellation policy?
Pro tip: You’ll want to find out how long you have to cancel and get your money back (or at least some of it).
- When is the last possible date to make changes to our reservation?
Pro tip: If there’s a chance you might need to change your wedding date, find out how long you have to do so without incurring a penalty or fee.
- Do you have a list of approved or recommended vendors we can use?
- Do we have to use your approved vendors? If not, are there limitations or guidelines we need to meet when bringing others in?
Pro tip: If your venue doesn’t require you to use their vendors, ask if there are any they recommend most highly. A vendor who is familiar with your venue will already know the quirks and challenges of the space, which will make your planning process that much easier.
- Is the site handicap accessible?
- Are there noise restrictions?
Pro tip: Many venues are under noise ordinances (town or county rules requiring music to stop at a certain time) or have restrictions of their own. Find out how late you can play music, as well as whether you need to turn it off at that time or just turn it down or move inside.
- How many bathrooms are there? Will we need to rent additional portable restrooms?
- Is parking available on-site? How much space is there? Will guests be charged for parking?
Pro tip: Sometimes use of parking is included in your site rental fee, sometimes it isn’t. If there is a fee and it isn’t covered by your rental, ask how much it would cost for you to pay for your guests’ parking for the evening.
- What is the venue’s capacity?
Pro tip: Find out how many guests you can fit in the space with and without a dance floor, with a band vs. with a DJ (as a band will require more space), and with round vs. rectangular or square tables to understand which decisions will help you maximize the space and your guest list.
- Do you have your own sound equipment and speakers, or will those need to be rented or provided by the entertainment?
- What is the backup plan for rain or inclement weather?
Pro tip: Go look at this space closely, too. While no one wants a rainy wedding day, it happens quite often, so you’ll want to love your Plan B just as much as Plan A.
- Are there any décor restrictions?
Pro tip: Ask about where and how things like lights and drapery can be hung, as well as whether you can use candles with an open flame or if you need to use LED candles instead.
- When can vendors arrive for setup?
- Will your staff be involved in setting up and breaking down the décor? In what capacity?
Pro tip: A venue like a hotel will usually have staff available to help arrange and set the tables, then help pack up any rented glassware, flatware, and dishes at the end of the night. Confirm exactly what the venue’s staff will be doing so you can pass that information on to your other vendors.
Food and Drinks
- Do you have an in-house caterer? If so, are food and beverages included in the venue rental fee?
- If there is not an in-house caterer, do we have to choose from a list of approved options, or can we hire our own caterer?
- Do you have a food and beverage minimum? What are the consequences if we don’t meet it?
Pro tip: Venues with in-house caterers will often have a food and beverage minimum that you’re required to meet as part of the contract—essentially a minimum amount you need to spend. Find out what happens if you don’t meet it, as well as what upgraded options you might be able to add to your menu to help you meet that minimum.
- Do we have to purchase liquor through you, or can we source liquor elsewhere?
Pro tip: Many venues offer the option of purchasing liquor directly through them (especially if they have an exclusive or in-house caterer), which is super convenient. It can, however, come with a hefty markup. Find out if you can source your liquor elsewhere, which allows you to price shop, or if you can buy it yourself and bring it to the event.
- If we can bring our own liquor onto the property, is there a corkage or service fee?
Pro tip: If your venue does allow you to buy your own alcohol, they may charge a fee to serve it on the property—which is still often much less than the price of ordering straight through the venue.
- Who will be our point person as we plan our wedding? Who will be our point person on our wedding day?
Pro tip: It’s always best if these two people are one and the same, but that’s not always the case. Find out who your contact will be for the planning process, as they’ll be the contact for your vendors as well. But also make sure you get the contact information for whoever will be at the venue on your wedding day, so you can ensure they have all the necessary details in order.
- Can we meet them today?
Pro tip: If they aren’t the person you’re doing your tour with, try to meet these contacts in person ASAP to find out if you get along. It’s not a deal breaker, but having a good rapport will make the process much more smooth, and it’s always nice to put a name and face together.