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I recently went through the process of finding a location for a friend’s wedding with her. We evaluated about 8 different locations and after we finished, I looked into compiling a list of questions to ask when evaluating a wedding venue. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Here are some to start with!
1. First, if you have a specific date in mind, make sure you ask if it is available before you let yourself fall in love with the venue!
2. Work on an approximate guest list-head count, and then make sure the venue can accommodate that many people.
3. Ask what the rental fee is for the day and make sure to ask what all is included in the price.
4. Sometimes venues will charge less for an “off” day like a Sunday or Friday, ask about pricing for those days.
5. When you ask about budget and pricing, ask about deposits. Ask when it is due, if it is refundable, etc.
6. In this same conversation, you should ask if there is a cancellation policy. (Make sure to read the fine print! look for any hidden charges or overtime charges)
7. How long will I have use of the event space? (This is also part of #16, think about how long it will take you to set up and how late in the evening you want to enjoy your guests)
Now, the dreaming takes place…
8. Think about your theme. Does this venue best represent your theme or will it take a lot of energy to transform it into what you want?
9. Ask about catering. Does the venue have an in-house caterer or a list of “preferred” caterers, or do you need to provide my own? Even if there is an in-house caterer, do you have the option of using an outside caterer instead? And make sure if you are using your own caterer, that you ask about the kitchen facilities on the property so that you can report back to the caterer you seek out.
10. Cake is another question to ask about right about now! Ask if there are any stipulations regarding cake. Ask if there is a cake cutting fee.
11. Ask if there are spaces where cocktail hours and mingling areas are available.
12. While you are on the topic of cocktail hour, ask about alcohol. Does the venue have an alcohol license? Can you bring your own wine, beer or champagne and is there a corking fee? Ask about staffing charges for bartenders and if there is an alcohol minimum for the alcohol service.
13. Ask about rentals for the space. Typically venues will have tables, chairs, etc. on hand but may be at an extra charge.
14. Talk about the band! Depending on which type of music you are entertaining your guests with, you will need to know if there is proper space and a sound system for the band. Look at the outlets in the event space to make sure the band will be able to set up. Also ask about restrictions on what kind of music you can play.
15. Talk to your venue about decorations. Ask if there are limitations on decor or candles, and then ask how long you will have the day of to set up.
(For most of the above questions you should keep in mind to ask “Can I hire my own vendors (caterer, coordinator, DJ, etc.), or must I select from a preferred vendor list? If I can bring my own, do you have a list of recommended vendors?”)
Now think about your guests and their comfort…
16. Are there elderly or disabled guests that will be attending and do they have accessibility for those guests?
17. Will there be a coat check room? Is there a cost for a coat check attendant?
18. Ask about parking and services, are there enough parking spaces for all of your guests? Is it complimentary? Is there an option for valet? And what are the charges? (Have the venue keep track of the number of cars that are parked so you can tip appropriately)
19. Ask about restrooms and make sure you should have approximately 10 restrooms for every 100 people.