After saying yes to the proposal, choosing your bridal party, and coming up with the guest list comes the most important part of the wedding planning process – finding a venue.
Finding your venue is a crucial component of wedding planning as it will dictate nearly every element of your wedding, from décor to food, and even your dress. But finding the perfect venue is no easy feat, as there are so many factors to take into consideration.
To help you narrow down your search for the perfect venue, we’ll tell you all the questions you should be asking wedding venues before signing a contract.
The general rule of thumb is to book your wedding venue at least a year to nine months before your wedding date. However, you may need to start your search even earlier to secure a popular venue if your wedding is taking place during peak season (May to October).
Just start reaching out to venues you are interested in, and see which ones have availability for your date. From there, you can begin scheduling tours where you will have the opportunity to ask lots of questions.
This one is a biggie. Before booking a venue, you’ll need to know exactly what you are paying for. Does the venue use their own in-house caterers, bartenders, and serving staff? Or do you have to hire your own outside catering? If catering is in-house, what is the menu like? Is it customizable? Are you limited to select few options?
Plus, will you have access to both a ceremony and reception site? What about furniture and table linens? Will the venue be supplying those as well? Ensure everything included in your wedding package is written in black and white.
As previously mentioned, the peak season for weddings takes place between May and October of any given year, making wedding venues and other vendors in high demand during these months. If you are flexible with your date and don’t have your heart set on a particular month, ask wedding venues if they’d be willing to offer you a discount. Most wedding venues do offer discounted rates during the offseason as it is harder for them to book weddings during this time. This could give you the opportunity to book the venue of your dreams that you may not have been able to afford otherwise.
This is another crucial question you absolutely need to ask. Let’s say you have a 150-person guest list, and you find out after booking that your venue can only accommodate 100 people. This would mean you would have to either scale back your guest list considerably or risk forfeiting your deposit.
Planning an outdoor ceremony but want an indoor reception? Make sure your venue can accommodate this. Or, if your ceremony and reception are being held in the same spot, who is in charge of disassembling everything from the ceremony and transforming it into a reception space? Plus, where will your guests mingle during cocktail hour? These are very important logistics you’ll need to know in advance.
Some venues have restrictions on what can or cannot be done. For example, many venues that have their own in-house catering with set menus and do not allow you to use your own catering company. There may also be restrictions on bringing your own alcohol, décor, furniture, dishware, or linens.
Many venues will charge an additional fee to cut and service your wedding cake to guests. This can get pricy, as the average cake cutting fee tends to be around $1 to $2 per slice.
Nearly all wedding venues will require a monetary deposit to secure the venue for your wedding date. However, this number varies from venue to venue and can range anywhere between 20% and 50%. Therefore, knowing exactly how much money your venue requires for a deposit right off the bat is important so you can budget accordingly.
Weather is unpredictable, and any bride planning an outdoor wedding knows how stressful it is during the days leading up to your wedding as you obsessively check weather reports and hope and pray that mother nature will rule in your favour. For this reason, it’s important to inquire with your venue about whether or not they have a tent or back-up indoor ceremony site available to you in case you have bad weather on the day of your wedding.
While this may seem like a given, many wedding venues only offer the space for rent and require you to provide all your own furniture and décor. So, if you are looking for an all-inclusive wedding venue, make sure that they are providing the seating, and that they have enough to accommodate all your guests.
While not the most important thing to look for in a venue, having on-site overnight accommodations is incredibly convenient, and is often worth paying a little bit more for.
Not only does this provide you with a place to get ready with your bridal party on-site, but also means you and your groom and potentially your immediate family and bridal party will have a place to crash at the end of the night without worrying about how they’ll get home or to their hotel.
While not the question most brides think to ask, this one is pretty important. The last thing you want is your guests spending half the reception in line waiting to use the bathroom. So, make sure that your venue has enough facilities to accommodate everyone, especially if you have a large guest list.
This is another question that often gets overlooked but is incredibly important to ask. Similar to the bathrooms question, it’s important to know whether or not your venue has enough parking for your entire guest list so that your guests aren’t scrambling to make it to the ceremony on time because they couldn’t find a parking spot.
Don’t just assume that you’ll be able to have your venue booked from the early hours of the morning until the middle of the night. Many venues (especially ones with outdoor reception sites) have an 11:00 curfew, which means you may need to wrap up your reception earlier than expected.
So, be sure to ask when the reception has to end, and how early you can show up at the venue on the day of the wedding.
While this may seem like a strange concept, many wedding venues have multiple ceremony and reception sites and will often book more than one wedding for a particular day. So, if the thought of this makes you feel uncomfortable, make sure that you confirm whether or not you will have free reign of the entire venue during your wedding.
Typically, most wedding vendors will require full payment either on the day of, day before, or day after the wedding. But with so much going on in the days leading up to and after your wedding, it’s important to confirm when full payment is due to avoid any confusion or added stress.
While these are some of the most important questions to ask, there are likely more questions that will arise during the planning process. From the cost of the venue to menu options and added costs, it’s important to be thorough when interviewing venues so you know exactly what you are getting on. Added stress and confusion is the last thing you need on one of the most special days of your life!