By Jon Jaeck from The Fields Reserve
Selecting a wedding venue is usually the first step in planning your fairy-tale wedding and there are few things more exciting than touring the wedding venue of your dreams. In all the excitement it’s easy to forget some of the more important questions to ask along the way. For most people, planning a wedding is a new experience and not knowing what to ask is part of the challenge. With a little guidance, you will be well on your way to planning your dream wedding. With that in mind, we’ve created a list of the
TOP 10 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR VENUE…BEFORE YOU BOOK
1. Pricing: What is the base venue fee, deposit amount, and final balance due date?
It seems simple enough but knowing the base venue price, deposit amount, and final balance due date for your specific wedding day are important. Most venues have a variety of different pricing options based on the time of year and day of the week of your wedding date. Most venues also have holiday pricing for specific dates or weekends, so be sure to ask. If possible, review the various pricing options ahead of time. A well-run venue will usually have an available website or social media page with basic pricing information for you to review prior to visiting.
2. Included Amenities: What amenities are included with the base venue fee?
It is very common for some venues to have a long list of additional “for sale” amenities. There’s nothing worse than falling in love with a venue just to learn they have a long list of amenities that are not included and will cost you extra. To limit any confusion be sure to ask exactly what is included and what is not.
3. Availability: What wedding dates are available?
The best wedding venues tend to fill up very quickly, usually more than a year in advance. And all the things you love about that venue are the same things everyone else loves. This means dates there will fill up fast. So, if possible, try to remain flexible on your wedding 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 your venue of choice. Staying flexible will leave you with more options and less stress.
4. Timing: How long do we have the space for?
Are you planning to celebrate into the night, or maybe have a late-night send-off? Then you definitely need to ask how long you have the space for and if there are any curfews. This is a great question and one a lot of people forget to ask. Some venues close very early, sometimes as early as 10 pm, either by choice or by local restrictions. Make sure you understand how long you have and plan accordingly.
5. Drinks: Are there any alcohol limitations, can I bring in my own alcohol?
Nearly all wedding venues have approvals and licensing to sell specific types of alcoholic beverages. This means that all alcoholic beverages legally need to come directly from your venue (no carry-ins). Before you select a venue you’ll want to make sure they can sell the types of alcohol you want. For instance, some venues (mostly wineries and breweries) are limited to selling only wine and/or beer. If you’re planning to have a variety of drinks and cocktails for your wedding be sure to ask this question ahead of time.
6. Backup Plan: What is your backup plan for inclement weather?
Most venues have a dedicated space for your ceremony and another for your reception. If the dedicated ceremony space is outdoors you need to know how the venue handles inclement weather. Do they move everyone into the reception space for the ceremony? If so, where does everyone go while they flip/prepare the space for dinner? Very few venues have a dedicated indoor space for ceremonies, so be sure to ask about their backup plan for inclement weather.
7. Getting Ready: Do you have dedicated space for the Bridal Party to get ready?
If you’re planning on getting ready at the venue, be sure to ask if they have Bridal Suites. Many venues lack a dedicated space for getting ready which could leave you scrambling. If the venue has Bridal Suites make sure you tour them and review the amenities. You’ll want to make sure the space is comfortable and equipped with plenty of mirrors, outlets, and lighting for your group. Having a dedicated spot for the Bridal Party to get ready is a great option and will make your wedding day much easier!
8. Cancelation Policy: What is your cancellation policy?
Cancellations don’t occur very often but you still want to be clear about how your venue handles cancellations just in case something happens --- medical emergencies, military deployment, big life changes, pandemics, etc. Some venues have non-refundable deposits but most issue partial refunds depending on how far in advance your wedding is canceled. You'll also want to ask about postponement – can you reschedule? Is there a penalty? How far in advance will you have to make the call to postpone or cancel before you lose the entire deposit? These are all great things to know just in case you need to make a change.
9. Catering: What are my catering options?
Most venues require you to either use their in-house caterer or select from a preferred catering list provided by the venue. Working with a venue that uses a single in-house caterer can be convenient but it’s also usually more expensive and doesn’t give you flexibility if you don’t like their food. Other venues allow you to select from a variety of preferred caterers which they have vetted for you. This allows you to create a customized menu based on your specific preferences. Knowing your catering options in advance can help you plan your perfect day.
10. Staff: Will the event be staffed during our wedding?
Different venues provide different levels of services, support, and staff. It's important to understand exactly what support your venue offers. Are bartenders included? Will there be a manager on duty at all times during your event? Will there be any other support staff? At a minimum you’ll want to make sure there will be a manager present on your wedding day in case of emergencies. If something happens, you’ll want someone there who knows the venue well and can easily manage any issues. Having an experienced and professional team managing your event can elevate your entire wedding day.