When you’re planning a wedding, there are so many details to consider. But one of the most important parts is choosing the right venue for you and your partner.
We know this can seem like a daunting task. But if you take a deep breath, take your time, and have a process, then we promise you will find the perfect venue in no time! So, in this blog, we’ve included some major questions that will help you narrow down your search during your venue tours.
We’ve also included a link to our “Questions to Ask a Wedding Venue” worksheet and our “Venue Comparison Worksheet” at the end of this blog.These two resources will give you a full list of more detailed questions to have answered, and more importantly a place to write them down so that you can compare after your tours are complete.
Questions To Ask a Wedding Venue – The Basics
When searching for that perfect venue, filtering out the ones that can’t cover your basic requirements is vital. It will save you a whole bunch of time and make the process much easier.
1. What is the venue’s minimum and/or maximum capacity?
Asking about maximum capacity is a pretty obvious question. But, some venues do require a guest minimum, so if you are planning on having a smaller wedding make sure you get this questions answered early.
2. What is included in the rental fee?
This question is very important to ask early during your venue tour so that you have a good overall picture of what exactly you are getting in return for that hefty rental fee.
Most venues will offer the basics, such as tables and chairs. However, anything more than the basics is almost always a plus, as it will reduce your overall cost. For example, some venues may include:
- Chair covers/sashes
- Linens, etc.
All of these things can get expensive quick, so if the venue includes them in the rental fee, that’s a huge win for you!
3. Is there an additional fee for the ceremony at the venue?
Some venues will have a total of 2 separate fees. One for the reception and one for the ceremony. So keep this is mind when figuring out the total cost of the venue.
4. How much is the deposit to secure my date?
This is always an important question, because the answer varies a lot between venues. Some require 50% at contract signing, while some require a flat fee. This will impact your budget, since most couples want to try and spread out the cost of their wedding as much as possible.
5. Does the venue have a Bridal Suite?
Bridal suites are always a major plus! They are the perfect space to get ready with all of your bridesmaids while sippin’ on some delicious mimosas.
Bridal suites come in all shapes and sizes, so make sure to take a look around to make sure you can picture yourself there on your big day.
Make sure to see if the Bridal Suite has all of the things you will need, such as:
- Full-length mirrors
- Styling stations
- Bar cart (super important!)
- Private bathroom
- Tons of sunlight for pictures
- Emergency kit, for the inevitable
Questions To Ask a Wedding Venue – Food and Drinks
Once you have the basics out of the way, its time to start diving into more details. In this section, we’ll take a look at some questions you will need to ask the venue regarding food and drinks.
6a. Does the venue have in-house catering or a preferred caterers list?
Each of these options have their own benefits and drawbacks. In-house catering, which means that the venue provides the food for your event, saves you some time and energy in having to deal with an additional vendor. However, it can potentially restrict your options, because you can only select from the food that your venue offers.
For a bit more freedom, venues will often provide you with a preferred caterers list. It will include several different caterers that the venue recommends using. Sometimes the venue will require you choose a caterer from their preferred list, and other times they won’t.
Using a venue’s preferred list is typically the best option for most couples, because it gives you more options, saves you time from finding your own caterer, and caterer’s on a preferred list have most likely been vetted by the venue.
6b. Is there a minimum spend for food and drinks?
This question can be important, because it may affect your budget if the venue’s minimum spend is high. Having no minimum spend is always a plus, but just remember that it is not always the case!
7. Does the venue offer bar services?
If the venue has in-house catering, they will almost always offer bar services as well. Venues who do not offer catering, may still offer bar services in-house. If bar services are not offered, you will need to provide alcohol personally, through you caterer, or an outside bartending service.
If the venue does provide bar services, make sure that they are fully licensed to serve alcohol! You’ll also want to look into event insurance that includes host-liquor liability coverage, just for that extra peace of mind on your big day.
8. Does the venue include tableware in their wedding packages?
Tableware includes plates, glassware, silverware, etc. Ask if your venue provides these things, because if they don’t then you will have to either rent them yourself or rent them from your catering company. Granted its not terribly expensive to rent tableware, however if the venue provides them, more savings for you!
Questions To Ask a Wedding Venue – Décor & Rentals
The style, theme, and décor of a wedding is super important for many couples. Whether you have a clear vision of what you want your wedding to look and feel like, or if theme and décor is not too much of a priority for you, knowing how a venue handles décor and rentals is key.
10. What décor items are included in the venue rental, and what items do you have available for rent?
Make sure that you note everything that is included with the venue rental, and what items require you to pay an additional rental fee, because everything that the venue offers you for free is money back in your pocket! Some items that offer the most value to you:
- Tables & Chairs
- Other décor pieces
Almost every venue will include tables & chairs, however other décor pieces will vary widely from venue to venue. As long as you like the décor that the venue is offering, then the more the merrier!
11. What “Fun-But-Potentially-Dangerous” things are not allowed at the venue?
It’s important for you to get a clear and explicit understanding of what the venue allows and what they do not allow on the property. You don’t want to ever assume anything! If you are not sure, I promise you are not going to annoy the venue with too many questions! Ask, ask, and ask again!
Even after the tour, double check the venue’s contract to make sure that they didn’t forget to mention anything. You may be asking, what are “Fun-But-Potentially-Dangerous” things? Here is a list of some common ones:
- Open-flame Candles
- Bounce House
12. Does the Venue allow you to bring and setup your own décor, or are you required to use the décor on offer? And are there restrictions on how décor can be setup?
If you are a DIYer, then knowing the answer to this question can be critical for you! Some venues will even require you to hire a professional designer/décor specialist to put up any decorations for your event. Some venues require this because it reduces the risk of damage to the venue, so just make sure to double check!
If the venue does allow you to put up your own decorations, great! Just make sure to ask about their decorating guidelines. For example, a lot of venues do not allow the use of command strips, because it can potentially peel paint off of the walls.
Instead, they will require the use of fishing line, floral wire, gaffer’s tape, sticky tack etc. The last thing you want is losing your security deposit because you used command strips instead of gaffer’s tape!
13. Does the venue offer or even allow different types of lighting décor?
Some examples of lighting décor are:
- Cake spotlight
You’ll want to make sure that the venue allows outside vendors to provide lighting décor for your event. If the venue offers these services in-house, even better! That’s just one less vendor you need to contact!
Lighting décor is one of the most cost effective ways to set the theme and mood for your wedding. It can turn almost any venue into a vibrant accented space perfect for any type of event.
Questions To Ask a Wedding Venue – Vendors & Staffing
Your wedding venue will play a big role in helping you choose your other vendors. This is because many venues have preferred vendors and can help steer you toward the right ones for the type of event that you’re hosting.
They may also provide recommendations for specific services, such as photographers or caterers, which can often be included in their contracts with clients.
If there are any restrictions on what type of vendor can be used at your venue (for example, if it has strict rules about bar services), then this should be made clear upfront, so there aren’t any surprises later on.
14. Open-Vendor Policy, or are you required to use preferred vendors?
First, you’ll want to ask about their general vendor policies.
Open-vendor policy means that you can hire any outside vendor for your event. Depending on the venue, a preferred vendors list will simply be a list of recommendations or a list of vendors you are required to choose from.
Either way, make sure you have the venue’s policies clear so that you can go about hiring the correct vendors for your event.
15. Here are some questions you should consider asking your potential venue about their preferred vendors and staffing:
- How many staff members are on-site for each vendor?
- How many weddings does a particular vendor typically host in a year?
- What are their qualifications and experience?
- How long have they been with the venue?
- Do they have any referrals from previous clients?
Questions To Ask a Wedding Venue – Logistics
The next thing to consider is logistics. Here are some topics and questions you should think about during your venue tour:
16. Is there private parking on-site?
You’ll want to consider how much parking is available on-site. If there’s not enough, what are your options? Will guests be able to get in and out easily?
If the venue doesn’t have enough parking, then you may need to look into arranging for shuttles or limos from off-site locations, such as hotels. Ask your venue if they have any recommendations for transportation services, most will.
17. Is the venue ADA compliant and easy enough for all guests to maneuver around the venue?
The goal with this question is two-fold. If you are going to have guests who need wheelchair access, then ADA compliance is required.
However, you also want to be thinking about all of your guests here. Is the property easy for EVERYONE to maneuver around?
You don’t want your guests breaking a sweat while walking to the reception hall, or rolling an ankle on the way to the ceremony site. Make sure the venue’s layout makes sense and allows large groups of people to move from place to place safely and comfortably.
18. Does the Ceremony Site & Reception Space fit your event?
The ceremony site is where you and your partner will exchange vows, so it’s important to choose a space that will be comfortable for the both of you.
- Is the space big enough?
- Will your dress fit down the aisle?
- Is there a stage or arbor?
- How many chairs can fit in the ceremony site?
Just as important is the reception space. After all, this is ultimately where you and your guests will be spending most of your time!
- Is their a dance floor? Is it big enough?
- Is there a comfortable amount of space between tables for guests?
- Where is the sweetheart or head table located?
19. Venue Coordination vs. Wedding Coordination?
This topic often confuses many couples, and if not understood correctly can lead to a poor experience for you and the venue, which is no fun for anyone! For every wedding, there are typically two managers that make sure the day runs smoothly:
- Venue Manager / Venue Coordinator / Event Coordinator
You’ll hear these titles used interchangeably depending on the venue, however they all focus on and manage the same thing, THE VENUE. Their sole job is to make sure that all of the policies and rules of the venue are being followed by the clients and their guests according to the contract. When it comes to the specific details of your wedding, that’s where the second manager comes in!
- Wedding Coordinator / Wedding Planner / Day-Of Coordinator
This is the person who will be fully focused on and dedicated to the Bride and Groom throughout the entire planning process and on their wedding day. In the case of a Day-Of Coordinator, their role will be more focused on the final 1-3 months before the wedding, rather than being involved from Day 1.
Regardless of how long they are involved for, on your wedding day they will be the person executing the timeline, making sure guests are where they are supposed to be, putting out any fires during the ceremony/reception, etc. The list can really be endless on what a great wedding planner/coordinator will do for you leading up to and on the day of your wedding!
Understanding the roles of these two very important people is key to a successful wedding day. Talk openly with your venue and ask them what exactly their role is. Will they be providing a wedding coordinator/planner? If not, do they require one to be hired ? Or will the Venue Manager act as both?
20. Accommodation options for you and your guests?
If you have a lot of family coming from out of town, or you decide to host your wedding at a venue further away from your hometown, then accommodations will be an important thing to consider.
Ask your venue where they recommend staying. Sometimes venues will even offer discounts to hotels that they are partnered with.
Even better, some venues will offer accommodations on the property. A huge plus for convenience, but not always for the wallet.
Depending on your budget, you can offer your guests free accommodation, discounted accommodation, or just simply let them cover the cost for the night.
We hope this information will help you make a more informed decision about which venue is right for you. We know from experience that choosing the right venue can be a difficult task, but it’s one of the most important, if not the most important decision you’ll make during your entire wedding planning process.
It’s important to remember that even though there are a million questions to ask, the most important thing is that you do your research and find a place that matches both your style and budget
REMEMBER! Download our free worksheets, “Questions to ask a Wedding Venue Worksheet” and “Venue Comparison Worksheet”, which include more detailed questions you should not forget to ask your venue, and a good place to record your thoughts of the venues you visit!
If you’re interested in taking a tour of our venue, The Manor House, to see if it may be the right fit for you, you can schedule a venue tour online by clicking the button below:
We wish you all the best as you begin planning!