Questions to Ask a Wedding Venue
You've already landed the fiancé. Now it's time to nail down the venue.
The Haven at Tomales | Morgan McCanne Photo
Hey, we know (because couples tell us every day) that Here Comes The Guide is a fantastic resource to help you find the perfect wedding venue. But once you've narrowed down your list and scheduled some site visits, you gotta know what questions to ask!
To make this task easier, we've come up with this comprehensive list of questions to ask a wedding venue—before you put down a deposit. #themoreyouknow
P.S. Here's a supplemental COVID-19 list of questions to ask, to help you cover your bases!
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Before We Begin:
- Overwhelmed? Don't be! Yes, we've listed 50 questions here, but they're categorized into yummy bite-sized chunks to make this easier to read. Cherry-pick the ones that apply to you!
- Feel free to personalize. Add questions that relate to your particular event (e.g. "Can my dog be the ring bearer in my ceremony?" or "Are you okay with us setting up a wedding beer pong table?")
- Keep the answers organized. During your site visit(s), keep your notebook, planning binder, or the notes app on your phone handy so you can jot down the answers to all these questions. We even have a nifty printable PDF with extra space for your own scribbles!
And our biggest tip: make sure to get everything in writing in your final contract!
Ready? Let's do this.
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
- What dates are available in the month I'm considering? TIP: Some venues offer a discount for booking an off-season date or a Sunday through Friday wedding.
- How many people can this location accommodate?
- What is the rental fee and what's included in that price?
- How many hours does the rental fee include, and is there an overtime fee if I stay longer? We really like to party.
- How much is the deposit, when is it due, and is it refundable?
- What's the payment plan for the entire bill? What forms of payment do you accept?
- Can I have my ceremony here, too? Is there an additional cost?
- Are there changing areas for the bride, groom, and/or wedding party?
- Can we have our rehearsal dinner here? What about a morning-after mimosa brunch?
- How much time is allocated for the rehearsal?
- What's the cancellation policy? TIP: Some places will refund most of your deposit if you cancel far enough in advance, since there's still a chance they can rent the space. After a certain date, though, you may not be able to get a refund—at least not a full one.
- What's your weather contingency (backup) plan for outdoor spaces?
- Do you have liability insurance? TIP: If drunk cousin Steve gets injured during the dance party, you don't want to be held responsible—if the site doesn't have insurance, you'll need to get your own.
Food + Drinks
- Do you have an in-house caterer or a list of "preferred" caterers, or do I need to provide my own? Even if there is an in-house caterer, do I have the option of using an outside caterer instead?
- If I hire my own caterer, is there a kitchen available for them? TIP: Caterers charge extra if they have to haul in refrigerators and stoves.
- Is there a food & beverage minimum?
- What's the tax and service charge?
- Can we do a food tasting before we finalize our menu selection? Does it cost extra? TIP: Be sure to ask if they'll accommodate dietary restrictions and/or food allergies. Usually it's no problem!
- Are tables, linens, chairs, plates, silverware, and glassware provided, or will I have to rent them myself or get them through my caterer?
- Can I bring in a cake from an outside baker or do I have to use a cake made on site?
- Is there a cake-cutting fee? If I use a cake made on site is the fee waived? TIP: Sometimes if you ask if a friend or family member can cut your cake, they'll waive the cake-cutting fee for you. #discountsforthewin
- Can we bring our own wine, beer or champagne? What about hard liquor?
- Is there a corkage fee?
- Are you licensed to provide alcohol service? TIP: Some venues (like wineries) aren't licensed to serve hard alcohol. You may need to get permission to bring in an outside beverage catering company if you like your booze.
- How is alcohol priced, and is there a bar minimum?
- Are there additional charges for bar staff?
Décor + Rentals
- Are we allowed to bring in our own decorations? TIP: Keep the existing décor in mind when planning your own decorations so that they won't clash! And if your event is in December, ask what the venue's holiday décor will be. Because creepy Santa's NOT invited.
- Do you have an inventory of décor (lighting, candle holders, vases, etc.) we can borrow from?
- Can I move things around or do I have to leave everything as is? TIP: Some venues have restrictions on whether or not you can hang things from the ceiling or on the walls. If you're obsessed with string lights, better check on this.
- Can we use candles/confetti/sparklers/fireworks/animals/lawn games/bounce houses/food trucks/insert your own fun-but- potentially-dangerous liability here?
- Do you have signage or other aids to direct guests to my event?
- Do you provide heaters and/or umbrellas for the outdoor spaces?
Vendors + Staffing
- Can I hire my own vendors or is there a preferred vendor list we need to stick to? TIP: Check out our prescreened vendors. They're all topnotch.
- Do you offer on-site coordination? What services are included?
- Can the venue accommodate a DJ or live band?
- What security services do you offer? TIP: In general, you should have 2 security guards for the first 100 guests and 1 more for every additional 100 guests. #thatviplife
- Do you provide a coat check service?
- What time can my vendors start setting up on the day of the wedding? TIP: Some venues host multiple weddings per weekend. Others just host one! If your venue does the latter, ask if you can start the setup the day before.
- Does the venue provide assistance getting gifts and/or décor back to a designated car or hotel room after the wedding?
- Is there a separate space for cocktail hour?
- Do you have a sound system and/or microphones for speeches? TIP: Check where the outlets are located in your event space, because that will help you figure out where the band can set up and where other vendors can hook up their equipment. You don't want the head table to block the only outlet in the room, right?
- Are there any noise restrictions?
- Is there parking on site and if so, is it complimentary? If not, where will my guests park?
- Are cabs/rideshares (like Uber, Lyft, etc.) easily accessible from the venue?
- If a shuttle service is needed, can you assist with setting it up?
- How many restrooms are there? TIP: You should have at least 4 restrooms per 100 people. At least.
- What overnight accommodations do you provide? Do you offer a discount for booking multiple rooms—or a complimentary room or upgrade for the newlyweds?!
- If no accommodations are available, what are the nearest hotels to the venue? TIP: Some venues have partnerships with local hotels that offer a discount if you book a block of rooms.
- Is the site accessible for people with disabilities?
- Do you have a recycling policy? We'd love for our wedding to give back.
The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay
Filed under Expert Advice, Questions To Ask Your..., Wedding Venues / Locations
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