Once you’ve began to compile your shortlist of venues, and you have asked the basics of capacity, availability and price; here are some all important questions to go through with your venue coordinator to help in your decision making. These can be questions you ask before or during a site visit, the goal is to help you shortlist or reach a final decision on finding your dream wedding venue.
Some venues, particularly English Heritage venues have restrictions on the kind of suppliers that can be used especially when it comes to catering in a listed building. There are lots of regulations to follow and with good reason. Everything needs to be done in a professional and orderly manner and often some venues are only confient that these suppliers most familiar with the venues and its processes will work best to ensure all procedures are followed to keep it all in a good state of order. However there are some venues that can take this to the extent they restrict other suppliers such as your florist to a list of their accredited ones. Be careful, there are some decissions that are highly personal in nature and if bespoke is what you are after, then this may not be best for you. On the other hand if you just want to show up and are not particular on detilas so much then it could be the ideal match for you.
Even if a venue allows “Dry Hire” to allow the use of an outside caterer on site, there may still be corkage fees applicable or the venue decides it will run the bar (cash or tab based). This can have an impact on your overall costs depending on what rates are most competitive, your caterer’s or the venue’s. Corkage usually will apply on a per bottle basis or perhaps try to negotiate a flat fee.
Find out whether there is a minimum spend amount, especially for certain days of the week like Friday or Sunday. The venue may still expect a minimum rate to be charged by way of venue hire or guest count in terms of food and drink.
Do they require a security deposit for damages to the property? If so on what basis is it returned? You want to be sure if this is for example going to be based on leaving the place in a tidy state (or thats already included in the price) or its for damaged property such as a broken piece of art by your guests.
Deposit & Cancellation Policy
What is the initial deposit required? Can range from 10-50% for venues. Is there a payment plan and when is the balance due? If due to unforeseen and genuine reasons you have to cancel, can you change the date or you forfeit your deposit completely? Most venues have a general policy the closer to the event the more you loose of the hire fee paid or is payable.
When is access granted and when should guests leave by? This is important as some venues may charge you for every hour of overtime or charge extra for an early entry. At best you want to try and negotiate such things now even if you have yet to book your florist or catering set up team. Ensure at minimum the venue will organise tables and chairs as per your floor plan unless its a complete dry hire.
Number of Weddings Per Day
Although many people around the world will also be getting married on the same date, you want to make sure this is truly your wedding day venue. Some venues can double book because they have multiple function rooms that will allow more than one event take place simultaneously. Check if this is the case, sometimes venues cannot give you this information because should they receive a late enquiry and they have the availability they will sell the date. It may be possible to pay extra to close this possibility out or perhaps manage it better through seperate entrances if it does occur!
Does the venue come with an on-site manager to coordinate? Some venues provide a wedding planner and some a contact person for venue access and issues but they aren’t necessary a wedding planner so will not help with your logistics through the day. Ensure you know which and what you require for the type of wedding you are planning.
Does the venue come with allocated parking included? Remember not everyone drives and even if they do most come in pairs or groups of three to four. If parking needs to be paid for by guests, check to see if you can negotiate competitive rates for them beforehand.
Is security included in the hire fee or will this be an extra? Some venues require security to be contracted for the venue space.
If you are having children, check not only are they allowed but there is space to accommodate the age group appropriately for entertainment and food when required.
Supplier meals can cost 20-30% of your standard guest meals. Check to see if this is included and confirm the pricing. Take care of suppliers there for the full day well by providing a hot meal, they will work much better for you that way too! Ensure there is also an appropriate area often called “outmess space” for them to eat away from the focal guest areas.
Wet Weather Contingency
An outside ceremony means you do need a suitable backup should the weather not bode well on the day. However, it shouldn’t conflict with your drinks reception or dinner area if used.
Open Flame Policy
What is their open flame policy? If its not allowed speak to your florist or decorator regarding lanterns and votives to manage this better.
Are fireworks permitted? Not all venues allow this or can allow this so if its a part of your grand finale make sure it can actually be done.
If there are permanent fixtures such as paintings that cannot be removed it can be a problem if it will not work well for your overall vision and decor, ensure these types of issues are ironed out and agreed before booking.
Are there any areas you are not allowed to take pictures against or from within the venue? Check to ensure so that your wedding memories can be beautifully captured without any restrictions to your photographer’s creativity.
Happy venue finding!