Updated: Mar 19, 2020
The first logical step to plan your wedding is to investigate venues. Have a look at as many as you can and don't be afraid to check out various styles. Once you've seen a few of them, it will become quite clear to you what type of ambience appeals to you. There are so many beautiful settings from rustic chic to golf course elegance to "beachy" casual and everything in between. I have put together a rather long list of items to consider asking your venue during your initial meeting. Some might not be appropriate to particular venues since you might be using outside caterers and bring in your own bar. The more questions you ask, the fewer surprises you will have! They are in bullet form and in no particular order:
1. Date, Time of Availability and Cost of specific spaces. Any discounts on Fridays or Sundays. Any limitations re: # of people for buffet/sit down dinner/on dance floor.
2. Any other event on that day which would effect parking and my wedding at your venue or close by? Do you have valet's for parking? How many? Insurance for any damage to cars?
3. Can you guarantee venue will be perfect inside and outside and not being renovated. Can you guarantee grounds will be suitable for photos/ceremony re: flowers, trees etc.
4. Do you have a backup generator if electricity fails? Do you have air conditioning and what temperature do you set your thermostat to.
5. Who is my wedding coordinator and when will she/he/they be there. Any assistants? They should be guaranteed to solely take care of my wedding and nothing else that day/night.
6. How will cake be handled and any charges for slicing/handling.
7. What type of insurance do you have in place. i.e. if venue becomes unusable on my date, someone hurts themselves, items are stolen etc.
8. Any hidden costs which my "final" bill won't show. Talk about time frame of payments, amount of initial deposit, payments and payment options. Any discount paying with check or in full early? Have a look at a usual contract from the venue.
9. Any time limits on music, lights, etc. which would affect my wedding. Especially important if it's in a neighborhood or on a lake (sound travels over water).
10. Can I view your venue during an actual wedding (either before if not during)
11. Can I bring in my own cake, flowers, decorations, etc. or what are my options at your venue? Can I use real candles? How early can my decorating team arrive.
12. Can my photographer use a drone overhead?
13. How many waitstaff, bartenders and bars/stations will be available. Assume your liquor license has no limitations. Can you guarantee my guests will not have to wait long for a drink at the bar(s)? Can you butler hors d'euvres and special drinks during cocktails. Can you serve champagne very chilled for the first toast or is it usually lukewarm? How long is it between the first and last tables being served dinner?
14. What is the table set up, including my options for head table/bride&groom table. Do you provide center pieces and different color schemes/options for the tables/chairs. Where would the table for party favors be set up.
15. Where would the cake be set up for photos and for the Bride&Groom to cut the cake.
16. Dance floor- location and person limit
17. Show the layout of the room, including location of DJ/band, cake, dance floor, any photobooth etc. Make sure there are enough outlets for DJ/band/other vendors. Any table/easels for my photos, place cards, special items. Any wall space to hang large photos/canvases. Location and number of bathrooms.
18. Lighting- how bright/dim will room be for dinner and dancing. Is there a dimmer to control lighting.
19. Are there microphones for speeches and do you handle that
20. Can I have fireworks, sparklers, confetti , rose petals etc.
21. Are there separate suites/areas for dressing/preparation for bride and groom.
22. If at a hotel, is the Bridal suite available? Any charge? Can you set aside a block of rooms for guests and at what rate. Other area hotels which you have a relationship with.
23. How early can my vendors/wedding decorator start setting up
24. Where will the ceremony be held and am I responsible to set up the arbor/altar. What type of chairs and decor can you provide for the ceremony and reception.
25. Alcohol- any limitations. Can I request certain brands of alcohol to suit my guests. Can I give alcohol as a party favor.
26. Discuss prices for alcohol consumed and unopened bottles? Corkage fees?
27. Discuss timeframe of entire day/night from ceremony to cocktail hour to dinner, first dance, dinner, cake etc.
28. Smoking areas? Lounge areas?
29. Where does the sun set. Any special photo opp areas outside or indoors
30. What are my china and crystal choices for cocktails and dinner. Size of plates for cocktails, dinner, etc.
31. What is the time of the "last call" for alcohol at the bar?
32. Meals- accommodation for any special diets. Vendors Meals- cost and choices. Vendor table?
33. Discuss menus and prices. Are sample dinners offered so I can taste the various options. Is there a charge.
34. What is your policy re:cancellation by client if wedding has to be postponed.
Good luck selecting your Venue, ladies!
Here are some tips to choosing your Wedding Photographer: