Choosing the right wedding venue for your special day is one of the most important decisions you’ll make while planning your wedding.
It needs to be beautiful, fall within your budget and accommodate your needs as well as those of your guests. But how do you know if a specific wedding venue is the one for you?
That’s where we come in. We’ve put together the ultimate list of questions to ask a wedding venue before shelling out for a deposit.
Before Your Visit
Being prepared — and organized — is key to finding the perfect site for your wedding. Doing a little bit of Internet recon will not only help you to choose a site that’s beautiful, it should also help you to narrow down the sites you’ll actually visit.
Before heading out to preview your venues of choice, it’s a good idea not only to have a list of questions you want to ask your wedding venue, but a way to jot down information. Now that you’re prepared, let’s dive into all of the questions to ask during your wedding venue tours.
Basic Questions to Ask a Wedding Venue
1. Is my preferred wedding date available? If not, what’s available in my preferred month?
If you have your heart set on a specific venue, finding out what dates it has available will help you decide if you can alter your preferred date or if it’s time to consider a new location.
2. Will this venue accommodate my ceremony and wedding reception?
Planning a wedding may be fun but it’s also a lot of work. Having your entire wedding at one venue gives you one less thing to worry about. Many all-inclusive venues come with a wedding coordinator to help you nail down the details of your special day.
3. How many guests will this venue accommodate?
Knowing how many people the site can handle for both the ceremony and wedding reception is a major deciding factor on if the venue meets your needs. Some sites can accommodate a set number for a seated dinner but offer more flexibility for buffet-style or cocktail party receptions, giving you some wiggle room. If the venue can only handle 150 guests and you were planning to invite 200, you’ll have to decide what’s more important to you, the venue or your guest list.
4. Will we have exclusive venue use?
Being the only event onsite makes the day flow much more smoothly. If your venue is hosting more than one event on your big day, that can mean less setup time, limited venue access and can even cause confusion if there’s no one on hand to direct guests to the correct ceremony location. If your venue doesn’t guarantee you exclusive access to the grounds, you may want to ask if a complete buyout is possible.
5. Do you have weather contingency plans for outdoor weddings?
You may have your heart set on an outdoor ceremony and reception but, if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, you need to know your venue has you covered. Are there indoor spaces for your ceremony and reception? If not, does the venue offer tents or will they need to be rented? Finding out the backup plan for inclement weather before committing to a venue will make the planning process far less stressful.
Pricing Questions to Ask a Wedding Venue
6. How much is the rental fee? What’s included in the price?
Aside from knowing how much the venue costs, make sure to ask how many hours are included in the rental and if you have the option to purchase extra time. Is the rental all-inclusive or will you have to hire outside vendors? Are there additional charges for cleaning or gratuities?
7. How much is the deposit?
It’s a good idea to know upfront what it will cost to reserve the space so you can budget appropriately.
8. What payment plans do you offer? What forms of payment do you accept?
Budgeting is key when planning your wedding. Knowing when and how you’ll need to pay will help you stay on target.
9. What is the cancellation policy?
While most venues have pretty clear cancellation guidelines, unexpected situations like closures due to pandemic or bankruptcy may not be covered in your rental agreement. Make sure you ask your wedding venue about deposit refunds and postponement policies.
10. What is the last date to change our reservation?
With COVID-19 still very much in existence, knowing what your postponement options are is essential. You may be able to go ahead with your wedding but with fewer guests, so be sure to ask the vendor what the final date is for giving guest numbers.
Vendor Questions to Ask a Wedding Venue
11. Do you have a list of approved vendors? Do we have to use them?
If your wedding venue doesn’t provide all of the services you need for your ceremony and reception, you may be required to choose from a list of pre-approved vendors. If you want to hire a florist that’s not on the list, you’ll have to decide which is more important to you: location or the flowers of your choice.
12. Do you have guidelines for outside vendors?
Even if your venue doesn’t require you to hire from a pre-approved list, it will probably have specific guidelines for vendors to follow. From photo shoot restrictions for the photographer to decor restrictions for the florist, you’ll need to know the requirements ahead of time so your chosen vendors can stay organized. To simplify the process, ask the venue manager for vendor recommendations. A pro who’s familiar with your venue will be comfortable working there on your wedding day — and that gives you one less thing to worry about.
13. Is a DJ or live band permitted? Are there any noise restrictions?
Some venues may have limited space or noise restrictions that could prevent you from hosting a DJ or bringing in a live band.
Food Questions to Ask a Wedding Venue
14. Do you have in-house catering? If so, is food included in the venue fee?
Venues with a chef on staff are very convenient and save you the trouble of having to deal with an outside vendor. Before booking your venue, it’s important to know if the food is included in the rental fee or if that will be an additional reception cost. Knowing upfront will allow you to budget accordingly.
15. If there’s not a chef in-house, can we hire the caterer of our choice?
Many wedding venues will provide you with a list of suggested caterers. While some offer the directory strictly as a convenience to the couple, others will insist you hire a pre-approved caterer. Why? Most often it’s because the venue has an established relationship with them. By encouraging a couple to hire off of the list, the venue won’t have the headache of dealing with an unprofessional vendor.
16. Is there a food and beverage minimum we’re required to meet?
While not all wedding venues have a food and beverage minimum, many do. The minimum, a requirement that must be met for your event to even take place, is calculated one of two ways. Either a minimum number of guests at a specific dollar amount per plate must be met, or a minimum sum must be spent on food and drink.
16. Do we have to purchase alcohol through you or can we provide our own liquor? If so, is there a service or corkage fee?
A venue’s decision to allow couples to provide their own alcohol is often dependent on state liquor laws. While most states allow a BYOB policy if the venue has a proper liquor license, not all do. If you’re getting married in a state that permits this practice, buying your own booze can save you thousands of dollars. Sites that allow you to provide your own alcohol are often willing to run the bar for you. Even if it isn’t built into the catering costs, a service or corkage fee is rarely prohibitive.
Other food-related questions to ask:
18. Is there a separate space for cocktail hour? How many people does the space accommodate?
19. Is cocktail hour included in our catering costs? If I want hors d’oeuvres to be served, is that built into the price or will it cost extra?
20. If we choose to use the house caterer, will our wedding cake be included in the price? We’d like a groom’s cake too, how much will that cost?
21. Can we opt for in-house catering but bring in a cake from an outside baker of our choice? Will there be a cake cutting fee?
22. We want to do a food tasting before selecting our menu. Is there a fee for that?
23. Can your menu accommodate special dietary needs like gluten-free or kosher?
Logistical and Service Questions to Ask a Wedding Venue
24. Is there enough parking for my guests? Is public transportation an option?
If the venue doesn’t offer on-site parking or has limited space, that doesn’t mean it’s game over for that site. One of the most practical solutions is offering a shuttle service from a local hotel where your guests are staying. The key is knowing about this up front so you can budget for the extra cost. If a shuttle service is out of the question, you’ll need to find out if there are cab or driver services in the area for guests to use.
25. Do you provide sound system equipment and speakers?
It’s best to find out well in advance if you will be responsible for renting sound equipment. If the venue itself doesn’t provide a sound system, you may want to consider finding a DJ or band that will take care of the sound for you.
26. Are there décor restrictions? Can I bring my own decorations?
Many wedding sites prohibit the use of taping, tacking or stapling decorations to prevent damage to items like walls, pews, chairs and tables. Confetti and rice are often frowned on too because of the mess they leave. You also may not be able to use candles — at least not the traditional flame-lit variety. It’s a good idea to find out what restrictions your venue has before deciding on a theme for your ceremony and reception. If the venue has an in-house coordinator, he or she will likely have some helpful suggestions on how you can personalize the space.
Other questions you may want to ask about include:
27. Are we required to obtain our own liability insurance?
28. Does your site offer a wedding coordinator?
29. Is a manager on-site for our wedding day?
30. When can vendors arrive to set up?
31. Do you provide staff for set up and breakdown?
32. Do you provide waitstaff?
33. Do you provide tables and chairs?
34. Are table linens, plates, silverware and glassware provided? What do they look like? (You’ll want to make sure they complement your color scheme).
35. Is there an outdoor dance floor?
36. Is the site handicap accessible?
37. How many restrooms are available?
38. Is there a coat check for cool-weather weddings?
39. Will a dressing room or suite be available to the bridal party? What time can we arrive?
40. Is the venue available for our wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner?
Knowing what questions to ask a wedding venue is key not only in choosing the best site possible for your big day, but to streamline the planning process.
From liability insurance to time restrictions to a cake cutting fee, this handy checklist will help you know what questions to ask your wedding venue before signing on the dotted line.