Choosing a wedding venue is an exciting process—it can be easy to fall in love with the beauty and style of a location. But unless the place is so magical that you're willing to plan your whole event around it, you shouldn't start looking at wedding venues until you've decided how many guests you're inviting and the size of your budget. You'll also need to determine if you want to have your ceremony and reception in different locations, or if you want an all-in-one wedding venue.
Questions to Ask Your Wedding Venue
Once you've got a grasp on your parameters, and you have a few wedding venues in mind that fit your budget and size, then it's time to start asking questions.
- Does the decor fit your style and wedding colors? Will you have to spend a lot of money on flowers and decorations to make it beautiful?
- Are there limitations on decorations? Do they limit food and drinks to only certain areas of the wedding venue?
- Are candles or other open flames allowed?
- Are there any hidden costs? Before you sign the contract, read it carefully.
- What are the overtime charges?
- Is there a payment schedule? What kind of deposits are required?
- What's the cancellation policy?
Food and Drink
- Do they have an in-house caterer, and do you like that food? While an in-house caterer can be easier and cheaper, sometimes the food is not as beautiful as the room. So make sure you taste it!
- Do they have a limitation on which outside caterers you can use?
- Do they have a liquor license?
- Will they allow you to bring your own liquor? This is usually cheaper, even with the customary corkage fee.
- Do they have an adequate coat check and bathrooms?
- Is the wedding venue wheelchair accessible? If not, are there many stairs to climb? How close is the parking to the ceremony and reception rooms?
- Is there room in the wedding venue for a band and dancing?
- Does the wedding venue already own a sound system with adequate speakers, or will that need to be rented?
- Is there a space for the bride and groom to change and/or relax?
- Where will you take photographs? Is there a park nearby, or do the coordinators have recommended spots on the grounds?
- Who will be supervising and troubleshooting before the day of your wedding? Can you meet them ahead of time?
- If it's an outdoor location, do they have any backup plans for rain or other inclement weather? If not, is there a place that you can put up a tent?
Transportation and Parking
- Where can your guests park? Are there extra fees for parking? Do they have valet parking?
- Is the wedding venue convenient to public transportation, especially in big cities? How long will it take your guests to get there?
Considerations for Using Two Venues
Here are a few more questions to ask if you think you may want to use separate venues for your ceremony and reception.
- How far is it from one location to the other?
- How will the guests travel between the locations?
- Do the two places have the same level of formality and a coordinating style?
- Do they both accommodate the same number of guests?
- Does the wedding reception venue have any experience with weddings from your ceremony location?
Single Location Logistics
If you've found an all-in-one location that you like, confirming these details will help ensure a smooth event.
- Do they own enough chairs for the ceremony, or will they need to be rented?
- Does the wedding venue have an entirely separate area for the ceremony? (It is not uncommon that while the guests are at the cocktail hour, the caterers will transform the ceremony room into the dining room and dance floor.)
- If not, how long does it typically take for the staff to change-over the room?