Today, we're discussing how to find a wedding venue! More importantly, what wedding venue questions to ask before you book it! How to pick a wedding venue is one of the most common questions couples ask!
Join us for all our wedding venue tips to help identify the pros and cons of each site. Knowing what questions to ask when visiting wedding venues is essential. Ask each of these questions to find a wedding venue that will check all your boxes. Write down each answer so you can compare all the responses.
Need more planning help? Not sure what order your bridesmaids will stand at your ceremony? Who is going to sit in your front row? Our FREE easy-to-use Ceremony Placement Sheet Cheat gets you organized!
Different venues do their business differently. Some sites will offer to have private use of the wedding venue for the entire day! Others will include some extra decorating time the day before or even allow you to rehearse the day before. However, it's also common that venues limit the number of hours that you can be on-site. And they may even limit the number of hours that your actual event can take place. They can also have additional restrictions that your event can be no longer than four or five hours, especially if you're serving alcohol. This is one of the most important factors when trying to find a wedding venue!
It's essential to make sure there are enough hours in the day to complete all the setup. If it isn't, you might have to buy some additional hours to do hair and makeup, maybe do some extended photography at that venue outside of the package. Extra time on site is going to be an added expense! Often, I see wedding venues offer packages between eight to 10 hours for their more extensive packages. Still, sometimes it can be as small as four hours if you're having a speedy wedding.
Items included with the rental can have a tremendous impact on your budget! It can also make one venue look like it's more expensive when, in the long run, it turns out to be cheaper! Keep this in mind! Some example rental items that can save you tons of money, if included with the venue package, are tables and chairs! You can specifically ask about the chairs!
Are they going to be provided at the ceremony site as well as the reception site? Is there only one set of chairs? If so, do they need to be relocated from the ceremony site to the reception? Who's responsible for moving them? You'll want to deal with all these issues before signing or putting down a deposit.
Other venues may also provide things like linens, but keep in mind every place is different. When looking at the overall cost of various sites, be sure to factor in pricing for rental items. If the venue does not include tables, chairs, and linens, you'll need to source them and transport them to and from your event. Considering these additional costs will give you a more accurate comparison of the prices. If your dream venue is just a blank space, the rental fee is just the beginning and doesn't represent the total cost. If your second choice provides the tables, chairs, and linens, you get more value! Wedding venues that include additional items will save you both money, stress, and time.
Remember, all these decisions come with setup requirements. It's why we recommend a Day-of coordinator for any event at the minimum. Please don't rely on friends or family unless they have previous experience. Your wedding day only occurs once, and it's worth hiring a professional to help ensure issues are anticipated for or dealt with right away. The last thing you want is a problem that develops up when you're two minutes away from walking down the aisle!
Another critical question to ask! Will all of your guests fit into the reception hall? When you're asking this question, you also want to make sure that they can comfortably fit once inside. For example, at my wedding, the venue held 150 guests. Well, I had 125, and it was tight! Our mistake was not factoring in the space needed for the dance floor and our band! Be sure to ask how many people it can hold once vendors are in place.
Everybody's different. I've worked at venues that don't allow alcohol on site. Some won't allow liquor, but they allow beer, wine, and champagne. Other places could even have restrictions on which vendors they allow on-site. They also might have strict rules in general. If it is a historic facility, they'll have stringent regulations on what you can do on the property. Address any special requests when you're touring! You'll want to know what all the restrictions are before you book your date and pay a deposit.
What's the difference between a preferred and a required vendor list? A lot!
If somebody has an in-house or required vendor, no matter what, you will be using that vendor because it's part of renting the facility. Some people tend to think that an in-house caterer specifically might be more expensive. A lot of times, it's about the same, and it might even be cheaper! Using required vendors will restrict your choices; they won't have items other vendors can supply.
A preferred vendor list represents wedding professionals that the venue knows do an excellent job. They are essentially vouching for them! The difference is, you're in no way required to hire them if they are a preferred vendor. Be sure to obtain any preferred vendor list for the venues you're considering.
You should also know that some venues may offer an in-house venue coordinator. This is not the same as a wedding planner or wedding coordinator. There are many things a venue coordinator will not do for you that a Day of Coordinator will. So if you decide to skip on wedding coordination, be prepared to do a bit of work!
A venue coordinator will NOT move your chairs or help set up your decorations. They are there to ensure everything runs smoothly from the venue's standpoint. A Day-of Coordinator is who you should hire to help set up your day, keep you on schedule, and much more!
If they say no, DO NOT get married there! I repeat, if there is no rain plan in place, do not choose that venue! There is always a chance it might rain on your wedding day, no matter how many times you checked your weather app. A rain plan outlines what will happen to all the guests and your ceremony plans if it begins to rain. It may include renting additional items like a rain tent. All furniture may need to be brought into the shelter so your guests can then continue to enjoy your wedding from a covered space.
If you're planning an outdoor wedding in a field, be prepared for everything. Keep in mind; a rain tent needs to be set up 48 hours in advance, whether it gets used or not. It cannot be erected on the day of the wedding or when it starts raining! So, having a rain plan already in place at the venue can make an enormous difference if the weather turns bad on your wedding day. So you want to ask what policies the site has in place if it begins to rain.
Some venues require event insurance, others that say you have to pay for off-site security. They can make the arrangements, but it is still an additional fee you'll need to consider. Some venues require you to dispose of the trash at the end of the night. The wedding venue may have an event the next day, and they can't store waste from multiple weddings on-site. Always ask if there are any other responsibilities you, as the couple, will be responsible for. Consider the stress and time it takes to fulfill those responsibilities or the amount of money needed for somebody to take care of it for you.
You want to be crystal clear about this! Logistics includes things like, is there going to be enough parking? Is there air conditioning or heat required? Is the site handicap accessible? What time do you gain access to the facility? What time can vendors arrive to begin setup? And so on! You want to make sure that it's going to be comfortable and stress-free for you to be able to get everything done on your wedding day. Working out these logistics with the venue beforehand is of tremendous value. They will be able to tell you a bit of what a typical wedding day looks like there, and you'll get a better idea if it's a fit for you.
Venues charge by the day, so you'd essentially be asking them a free day to set up your decorations. Some venues give this to you, and some do not. If they offer you that freebie, that day is closed for any other bride who wants to book it. The venue would be turning down another wedding, so not many are going to include decoration days. Just be prepared for a no, even though you should still ask!
It's is the same thing as decorating beforehand. Not every venue will allow you to have a rehearsal the day before because they are blocking off that day from booking another event. Most commonly, if the venue says yes, they do not have an event scheduled for the day. Some will allow you to have a rehearsal dinner for free. Some will charge to have rehearsal dinners, and some just won't let you have a rehearsal dinner at all. Every venue is different, but there are various ways to work out your rehearsal off-site, so not to worry!
If you can't do it the night before, at the actual venue, I promise you as a wedding planner, there are more critical things you should be focusing on. A rehearsal is more about the order people walk in, how you hold your hands, or how you stand in the transitions from giving somebody away. It also includes when the couple kiss and when they should walk back down the aisle. It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the actual location you're standing in but more how you stand, where you stand, and when you walk away. So, if you can't rehearse the day before, don't give up on that venue! Especially if it's the venue that you want, your rehearsal can take place anywhere!
We hope that this helps you when you're considering different venues in your area! Grab your FREE copy of our Venue Cheat Sheet!