Questions to Ask Before Booking a Wedding Venue

So you’ve researched wedding venues in your area, narrowed down the options, and completed a few site visits. Chances are that you’re experiencing one of two things. Either you’ve fallen in love with one of them and can’t wait to sign on the dotted line or you’re feeling confused and overwhelmed and not sure which of several suitable venues to pick. There are a few questions to ask before booking a wedding venue that will really help you out. They’ll either assist you in doing your due diligence and ensuring the venue you love really IS a dream, or they’ll help you dig a little deeper and get the information you need so you know which venue best suits your needs. Some are questions to ask the venue while others you need to ask yourselves. Whatever you do, don’t put down a deposit before you go through this list!

Here are the 15 questions to ask BEFORE booking a wedding venue.

Questions to Ask the Venue

What is included in the price? Before booking, it’s important to have a very clear understanding of everything that is included in your venue fee. This will allow you to compare venues more effectively as well as budget for hidden costs. This should include décor items such as tables and chairs, linens, and dinnerware. Some venues include these items in their fee while others do not, so you’ll need to include that in your budget.

What isn’t included? Venues can have a lot of extra costs hidden in their small print. To avoid any surprises, ask upfront. For example, a cake cutting fee, corkage fees, or bar minimum spends. You should also ask about staffing costs and valet.

What are the set-up and tear-down policies? Wedding venues have different policies for when your vendors can arrive for both set-up and tear-down. This may depend on whether they have other events booked before or after yours or it’s a property open to the public. You’ll need to ensure that your team has enough time to create the décor and floral displays that you’re planning in the time allowed. Even if extra time is allowed, there may be extra charges. It’s also a good idea to ask about storage space and security, if your need to store décor before or after the event.

Are there any restrictions? Each venue has its own restrictions, which may be based on safety or maintaining the venue (especially if it is a historical property). For example, do they allow candles? Can you use hanging décor or florals? Will they allow you to move any furnishings? Ask about other restrictions too, such as noise levels or cut-off times for music and dancing.

Will we have exclusive use of the venue? Larger venues may host more than one event each weekend. Find out whether exclusivity is available and what exactly that means (for example, does it only give you exclusive use of certain spaces, etc.).

Does the venue have the facilities needed for my guests? Keeping your guests happy is an important part of making your wedding day run smoothly and that means ensuring their comfort and convenience. Think about their needs – do you have any guests with mobility challenges, and does the venue facilitate this? Is there adequate parking? How many bathrooms are available? Are temperature controls in place?

Is there a backup plan in case of bad weather? While all couples hope for good weather on their wedding day, you need to be prepared for the opposite. If part of your ceremony or reception will be outdoors, find out if the venue has an indoor alternative that will accommodate all of your guests or if you need to plan for a tent.

Can you hire your own vendors? Some venues allow you to curate your own vendor team while others require you to choose from a list of approved vendors. Find out what your options are. If they require you to use an in-house caterer, are they able to meet your needs (for example, Kosher catering or a vegetarian menu)?

Are accommodations available for the wedding party/guests? Some venues (especially for destination weddings) have ample accommodations on-site for the wedding party and/or guests. You may also be able to block these in advance. If not enough accommodations are available, be sure that there are suitable options nearby.

Is there a space available for the wedding party to get ready? Even if a wedding venue doesn’t have on-site accommodations, they may have a suite for the wedding party to get ready in. Be sure to ask to see this so you know whether it provides you with enough room and if it would make a suitable backdrop for photographs.

What is the cancellation or postponement policy? It’s more important than ever these days to ensure you check the fine print on your venue contract. Find out what their policies, procedures, and charges are in case of a postponement or cancellation, including whether any payments are non-refundable.

Questions to Ask Yourselves

Can we afford this wedding venue? Once you’ve taken a realistic look at the costs – including any extra fees that might be incurred – ask yourselves whether all the sums add up. It’ll be no fun planning the rest of the event if you’re constantly worried about going over budget.

Will the location and venue be convenient for our guests? Having a wedding in a secret, secluded location is romantic but it can be a huge headache for your guests. You need to be realistic about accessibility and transportation, especially if guests are traveling from far away.

Can you work with the venue coordinator? The venue coordinator is someone who you’ll be working with closely over the next several months so it’s important that you feel comfortable with them. Did they come across as welcoming, knowledgeable, and professional? Trust your gut if you have concerns.

Have we checked the reviews (and do they back up the venue’s claims)? It’s so important to check a venue’s reviews. A recommendation from a happy (recent) couple can really put your mind at rest. On the other hand, a poor review can highlight issues you may not have uncovered.

Now that you know which questions to ask before booking a wedding venue, here’s one final tip. Be sure to get everything in writing in your final contract!


Image by John and Joseph Photography Inc.