Home ยป 15 Wedding Venue Questions Every Bride Should Ask

15 Wedding Venue Questions Every Bride Should Ask

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So, the reality of it is, looking for your dream wedding venue can be daunting. 

Where do you even begin? Perhaps you already have an idea of where your dream venue is, but if your are anything like us, we didn’t even know what state we wanted to plan our wedding in. 

We are both from southern California, however live in NYC. From the beginning, we knew that we definitely didn’t even want to consider southern California for a number of reasons, nor NYC for two reasons, total cost and it wasn’t the vibe we were aiming for. 

We were engaged in November 2019, however due the holidays and work schedules, we didn’t begin our venue search until late January 2020. 

We made a list of venues we had found online, across the country, that met the vibe we had in mind. 

Whether you are planning your wedding local or  away in a destination, here are the 15 questions, you should always ask every venue you visit (or in our case due to Covid, speak to) before you book. 

{1} Not only what is your capacity, but how many total wedding guests can they accommodate? Even more importantly, how many seated guests can they accommodate? 

You want to be sure that if you invite 120 guests and they all show up, that they can all sit (at once) during the dinner. 

{2} Do they have a plan for rain or inclement weather? For the obvious reasons, this is more of a vital question if your venue of consideration is entirely or even a portion of it, is outdoors. Do they have a weather tent that can be set up if it rains? Do they offer air conditioning? etc. 

{3} Are you permitted to have outside vendors? This predominately goes for catering, alcohol and cake. However, some venues don’t allow any outside vendors, including music, decor and so on… and this usually results in a higher overall cost when you can’t shop outside the venue. This may be fine with you but great to know up front, so that there aren’t any surprises, or shall i say, shock down the road. 

{4} If they allow outside vendors, do they have an approved list / preferred vendor list which they can provide? Depending on your personal preferences, it could be a great thing if they allow you to use outside vendors, as this gives you the flexibility to shop for the best quotes and use a vendor you love. If you’re like us, we were planning a state side destination wedding and were unfamiliar with the local experts, so a list a recommendations gave us some direction. 

{5} If they require you to use their in house food and beverages, do they have a minimum requirement? If so, what are the penalties if the minimum wasn’t met? I didn’t even realize this was a thing, but through conversations with some venues who required your to use their catering and bar services, most had minimum requirements. This may not normally be the biggest concern under normal circumstances, however provided that we were planning a wedding amid COVID concerns; I asked the question ,“What if we invited 150 and only 60 RSVP’ed a month before due to being uncomfortable with traveling? To my surprise, the minimum still had to be met and you would be on the hook for the balance regardless. Ask the questions. 

{6} Do they have a full kitchen or even a catering kitchen? This is vital if you are planning to offer a meal. Based on numerous conversations with caterers, they would prefer a full kitchen, however at a minimum, a catering kitchen where they can set up food over warmers. Believe me, some venues do not offer a catering kitchen and the cost to have your caterer bringing in and setting up one can run upward of a few thousand buckaroos ($$$)…wasted funds.

{7} Is the venue private? Some venues are small enough that they solely host one wedding a day, where others, such at hotels/ resorts; have several event halls and host a number of weddings/ events a day. This may be a non-issue for you, however always good that you are aware so that again, there aren’t any surprises. 

{8} Do they require you to have a Wedding planner or Day of Coordinator ? Do they require you to use there’s? If you are required to use their “Day of Coordinator” , what’s the additional cost? If I recall correctly, all venues that we spoke required you to have at a minimum, a “Day of Coordinator”, which if it was theirs, came at an additional price (approximately $500- 2,000, depending on the venue); or if you used our own, they have to be approved by the venue. 

We already had a wedding planner, which did need to get approved by the venue we ended up choosing. None the less, this could be an additional expense you weren’t expecting if you booked a venue, put down your non-refundable deposit and were unaware of the additional cost of hiring a “Day of Coordinator”.

{9} What do they provide in addition to the venue (building) for your wedding? Do they provide tables, linens, chairs, dining ware, lighting, a sound system? This is great information to have and a venue providing many additional items/ services, can save you a lot of dinero. From our experience, many chain venues (Hotels, resorts or near metropolitan areas, did not provide anything more than the venue it self for the price; whereas privately owned venues offered a great value in additional list items). 

{10} What’s the deal with parking? Believe it or not, this question may often be forgotten, but from my personal experience of booking venues for events and now our wedding, parking is a “must ask”. 

We have booked and hosted events in the past where parking was non existent and we were instructed to notify guests to park 2 blocks away, around the corner and so on. Sounds funny, but true story. 

{11} Does the venue offer or have a bridal / groom suite where you can get ready the day of, and if they do, it is included or come at an additional cost? Also, how long prior to walking down the aisle can you access the space? You want to be sure that you plan for a location to get ready and have enough time to get dolled up for the big day and if they do not have a bridal suite to offer, you are well prepared with booking a space elsewhere. 

{12} How early can vendors arrive to set up/ decorate/ drop off the cake? You NEED to know this answer, because once you begin to speak to outside vendors, they all will ask this question up front, aside from, “whats your budget”?

{13} What are the noise ordinances in the area? Hence, what time does the music need to be turned off or lowered to what decimal. You don’t want your party ending at 10 PM if you had planned and paid for your venue until midnight.

{14} If the venue is a hotel/ resort and offers lodging, do they require you to have a certain # of rooms rented and if so, fo how many nights? Since we were personally planning a destination wedding, having lodging available onsite was preferred but most of them that did offer onsite lodging came at a hefty price. One in particular that we spoke to, required that a certain portion of their property be booked for a minimum of two nights, which equated to around $20k in total (which averaged $500-1500 per night). What if your guests want to save a penny and book a room at a nearby hotel instead? If the space wasn’t booked by the guests, you are are contractually stuck with the balance. That would have been an ugly, unexpected shock weeks for the big day. 

{15} And, how much is the deposit and do they offer a payment plan? Unless you are paying for the booking of your venue in full, this is a “must” ask question. You need to know how much $$$ you will need to lock up in order to secure your date and venue. Additionally, when the remainder balance is due. 

Of course there are additional questions I had and asked, but other questions, I would say are more so preferences based on what we personally wanted and were dreaming about, opposed to vital in avoiding any surprises. 

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