Wedding Planning Guide

questions to ask your wedding venue

On the hunt for the perfect wedding venue? Once you’ve narrowed down your list and scheduled some site visits, it’s important to meet with the staff and ask detailed, in-depth questions to make sure it’s the right space for your celebration. To help, we’ve come up with this comprehensive list of questions to ask a wedding venue—before you put down a deposit. (Pro tip: Download our FREE printable and bring it with you!)

DOWNLOAD A PRINTABLE CHECKLIST


The 13 Key Questions to Ask a Wedding Venue

1

IS MY PREFERRED WEDDING DATE AVAILABLE?

Arguably the most important of all wedding venue questions is “Is my date available?” Whether you’ve worked hard and chosen a wedding date you’ve committed to or are open-minded and willing to let the venue choice come first, your wedding date matters because it will be your anniversary for the rest of your life. Try to visit venues before you’ve chosen an exact date. If you have a few options or a range of dates that might work, you’ll be more likely to secure a spot at your venue of choice.


2

HOW MANY WEDDINGS OR EVENTS DO YOU HOST ON ONE DAY? ON ONE WEEKEND?

In an ideal world, your wedding reception is the only show in town and the spotlight is solely on you. This isn’t always the reality. If your venue is large enough to accommodate multiple events on the same day or same weekend, you may end up with a smaller window for set-up, limited morning-of access, and potentially confused guests. If you are unable to guarantee the exclusivity of your venue, inquire how much it may cost to rent the entire grounds for your date. If that solution does not work with your budget, be sure to ask follow-up questions on how their staff manages multiple events hosted simultaneously.


3

WHAT IS THE BACKUP PLAN FOR RAIN OR INCLEMENT WEATHER?

What happens if it rains? If you’re planning to get married outside, your wedding venue may have a backup space you can use in the event of inclement weather. Be sure to tour this space as well. While no one wants it to rain on their wedding day, it definitely happens and it’s important that you love your Plan B just as much as Plan A. On the flip side, if you are planning an indoor event, you may want to better understand Plan B outdoor dining options should ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions suddenly prevent indoor gatherings at a future date.


4

WHAT IS THE VENUE FEE AND WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE TOTAL?

Obviously, budget is crucial when you’re determining what questions to ask when looking at wedding venues. Make sure you understand exactly what’s included in the venue fee. Does it cover service charges, gratuity, and cleaning fees, or are those additional line items?


5

WHAT ARE THE RATES FOR DIFFERENT DAYS OF THE WEEK AND TIMES?

Some venues offer a discount for booking an off-season date or a Sunday through Friday wedding. They may also have different rates for different times, such as in the morning or afternoon versus the evening. They may also have a different rate depending on the season. Review our ideas on a spring, summer, fall, and winter wedding. Always ask for peak season and off-season rates in your list of wedding planning questions for the venue.


6

HOW MUCH IS THE DEPOSIT AND WHEN IS IT DUE? IS IT REFUNDABLE?

In order to secure your venue, you’ll most likely be asked to pay a deposit, which may or may not be refundable should you be forced to cancel. Make sure you understand the terms of the deposit and know when you’ll have to pay it in order to secure your date.


7

HOW DO YOU STRUCTURE THE PAYMENT SCHEDULE?

Most venues will have you pay a deposit upon signing the contract, and the balance in installments between the day you sign and your wedding date. Hash out the payment schedule before you sign any agreement so you know if you will have time to save a little extra cash.


8

WHAT IS THE CANCELLATION POLICY?

Of course, no one goes into wedding planning intending to cancel, but things do come up — medical emergencies, big life changes, pandemics. Be sure to find out how long you have to cancel and get your money back (or at least some of it). See if they would be open to transitioning your date to a future date if a postponement was needed.


9

CAN WE CHOOSE OUR OWN VENDORS, OR DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED OR EXCLUSIVE VENDOR LIST?

This can often be a dealbreaker if you had a certain menu or cuisine theme that you envisioned. If you are more flexible with your vendor options, considering options the venue recommends can be a strategically favorable decision. These vendors have most likely worked out the small nuances and coordination hurdles at this setting that others may not be aware of. There is also the potential you may get a special discounted rate to partner with these vendors because of their ongoing relationship with the venue’s management.


10

IS THERE A COORDINATOR ON STAFF? WHO WILL BE MY MAIN CONTACT?

If they aren’t the person you’re doing your site visit with, ask to meet these contacts in person. Having a good rapport with your main contact will make the planning process go much more smoothly. Gauge how responsive and accommodating this contact is during your initial visit as a clue to what future relations will be like.


11

IS THERE A FOOD AND BEVERAGE MINIMUM?

Venues with in-house caterers will often have a food and beverage minimum that you’re required to meet as part of the contract — essentially a minimum amount you need to spend. Find out what happens if you don’t meet it, as well as what upgraded options you might be able to add to your menu to help you meet that minimum.


12

DO YOU HAVE AN IN-HOUSE CATERER, A LIST OF PREFERRED CATERERS, OR DO I NEED TO PROVIDE MY OWN?

Make sure you know your catering options and choose the right one to suit your theme. Even if there is an in-house caterer, do you have the option of using an outside caterer instead? If you opt to use an outside vendor, be sure to review our list of questions to ask your wedding caterer.


13

ARE THERE ANY DECOR RESTRICTIONS? ARE CANDLES PERMITTED?

Some venues have restrictions on whether or not you can hang decorations from the ceiling or on the walls. Also, some venues do not allow candles, so you may have to opt for LED candles instead.


More Questions to Ask

For the super planners out there, we have included additional questions you can review on your wedding venue checklist to make sure you have left no stone unturned.

AVAILABILITY & LOGISTICS

  • How many guests can the venue accommodate?
  • Can I hold my ceremony here, too? Is there an additional charge?
  • How many hours are included in the rental of the space? Is there an overtime fee?
  • Do you have liability insurance?
  • Is the site handicap accessible?
  • How many bathrooms are there? Will we need to rent additional portable restrooms? Are there gender-neutral bathrooms?
  • Is parking available on-site? How many spaces are there? Will guests be charged for parking?
  • Are taxis/rideshares easily accessible from the venue?
  • If a shuttle service is needed, can you assist with setting it up?
  • What overnight accommodations do you provide? Do you offer a discount for booking multiple rooms — or a complimentary room or upgrade for the newlyweds?
  • If no accommodations are available, what are the nearest hotels to the venue?
  • Do you have your own sound equipment and speakers, or will those need to be rented or provided by the entertainment?
  • Are there noise restrictions?
  • Is there anything special happening on-site during that time of year?
  • Are there “getting ready” rooms available on-site?
  • How much time is allocated for the rehearsal?

VENDORS & SETUP

  • Can the venue accommodate a DJ or live band?
  • What security services do you offer?
  • Do you provide a coat check service?
  • What time can my vendors start setting up on the day of the wedding?
  • Will your staff be involved in setting up and breaking down the decor? In what capacity?

FOOD & BEVERAGE

  • If I hire my own caterer, are kitchen facilities available for them?
  • What are the tax and service/gratuity charges?
  • Can we do a tasting before we finalize our menu? Is there a charge?
  • Are tables, chairs, linens, plates, silverware, and glassware provided, or will I have to rent them myself or get them through my caterer?
  • Do you have a liquor license?
  • Is there a fee for bringing our own cake or desserts?
  • Is there a cake-cutting/serving fee?
  • Can I bring my own alcohol and is there a corkage fee?

Pro tip: Many venues offer the option of purchasing liquor directly through them (especially if they have an exclusive or in-house caterer), which is convenient. It can, however, come with a hefty markup. Find out if you can source your liquor elsewhere, which allows you to price-shop, or if you can buy it yourself and bring it to the event for their staff to serve.

DECOR & RENTALS

  • Do you have signage or other aids to direct guests to my event?
  • Do you provide heaters and/or umbrellas for the outdoor spaces?
  • What floor plan do you recommend for my guest count?

Pro tip: Find out how many guests you can fit in the space with and without a dance floor, with a band vs. with a DJ (as a band will require more space), and with round vs. rectangular or square tables to understand which decisions will help you maximize the space and your guest list.

On the hunt for the perfect wedding venue? Once you’ve narrowed down your list and scheduled some site visits, it’s important to meet with the staff and ask detailed, in-depth questions to make sure it’s the right space for your celebration. To help, we’ve come up with this comprehensive list of questions to ask a wedding venue—before you put down a deposit. (Pro tip: Download our FREE printable and bring it with you!)

DOWNLOAD A PRINTABLE CHECKLIST


The 13 Key Questions to Ask a Wedding Venue

1

IS MY PREFERRED WEDDING DATE AVAILABLE?

Arguably the most important of all wedding venue questions is “Is my date available?” Whether you’ve worked hard and chosen a wedding date you’ve committed to or are open-minded and willing to let the venue choice come first, your wedding date matters because it will be your anniversary for the rest of your life. Try to visit venues before you’ve chosen an exact date. If you have a few options or a range of dates that might work, you’ll be more likely to secure a spot at your venue of choice.


2

HOW MANY WEDDINGS OR EVENTS DO YOU HOST ON ONE DAY? ON ONE WEEKEND?

In an ideal world, your wedding reception is the only show in town and the spotlight is solely on you. This isn’t always the reality. If your venue is large enough to accommodate multiple events on the same day or same weekend, you may end up with a smaller window for set-up, limited morning-of access, and potentially confused guests. If you are unable to guarantee the exclusivity of your venue, inquire how much it may cost to rent the entire grounds for your date. If that solution does not work with your budget, be sure to ask follow-up questions on how their staff manages multiple events hosted simultaneously.


3

WHAT IS THE BACKUP PLAN FOR RAIN OR INCLEMENT WEATHER?

What happens if it rains? If you’re planning to get married outside, your wedding venue may have a backup space you can use in the event of inclement weather. Be sure to tour this space as well. While no one wants it to rain on their wedding day, it definitely happens and it’s important that you love your Plan B just as much as Plan A. On the flip side, if you are planning an indoor event, you may want to better understand Plan B outdoor dining options should ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions suddenly prevent indoor gatherings at a future date.


4

WHAT IS THE VENUE FEE AND WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE TOTAL?

Obviously, budget is crucial when you’re determining what questions to ask when looking at wedding venues. Make sure you understand exactly what’s included in the venue fee. Does it cover service charges, gratuity, and cleaning fees, or are those additional line items?


5

WHAT ARE THE RATES FOR DIFFERENT DAYS OF THE WEEK AND TIMES?

Some venues offer a discount for booking an off-season date or a Sunday through Friday wedding. They may also have different rates for different times, such as in the morning or afternoon versus the evening. They may also have a different rate depending on the season. Review our ideas on a spring, summer, fall, and winter wedding. Always ask for peak season and off-season rates in your list of wedding planning questions for the venue.


6

HOW MUCH IS THE DEPOSIT AND WHEN IS IT DUE? IS IT REFUNDABLE?

In order to secure your venue, you’ll most likely be asked to pay a deposit, which may or may not be refundable should you be forced to cancel. Make sure you understand the terms of the deposit and know when you’ll have to pay it in order to secure your date.


7

HOW DO YOU STRUCTURE THE PAYMENT SCHEDULE?

Most venues will have you pay a deposit upon signing the contract, and the balance in installments between the day you sign and your wedding date. Hash out the payment schedule before you sign any agreement so you know if you will have time to save a little extra cash.


8

WHAT IS THE CANCELLATION POLICY?

Of course, no one goes into wedding planning intending to cancel, but things do come up — medical emergencies, big life changes, pandemics. Be sure to find out how long you have to cancel and get your money back (or at least some of it). See if they would be open to transitioning your date to a future date if a postponement was needed.


9

CAN WE CHOOSE OUR OWN VENDORS, OR DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED OR EXCLUSIVE VENDOR LIST?

This can often be a dealbreaker if you had a certain menu or cuisine theme that you envisioned. If you are more flexible with your vendor options, considering options the venue recommends can be a strategically favorable decision. These vendors have most likely worked out the small nuances and coordination hurdles at this setting that others may not be aware of. There is also the potential you may get a special discounted rate to partner with these vendors because of their ongoing relationship with the venue’s management.


10

IS THERE A COORDINATOR ON STAFF? WHO WILL BE MY MAIN CONTACT?

If they aren’t the person you’re doing your site visit with, ask to meet these contacts in person. Having a good rapport with your main contact will make the planning process go much more smoothly. Gauge how responsive and accommodating this contact is during your initial visit as a clue to what future relations will be like.


11

IS THERE A FOOD AND BEVERAGE MINIMUM?

Venues with in-house caterers will often have a food and beverage minimum that you’re required to meet as part of the contract — essentially a minimum amount you need to spend. Find out what happens if you don’t meet it, as well as what upgraded options you might be able to add to your menu to help you meet that minimum.


12

DO YOU HAVE AN IN-HOUSE CATERER, A LIST OF PREFERRED CATERERS, OR DO I NEED TO PROVIDE MY OWN?

Make sure you know your catering options and choose the right one to suit your theme. Even if there is an in-house caterer, do you have the option of using an outside caterer instead? If you opt to use an outside vendor, be sure to review our list of questions to ask your wedding caterer.


13

ARE THERE ANY DECOR RESTRICTIONS? ARE CANDLES PERMITTED?

Some venues have restrictions on whether or not you can hang decorations from the ceiling or on the walls. Also, some venues do not allow candles, so you may have to opt for LED candles instead.


More Questions to Ask

For the super planners out there, we have included additional questions you can review on your wedding venue checklist to make sure you have left no stone unturned.

AVAILABILITY & LOGISTICS

  • How many guests can the venue accommodate?
  • Can I hold my ceremony here, too? Is there an additional charge?
  • How many hours are included in the rental of the space? Is there an overtime fee?
  • Do you have liability insurance?
  • Is the site handicap accessible?
  • How many bathrooms are there? Will we need to rent additional portable restrooms? Are there gender-neutral bathrooms?
  • Is parking available on-site? How many spaces are there? Will guests be charged for parking?
  • Are taxis/rideshares easily accessible from the venue?
  • If a shuttle service is needed, can you assist with setting it up?
  • What overnight accommodations do you provide? Do you offer a discount for booking multiple rooms — or a complimentary room or upgrade for the newlyweds?
  • If no accommodations are available, what are the nearest hotels to the venue?
  • Do you have your own sound equipment and speakers, or will those need to be rented or provided by the entertainment?
  • Are there noise restrictions?
  • Is there anything special happening on-site during that time of year?
  • Are there “getting ready” rooms available on-site?
  • How much time is allocated for the rehearsal?

VENDORS & SETUP

  • Can the venue accommodate a DJ or live band?
  • What security services do you offer?
  • Do you provide a coat check service?
  • What time can my vendors start setting up on the day of the wedding?
  • Will your staff be involved in setting up and breaking down the decor? In what capacity?

FOOD & BEVERAGE

  • If I hire my own caterer, are kitchen facilities available for them?
  • What are the tax and service/gratuity charges?
  • Can we do a tasting before we finalize our menu? Is there a charge?
  • Are tables, chairs, linens, plates, silverware, and glassware provided, or will I have to rent them myself or get them through my caterer?
  • Do you have a liquor license?
  • Is there a fee for bringing our own cake or desserts?
  • Is there a cake-cutting/serving fee?
  • Can I bring my own alcohol and is there a corkage fee?

Pro tip: Many venues offer the option of purchasing liquor directly through them (especially if they have an exclusive or in-house caterer), which is convenient. It can, however, come with a hefty markup. Find out if you can source your liquor elsewhere, which allows you to price-shop, or if you can buy it yourself and bring it to the event for their staff to serve.

DECOR & RENTALS

  • Do you have signage or other aids to direct guests to my event?
  • Do you provide heaters and/or umbrellas for the outdoor spaces?
  • What floor plan do you recommend for my guest count?

Pro tip: Find out how many guests you can fit in the space with and without a dance floor, with a band vs. with a DJ (as a band will require more space), and with round vs. rectangular or square tables to understand which decisions will help you maximize the space and your guest list.