You might think that when it comes to considering wedding venues, you only need to check a few details. Trust me, you’ll want to take these 24 questions with you to save a lot of time and headache down the road. I go over each question in detail, explain my own experiences, and set you up for success!
Save this link, grab a notepad, and let’s get started!
1. Is my wedding date available?
This is a fairly obvious one, and the number one question asked. If your date is available, how do you go about booking it? Once you’ve made the decision you want to know the exact steps to take so as to not risk losing the date.
2. How many other weddings are booked on that same day?
Most couples don’t even consider asking this because a venue having more than one wedding on a particular day just doesn’t cross our minds. Many venues have morning AND evening weddings. This means timelines are strict, so you want to make sure to ask what time vendors can arrive for set up.
My particular venue did have both morning and evening weddings. I chose to have a morning wedding, and thought there would be plenty of time for my event before we needed to be off property. I realized during planning the timeline was too tight to hold my reception on the property. Therefore we ended up holding our reception at a lovely restaurant in downtown Charleston. It was a minor inconvenience, but it’s always easier to hold an entire event at one location.
On the flip side, the evening wedding vendors couldn’t start setting up until 3 p.m. This meant the bride after me also had a tight timeline, and she had to get ready somewhere else because my wedding was taking place all morning into the early afternoon. It can certainly turn into a headache for both brides.
3. Are you able to hold all 3 events on property?
Are you able to have all the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception all on-site? It’s surprising how many venues cater to the ceremony only.
4. What is the deposit?
Be clear about how much you owe to reserve the date, what the rest of the balance is, and how you can make these payments. Many venues will require a cashier’s check or money order to reserve dates. Don’t risk losing the venue over a small detail!
5. Are there “extra costs”?
Ask if there are any other costs such as overtime, cleaning, or gratuity.
I was charged a cleaning fee. It was a little irritating at first, but as planning went on I changed my mind. It was well worth it to have someone else take care of the cleaning. This way all of our guests (including us) could just focus on having fun.
6. What is the cancellation policy?
You most likely will not need to use this, but as with any contract, you should know the cancellation policy. You may find out you have to change the date, or find the venue of your dreams after the fact. Anything can happen, so get these details upfront.
7. What is the inclement weather policy?
What is the procedure if there is “an act of God?” This could be anything from a hurricane, fire, etc. Should it rain, and you are planning to have an outdoor ceremony, is there a backup location?
8. When do they need the final headcount?
Most venues will want to know how many guests to expect on property. Typically they will ask this several weeks before the wedding. You will also want to check when the last date for changes is.
9. Who is your day-of contact?
Every venue has someone dedicated to being your day-of contact in case there are any questions, or something happens. If you’re able to meet this person during your tour, even better!
10. Are there any required vendors?
Some venues have certain caterers, florists, bakers, etc that they work with exclusively. If you have a preference to use a specific vendor, make you ask about this before booking.
For my wedding, we were able to choose our vendors, but we were required to submit the vendor for approval. We had no issue in receiving approvals, but this is an extra step we did not realize would be needed before booking.
11. Is there a kitchen?
If there is a kitchen, does it have a separate entrance? Is there adequate prep space?
You don’t want kitchen staff running in and out during the middle of your reception because there is only one entrance. You also don’t want them running into issues because there isn’t enough space. Best to double-check these things!
12. What is their policy on alcohol?
What is the pricing for bartending/alcohol? Find out if you can bring your own alcohol, and if there is a “corkage” fee. Some venues charge a fee for a bartender by the hour, and some even charge for a security officer to be present if alcohol is to be served. Every venue is different, so if you’re wanting alcohol, this is an important policy to check. Also, if you would like liquor served, make sure they have a liquor license!
13. Where are the restrooms?
You want to make sure there are enough restrooms for your guest count, and that they are handicap accessible.
Another question tied to this is, is there a bathroom in the bridal suite? Brides privacy before the ceremony, and before being announced into the reception. You certainly don’t want to risk being spotted before the ceremony because you had to find a restroom in another part of the building etc.
14. Are there rules regarding decorations?
There may be certain areas that decor is prohibited, but one of the most common decor rules is the prohibited use of candles. Luckily there are many nice battery operated candles that will still give the same romantic ambiance if this is something you’re concerned about.
Also find out who is responsible for putting decor up, taking it down, and by what time.
15. Are there any photographer limitations?
This is PERTINENT information to pass on to your photographer and videographer. You certainly don’t want the day-of contact and/or your photographer coming to you with issues on the day.
16. Where will event parking be?
You’ll want to see how far your guests will have to walk, and what type of path it is. It’s also best to see how much space is provided. If there are only 40 spots and you are planning to have a 200+ person wedding, it will create an issue. Best to address it now.
Something most of us don’t think about is about adequate lighting for parking. I can’t tell you how many weddings I’ve photographed on beautiful farms where the guests were forced to walk back to their cars in the dark. Take a moment to look around and see if there’s lighting on the way to and at the parking area.
17. Where is vendor parking?
Do they have a separate parking area? This helps for easy unloading and packing up, as well as not taking up any guest parking.
18. Is the venue handicap friendly?
Not only should you check to see if handicapped parking is available, but you need to see how easy it is to maneuver around your venue for these guests. Be sure to check all areas i.e. the ceremony, reception, restrooms etc.
19. What type of aisle will you walk down?
If you’re getting married outside, is the aisle grass? You’ll be dragging the most expensive dress you’ve ever purchased down it, so take that into account. Look for a stone or sturdy walkway option if possible.
I had a stone walkway, that transitioned into grass part way. Despite only walking on thick grass for a short while, my dress got VERY dirty on the bottom. More importantly, I didn’t realize how far my heels would sink into the ground as a walked. I got tripped up a bit due to that and the dress turning under itself on the grass. Luckily my dad held me up, and it wasn’t very noticeable.
20. What do you hear?
This isn’t so much a question for them as it is for you. Stop and listen. Do you hear barking, cars, planes? This space should be tranquil. You don’t want you or your guests distracted day-of, or while watching your wedding video later on.
21. Do they offer audio equipment?
Does the venue provide speakers for the processional, recessional, and seating music? Do they offer a lapel mic? You want your guests to be able to hear you! This may not be a big concern if your wedding is intimate, but with 100+ guests, some may strain to hear what’s being said.
Tim and I didn’t think to ask this and ran into this issue a few weeks before our wedding. We were able to find a Bluetooth speaker at a good price, and asked a family member to start and stop it on the day.
22. Where does the sun set?
Think about what time of year you’re getting married and consider how this may be a factor. If you want those warm gorgeous sunset photos outside, but the sun sets in a not so great area or behind a building, it will be a problem.
23. Are there plenty of electrical outlets?
Make sure to look for outlets (there should be MANY). You want to make sure your DJ, Photo Booth, caterer, light designer, etc all have adequate outlets. You also need to ask about sufficient amperage because you don’t want to trip any breakers day-of.
Adding on to my Bluetooth speaker incident, the day of the rehearsal we noticed there were no outlets near where we intended to place the speaker. Before having to run a bright orange extension cord across the grass, we luckily found an outlet on a dock nearby that worked out perfectly. The lesson is don’t assume there are outlets in any one area!
24. What is the trash policy?
This may not even be something you consider, but someone has to haul everything off after the event. Ask where trash receptacles and dumpsters are, but more importantly, who is responsible for the trash? If you’re responsible for hauling it off, you’ll need to make sure to designate someone reliable to take care of this. As mentioned earlier, there may be a cleaning fee in the fine print including this service, but if not, it’s on you!
I hope you found this post helpful, and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out! Happy planning!
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