Setting the Stage
Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Venue
Finding the perfect wedding venue can be overwhelming. Beyond looking for the picture-perfect backdrop for your big day, there are many other things to consider: parking, linens, staffing, etc.
When touring different venues, it’s easy to fall in love with the location. But be sure to read the fine print. Before you sign a contract, be prepared with these 10 questions:
How many tables and chairs can you provide?
It’s important to know how many guests the venue can accommodate. Also, ask to see the tables and chairs that will be used. If the furniture doesn’t match your style, ask if the venue would allow a rental company to provide tables and chairs for your event.
Do you include linens?
Some venues offer linen service, but some do not. Ask what kind of tablecloths, table runners, and napkins are available, if any. The most common color palettes are white and cream. If you’re looking for something different, you may want to get an estimate from a third-party linen service that offers more variety.
Do you provide signage to direct guests to events on property?
This little detail goes a long way. Guests will feel more relaxed if they know exactly where to go for the ceremony, appetizers, dinner, dancing, and the send-off. If the venue doesn’t include signage, consider bringing your own or renting signs from a local company like Vintage or Scripted (look them up on Facebook for style inspiration). Using antique mirrors or chalkboard signs is a great way to incorporate your wedding theme. Plus, the signs can communicate information about where to sit, what’s on the menu, and what hashtag to use.
Where will guests park, and how many cars does the parking lot accommodate?
Make sure there’s room for everyone on your guest list. Ask yourself how the parking will impact your guests. Will the ladies be walking through a dirt or gravel lot in heels? Will guests have to park on the street and walk a considerable distance wearing formal attire? If the parking situation is complex, give your guests advance notice on your wedding website.
What’s the back-up plan for bad weather?
“Start imagining your wedding while you walk the grounds,” says Julie Hostler at The 1752 Estate. Imagine a variety of weather, too. What if it rains? What about high winds? Will the temperature be too hot or too cold? The right venue will have solutions for each of these scenarios.
Do you provide staffing for serving, set up, clean up, etc.?
You’d be surprised how many venues don’t provide any staff at all. The church where I got married had no staffing arrangements for cleaning up, so my bridal party had to work overtime. Ask in advance if your venue will provide an event coordinator, audio/visual support, food service professionals, and a cleaning crew.
What kind of fees do you charge?
“No one likes to be surprised with hidden costs,” says Hostler. “Always ask what is included in the price.” In addition to rental fees, your venue may charge booking fees, setup fees, management fees, etc. Don’t be caught off guard by these extra fees—ask about them up front.
What rules do we need to know about?
Venues often establish a set of guidelines for event use. For example, some venues might not allow pets or alcohol on premises. You should know about such restrictions before signing a contract. If you come across a rule that will affect your plans, see if they will make an exception for your wedding. It never hurts to ask!
What kind of packages do you offer?
Every venue is unique. Ask about different rental packages, what they include, and the pricing. Kelly Heckman at Winridge Manor offers some great advice about selecting a package that will fit your style. “If you are a bride who adores DIY projects and really wants to have a ‘hands-on’ creative touch for your special day, ask your venue about packages that allow this. If you are a bride who wants very little stress and you prefer to have everything done for you, find an all-inclusive package.”
Can you provide references?
Your venue should have a list of satisfied customers. Ask if you can contact their references, and check sources like Yelp and the venue’s Facebook page to read reviews. Ultimately, you want to know that other brides were happy with the venue and its services.
Remember—when it comes to choosing a venue, it’s all about what you love. “When all is said and done, follow your heart,” says Heckman. “When you find that one special place to begin your ‘Happily Ever After,’ you’ll know it.”