A Wedding Venue checklist…
If you’re newly engaged (congratulations BTW!), a lot of your time is probably being spent seeking out the perfect wedding venue. We’ve got a guide to how to choose what kind of venue you want, but once you’ve made a shortlist, started to contact venues, and maybe even organised to go along for a visit, it’s time to work out which place is ‘The One’. Which is where our handy checklist of wedding venue questions comes in (you can download it here!)
Any of you who have started the big venue search will know, that while you do have lots of time with the owner, sales person or venue coordinator while there, typically you walk away thinking of a gazillion questions that you should have asked.
So our advice is, when you going to view a venue, bring along a list of questions and jot down the answers as you go. That way you’ll have a) all the information you need and b) consistent answers to compare between venue options. This will make sorting the pros and cons thing so much easier when you’re trying to make your final decision.
The Initial Questions to Ask a Wedding Venue
To get you started we’ve compiled a general list of wedding venue questions that cover all the various aspects. There are two primary questions you need to find out before talking to any venue you’re interested in:
Does the venue have enough seated capacity to accommodate your guest list?
Is your desired date free?
Beyond those basic questions, there are a lot of big and small issues that need to be ironed out with your potential venue. This list is designed to give you a broad overview of the kinds of things you should ask in order to minimise any surprises later down the line. Some will apply to you, others may not, so you can simply skip over them when you’re chatting with the venue.
Remember, when visiting multiple venues, keep a note of the answers at each, for easy comparison later on.
The Big Picture Questions
Who will actually be there on the day? Is there an in-house wedding coordinator? If there is a coordinator, will they be there for the duration of the reception?
Do you have a one wedding per day policy?
Is the venue available for exclusive use?
If so, is there a minimum amount of guests that have to book accommodation for exclusivity?
How flexible are your packages?
Are there any changes planned to the building before the wedding (renovations, painting etc)?
Is the wedding venue accessible for guests with disabilities? (more here)
Which rooms are licensed for ceremonies?
Is the ceremony to take place in the same room as the reception?
What is the changeover plan for converting from ceremony to reception?
Are there any alternative (or outdoor) locations for non-legal ceremonies?
Are we allowed to have confetti?
Food & Wine
Is a complimentary menu and wine tasting included? How many people can attend?
How much wine/champagne/tea & coffee is included per person?
Wine choices – what are the wine choices and what are the upgrade costs?
Do you charge a corkage fee?
Is the champagne toast complimentary?
Are there any additional charges for bar staff or waiting staff?
What time is the meal served?
Do you cater for special dietary requirements? Coeliacs? Vegetarians?
Is there an option for dinner the night before or a BBQ the day after?
Is there a late night food option, what time is it served?
Where is the cocktail hour or drinks reception held?
Can we serve signature cocktails?
What are the options for guests with food allergies, intolerances, and other dietary requirements?
The Reception: Décor & Styling
What crockery/linen/cutlery is provided as part of the package?
What type of tables do you have (shape, size, top table)? Are there different options?
Is any décor/stationery provided (menus, centrepieces, red carpet, flowers, cake stand)? Are there alternatives available?
Can I move things around and decorate to suit my purposes, or do I have to leave everything as is?
If you want to set up and decorate the venue the day before the wedding, can we gain access, what time?
Can we hang things on the wall or from the ceilings?
Do we need to bring in a contractor to hang decor or lights?
Do you have pictures of what the venue looks like in Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter (the season you’re getting married in)
The Wedding Party
Where does the band set up? Where is the dancefloor/how big is it/does anything have to be moved to create the dancefloor?
Does the wedding venue already own a sound system with adequate speakers or will that need to be rented?
Will the band be able to set up beforehand or does it have to be during changeover?
Will the band have to go through the reception to set up or is there separate access?
Are there restrictions on amplified music?
Do you have microphones in the venue for the speeches?
Can I hook an iPod or laptop up to your sound system?
Is there a late bar? How late will the bar be open?
Is there a charge for a bar extension?
What time do guests have to leave the venue?
What is the capacity for evening/afters guests?
Is the bridal suite included in the price? Are complimentary rooms provided for the parents or any of the wedding party?
What accommodation does the venue offer, will there be discounted rates for guests at the wedding?
Are there B&Bs and other hotels in the area for guests? Can you provide a list?
Are there reliable taxi companies in the area?
When is the check out time?
Can we block book rooms for guests? If so, how long can they be held for?
Can I have a marquee in the grounds? What capacity can be accommodated?
Do you have a preferred marquee provider or can we organise our own choice?
Are there any preferences for suppliers/is there an in-house caterer?
Are kitchen facilities available for use?
Do we need to supply a generator or bathroom facilities?
Can the bridal party get ready at the venue?
Is the venue child friendly? What facilities are available for entertaining children?
Is there a lift/facilities/access for elderly guests or those with a disability?
Is there enough parking for my guests and is it free?
Is there a heated outdoor space for smoking or where my guests can mingle?
How many toilets are there?
Is there somewhere secure to store wedding gifts?
Does the venue have public liability insurance?
Is there a payment schedule? What kind of deposits are required?
Are discounts/packages dependent on certain numbers of guests booking accommodation?
Are there special reductions for off-peak (e.g. Monday – Thursday or January to March?)
Is there a service fee included?
Are there any additional fees or charges we need to be aware of?
What’s the cancellation policy? What costs are incurred if the numbers on the day differ to the final numbers?
What’s the postponement policy? Are there associated fees?
Covid-19: Postponement and Cancellation
Is there a time limit for rescheduled dates when postponing, e.g. 12 months from original date?
How far in advance of our wedding date will we review whether to postpone?
Do you currently have availability later this year/next year/the year after?
What is the best way to get in touch if the venue is temporarily closed?
Covid-19 Safety Measures
What safety measures are in place at the venue?
Are there any restrictions or rules specific to the venue that we need to be aware of?
What are my options for the layout of the ceremony space?
What are my options for the layout of the dining room?
What kind of ventilation is available in the venue’s indoor spaces? Can doors/windows be left open?
What is the traffic flow like for guests arriving and leaving the venue, and moving from one space to another?
What can venue staff do to encourage social distancing?
When and where will hand sanitiser be provided to guests? Should we provide our own as an extra precaution?
Is it possible to set up hand sanitising stations in the venue as an extra precaution?
Will masks be available to guests or should we/they bring their own?
Can you facilitate live streaming? What internet speed is available?
Are buffets or food stations permitted?
One Final Word of Advice
If you think a particular venue might be ‘The One’, follow up after the visit with an email confirming all their answers; some venues say yes to everything in the initial visit and are then less flexible in reality, so having everything you’ve discussed in writing will help things to run smoother down the line.