Following the timeline highlighted in our wedding planning checklist, you should secure a venue and wedding date 10-12 months in advance. However, before putting down a hefty deposit to secure that whimsical ballroom, you need to make sure you ask your potential venue the right questions. After all, your wedding venue will set the stage for the rest of your wedding planning decisions from budgeting to floral arrangements. So, let’s make sure you don’t miss a thing with these eight not-so-obvious questions to ask your wedding venue.
1. What are the rates for different months, days, and times?
Is your heart set on exchanging nuptials on a sunny Saturday afternoon in June? Unfortunately, so is just about every other bride’s. Luckily, with a bit of flexibility, this supply-and-demand dilemma presents a huge savings opportunity for you.
In order to fill unwanted vacancies, venues often offer reduced rates for customers willing to book during off-peak times. Therefore, being flexible with the time, the day of the week, and the month of your wedding could translate into huge savings.
Instead of giving up on your dream venue because of costs, simply ask the following questions:
- Do you offer different rates for different seasons?
- Is there a reduced cost when booking the venue during the week?
- Can you rent the venue on a partial or half-day basis?
2. Is the venue an appropriate size for your wedding?
You most likely won’t have sent out invitations or RSVP cards before the time comes to secure a venue. So, it’s up to you and your fiance to come up with a “guesstimation” of attendees and plus ones, and then book your venue accordingly.
First and foremost, ask about the fire and safety regulations at your desired venue. Most venues will have an upper limit on how many people can be in an indoor space — this represents the maximum number of guests that can attend your wedding.
Conversely, if you’re worried about booking too large of a space, ask the venue if they have partitions or room separators available for use. This can help you rearrange the room and avoid a sparse setting if many guests are unable to make it.
3. What parking options are available?
Whether your venue is a traditional house of worship or a serene country field, you’ll need to plan how guests will get from their cars to the location. No one wants to walk a mile in nice clothes and fancy shoes, especially in poor weather. Instead of risking disgruntled guests, ask your venue manager the following parking-related questions:
- Is parking available on site?
- How many parking spaces are available?
- Are there handicap parking spaces available?
- What is the walking distance from the parking site to the venue?
Conversely, you could consider arranging wedding transportation for you and your guests. If this is the case, ask your venue manager where you can park a limited number of large vehicles.
4. Does the venue have electricity?
While scouting locations and thinking of questions to ask your potential wedding venues, electricity might not even be on your radar. However, if your venue is an old, historic building, it might not be wired for electricity — or if it is, it might not have appropriate wiring for your needs. In order to avoid a power outage on your big day, find out about any electrical limitations your venue may have.
If you’re hosting an outdoor wedding, you’ll need to be especially aware of the electrical situation. Discuss the availability of extension cords, power sites, and generators with your venue manager before committing to any outdoor location.
5. Can I use my own vendors?
Many wedding venues may come with a contractual obligation for you to use in-house services such as caterers, florists, bartenders, etc. This might work in your favor, as the venues often bundle these services for a cheaper rate than what you would spend paying each provider separately. If so, great!
If not, or if your cousin Jill insists that you use her catering business, include a stipulation in the contract stating you’re free to use vendors of your choosing. Just beware that this might incur an additional fee by the venue — though alternatively, you might think of it as insurance against an awkward Thanksgiving dinner at cousin Jill’s house.
6. Does the venue provide rental items?
Now that you’ve sorted out who’s providing the food and drinks, you need somewhere to put everything. The next step is to inquire if your chosen venue provides tables, chairs, linens, and other necessities as part of your rental, at an additional charge — or at all. If your venue does not provide these items and you are required to rent them, make sure you ask the following questions:
- What time can items be delivered and hauled away?
- Does your staff assist with any of the setup or take down?
- If not, what time can we begin setting up?
- How long can supplies remain on the property after the wedding?
7. Does the venue have liability insurance?
When you’re so focused on making sure your wedding day is perfect, it can be easy to overlook what could go wrong. If your guests get rowdy and cause damage to the venue, or if one of your guests is injured on site, you don’t want to be on the hook — those dance floors can get crazy, after all!
Understanding the insurance that your venue offers (if any) is a critical step in planning your wedding. If they don’t have an insurance policy, you’ll need to provide insurance yourself.
If you aren’t sure where to start, check out our in-depth look at wedding insurance to help make sure your big day goes off without a hitch– or if it does, that you’re covered.
8. What is the venue’s cancellation policy?
Of all the questions to ask your wedding venue manager, this one is perhaps the most important. Although we hope you never have to use this tip, it is critical that you know the cancellation policy of your potential venue.
Many venues use a sliding scale to determine what percentage of your deposit and/or rental fee you’ll get back. Generally speaking, the farther from the wedding date you cancel, the more of your deposit you’ll get back. There’s usually a cut-off date past which you might lose your deposit (or even the entire rental fee). Be crystal clear about your venue’s cancellation policy just in case.