20 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Venue

20 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Venue

Planning a wedding can feel like a full-time job. Surveys suggest it can take up to 300 hours to perfect the details. The wedding planning process involves so much coordination, communication, and collaboration that it seems a shame that newlyweds can't add it to their resumes!

Ideally, you'll only plan one stunning wedding in your lifetime. Unfortunately, by the time you're aware of the most important questions to ask your wedding venue, the answers have become irrelevant.

If your goal is to plan the perfect event the first time around, you'll want to know which questions to ask from the start. We've created this guide to help couples-to-be navigate the venue selection process without headaches or heartbreak.

Read on to explore twenty of the most essential questions to ask your wedding venue when choosing the best place to have a wedding.

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1. How Many Guests Can You Accommodate?

Every venue has a unique capacity, and that number is the first piece of information you need before deciding to proceed with booking. Ask about the minimum number of guests a venue allows, particularly if they offer catering on-site and charge by the plate. You should also be aware of the maximum number of guests, which will give you a lot of information about how you might curate your guest list.

For example, a large venue will easily accommodate your intimate guest list of close friends and family members, but the fee per plate may be exorbitant. Furthermore, your reception may not be raucous enough to fill such an ample space. A small venue might be more cosy and appropriate for a small guest list.

Likewise, a more extensive guest list demands a larger space, especially if you hope to spread out and dance. Consider factors like the number of toilets at the venue to eliminate long lines.

You might ask about the ideal number of guests rather than the maximum to glean the most realistic picture of the perfect reception.

wedding ceremony venue

2. Which Types of Ceremonies Can We Have?

Not every venue has a wedding license. While these locations may be perfect for a reception, you'll need a licensed venue for your ceremony. While it's common for the ceremony to occur at a church and the reception to occur at a secular venue, ensure that's what you want before you proceed.

If you have your heart set on holding the ceremony and venue under the same roof, you have a few options. First, you can ensure your venue has a license and hold a civil ceremony there. Note that there may be fees involved in bringing a civil officiant to your venue.

Second, you can take care of the legal components of your marriage in advance and have a symbolic ceremony at the venue. You could even hire a Universalist celebrant to officiate the proceedings. This is an excellent option for same-sex, non-resident, or secular couples.

3. Can I Hold a Date? For How Long?

Many wedding venues have "busy seasons," and their booking calendars tend to fill up quickly. If you'd like to get married during a particular time of year, you often need to reserve your wedding date far in advance. This can be stressful if you're in the process of touring venues.

Sometimes a venue will allow you to provisionally hold a date while you pursue your search. You may need to pay a deposit to hold a date during peak wedding season. Be sure to ask how long the venue will reserve the date for you, as this period can often be surprisingly brief!

Some venues are so popular that they cannot reserve dates without a full deposit. If you've fallen in love with a popular venue and your date is available, your best bet is to commit ASAP!

wedding calendar

4. Will There Be Any Other Weddings That Day?

Larger venues sometimes have multiple event spaces. For example, they may be hosting one wedding indoors and another outdoors.

Likewise, some venues book two weddings each day, with one in the afternoon and one in the evening. This may require strict adherence to schedules and timelines, which can be stressful for some couples.

Some venues (such as botanical gardens, country clubs, hotels, and restaurants) are open to the public. Some couples may not want to hold their wedding at a venue where strangers can gawk at the proceedings.

If you'd like private use of the entire venue on your wedding day, you'll want to ask about exclusive use and what that entails. If you're more flexible, you'll have more wedding venue ideas and options to choose from.

5. Can I Use My Own Vendors and Suppliers?

Many venues will offer couples a list of their recommended suppliers and vendors. These are individuals and companies who work with the venue regularly and provide quality, consistent service. They might include wedding cake bakeries, photographers, caterers, ceremony musicians, wedding DJs, or florists.

Sometimes, the "recommended suppliers" list might not be a recommendation. For example, a venue may require you to order catering from their kitchen. This can make planning a lot easier but can cause headaches if you already have your heart set on a particular outside supplier.

If the recommended suppliers really are suggestions, many couples appreciate having a vetted starting place when it's time to choose vendors for their event.

6. Is There Parking? Do You Offer Overnight Accommodations?

A large wedding means a lot of cars, and your guests will need a place to keep them. Find out how many vehicles your venue can accommodate. You might also ask about nearby car parks and any associated fees.

Likewise, not every guest will be local, and many will be curious about overnight accommodations. Some venues, such as hotels, offer special rates for event guests. If not, ask about reputable local accommodations.

Information about parking and overnight accommodations is critical for your guests, as extra fees may determine whether or not they can attend (and even if they can safely drink at the reception). Provide that information in your invitations or on your wedding website. You can also ask about rideshare access and local taxi service, too.

outdoor wedding

7. Are There Indoor and Outdoor Options?

Superstition says that rain on your wedding day is poor luck, but it's only a problem if you plan an outdoor wedding and don't have an alternate indoor space. Ask your venue about what happens in the event of inclement weather.

If the venue only offers outdoor space, find out if tents will be available. There may also be a rain date policy.

Some indoor venues may have outdoor spaces available, such as patios or lawns. Find out what's included in the rental and how it's typically utilized. It can be fun to enjoy an outdoor cocktail hour on a seasonable day or install a dance floor on the lawn and boogie under the stars!

8. Who Is Our Point-Of-Contact?

Even if you ask all these questions during your first visit to the venue, you'll probably generate more as time goes on. You'll also need to coordinate suppliers and vendors, discuss the seating chart, and confirm the menu and catering. It's frustrating to get caught up in phone tag each time you need to reach out to the venue with a query or concern.

Often, a venue will have a designated event planner or special events coordinator on staff. Find out who this person is and how to contact them directly. They may have a direct line or special email address you can use.

Find out if the venue will assign a wedding specialist to coordinate the proceedings on your wedding day. This person will ensure everything goes off without a hitch. You'll want to know who they are if something goes wonky on the big day!

9. Can We Hire a Live Band?

Live music can transform your reception, adding a sense of energy and vitality you can't achieve any other way. Whether you're hoping to walk down the aisle to the sounds of a string quartet, bring in a wedding band for your reception, or enjoy the sounds of a tasteful soloist during arrival, you'll want to get the rules sorted. There are very few reasons a venue may not allow live music, but if one applies, it's often a dealbreaker.

Ask about where the band typically performs. Does the venue have a stage or platform where they can set up?

For outdoor weddings, is there a gazebo or outdoor structure to house the performers? If not, can you hire a tent and rent a dance floor?

You might also ask about noise ordinances. If the band needs to finish their set at a particular time, communicate this to the bookers or performers. They'll ensure they can structure the evening's entertainment to work around the rules.

10. How Does Catering Work?

Not every venue has an in-house catering team. The lack of an on-site kitchen can sometimes create logistical problems requiring creativity and planning. This detail alone is sometimes enough to make or break a venue decision.

That said, venues without in-house catering will offer many suggestions when planning your wedding breakfast or evening meal. They likely have recommendations for caterers on their list of recommended suppliers. Some venues will put you in touch with satisfied couples who had a wonderful experience hiring outside caterers for their weddings.

If your venue does offer catering, there are still a few questions you should ask, such as how many entree options you can choose and whether they can accommodate dietary restrictions. If they offer a buffet, ask about whether the spread is customizable.

You may wish to acquire about a menu tasting. At some venues, this experience is part of your booking or catering fee.

wedding breakfast

11. Should We Hire Our Own Crockery and Linens?

Some venues include crockery and linens when you book the space. Others may require you to hire your own. It's easy to forget about these minor details, so be sure to ask early and make a note of it.

With that said, you may wish to ask to see the linens before you commit, especially if you have a theme or colour scheme in mind for the event. If you aren't a fan of what's included, you're often welcome to hire your own. Confirm how many tables you'll need to cover and their dimensions.

12. What Are Our Layout Options?

When it comes down to it, many venues are just large rooms, meaning they can be set up in near-infinite ways. Your venue may have a variety of tables available, and you may have some say in how they're set up. Your venue may also consult you regarding where to place the dance floor, the wedding band, or even the sweetheart table.

Ask about how much input you'll have regarding the room's layout. Depending on venue policies, you may even have the opportunity to visit the venue during a wedding and see the space in action. This can paint a realistic picture of what the venue looks like when filled with people and help you make decisions about the flow of the space.

bride and groom cutting the cake

13. Are There Corkage or Cake Cutting Fees?

Lots of little fees tend to add up, so you'll want to ask about extras upfront. Two of the most common costs are corkage and cake-cutting fees.

A corkage fee is any fee associated with bringing your own alcohol. The price may be higher than the fees associated with using the venue's on-site bar facilities.

Similarly, a "cakeage" or cake-cutting fee is an additional charge for cutting and serving your wedding cake. Some venues charge this fee per guest. You may also have to provide your own cake knife or cake-cutting utensils.

14. Do You Have Policies About Fireworks, Flames, or Confetti?

Every venue has unique rules, and they're often set for a reason. A historical venue may have rules about what you can and cannot move or touch while staging or decorating the space. Other locations may have rules about fireworks, open flames, or even confetti.

This information is essential if you've always dreamed of ending the night with a fireworks display or are planning the perfect confetti photoshoot. Many contemporary wedding decorations involve candles, and rules about flames may impact your event's entire aesthetic.

Asking about the rules upfront can help you avoid heartbreak later on.

first dance with confetti

15. How Do You Handle the Bar?

Every venue has different rules and fee structures regarding the bar. Some venues require you to offer an open bar for logistical reasons. Others may give you the choice of an open bar, a cash bar, or a BYOB arrangement (with or without corkage fees, per question 13). Liquor can be very costly, so asking about pricing and other arrangements is essential.

Furthermore, some bars are cash-only. You'll need to communicate this to your guests if you expect them to pay for their own drinks. Some venues may be willing to offer drink specials to make alcohol more affordable and ensure everyone can partake.

The bar is often one of the most significant components of the wedding budget and may require difficult choices or compromises. Having all the information early can help simplify tricky decisions.

16. Will There Be a "Hard Out" at the End of the Event?

As mentioned above, some venues book weddings one after another. They may require a "hard out" so they have time to clean and flip the space for the next event. This means you and all your guests must clear the venue by a designated time or risk incurring additional fees.

If this is the case, you'll also need to inform any suppliers or vendors, including your wedding band, caterers, or rental company. You don't want to end up in a bind because you failed to coordinate the timing.

If this prospect gives you hives, you might prefer an exclusive-use venue or a venue with a more flexible load-out policy.

17. Is There a Suite or Private Space for the Bride and Groom?

A wedding day can be stressful, and much goes on behind the scenes to ensure that every transition seems like magic. For example, the bride often "vanishes" and returns with her gown in a bustle, ready to take on the dance floor. Does the venue offer a space where the bride and groom can step away, relax, change their shoes or accessories, and escape the crowd?

Many venues offer a private suite for couples, complete with a separate restroom and places to hang clothing and store purses. It's also a safe place to store big-ticket wedding gifts to ensure they don't vanish during the party. Many couples feel calmer knowing they have a designated space to utilize as they see fit.

18. When Do You Need Our Deposit? When Is Our Final Payment Due?

Unfortunately, money is a huge factor when it comes to selecting and securing a venue. Many of the choices you make will stem from financial realities. It can be helpful to ask about payments during your first visit to a venue to avoid the pitfall of falling in love with a space only to realize you can't realistically afford it.

One of our most important wedding planning tips is to ask about financing before deciding a venue is out of your league. Venues will often require a deposit upfront, which most couples can afford out of pocket. The final payment may not be due for quite some time, which can help alleviate financial pressure.

Most venues are willing to work out a payment plan for couples who need an alternate arrangement. Don't be too proud to ask. A wedding is a significant expense, and every accommodation helps.

19. Are There Any Additional Charges We May Want to Know About?

We've already warned you about corkage and cakeage fees, but you should also ask about other hidden expenses. For example, be sure they have included VAT in the price of any venue-related fees or services. If not, you may be facing a larger bill than initially anticipated.

Other fees to look out for include staffing, cleaning, and additional room hire fees. We encourage you to explicitly ask about who is responsible for clean-up: you or the venue. If you are responsible, prepare to get your hands dirty or shell out for a cleaning service.

20. What Is the Cancellation Policy?

It's very unlikely you'll need to cancel your wedding—but then again, that's what plenty of couples thought in March 2020. You never know what might happen, so it's always best to cover your bases. Nearly every venue has a cancellation policy in place in case you need to back out for any reason.

Read your contract closely and be aware that policies vary significantly from venue to venue, so it never pays to assume. You may wish to take out wedding insurance just in case.

The Essential Questions to Ask Your Wedding Venue

Time is money, and the faster you can iron out the details and secure your venue, the more you'll save in the long run. When you visit a potential reception venue, be sure to bring along a copy of these questions to ask your wedding venue. When you have all the information you need upfront, making big wedding planning decisions is a snap.

Always start by asking about your venue's policies on hiring live musicians to play at your reception. A high-octane function band, elegant orchestra, or energetic jazz band will add a sense of vitality to any affair, transforming any venue into a rollicking, festive landscape. Contact us to book the musical act that will get your guests on the dance floor, no matter where your party is taking place.