photos by Lorne Mowers
8 Must Ask Questions Before Confirming the Venue Booking
by | 02 Jul 2018
There is so much more to booking a wedding venue than meets the eye. You may know from your research that the venue photographs beautifully, however, this doesn’t necessarily mean that there won’t be any number of complications expected or otherwise along the way. To help you ensure that the venue really is what you’re looking for, here are eight questions you should ask before confirming your booking.
1/ CAN THE VENUE ACCOMMODATE ALL OUR NEEDS?
Before confirming that this really is the venue of your dreams, make sure that it can accommodate all your needs on the day. Does it have the capacity for all your guests? What is the access like - will guests in wheelchairs or those using mobility aids struggle to move around the space? Is there a getting ready area for your preparations, or will you have to find a location for this nearby? If you are hoping to have the reception at the same site as the wedding ceremony, does your venue have a space where this can be held, and does the venue have plans for how to facilitate the transition from ceremony to reception? If, for you, a great time at said reception means dancing to music late into the night, make sure to ask if the venue has any noise restrictions. And if you have a vision about what your wedding aesthetic will be and know how you plan on executing this, you should ask if the venue has any restrictions with regards to decorations: where are the places you can and can’t hang drapery; can you have open flames in certain places; and can you put floral or lighting installations in the ceilings?
2/ ARE THERE OTHER EVENTS BOOKED ON THE SAME DAY?
Larger venues may very well have the capacity to take bookings from several clients. You should check if this is the case for your venue, and in particular, ask if any other weddings have been booked on the date you’re thinking about. Though the actual ceremonies and/or receptions may be in different locations about the venue, how many toilets does the venue have? Ask if there is a likelihood that your respective wedding party or guests are likely to meet and/or have to share facilities, as this may alter the experience of the day. Something you can do at certain venues is pay a buyout cost to guarantee that yours is the only wedding for which the venue will accept a booking on that date. This can be a particularly good idea if you want an outdoor wedding but still have indoor spaces at the venue on standby in case of bad weather.
3/ WHAT TIMES EXACTLY DO I HAVE VENUE ACCESS?
It is very important that you know the specific hours that you and your vendors have access to the venue. What time are your vendors permitted to come in to set up the decorations? This may limit what kind of decorations you can and can’t have, and may determine which vendors to go with as larger businesses will have more manpower to complete numerous laborious installations more efficiently. And is there a time by which you have to leave the venue? You don’t want to risk having to cut your reception celebrations short because you didn’t realise that the venue had an inflexible clearout time and no overtime policy.
4/ IS THERE A BAD WEATHER PLAN?
You can’t predict bad weather months before the actual wedding, so setting the date will have to be done with some finger crossing and an optimistic attitude. However what you can discuss with the venue before confirming the booking is their flexibility in adapting to weather conditions on the day. If your wedding was planned to be held outdoors, does the venue have plans for if it rains? Do they have marquees onsite that can be hired, or indoor spaces suitable for the ceremony/reception? How many staff members will be available to move things indoors should that be necessary? If it’s a matter of unbearable temperatures (either hot or cold), what methods (e.g. outdoor heaters, portable fans, blankets, etc) are available to keep your guests as comfortable as possible?
5/ WHAT RENTAL OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE?
Wedding rentals are often one of the last things to be considered in the lead up to your day, but they can really drive up both the budget as well as hours spent on planning. To cut down the time you have to spend sourcing all the various bits and pieces, ask your prospective venue(s) what rental options are available for hire. Whether it’s tables, drapes, chairs, tableware, table number stands, beverage dispensers, or furniture… if the venue has items you’d be happy to use, it’ll really add momentum to your wedding planning and help pull things together.
6/ IS THERE A SET LIST OF APPROVED VENDORS?
Some venues will only permit a list of pre-approved vendors to work onsite, so this is really important to clarify prior to making your booking as you’ll want to check out each of these vendors yourself to see if their aesthetic matches yours. Stylistic elements aside, a fixed vendor list may also have implications for your budget: if you have to work with the inhouse caterers, for example, there may be a minimum food or drinks spend. Even if your venue doesn’t have rules about which vendors you can/can’t work with, it can be a good idea to ask if they have a list of recommended vendors who have previously worked the venue. This way, you can work with businesses that know the venue - its quirks and limitations - so that things run as smoothly as possible on the day.
7/ DO YOU HAVE ANY RULES ABOUT ALCOHOL?
If you do want to serve alcohol at your wedding reception, or pop open a bottle(s) of bubbly with your bridal party or guests, make sure to double check that this is okay with your venue. Some churches, for example, have regulations about serving alcohol on their premises. Another important question to ask is if you can supply your own alcohol or does alcohol have to be purchased via the venue itself? You will may have to work corkage or service fees into your budget if supplying your own alcohol, or factor in the variety of the wine list and the markup on the alcohol if buying via the venue.
8/ WHAT ARE (ALL) THE COSTS?
Before committing yourself to a venue, ensure that you know exactly what the costs of hire are and what is and isn’t included in that price. What is the deposit cost? How will your payments be scheduled leading up to the wedding date? Are there service charges? Charges for cleanup after the event?
Though you may had your heart set on having a wedding in the weekend, you should ask if there are differences in costs for alternative dates in the same season (and also in different seasons). It’s very possible that there is a significant difference that means you could be spending more on other aspects of your wedding.
In the event that your plans fall through or need major amendments and you have to make a cancellation, what is the venue’s cancellation policy? Reading the fine print will make sure you avoid an unpleasant surprise when you receive the bill later on, so that you only leave with happy memories of your big day.