Deciding where to have your wedding can be one of the most difficult aspects of wedding planning. Finding the perfect location that suits you as a couple, works with your theme, can accommodate your guests and also doesn’t blow your budget can feel like an inexact science – especially when you aren’t always comparing apples with apples with inclusions.
So you might have toured a few places, have a stack of brochures and price lists and have it narrowed down to the ones you absolutely, positively want to book.
But before you do that, these are the questions you should ask so you don’t end up disappointed or with a bill shock later on!
1. Is my date available?
If you have your heart set on a specific date, you’ll find an extra layer of complexity in finding the perfect venue. But if you can be flexible with the date you might have better luck.
2. What exactly is included in the package?
As well as the food and beverage package that you select, what else does the booking entail? Do you have to hire linen, glassware and flatware? Will you have exclusive use of the venue? What else is provided and not provided eg: some couples have to bring their own cake knives at some venues.
3. Are there any restrictions you need to know about?
Some venues have noise curfews or you are completely limited by noise restrictions making it difficult to play music. Are there limitations on how you can decorate the space? Is the venue licensed or will you have to BYO?
4. What is the capacity?
Venues are regulated on how many people they can accommodate for safety reasons. So if you’re planning on cramming in 100 guests to a cute little venue that has a capacity of 50, forget about it, they won’t let you bring more tables!
5. What access will you have to the venue beforehand?
How much time will be available to you to set up? Some venues allow you access the day before, others only a few hours before when you are getting ready to walk down the aisle! The popularity of the venue will be a factor in this, but if you aren’t comfortable delegating the set-up of your decor to a stylist or a friend, then this might be a deal-breaker.
If a rehearsal beforehand is important to you, check to see if this is an option and if it is part of the overall price.
6. Are there back-up plans for weather events?
If you’re planning an outdoor ceremony or a reception under the stars, is there a fall-back plan offered by the venue if it happens to bucket down on the day?
7. Will there be a function co-ordinator?
You might not hire a wedding planner, but a function co-ordinator provided by a venue can be an absolute God-send on the big day. They run weddings and other events for a living and will help ensure everything runs smoothly on the day.
8. What are the payment options?
You will generally have to pay a retainer and sign a contract to book a venue. Pay attention to the agreed payment schedule in your contract as well as any cancellation policies. Are there any extra charges such as if your wedding runs late? Are there public holiday surcharges? Are there discounts if you have a wedding on another day of the week other than a Saturday?
9. What are the transport and parking situations like?
If you’re having a wedding at a cute winery in the middle of nowhere there’s likely to be ample parking for your guests, but no transport like taxis and Uber to get them home safely if they want to have a few drinks. You might need to spring for a bus for your guests, for example, which is an extra unanticipated cost.
If you’re getting married somewhere in the city, there may be little to no guest parking available and – worse – metered, time-restricted council parking many blocks away that could cause a dampener for everyone.
10. What are guest accommodation options?
Check with the venue to see if they have a list of recommended accommodation nearby that you can pass on to your guests when you send out your invitations. If your wedding is at a hotel they may offer discounts for your guests as part of your wedding booking.
11. Is it accessible to all guests?
If you have guests with special needs, is it going to be difficult for them to access the venue? For example, if you have an elderly relative who can’t walk far or climb stairs, if you have someone attending who is in a wheelchair or perhaps guests with babies and prams.
12. Is there a private area for the bridal party?
Once your wedding photos are done and dusted and you’re getting ready to make your grand entrance to the reception, you’ll want to chillax for a little bit with the bridal party. Is there somewhere you can do this where you won’t be seen by guests before you enter the reception?
13. Will you need to provide sound equipment?
Some venues have zero sound equipment and staging so if you’re hiring a band or DJ they will have to bring their own.
14. Will there be any renovations/road works etc happening on your wedding date?
Not only can these things spoil the whole look and feel of your big day, they could seriously affect the timeline if there are delays.