Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Venue
This post is for all the brides and grooms who are trying to make one of the biggest choices in the whole wedding planning process: which venue to choose?
After engagement, many couples rush into choosing their venue. They cling to a specific date or style and think, “I have to beat everyone else so that I can have this exactly the right way!”, without really thinking through many of the things that go into choosing a wedding venue.
Insert Venue Regret; the feeling you get a month after you choose your venue that says “why didn’t you pick a different one?”
Let’s avoid Venue Regret.
Below is a list of 5 things to ask yourself and the venue before booking:
Is the date REALLY that important?
If you’ve found yourself saying, “Well, when are we gonna have the big day?”, then you are not alone. A lot of couples go back and forth between dates, due to nostalgic reasons or trying to make sure certain family members can attend. While some situations do trump this rule of thumb, the main thing to consider when choosing a date is what season will YOU be the happiest in. If your whole family can make it to a wedding in July, but you HATE the heat, it’s probably best to not make yourself suffer through the day. Sure, you can book an indoor venue, but you will still have photos outside and have to celebrate your anniversary every year in your least favorite season. If you’re looking at May dates, but your entire prospective venue is outdoor, will you be thoroughly disappointed if it rains the entire wedding day (which it likes to do in Virginia, in April AND May)? Pick a season/month that you love and run with it. Everyone else will make whatever day you choose happen, if they love you enough. If not, you’ll quickly reduce your guest list and save $$$$ on your catering bill.
2. Am I booking a Tuesday because it’s cheaper or because I really want to get married on a Tuesday?
For so many venues, they will try to sell you on their weekday wedding packages, if you’re trying to cut costs. Bottomline is, they’re trying to make a sale and you’re trying to save money. What you don’t realize is, you booking that date that will save you $1,000, will actually end up making your wedding more like an elopement and less like a wedding. Imagine your guests, not wanting to take a whole day off of work, trekking 30 miles to some rural town or urban downtown, staying until toasts are made, then heading home so they can wake up for work the next morning. No one enjoys that. No one wants to party at that type of wedding. There is no dancing or merriment.
And a weekday wedding says, “help us, we’re poor” to all of your family and friends.
Don’t be the Tuesday wedding person, unless it really means something to you. Don’t sacrafice the happiest day of your life for a few extra dollars in your pocket. We promse, it isn’t worth it.
3. Does my venue include all of the nice stuff I’m seeing, or is that going to cost me, too?
ASK ASK ASK before booking. Will the firepit cost me? Do you include drink dispensers? How much extra is the use of the kitchen?
There are one million things in a venue that make it look how it looks and run how it runs. Some venues will quote you the price for the whole package; the full kit and kaboodle, if you will. Others will say, “Our starting price is $7,000, but you have to pay additional for the tables, chairs, bathrooms, parking attendants, use of our decorations, signs and use of our fans.”
You are the client and you hold the power. Ask questions and make sure you know every last thing that you’ll be paying “extra” for, before you sign on the dotted line.
4. How much time do you get?
This might be the most underrated question of all-time. About 1/2 of venues will give you the venue for the weekend. These are the dreamboat venues and totally worth the money and lack of stress. 1/4 will give you the venue for the full day (6AM-Midnight). These are the silver medalist and still highly smiled upon by all vendors and couples.
Then there is the remaining 1/4 of venues that give you access at 2PM and want you out by 10PM.
THESE VENUES ARE STRESSFUL AND OFTENTIMES NOT WORTH YOUR MONEY.
Not only will you, the couple, not be able to be present for the set up, decorating and final touches of YOUR wedding, but you will be stressed to get to the venue on time, get all of your pictures done, make sure families are there and get down the aisle, all before 5PM.
You will also be paying additional for hiring someone to come in and set up all of your decorations, flowers, etc. and you typically cannot get ready on-site, which is another added expense.
5. Do I like/trust the venue team?
This is imperative that you decide this BEFORE booking a venue. All venues handle staffing, management and ownership in different ways. The most important thing for you to look for and understand is who you will be corresponding with leading up to your wedding and who will be responsible for your actual wedding on the big day. Some venues provide a staff member who actually runs the event, some venues provide a manager who “oversees” things, like changing trash cans or setting up chairs, and other venues just hand you the keys and say “Good luck!”
The third type, you can just go ahead and kiss your security deposit good-bye.
You also have to decide if you like the folks you’ll be working with for the next 6 months to 2 years. Wedding planning is stressful and overwhelming and it’s great to know that your venue is on your side. Look for a team that is likable and easy to be around. Look for someone who responds quickly to your emails and makes you feel like they have time for YOU.
And ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS remember, you are the clients, this is your wedding day, and you call the shots.
Other questions that might be helpful to ask?
What are the service fees and taxes?
What is the maximum capacity?
Does the venue require a wedding planner?
Must we work with the venue’s vendor list or can we bring our own?
What’s the policy on alcohol?
Where is parking?
What is traffic like in the area? Should we notify guests to build in extra time for travel?
What hotels are nearby?
Is the venue handicap accessible?
Does the venue provide storage?
Is there a kitchen on-site for caterers?
What type of security deposit/regular deposit is required?