26 Important Questions to Consider Before Booking Your Wedding Venue

Keep the big picture in mind.



Wedding Venue

PHOTO: JUNE COCHRAN PHOTOGRAPHY

 

You’ve already started collecting vintage keys for escort tag holders and are trying to decide which baker to schedule a tasting with first. Your “Bouquets” Pinterest page is about to hit a hundred pins, and you’ve been keeping an eye out for sales on Tiffany-blue satin tablecloths for weeks. Lady, you’re undeniably neck-deep in wedding planning.

 

And while we’re loving your attention to detail and the seriously impressive way you’ve been monitoring Craigslist for used bistro lighting, there’s something we gotta talk about. It’s not as fun as color schemes and accent greenery but it’s one of the most important parts of the event, usually requires a ton of lead time and affects many other wedding day elements: the venue.

 

Venues often book up a year or more in advance. A YEAR! And while your budget is a huge factor in picking a venue (so have that ready before you tackle this step), there’s so much more to think about other than “have I fallen in love with this space?” and “can I afford this?” Like, “does this venue have the capacity for everyone I want to invite?” Hint: You’ll also want a pretty-close-to-set guest list for this one. After all, you’ll want to save yourself the heartbreak of falling in love with a gorgeous venue (or, God forbid, putting down a deposit) only to realize later that your hasty guest-count tally on the back of that cocktail napkin failed to include your mom’s cousins, your co-workers and, oh, every single pal’s plus-one you’d planned to invite.

 

We’ve come up with 20-plus questions you should tailor to your needs, keep in mind or ask the venue coordinator when you go on your site visit:

 

  1. What’s the capacity?

  2. Do I have a hard-and-fast date? If so, will the venue be available on that date?

  3. Are there different costs for different days of the week or months? (Some venues charge less on weekdays or offseasons.)

  4. Is it indoors or outdoors? (Will outdoors be too hot or hard to walk on for grandma? If I have religious requirements, such as having to be in a church for the ceremony, does this venue have that?)

  5. What’s the weather like in this area at the time of year of my date?

  6. Are tables and chairs included? Linens? Food?

  7. Is there lighting at night or do I need to provide my own?

  8. Does it have all the electrical infrastructure I need? (Will I have to bring a generator?)

  9. Does it have everything I need for big D.I.Y.s (food prep area, refrigeration, heat)?

  10. Does it fulfill my caterer/vendor requirements?

  11. Are there vendor restrictions? (Some venues require that you hire certain caterers, or charge a fee if you use a nonapproved caterer.)

  12. What’s parking like?

  13. How far is the drive from where people will be staying?

  14. Will drunken driving be an issue (are there any Uber drivers out here)? Will I need to book a shuttle?

  15. Is a coordinator included?

  16. How on top of it does the venue staff seem?

  17. Are there any added fees?

  18. Does the venue charge per person?

  19. Will there be other weddings the same day, that we might run into? Is it open to the public to gape at our ceremony?

  20. How early can I set up? Is it enough time for me?

  21. Is there a prep area for the wedding party?

  22. Where can we take photos? Is there a fee to take photos at other spots on the property?

  23. What time do we need to be out? (And how long will it take us to break everything down?)

  24. What is the trash/removal situation?

  25. What are the insurance requirements?

  26. Are there bartender requirements? (Can we just have table wine or do we need a licensed bartender to serve it? Do we need to use the site’s bartender? Can we provide our own liquor?)

 

Notice how the answers to these questions could really turn your cost predictions on their head? So, if you’re comparing venue values and costs, you’ll definitely want to factor in answers to things such as requiring a shuttle, providing light or furniture, generators, etc.

 

READ MORE STORIES BY NATALIE SCHACK