Your Wedding Venue will be one of the first and one of the most important things you book for your wedding day, so it’s vital you make the choice that fits your needs.
When I was planning my wedding, from the moment of getting engaged, the planning process went like so:
- Tell family and friends we were engaged, which immediately prompted nagging about “the date”
- Get a rough idea of what date we wanted, based on avoiding other people’s weddings
- Decide where in the world we wanted to get married (we opted for near my family)
- Decide roughly how much we were willing to spend and what that meant for venue budget
- Make an initial guests list so we knew how many people we needed the venue to hold
- Looked at and booked a venue
Time-wise this whole process took about 4 weeks from getting engaged to booking the venue. We were booking the venue 15 months in advance and we still couldn’t get the exact weekend we wanted.
Be warned! Wedding planning happens early!
Because the venue is such a huge chunk of your budget and such a key part of the day it’s important you pick the one that suits your needs.
To help you on your way here at 27 Questions To Ask Your Wedding Venue
1. Will there be any other weddings that day and is the venue open to the public?
One reason we fell in love with our venue was because it was exclusively ours. No other wedding to contend with and nobody gawking at us. It’s personal of course, but a shared day for me would have been an absolute no. An exclusive venue, however, is likely to have a slightly higher price.
2. Where’s the nearest accommodation for you to get ready / stay?
If your venue is close to your families this may not be a problem. If it’s nowhere near anyone you know, both of you (plus your guests) will need somewhere to get ready and to stay afterwards. Do they have rooms on site? Would at least one room be complimentary with the booking?
3. If they do have rooms on-site, is it compulsory that your guests fill them?
Some venues (generally upmarket hotels) demand you completely take them over, including booking out all rooms, as part of the wedding package. Check the room-rates and numbers to see if this is reasonable for your guests, and any discount they can offer.
The Ceremony / Reception
4. Are they licensed to have ceremonies on-site as well as the reception?
You may be looking at a church wedding, followed by a venue for the reception only. If, however, yours is a civil ceremony a huge number of venues in the UK are licensed to do both. We chose a venue that allowed both ceremony and reception on-site. It saved the logistical hassle that is getting your guests from one place to another and increased time concentrating on enjoying the day.
5. If they are licensed for wedding ceremonies, what room will they use and what is the maximum number of guests for ceremony and reception?
Beware. Often venues that have everything on-site can hold considerably fewer people for the ceremony. Typically they’ll say up to 120 for a sit-down dinner and 80 for a ceremony. Which is problematic when you want 120 guests. It was exactly this reason that meant we looked at a sum total of 1 venue : it was the only one in a 10 mile radius that met our needs. Also some venues use the same room for the ceremony and reception which means you’ll have to stay clear of it post-ceremony. Also some venues have larger capacity by having a marquee tent on their grounds. Marquees tend to involve extra decorating work so make sure you’re happy to take that task on.
6. Will they provide a wedding co-ordinator on the day?
Separate to your own wedding planner if you have one, the wedding may provide a co-ordinator. Ours did and I can’t tell you how helpful this was : having one point of contact to liaise with whilst planning and on the day for any problems was a Godsend (we delegated this liaison role to The Best Man, only to inform us if something was critical)
7. Where is the nearest parking and is it free?
Whilst a lot of venues have some sort of on-site parking this isn’t always the case and you may need to advise guests of the nearest parking spot. Also check they’re not going to do something crazy like charge your guests to park. Parking duties are firmly the job of the Groomsmen, although in my experience they get bored of this very quickly.
8. Can your guests use confetti?
Some places specify bio-degradable confetti, some won’t allow any for clean-up reasons.
9. What are the toilet arrangements?
A very important question!
Food & Drink
A lot of venues will give you an approved list that includes, say, 3 different local caterers. Some people balk at this, but having caterers who know their way around the kitchen is not a bad thing. Our venue came with one caterer : their own. We were over the moon. They knew the place like the back of their hands and we also did an extensive tasting with them so we knew the food was good. It saved a lot of wedmin.
11. If you’re using their caterers what flexibility of choice do you have on menu? Can they cater for vegetarians or other dietary requirements?
Any half decent caterer should be able to make vegetarian or vegan versions if needed. But there may be a host of other dietary needs – foods outlawed on religious grounds? Intolerances? Children’s meals? You need to find out how flexible they are. Also, if you’ve got a strong food vision and discover their caterers will only let you pick from a list of four possible items there could be a problem.
12. Can you do a tasting beforehand?
Frankly if the answer is no I’d walk away. Tasting is essential as well as being one of the most fun parts of wedding planning! The big question is, if you don’t like the food during the tasting – can they actually make something different?
13. Do they supply drinks? If so, what does this include and how much will they charge?
Typically wedding day drinks include refreshments straight after the ceremony (alcoholic and non alcoholic); wine with food (usually half a bottle per person) and toasting champagne during speeches. You will also want to discuss what happens with drinks after dinner. Will you have a free bar for your guests (expensive but a nice treat) or a free bar just for staple drinks (e.g. wine and beer) or is there a cash bar at the venue and will they be fully stocked?
14. If you’re having an evening cash bar, how much are drinks prices?
Make sure they’re not an exorbitant cost purely because it’s a wedding, otherwise that could be uncomfortable for any guests who are short of funds.
15. Can you provide your own drinks? If so do they charge corkage?
This is typical. You think you’ll save a bit of money but getting all the drinks yourself. Then you find out the venue charges £5 per bottle to open them for you (“corkage”) and you realise you’ve saved next to nothing compared to choosing their drinks. You can attempt to negotiate this down. You can get your own anyway because you have a preferred tipple. Or you can just accept that weddings are expensive, save yourself another job and pick theirs.
16. Does the venue have its own toastmaster or should you appoint your own?
The toastmaster, whilst being a very old-fashioned role, is an important one. You want someone to announce you as the new “Mr & Mrs” and introduce speeches. Personally we liked that this was another job to give to one of our friends, but if you don’t have any guests you’d entrust the role to, enquire if the venue has a toastmaster they would provide and if that’s an added cost.
17. Will they put on a late night buffet?
It seems un-necessary when you’ve had dinner a few hours before but I’ve seen it at most weddings. Ham and cheese, bacon sandwiches, miniature fish and chips … it always gets eaten by guests looking to prolong the party. Find out if your venue can cater for this and what they’ll charge. A tip? You don’t need to provide this meal for every guest. Catering for about 2/3 of the total should be fine.
18. Do they supply all tableware?
Check they’ll supply the lot – plates, cutlery, knives, forks, and most importantly table linen as some venues don’t stretch to this
19. Do they supply any other room decorations?
This will be highly variable by venue. Some will provide absolutely nothing. Some might give a helping hand, e.g. at least with a stand for your seating plan. Best know up-front what they’ve got. In most cases decorations will fall to you – which is why a good florist is so important. It’s also worth checking if they have any restrictions, like a ban on candles on the table. For me that would have been devastating!
20. Do they supply chair covers / ties?
I kid you not this is one of the most overlooked added costs. I know several people who didn’t like the chairs at their venue but told themselves they didn’t care – it’s only a chair. Then, with weeks to go, they changed their minds and had to pay an external company £500 for hiring and putting on chair covers and ties. So think about this one in advance.
21. When will you be able to get access to the venue to decorate and will they help?
Particularly if you have extensive decorations this could be a massive logistical hurdle. If your venue is having a wedding the day before and you can only get access to it from 9am on the morning of your wedding, how are you going to set everything up and will they be there helping with tables etc? It’s quite common for you to end up enlisting the help of your wedding party and willing guests for this last-minute rush. We had guests putting chair covers on 2 hours before the ceremony started. It all worked out in the end!
22. Is anywhere out-of-bounds for photography?
Photographers will naturally have a roving eye for good spots for pictures. Best establish in advance if anywhere is off-limits for some reason.
23. Can your photographer come and view the venue in advance?
This is hugely important if your photographer has not been to the venue before. They need the opportunity to scout it out for the prime places for photographs, unless you’re going 100% reportage style and not having any posed shots at all.
24. Is any form of entertainment off-limits?
A lot of venues don’t allow anything incorporating fire, and particularly paper lanterns. Be sure to check in advance, even if you’re not playing anything outlandish. There is the possibility they may have an in-house entertainer they’d like you to use, although I’ve never actually heard of this happening.
25. Will we need to bring in sound equipment and can you accommodate this?
Bands for example will probably come with big speaker set-ups, so make sure you’ve discussed with the venue how they can get them power
26. What time does everything need to finish?
Some venues have finishing times based on sound restrictions around the neighbourhood. Typically this may be 11.30 / midnight but be certain to check. Some venues will give you a later license for an added cost as it’s an extra late finish for their staff. In my expereince by midnight your guests are ususally partied out and beyond that it’s just the drunkest people getting drunker. But, if you’re party animals, you may want to find a venue that caters for a much later finish.
AND FINALLY …
27. What does everything cost, broken down into a clearly itemised list
They should be able to separate every line : ceremony; reception; canapés; drinks; dinner; evening buffet; ALL other extras so you can see what every single element costs and make sure any VAT or service charge is included at this point!
Does this cover everything?
Or have you had anything crop up with your venue that you wish you’d asked before?
Your comments are always welcomed below