Wedding Reception Forum

venue questions

I am currently looking for a venue.  I have a few in mind that will probably work in our budget, so now its time to go check them out and talk to people etc.  I can be a little absent-minded and am prone to making emotional, spontaneous decisions.  I don't want to go for something and find I've forgotten to ask about a very critical point.  What questions should I make sure that I ask? Was there anything you wish you had asked before signing your contract?

Re: venue questions

  • Do not sign a contract until you get home and consider everything. Take someone with you who is critical of everything if you're lacking in that department and ask for their honest feedback after each visit. Before you go, sit down with your FI and make a list of what's important to you. At the visit, would do/ask the following:

    - bring a camera and take photos so you can look back and get answers to questions like "what color were the drapes? are you sure it had high ceilings? etc.
    - bring a notepad/pen and take notes
    - ask to see a copy of their standard/template contract
    - ask for a calendar of available dates and the paperwork/deposit needed to hold the date you want
    - ask about capacity and typical seating arrangements
    - ask what equipment is included and quantities available for your use (e.g. tables, chairs, linens, napkins, dishes, silverware, drink ware) and ask to see it, if possible.
    - ask about staff to guest ratio (how many servers per guest) and how many bars/bartenders per guest
    - ask if a venue/event coordinator is included (someone to help with site plan, coordinate vendors/vendor deliveries, make sure the site matches what you want, etc.)
    - ask for a copy of their sample menu (food and drink) with prices to take home with you
    - ask if they do custom menus and the process/prices for it
    - ask if they have preferred vendors - in other words, some venues only allow you to use a certain DJ, photographer, musician baker, caterer, florists, special equipment, etc. - and make sure you're ok with those vendors before you sign 
    - ask about decoration restrictions
    - if it's somewhere that has a divider or multiple rooms in the same general area, ask about noise levels, bathroom use (if shared) and security for potential wedding crashers from other weddings going on simultaneously 
    - ask to meet the person you'll be interfacing with
    - ask when you can come in to decorate/set up and if you'd be charged extra for coming in early. Also ask when all your stuff has to be out and what, if any, penalties there are if it's not done on time
    - Ask how much extra hours cost; the earliest you can start and the latest you can stay
    - Ask about gratuity and any extra/add-on charges

    Remember - you are the customer and they are salespeople selling you something. They'll probably pressure you to book "now". Don't bite. Go home with your pictures, your notes, and your impressions. Make a list of pros and cons for each venue and bump it up against the list of stuff that's important to you. Talk about it with your FI and THEN sign a contract.

  • Great suggestions southernbelle! I also want to emphasize the idea to wait and go home and go over your notes and pictures.
  • Thank you as well! I am currently looking at venues and I feel so overwhelmed, I am not sure what to ask.

    I'll be saving this post. :)
  • climbingsingleclimbingsingle NYC 'burbs member
    Ninth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Also, before you book a date, make sure you check what events are going on that weekend in the area. 
  • Thanks so much for the help! I really needed all of those great suggestions!
  • Those are wonderful suggestions posted above! Also, I felt a little rushed through the site tour so when I got home I had a list of questions that I had forgotten to ask. I called the planner and felt a little silly rattling off a bunch of questions but she was so, so nice about it and said call me anytime with any questions! So that made me feel a lot better before I signed the contract. 
  • Even dumb things like I asked do you allow sparklers and she laughed and said no they are illegal in this state! So ask about every little detail that you want! 
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited December 2013
    Some other things I'd check into:

    1) Can the venue accommodate dietary conditions like kosher, halal, allergies, gluten-free, veganism/vegetarianism, sugar-free, anything else your guests have?  Most should be able to, but I'd specifically ask about this and how they do it.

    2) Find out about parking and transportation:  Is there valet service that has to be paid for?  If so, can you pay for this so that the costs don't get passed on to your guests?  What local transportation serves the area?  What parking is available for anyone who doesn't use valet service?  Can people easily walk between venues?

    3) Gratuities/add-ons appear at the end of @southernbelle0915's list.  I'd find out if they are part of the contract, and also make certain that you are only paying for what you are provided under contract, and anything you are not paying for is not provided.  For example, if you are not paying for a full open bar, the only drinks made available are the ones you are paying for and that there will be no cash bars on site in another area to tempt your guests.  Also, make sure that bartenders do not put out tip jars.  But do be sure to provide reasonable gratuities.

    4) Insurance.  Some places legally require it, especially if alcohol will be served.  Find out what the requirements are and how to meet them.

    5) If they don't have specified vendors, find out about any restrictions on sound/food/drinks/any other vendors that the venue has.
  • I printed out a list of questions for each venue (the SAME list for each venue) and brought it with me to the tours.

    I also had a list of essentially every element of a wedding (hotel rooms, transportation, DJ, lighting, flowers, tables and chairs, linens, cocktail hour, booze, food, etc.). And I kept a list of what was/was not included in the package pricing for each venue. 

    For us, I tried to do the prices list for each of the venues, because if I found a good deal that would spur me on to overlooking some other things, but I didn't bother go through all the questions if I just didn't like the place in general.

    For us, there were 2 places that we ended up really liking. We did all the math, and they cost about the same. One place was easier, more of a package, and the other had to book more vendors separately. But it was the latter that i just looooooved when we walked in, so that's what we went with. 
  • AprilH81AprilH81 Columbus, OH member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    Don't sign a contract without check price quotes.  

    Once you narrow it down to your top 2-3 ask each one for a quote for what it would cost to have your wedding there.  Make sure all "extras" are included and you use your maximum guest count.  That may help you decide between them.
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