A wedding venue is more than just the place where a couple gets married – it serves as the backdrop for the photographs, the catalyst for the theme all while serving as a sizable amount of a couple’s wedding budget. Because of this immense pressure and price tag on the venue, it is crucial to do your research and ensure you are choosing the best place for your wedding – not just the most affordable or most glamorous.
While there are a multitude of factors, I’ve narrowed it down to the top 5 questions you need to ask before selecting a wedding venue.
1. Will this work with my plan?
This is a decision that the venue unfortunately can’t answer definitively; the answer will come from your own gut as to whether you feel comfortable getting married within those particular walls. However, there are a few factors that can help determine whether the venue is right for your particular event.
First, verify when it is available. If your heart is set on a June wedding but the venue isn’t available until October, it might not be the perfect place.
You should also take the “temperature” or “feel” of the place to see if it fits with your theme. If it is a modern art museum and you’re looking to throw a rustic affair, you might want to look elsewhere. The space is also crucial for your guest list, so verify that all of your attendees will fit comfortably, rather than being crammed into the space.
Also, make sure it can handle the whole day. Are you looking to having your ceremony, cocktail hour and reception all within the same space, but this particular venue can’t convert? Want to have a rehearsal dinner at the same space but the venue won’t allow it? Move on to the next place on the list.
Additionally, check to see if the venue has handled a wedding before. If you’d like to make your own plan, this could be ideal; however, if you would like to work with seasoned professionals, you might not want to lay down the deposit just yet.
2. What does my contract include?
It is important to verify what you’re getting in this deal before signing on the dotted line. Some important facts to verify include:
How many hours you’ll have the venue: If you’re not able to get in to set up the ballroom until six and guests will arrive at that time, it can be a serious issue.
The “hard end” of the party: The area your venue is in might have strict, fine-inducing laws as to when a reception must end or your venue might charge you a sizable fee for going over your time limit. Verify this beforehand and save yourself the money.
How many guests you’re paying for: The venue might boast about being able to hold 200 attendees, but the quote that they’re giving you front could only be for 100. Double-check how much your guest list will cost before committing. Also, verify that the venue can accommodate any guests you might have with special needs, such as elderly grandparents or small children.
How much the tax and fees are: You quote might seem doable up front, but it also might not include the hidden extras that are tacked on later. Verify that all fees have been clearly marked, such as taxes, service charges or site fees.
3. What services and/or amenities do you provide or offer?
A venue could win your heart with its charming decor and fantastic price, but you need to make sure you’re getting all that you need in that final dollar amount, particularly when it comes to the necessities for throwing a party and taking care of your guests. When touring the facilities, it’s important to ask yourself:
– Is this venue close to hotels and easy to find for out-of-town guests?
– Can I access reputable vendors quickly from this address? Does the venue partnership with any desired vendors that will provide a discount?
– Is staff included to help serve, decorate or coordinate for the big day?
– Are there kitchen and bathroom facilities? Are they updated and sanitary?
– What is provided by the venue, such as chairs or tables? What will I need to rent?
– Is there an area for the bridal parties to get ready and relax?
– Is there a plan in case of rain?
– Is there any electronic equipment provided, such as speakers or lighting?
– Are there any special features for specific groups, such as games for kids?
4. Can I use my vendor?
Your venue might be perfect, but it might not let you use the florist or photographer that you’ve already fallen in love with. Check with the venue to see if they come with a list of “preferred” wedding vendors that you are required to choose from and if it will cost you extra to use an outside vendor.
Also, if you wish to provide your own food or alcohol, this could be a problem for the venue as well due to licensure. If you’re going the DIY route, check with them beforehand to save yourself money and frustration.
5. What are your decorating guidelines?
Some venue, particularly historical sites, can have a specific list of decor do’s and don’ts that limit your decorating capabilities. This is done to ensure that the space stays as beautiful as you found it, but can cramp your style.
Before signing, start the decorating conversion by asking if you can use any of the following in your decor: candles, certain flowers or petals, glitter or confetti, tape or staples, drapery, wall or ceiling installations, sign posts or chuppahs (if outside), etc.
If your venue answers enough of these questions to your liking, then snatch it up quick before another couple comes in to take your date. Otherwise, it’s best to move on to the next option on the list and don’t worry –
Karen Ellis is Westfield State alum, and a freelance writer for blogs and newspapers. She also enjoys travelling and writing articles about wedding tips, her favorite vacation destinations, and event management. You can find Karen on Google+.