Congratulations! You’re engaged! And hooray! You’ve narrowed your venue down to a few, perfect places. But now you need to interview each location to make sure it’s perfect for your special day. What should you ask them? This handy little list will assist you in interviewing each locale so you’re the most informed you can be!
1. How many weddings do you book for a single day? Make sure you ask this question! Large venues (or those that don’t know how much their plate can hold) will easily book two weddings in a day, either one in the afternoon and one in the evening or sometimes TWO at night in different sections of the building. The last thing you want is wandering accordion music or plastered strangers drifting over from the party next door! Also, some wedding establishments might not be able to care for two entire parties at the same time. Make sure you know that the venue’s attention will be solely on you and your guests!
2. Do I need to be a member of the facility to have an event? If you’re thinking of having your wedding at a country club, a church hall or a museum ballroom, you may need to join an association to have access to those locations and privileges. Sometimes it’s as easy as joining the museum’s subscriber list for a year, or as difficult as being accepted by a country club as well as paying annual dues. Be sure to inquire.
3. Do you have your own vendors, or am I free to choose my own? Several wedding venues have preferred wedding vendor preferences, and some handle everything in house. You may be required to use the baker or bartender on location, or choose between a few photographers approved by the staff.
4. Are open flames (candles) or alcohol allowed? If you’re planning to have tealights at every table, you may need to ask the venue director if open flames are allowed. Otherwise, you might be exchanging those sparklers for bubbles and the tea lights for battery operated ones. Likewise, make sure that if you’re planning that classic champagne toast that the bubbly is actually allowed!
5. Is there a corkage fee? A great way to save money at your wedding is to provide the alcohol yourself. Buying bulk from stores like Costco and Total Wine and offering your spirits yourself is cheaper than asking a catering company to pour for you. However, if you choose to do this, you may be facing a corking fee for each bottle that you open.
6. What are the hours I am restricted to? Setup? Take down? Make sure you consider the time it takes to set up your reception, decorate it, and then at the end of the night, clear the guests, remove decor and break down all tables and chairs. If the service is all inclusive, it won’t be a problem, but if you’re saving a buck and asking your family to do it all, make sure you have at least 2-3 hours before and after the wedding to set up and take down the event.
7. What’s the backup plan for ceremony? Having an outdoor ceremony can always be a gamble. If Mother Nature throws you a curveball with rain, excessive wind, or some other delight of weather, you may need to move the ceremony and/or the reception indoors. Make sure to check with the venue that there is a backup plan available. Understand that you may have a window of time to change your mind and then you are stuck with your decision despite the weather’s outcome.
8. Is there a facility director or planner available the day of the wedding? If there is a facility director available to you the day of the wedding, take advantage of it! This well positioned staff member will be able to convey your wishes to the other staff, your vendors and guide your guests through the wedding while you are relaxing and enjoying your day.
9. Will there be parking or parking shuttles? What about a valet? Consider the guest’s visit to the location. Where they will park, the distance to the door, handicapped access and possible shuttles to and from the ceremony/reception can all enhance or undermine the guest’s experience. Consider extra costs that may arise from shuttles, valets or parking fees in large cities.
10. Are there any photographer restrictions? Some churches will not allow a photographer anywhere near the altar. Alternatively, other secular locations may allow the photographer to cozy up between you and your husband! Make sure you check the rules and guidelines provided by each venue and stick to them. Discuss each at length with your photographer so you won’t have to worry about it on the big day.
What are some of the questions you’re planning to ask your venues?