Selecting the perfect place for your big day can be a fun process if you know what style you’re looking for as well as the right questions to ask. We’ve found it’s best to go to several in one day, take notes at each, and then discuss the pros and cons over a relaxing lunch or dinner. Make this an enjoyable experience, but also don’t delay. Venues book super quick and, unlike other vendors, most can only host one event per day. If you’re getting married during the popular months of June or October, and your must have location isn’t available, consider a Friday evening or Sunday. Often times, you can get better deals using one of these alternative dates. Regardless of the calender, here are 10 questions you should ask during the venue interview process.
Southern Soiree Nashville Wedding Planning and Design / http://www.yoursouthernsoiree.com
1. Capacity. How many guests can comfortably attend? Some venues will give you the maximum number of people it can hold. 500 sounds great until you realize that’s if everyone is standing Bonaroo concert style. Have a general idea of what type of reception you’re wanting. If you would like everyone to have a seat at dinner, ask them how many will fit “banquet style”. If you prefer more of a flowly lounge feel, then consider a “cocktail reception” where seats for around half of your guest list will be provided.
2. Vendor Policies. Make sure to ask if they require that you use any specific vendors. Some venues will offer an in-house catering staff, bartender, etc. These types of places often use the term “all-inclusive”. This means that you pay the venue a set price and several, or all, of your vendors will be provided. This makes things very easy on you, as long as you don’t have your heart set on any specific vendor. Other locations are more carte blanche and allow you to bring in any service that you would like.
3. Parking. If your venue is in an urban location, make sure to ask what the parking arrangements are for your guests, as well as your vendors. Some places will include valet in your overall price, and others will charge extra for it. Locations such as hotels will often have a parking garage where you have the option of paying for your guests to park, or they can pay on their own. Either way, make sure guests will know exactly how to get from their parking spot to wherever they need to be, and that they’re not having to hike a mile. Ask if the venue provides attendants and/or signage, or if you are responsible for guiding the masses.
4. Noise Restrictions. Some venues have a specific time that the music must be turned down, or off all together. The last thing you want is to hire an awesome band or DJ in plans to party the night away and then find out the day before the wedding that the venue is putting the kibosh on you at 9 pm. This policy tends to be the most strict in outdoor rural locations where there may be residents in the same area.
5. Time Frame. Venues, at least in Nashville, are lucky enough to be booked at capacity much of the year. What this means for you is that there is the possibility of an event being the day before and possibly the day after your wedding in the same space. In this case, everything must be brought in on the morning of and removed that same night. However, every location is different. You need to know their exact expectations for your vendors and your belongings. Know how many hours you are allowed in the space so you can communicate to the vendors what time they can start setting up and what time they have to be out by. Plan for this all to happen in the same day. If you’re one of the lucky ones, yours will be the only event for the weekend. This usually means you can start setting up on the day before and possibly leave items overnight to retrieve in the morning. Outdoor spaces are more strict, as items such as rentals are not allowed to be left outside overnight. Late-night pick-ups can sometimes mean an extra charge from your vendors, so it’s best to know the game plan ahead of time.
6. Green Rooms. Ask if there are spaces for the bride and her maids to get ready in, as well as the groom and groomsmen. Some venues provide special rooms for each set of the party and others do not. If you are having hair and makeup done, make sure there is sufficient table space and electrical outlets. You will also want a mirror and either wall hooks or a rolling cart of some kind to hang your dress on. Also, ask what the policy is to bring in outside food and/or alcohol. The wedding day is a long one, and you need to make sure you have access to lunch that day. Some venues provide it in-house and won’t allow outside food coming in, others will allow you to bring in whatever your bridal heart desires.
7. Insurance. Some venues will require you to have at least liability coverage in the form of wedding insurance, especially if you are having alcohol. Just a quick question to add to the list.
8. Wedding Coordinator. If you have not already hired a wedding planner (shame shame ), check to see if your location require one. If so, they often have specific ones they can refer you to that are familiar with the venue. We recommend going ahead and hiring your planner before you look at venues so that we can ask all of these questions for you, plus many others! 🙂
9. What’s Included. As I mentioned above, some venues do include some things within their quote. Tables, chairs, wedding crashers, etc. Ask if anything will be provided and if you still have the option of bringing in your own, or if you are required to use them.
10. Clean Up. Alas, the best wedding of the year will eventually come to an end. It’s important to know what the expectations are for tear down and clean up. Some venues simply require you take your personal belongings and they will do the rest. Others require that you stay and mop the floor……..big difference here, we’ve done both!! Whatever their requirements are, be aware and have every task designated to someone so you’re not slapped with an additional fee.