Once you narrow down your wedding theme it is time to start choosing venues to visit. While on your venue tours you need to be thorough, so I created a wedding venue question checklist. Utilize the wedding venue question checklist to ensure your wedding venue meets your needs.
For other wedding planning tips, check out my 7 Steps to Take After You Get Engaged post.
Schedule Your Venue Tours
Give the venues on your list a quick call or shoot them an e-mail to schedule a visit. Depending on circumstances try to schedule two tours a day. Make sure you ask how long the average tour takes. When my husband and I visited venues we had our moms coming from out of state, so we tried our best to visit a few wedding venues a day.
Wedding Venue Questions
How many guests can the venue comfortably accommodate?
It is so important to ask wedding venues how many guests they can accommodate. If they can’t fit your guest count then you can stop talking right then and there. Most importantly, you want to know how many guests the venue can comfortably accommodate. You do not want guests to be crammed at their tables. There is a difference between maximum capacity and a comfortable setting.
How many hours do you have access to the venue? Is there a fee for additional time?
Most locations offer a four to five hour reception. There is usually an option to extend time if there is not another event being held right after your wedding. Ask what your options are while on your tour.
What is the proximity to hotels in the area?
If you have out of town guests attending your wedding you need to take into account the proximity of hotels near your venue. It’s not ideal to have guests travel a great distance to get to and from their hotel. For instance, the venue we chose had a hotel onsite and an additional hotel 2.5 miles down the road. Half of our guests were from out of state and we wanted to make sure they had options.
Is there an onsite coordinator the day of your wedding?
Once you pick a wedding venue you will work with an event manager through the entire planning process. On the day of your wedding you will not have time to check in on every aspect of your wedding. Discuss during your tour if the event manager is present the day of or if there is another individual that will oversee all of the important details.
Does the venue offer centerpiece and decor items for free or that you can rent?
When you are visiting venues it is great to know if they provide any items towards your centerpieces. You may or may not end up using them, but it’s good to know you have options! For example, our venue provided votive candles, hurricane globes and candles. We took advantage of the votive candles! When we toured the Providence Public Library the sales manager informed us that we could rent books if we wanted to incorporate them into our decor.
Are you permitted to bring in your own vendors? Do they have a preferred vendor list/suggestions for you?
Most venues allow you to bring in your own florist, baker, etc. It is important to know in advance if the venue requires you to use a list of their preferred vendors. This will limit your option to shop around and find better pricing. On the other hand, if you are not required to use the venues preferred vendors it is still worth reaching out to them. Most likely they have worked at the venue many times and can give you great insight when making decisions.
Does the venue provide basic linens and place settings? What do they look like?
Depending on the setting of the venue they may or may not have linens and place settings for you to use the day of your wedding. It is important to ask if these items are available and if they are provided for free or at cost. You should also ask to view them because they might not go with your vision. If that is the case, ask if the venue has a list of vendors they could recommend for you to rent items from.
What is the backup plan for poor weather?
Take it from me you need to have a plan in place for bad weather. It down poured from sunrise to sunset at our wedding. Luckily, we had a plan in place and all went smoothly. If you are looking at outside venues it is vital to know what they do in the case of rain, etc.
Are you able to bring in outside food and alcohol?
Depending on the type of food and beverage license a venue holds you might have the option to bring in your own alcohol and food. I highly recommend discussing this during your venue tours. At our wedding we were able to bring in outside food, so we ordered Italian pasty from a local bakery and my godmother made 17 dozen Italian cookies. This saved us a tremendous amount of money since we did not have to purchase additional desserts from our venue. In addition, alcohol is such a huge expense at a wedding, so if you can provide your own this will help your budget.
How are the acoustics with a live band and DJ?
There is nothing worse than when you cannot hear someone giving their speech at a wedding because the noise is reverberating off of the walls. The same goes for the band/DJ. You spend all of this money and it sounds terrible? I don’t think so! Ask the venue what the sound quality is like in the space.
Where is the cocktail hour held? How many high top tables are provided?
When you’re on your tours be sure to ask where they hold cocktail hour. It is always nice when a cocktail hour is held in a separate area than the reception. It is also important to know how many high tops are available and what the setup for this space looks like.
What is the staff to guest ratio? How many bartenders to guest ratio?
Not only do you want to make sure you’re being given a high level of service on the day of your wedding, but you want to be sure your guests have a positive experience. Ask the venues what their staff to guest ratio is. It is also important to know how many bartenders will be working as well. For example, we received compliments from our guests on the level of service they received during our reception. Drinks and food were served in a timely manner.
Is there ample parking available on site?
Depending on the location of a venue they might have limited parking. Ask what parking options your guests will have. We looked at a venue in the heart of downtown Providence, RI and their parking was limited. We knew based on our preliminary guest count it was not realistic.
Is there an on site location for photos?
Your wedding is one of the greatest days of your life. You want to have a variety of photos to look back at. When you are visiting venues ask them where past couples have taken photos, so you can get a good visual in advance. If you are not thrilled with your options ask if there are locations in the area that they could recommend for you and your wedding party to take photos.
How does the venue charge for use of their space? Do they include gratuity in the final cost?
The cost of the venue can potentially be a good chunk of your budget. You want to ask as many questions about the cost in advance, so you are not side blinded in the future.
- Is their a fee to rent the venue space? What is the additional charge if you want to add more time?
- What is the cost of an open bar? Are there different open bar packages?
- Is there a required dollar amount you have to meet?
- Can you remove items off of a preset package and have a credit applied towards your balance? For example, if you do not want table side wine offered ask if it can be removed and if you have the option of receiving a credit.
- Is there a difference in cost for a plated vs buffet dinner?
- What is included in each wedding package?
- What is the deposit/refund/cancellation policy?
Are there sample floor plans to view? Can you visit when the venue is setup for a wedding?
Seeing floor plans will help you better visualize the layout of your wedding. It is even better if you visit the venue space when it is setup for a wedding or event. I for one am a very visual person, so I took advantage of seeing venue spaces in person, on paper and in photographs.
Where are bathrooms located? Will they be shared with the rest of the venue?
This might seem like a silly question, but you have to take your guests in to account. If you have individuals attending your wedding that are handicap you want to make sure it is not a hassle for them to use the bathroom. You also want to make sure there’s an adequate amount of bathrooms if you’re having a larger wedding. For example, our wedding was held at the Saybrook Point Inn and Spa. Our wedding guests shared the bathroom with hotel guests, but there were plenty of bathrooms and they were located right down the hall.
Is there a bridal suite for the wedding party?
It is great to have a space to escape to if need be. A bridal suite will allow you and your wedding party to have some privacy, spend time together and a place to freshen up throughout the night.
How is the lighting?
A space might look fantastic at night lit up with candles and lights, however, there may be less of a wow factor during the day or vice versa. Be sure to check out the wedding venue during the time of day you plan to hold your reception. Ask the individual giving you the tour if they have photos from past weddings you can view.
Is there a dance floor? What is the size?
You will hear it time and time again, but dancing is key at a wedding. If there is a dance floor at the venue make sure it accommodates your guest count. If you need to rent a dance floor ask the venue what size is most suitable in the space. Also, ask if they can a recommend vendor for you to use.
Will the venue setup and breakdown?
If you plan on bringing in decor, DIY centerpieces, etc. it is important to know if you are responsible for setting up the items. For example, at our wedding we had decor for the cocktail hour, memory table, gift table, etc. and our venue setup everything for us.
Printable Wedding Venue Checklist
Here is a printable wedding venue question checklist to bring on your venue tours!
Pick Your Venue
If you and your fiancé utilize the wedding venue question checklist you will have a much easier time making a final decision. Happy touring!!!!