So many locations, so many pricing policies, so many terms and conditions! It’s easy to quickly get bogged down with the venue hunting process. Once you’ve complied a short list of your favourites it’s important to gather some key information. Make sure you are comparing apples with apples and that you won’t be in for any nasty surprises down the line. The time to get these answers is BEFORE you sign on the dotted line. Here are the questions you should be asking and why.
What is their availability?
If your window of dates is very narrow you don’t want to fall for a venue that can’t help you. However if at all possible remain flexible. It’s worth shuffling your schedule to get your dream location.
What is included?
Is VAT included? What does the venue fee cover? Check if all staff and their transport is covered or if you’ll need to pay per waiter, per hour. Does the venue help with your planning, set-up and on the day coordination? Find out if good quality linen, crockery and cutlery is offered free of additional charge and how much extra décor you’ll need to arrange. Some venues require a lot less than others.
Are low season and weekdays cheaper?
Before fixating on a summer Saturday consider the alternatives and the savings! Make your decision knowing the financial impact.
What is their capacity?
Make sure the venue can host all of your friends and family without it being a squeeze and still allowing adequate space for dancing and other extras like candy tables and photo booths. Equally don’t opt for a space that is way too big and will make your party feel lost.
How does payment work?
How much deposit is required to reserve the venue? Once you have decided on your venue secure it as soon as possible. It will be bitterly disappointing if another couple beat you to it and snag your perfect date. Ensure you understand when further payments are required. This is a huge financial commitment as well as an emotional one!
What happens in bad weather?
If some of your day will take place outdoors enquire about “plan B”. Has it been done before and will you be happy with it? If the weather is cold will there be sufficient heating to ensure your guests are comfortable? On the flip side make sure there is air conditioning for hot days. You don’t want to be either freezing or sweltering!
Is the venue accommodating to all of your guests?
Ask if there is wheelchair access and disabled bathrooms. Is the venue child friendly and what provision do they make for younger guests? Can the kitchen cater for special dietary requirements? Are they flexible with menus? If your guests are well taken care of you’ll be much more relaxed.
Are all of the logistics covered?
What time can set-up begin? Is there adequate parking? Does the venue have car guards or other security? Are there noise restrictions and will a live band be allowed? How many bathrooms are available and what do they look like? Will the venue provide signage to direct guests on arrival? Are there enough good, local accommodation options?
What is the last date for changes?
It’s important to know upfront what your cut-off date will be for submitting your final guest numbers and decisions with regards to your menu and other details. This way you can make sure you have enough time to gather RSVPs and complete all of your planning. The nearer to the time you can advise the venue of numbers the less chance there will be of you having to pay for people that drop out.
Does the venue recommend service providers?
It’s so helpful if the venue can refer you to trusted marriage officers, cake bakers, DJs, photographers and other wedding vendors. Working with a professional who already knows your venue will take a heap of stress off your plate. However, if you’re set on anyone specific of your own choosing check that it won’t be a problem for you to hire someone off-list.
What’s the fine print?
Most importantly carefully read your contract and query anything you are unsure of prior to signing. Don’t get swept up by the excitement and fail to do this. If you agree any special terms be sure to get these in writing too – either added to your contract or clearly set out on an email. This will avoid any confusion later on.