So you’ve narrowed-it-down to a few venues that you’d like to visit for a proper show-round, hoping that one of them will be THE wedding venue.
It can be quite an over-whelming experience visiting venues, as there is so much to take in and so much to remember. Definitely go armed with a camera and although you may feel silly, take a note-pad with you too. It helps as you can note down little things specific to that venue. You’ll be surprised how confusing it gets once you’ve seen a couple of places and believe me, you think you’ll remember which place allows corkage and which supplies you with a cake-stand, but you really won’t.
Also, don’t forget, Wedding Planners at venues are there to sell the dream. I should know, I was one! Luckily most of the planners out there are very honest and will be forth-coming with information, but some aren’t as open with the venues “bad points”. So you will have to remember to ask the questions.
Here are some of the questions that you should ask every venue at some point before booking. You may not need or want to ask these on the first visit, but if you are seriously considering a venue, then go for a second visit or ask the Wedding Planner all of the following before you book:
- Is the venue available on your chosen date? Is there a difference in price for a weekday or Sunday wedding? Is there a minimum-spend or charge per wedding? (Some venues ask that you spend at least a certain amount with them, which may not be a problem if you have 150 guests, but might be a struggle if you have only 40)
- Do they only hold one wedding per day? If not, how do they ensure the weddings are kept very separate?
- Do they offer exclusive-use of the venue? If so, from what time and until when?
- Is there outside space or gardens that can be used for drinks reception, photos etc?
- Is there an option to bring in a marquee? If so, what are the restrictions? Is there power at the venue?
- Where are the best locations for photos? Where can the big group photo be taken? (often a large staircase or gardens are ideal for this)
- Is there parking at the venue? What are the transport links to the venue? Do they have a preferred cab company that guests can use?
- Are they licensed for civil ceremonies? If so, what are the capacities? Who are the local registrars?
- What time is their bar licensed until? Can you pay for an extended license? Are there added costs for staffing?
- Are there bedrooms for your guests at the venue? If so, will you get special rates? If not, do they have special rates at any local hotels or B&Bs?
- (If the venue has bedrooms) What time is check-in and check-out? If check-in is during the wedding, can guests store their luggage until their room is ready?
- What are the seated and standing capacities for each room? Ie how many guests can fit for a sit-down dinner vs a standing buffet?
- What are the menu options? (BBQ, Hog-roast, Buffet, Sit-down dinner etc)
- Do they offer a complimentary menu-tasting? Is there some flexibility in the menu choices?
- Does the venue provide catering? Can you bring in your own caterers? If the venue insists on providing the catering, do they offer corkage to bring in your own wines? Do they offer kids options or packages?
- How many members of staff will work on your wedding? How many waiters/waitresses per table of guests? Will there be a dedicated Wedding Planner or Events Manager running your wedding on behalf of the venue on the day? Is there someone to make announcements?
- Are there any noise restrictions at the venue (ask if there is a noise limiter)? What time does the music need to be turned-off? Do they have a PA system for speeches?
- Is there a dance-floor? If not, do you need to bring in a dance-floor? Are drinks allowed on the dance-floor? Are high-heels allowed on the dance-floor? (You’d be surprised)
- What time will set-up of your wedding commence? What time can suppliers gain access to the venue to begin their set-up? What time does everything need to be cleared from the venue the next day? (Usually venues will gather all decorations into one room to be taken away the next morning, but some ask that it’s cleared that night)
- Do they have a list of preferred suppliers? Do you have to use their preferred suppliers?
- Do they offer supplier meals? If so, what are they and how much do they cost?
- Are there any restrictions on decorating the venue? (confetti, candles, pins in the walls etc)
- Are fire-works or chinese lanterns allowed?
- What things will remain in the rooms from the venue? (Sometimes on a show-round venues will pull out all the stops and have flowers, candles etc on display to dress the venue – these may not be part of the room hire). What furniture is included in the venue hire?
- How will the tables be laid? What colour table-linen is used? Do they provide linen napkins? Do they provide crockery, cutlery and glass-ware?
- What additional items can the venue provide? (candelabras, red carpet, candles, stationery, cake-stand and knife etc)
- What are the general timings or running order for the weddings they host? (Some venues have to allow a certain amount of time to set-up the rooms or change a room from ceremony to wedding breakfast. This may impact the length of your drinks reception)
Ok, so there’s more than 27 questions there, but this should cover pretty much everything you’ll need to know. It’s best to cover all bases. Not all of the answers will be the ones you want to hear and I don’t think there is such a thing as the “perfect” wedding venue as there’s always a compromise, but you’ve got to work out which venue can accommodate the majority of your requests and at the best costs to you.
So I hope the above wedding tips prove helpful. Keep your eyes peeled for more tips coming soon.