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15 Questions to Ask Wedding Venues Before Booking

Before booking your wedding venue, there are a few important things to do first. Be sure know and do all these things before deciding on a venue for your wedding.

Use this helpful guide and checklist to plan your wedding venue for your ceremony, reception, or both!

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1. Pre-Determine Your Wedding Date & Time

Before you can book your wedding venue, you need to have an idea of when you would like to have your wedding and what time it should be. Think about dates that a special to you as a couple – the first day you met, your first date, etc. Also, think about what time of year you’d like to get married. The most popular (and most expensive) months of the year are May, July, and December. It might be best to avoid these months if you’re trying to be frugal with your budget.

Also, there are probably quite a few family members that you absolutely want to be there. You maybe want to run the dates by them first to make sure there are no conflicts in scheduling.

If you’re planning on going on a honeymoon, it might be necessary to plan your wedding around it. Some destinations are best at certain times of the year, so you might want to plan your wedding around the same time.

2. Decide on Your Wedding Budget

Make things easier on yourself and figure out who is going to pay for what before you even begin thinking about how big your budget should be.

Make a list of all the things you’l need to pay for and an estimated cost for each of those things. Here is a good place to start:

  1. Venues – around $2,000 to $10,000 depending on what amenities are provided by the venue (food, drinks, tableware, etc.)

  2. Wedding Dress – around $1,000

  3. Flowers – around $2,000

  4. Reception Decor – around $50 per table

  5. DJ/Emcee – around $500

  6. Catering – around $85 per person

  7. Wedding Cake – around $500

  8. Photographer – around $2,500

You can do some preliminary research on costs by calling different places for each of these things to see how much you need to budget for. Record all your research in a good wedding planner book.

Think about ways that you can save money. Perhaps you have a relative who is a photographer and would be willing to do the wedding for free or at a discounted rate.

3. Decide on How Many Guests You Want

The average number of wedding guests in the United States is around 120 people. You’ll need to decide if you want a small intimate wedding, an average wedding, or a large wedding. Here are some helpful steps to take in creating your guest list:

  1. Start with a list of everyone you can think of to invite to the wedding. You and your fiance can work on this separately and then combine the lists into one when you’re done. Don’t worry about budget or space at this time, just write down the names.

  2. Think about your budget and a realistic number of guests that you want to entertain. Start eliminating “less important” guests from your list to trim things down a bit. Here are some things to think about as you start cutting people from your list.

  3. Have you spoken with or met them before? Or are they friends of a family member that you’ve never even heard of before?

  4. Do you want children at your wedding or reception? If not, plan on an adult only wedding/reception. If possible, you could invite children to the ceremony but indicate an adult-only reception.

  5. Have you spoken to them at any time in the last three years and they are not related to you?

  6. Don’t completely delete the guests you removed from your list. Put them on a second list that you can refer back to in case you have some extra room and decide to send out a few late invitations.

4. Determine Your Wedding Style & Colors

  1. If you already have a venue in mind, think about colors and theme that would look good at that venue.

  2. Think about the season. Hot pink probably wouldn’t look too good in October.

  3. Think about you and your fiance’s style… are you both into rustic things, antique, modern, elegance, etc.

  4. Look at a color wheel to see what colors go best together.

  5. Head over to Pinterest and search for wedding themes and colors. Pinterest is a great place to get inspiration for things that you both like.

  6. Choose you favorite color and his favorite color… who knows, they might just look good together.

  7. Think about what flowers you like. If you like the sunflower theme, for example, you might want to pick burgundy or navy blue to go with it. If you’re into the rustic theme, you may want browns, pinks, yellows, etc.

5. Think About Options In Case it Rains

The worse thing that could happen on your big day if you planned an outdoor wedding is rain. Think about what you can do last minute if the worst happens.

Call up local tent rental places and see what their policy is for renting a last minute tent.

Does your venue have a building on site? How many people will it fit? You could stay in contact with a local church that might offer their building at the last minute. Most churches don’t have anything going on on Saturdays, so you might be able to find one who’s willing to keep the day open for you.

Make sure to keep you guests in the know. If you planned a rain-alternative ahead of time, include the “in case of rain” location on your invitation. You could also add all your guests to a Facebook Event or email list where you’ll keep everyone updated on any change in plans.

6. How Much Time Will You Need to Setup?

Be sure to ask the venue how early you can get in to start decorating and setting up the ceremony and/or reception.

The time it will take to set everything up with depend on the amount of decoration you need to do and how many people will be helping. Some venues do not need much extra decorating because the place itself is extraordinary.

It should take about one to two hours to set up your reception venue. Some places will set up tables and chairs for you, so all you need to do is centerpieces and decorations. Be sure to ask the venue what the options are.

If you’re hiring a day-of coordinator, they should take care of the set up for you. If you’re not hiring a day-of coordinator, ask as many people as you can to help. The more hands on deck, the quicker it gets done. Predetermine what job you what each person to do to lessen the stress.

7. Ask the Venue What is Included with the Space Rental

At some less expensive venues, the only thing you get is the space. They may not always include everything you’ll need. If you’re planning on having the wedding and reception in the same place, here are some things you need to ask about:

  1. tables and chairs

  2. food and drinks

  3. table clothes, plates, glasses, and silverware

  4. DJ

  5. centerpieces

  6. audio/visual equipment

You may need to hire an external caterer, rental company, or other vendors to get everything you need. Some venues are all inclusive and provide hotel rooms, catering, etc. Be sure you know everything you’ll get or need to provide outside of the space rental.

8. What Payment Options Does the Venue Offer?

Ask what the venue’s payment process looks like.

Here is an example:

Non-refundable deposit upon booking. The contract states that have of the balance is due 30-days after booking. The remaining balance is due 30-days before the event.

Some venues might be flexible with you on the payment plan. You should budget around $3,000 for a Saturday wedding reception of up to 500 guests.

Your wedding should be memorable and enjoyable… not something that causes you to go into debt. Find a place that will provide the atmosphere and amenities you like, but doesn’t break the bank.

9. Ask What the Venue Looks Like at the Time of Year You Plan to Get Married

The time of year can greatly change the atmosphere of your wedding venue, especially if you plan an outdoor wedding. It can even affect the style, theme, and colors you choose.

Think about how the place will look in pictures too. You’ll spend quite a bit on a good photographer, so you want pictures that will look beautiful for years to come.

Ask your venue, if you can see pictures from the time of year that you hoped to have your wedding. This will give you a good idea of what the place will look like on your wedding day.

10. Can the Ceremony and Reception be Hosted at the Same Venue?

Instead of renting a one space for the ceremony and another space for the reception, see if your preferred venue has the space for both.

Not only will this save money, but it also makes things easier for your guests.

This is easier to do if you plan to have an outdoor wedding on the property and the reception in a separate building. If you plan this way, makes sure there is a backup plan in case of rain.

If you can host the ceremony and reception at the same venue, how will the transition be made. Is there a place for the wedding party to go in between? What will guests do to get from the ceremony to the reception?

11. Is there a Place for the Wedding Party to Get Ready Beforehand?

Depending on whether or not the venue has separate rooms to prepare in, you’ll need to adjust your day-of time table to accomodate.

Here are some ideas of where your wedding party can prepare before the ceremony:

  1. bride or groom’s parent’s house

  2. a bridesmaid’s/groomsmen’s house

  3. a hotel room

  4. nearby bed and breakfast

  5. at the place where you’re having the reception (if it’s a separate location)

If you have to find a place outside of the venue to prepare, be sure it’s a place close enough to not upset your timetable too much.

It could take 2-3 hours just for the bride to get ready and another 30-45 minutes per bridesmaid. You’ll also want your photographer to take some pictures before, during, and after. Plus you’ll have travel time. Plan all this out before booking your venue.

12. How Late Can the Party Last?

Most venues will rent their space during a certain time slot and expect the place to be cleaned up before you leave. Be sure to ask your venue what their policy is.

If you’re renting the place for the day, how late can you stay knowing that no one else will be using the space that day?

The average wedding reception lasts about four hours, depending on the size of your party, dinner, and activities. You’ll also need about an hour of clean up afterwards. Be sure that they wedding venue gives you enough time to do all this.

Think about what time your wedding ceremony will start, how long it will last, how much time to transition between the ceremony and reception, and how much time to left in the evening. All this will make a difference in how long you are allowed to use the venue.

13. Where Will Your Out of Town Wedding Guests Stay In Relation to the Venue?

If you are planning on a lot of out-of-town guests, if might be best to look for a venue at an area hotel. There are many nice hotels with large banquet rooms for wedding receptions.

If your venue does not have an on-site hotel, thinking about what options are available within a short distance to your wedding location. There’s nothing worse than the family of the bride and groom being late because they got lost trying to get to the ceremony or reception.

Look for hotels, bed and breakfast, relative houses, etc.

Some wedding venues have deals with area hotels to reserve blocks of rooms specifically for your out-of-town guests. If you plan to have a wedding website, it would be helpful to have a page showing area hotels, rates, and distance from the venue. You’ll also want to provide car rental options or organize car-pool options.

14. See the Venue in Person

Pictures are different than seeing the place in person. Most venues will allow your to come and see the space in person.

Try to visualize the space.

  1. What does the lighting look like?

  2. Where will the head-table be?

  3. How much space is there for dancing?

  4. Where will the cake be displayed?

  5. How many tables will fit (and how many people per table)?

  6. How will your wedding colors look in the space?

  7. How much will you need to decorate?

  8. Is there a separate kitchen?

  9. If there is going to be a buffet line, is there enough space for it?

If you’re planning a destination wedding and it’s not possible for you to make the trip prior to the wedding to see it, ask the venue to provide as many pictures as possible. This isn’t the best option because the place could look totally different when you actually get there, but it’s better than nothing. Some people found the place to look more beautiful than they imagined, you just never know. You could also look up videos of the place or resort on YouTube to get an idea of what it will look like.

15. Do You Have to Hire a Security Guard?

Some venues require that you hire a security guard to be at your reception, especially if you plan on serving alcohol. It could also be that they require it if you reach a specific number of people (ie

However, check with your venue as they may provide security included in the cost.

If you do have to hire a security guard, they typically cost between $100-150 per hour.

Even if your venue doesn’t require a security guard, you may want to hire one just for peace of mind. Wedding security can help keep the peace in case of rowdy or intoxicated guests, wedding crashers, or out-of-hand disputes. They can also help with safety issues, such as walking guests to their cars if the parking lot is far away and unlit. Additionally, security guards are trained in medical emergency response such as CPR.

You’re Ready to Book Your Venue

Once you’ve gone through all these things to think about and you’re satisfied with how everything will work with the venue, you’re ready to book! Use a good wedding planner book to keep track of all the details with your venue, vendors, rental companies, etc.

You’re day is bound to be beautiful and memorable!

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Hi, I’m Kristin. While I haven’t found my Prince Charming yet, I’ve been dreaming of getting married for a long long time. I started this site as a place to record all the things I’ve found and researched in preparation for my own wedding someday. I can’t wait to share it all with you!

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