It's one of the most expensive aspects of your wedding so don't sign on the dotted line for your venue before you've got the answers to these key questions
Make sure you ask your wedding venue these 20 important questions…
Which rooms are licensed for civil ceremonies?
This is an essential question if you want to marry at your venue. Only certain rooms or locations will be licensed so ask to see them. It’s the most important part of the day so you want to be happy with your surroundings as you say those magic words. Ask to see photographs of the rooms set up for ceremonies too and find out about the local registrar’s fees.
How many guests can I invite?
Work out a rough guests list before visiting any venues. There’s no point in visiting an intimate venue for 50 if you already know you’re looking at 150 plus! Each venue should be able to tell you the maximum number of guests it can cater for in each room. If you really fall in love with somewhere that’s too small, you may need to reign in your list or discuss whether a marquee is an option. Equally, beware of having too much space. Forty guests in a room big enough for 80 may feel a little lost.
What’s the facility fee?
Most venues charge a set fee to hire the space. Make sure you only have to pay for what you’re using. For example, if they charge a fee for the entire building and you only want one room, see if you can negotiate.
Will we have exclusive use?
If you don’t want to run into another bride on the big day you may have to pay a higher fee for exclusive use, which normally includes all the accommodation too. Alternatively, check whether there are any other weddings on your date and ask how they plan to keep the two parties separate.
What wedding packages do you offer?
Booking a wedding package can be a good idea as you’ll have a set fee for every part of the day from the catering to the cake knife. If you’d prefer to do things your own way ask if they can be flexible. Many venues will allow you to decide on the details as long as you agree a minimum spend.
Can we have a marquee?
If you’ve fallen in love with a venue but it’s too small a marquee can be a good solution, particularly during summer months. However, not every venue has suitable outside space. Bear in mind that while marquees can work well during the winter, they need to be well heated with adequate flooring, which can be expensive.
Is there in-house catering?
If the venue has in-house caterers check you like the menu choices on offer. If catering is not in-house, ask if there’s a list of recommended suppliers. Some venues will insist you use a caterer from their recommended list so, if you want something specific like a hog roast, make sure it’s an option.
Do you have a list of recommended suppliers?
A good venue will have a list of suppliers, from photographers to live bands, to help you plan your day. It’s likely that these suppliers will have worked at the venue before so know how things operate.
Can we use the outdoor space?
If your venue has beautiful gardens don’t just assume you can use them, ask. And even if your heart’s set on the rose garden make sure you like the inside space too, as you’ll need a back up for bad weather.
Can we supply our own alcohol?
Supplying your own alcohol will save you money and let you have exactly what you want. If you can BYO, ask about corkage (the venue’s charge for opening and serving your alcohol). Some venues charge corkage per bottle, while others charge per person, which is often better value. Don’t be afraid to haggle on this one!
Are we able to try the menu?
A menu tasting will allow you to check the quality of the food and choose your preferences, so find out if it’s possible. You should also be able to sample a selection of wines. Find out if they can accommodate any changes too.
Are there any restrictions?
Never assume anything until you’ve asked. Many venues aren’t insured for naked flames, so if you’re dreaming of a candlelit reception ask. Listed buildings may have restrictions on serving red wine and allowing stiletto heels, both of which can damage floors. Some venues don’t allow live bands and others don’t have a late licence, so if you want to be dancing until the small hours in four inch stilettos, make sure you check if it’s possible!
Can you provide a late bar?
There’s nothing worse than a bar closing just as the party is kicking off. If you’re getting married later in the day, find out what time the bar is licensed until. Hotel bars will often serve until the last guest goes to bed.
Do you allow fireworks?
A fireworks display is a fantastic ending to the day. So if you want the party to end with a bang ask if they’re permitted and whether there are any time restrictions.
What food can we serve in the evening?
There are lots of creative options for evening food these days, such as bacon butties, cones of fish and chips, a delicious cheeseboard or even a hog roast. Ask what your venue can provide.
Is there accommodation?
If you’d like your guests to be able to stay overnight, ask whether the venue has accommodation and, if so, how many rooms. If there’s no accommodation or not enough find out about other options nearby in different price brackets. You might also like the idea of staying somewhere else for your first night, so check there’s something suitable.
Is the accommodation for the newlyweds free?
If you’re splashing out on a wedding reception, many venues will include your overnight accommodation. Ask what type of room you’ll be given, whether breakfast is included and whether you can have a late checkout. If you’re not offered a room, request a room upgrade for your first night as Mr & Mrs at the very least.
Will you offer a special room rate for our guests?
Chances are the majority of your guests will choose to stay at the reception venue and ideally it should offer a reduced rate as you’re supplying them with so many bookings. If you don’t ask though you might not get!
Do any of your bedrooms have wheelchair access?
If you’re inviting elderly relatives or anyone needing a wheelchair, it’s vital to ensure that the accommodation will cater for them. And, it’s equally important that the venue in general is easy for them to get around.
What are the transport options?
Check there’s enough parking for all your guests. If not, ask about nearby parking facilities and any costs. If parking isn’t easy it might be a good idea to arrange transport for your guests from the ceremony and back to local hotels at the end of the night. It’s also a good idea to ask about the nearest bus and train stations for guests who don’t drive.
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