There’s no end to the wedding planning lists out there. Lists of questions to ask your photographer, lists of what to book when, and on and on. Some of these lists are very helpful and others… not so much. Some lists are created by magazine writers who’ve never worked a wedding or even planned one themselves, so they kind of miss the mark. Today I’m giving you the REAL best questions to ask a venue before you book.
Once you narrow down your guest list (newly engaged? Check out this post for where to start this process!) you’ll know how much capacity you need from your venue. This is an important place to start on your hunt. You don’t want to fall in love with a venue space only to find out it falls short on capacity to fit all your guests!
One of the most overlooked of the REAL best questions to ask a venue before you book is about inclusions. Some venues include all the tables and chairs, while others require you to bring them in. Here in Colorado a large number of weddings happen in backyards, on BLM or National Forest grounds, or other unofficial “venue” spaces. Consider whether you need to bring in restrooms for your guests! Even established venues will sometimes need this amenity brought in. Be sure to ask what is included with your venue rental.
For getting ready for the day, is there space at the venue, or will you need to book a hotel block or vacation rental nearby? What do most other couples do? Consider how far away those other accommodations would be, too. Will you need to book more time with your photographer/videographer team? Is it a pain for hair/makeup? Be sure you know what to expect for getting ready before you book!
Sort of along those lines, you’ll want to ask the venue about catering. Are you allowed to bring in your own food? Do you have to book a certain caterer? Is there a kitchen on site for the catering team? You’ll want to ask for more details about all things catering!
More and more venues each year are beginning to require event insurance with your booking. To learn more about wedding insurance, click here! Long story short, wedding and event insurance protects you and the venue from accidents and unforeseen mishaps. It can also protect you from cancellations due to acts of god, like the crazy Colorado weather we often get here! Be sure to ask if this is a requirement at the venue you’re touring.
When you’re touring venues, consider what the rain backup plans would be. Is there an indoor space you could utilize? Would you need to rent tents? What about portrait time – do you still like the backdrops if you need to use umbrellas or do all the family photos inside? We all know how frequent afternoon storms are here in Colorado all through the summer, so it’s definitely smart to know ahead of time what your backup options are before you book a space!
If you’re planning on having your doggos around for the day, you’ll need to make sure the venue is pet friendly – whether it’s indoors or outdoors! Be sure to inquire about this upfront rather than after you’re already booked. This is good information to share with your guests, as well. Being Colorado, a huge number of weddings and wedding guests expect their dogs to be able to be included!
Some venues come with an in-house wedding coordinator. Be sure to ask about this! If they do provide a coordinator, and you’re already working with a wedding planner, ask if this is something they allow. Bear in mind too, that venue coordinators are just that – they work FOR the venue. While they’re handy to have and help keep things moving throughout the day, ultimately they usually have the venue’s best interest at heart and aren’t there to really help YOU with your wedding day.
Certain venues have a vendor list when you book them. Sometimes this is just vendors they love to work with, but other times this is the list you’re required to book from. Be sure to ask the venue if they have and rules about what vendors you’re allowed to book and bring onto their property.
Depending on the area of your venue, they may have a curfew or noise ordinance rules to follow. Be sure to ask them how late the party can go! If you’re planning to party past 10pm or even Midnight, certain venues may be unable to accommodate your celebration that late. It’s always best to know these rules going in.
Liquor laws are messy. Some venues have their own license and can set you up with a bar, while others require an outside bartender or catering team with a license to be booked for the bar service. Verify with the venue what their rules and regulations are around liquor and bar setup!
One of the obvious best questions to ask a venue before you book is of course what dates they have available. If you’ve decided on a date before your venue hunt you’ll want to make sure they have that date available. If you’re waiting on the venue rental before deciding a date, see what they have in the general season you’re hoping to be married to narrow it down.
Last on our list of the best questions to ask a venue before you book is the cost. This can involve the venue space rental, but be sure to inquire about whether those inclusions you asked about cost extra or if they’re included in that rate. Is there an extra fee for the bar or coordinator? These are questions to ask along with the general cost of the venue!
All in all, there are a lot of questions you might ask the venues you’re touring on your hunt for the perfect space to host your wedding. These are the real best questions to ask a venue to start with – conversations and other questions will likely pop up as a result from there! If you need a professional in your corner during this journey, click here to see the many ways we help couples throughout their planning process.