During a wedding venue tour, it’s easy to get caught up in the beauty—so much so that you forget to ask about all those pesky practical details! However, those practical details are incredibly important to planning and pulling off the day of your dreams. (Just as important as actually seeing the venue. Never book a wedding venue without scheduling a tour. Sometimes online photos can be deceiving.)
While you’re absorbing and taking in all those beautiful details on your wedding tour, make sure you ask these questions and discuss the details that can make or break your wedding day.
- Is there nearby parking? How many guests can park in the lot/structure?
- How far do my guests need to walk? Is there a shuttle?
- What is the cost? (Tip: include parking costs in communications sent to your guests prior to your wedding day.)
- Are there any hotels in the area?
- Is there a public transit stop nearby? How far?
Spaces & Staff
- How many guests can your wedding venue accommodate? (Tip: have an estimated guest count before touring venues to ensure the venues are not too big and not too small.)
- Is your venue handicap-accessible? Are there any stairs my guests need to climb?
- Is there a dressing area for me and my attendants?
- Is the dressing room secure so we can store valuable items?
- Will there be a staff member on-site during my wedding? Who can I contact if I have any questions or problems?
- Can I see the restrooms? Who is in charge of monitoring and restocking the restrooms on our wedding day?
- Is there space for my ceremony?
- If so, do my guests have to wait while the ceremony site is taken down?
- If the site is outside, what is plan B in case of bad weather?
- Have other DJs/bands played here?
- Is there anything I need to pass on to my entertainer about your system?
- Can I bring in my own caterer or do I have to choose from a list or preferred vendors?
- Who do I contact about planning details? What is the best way to contact you?
- When does the contract need to be signed?
- What is your cancellation policy?
- Are there any deadlines I need to meet?
- Do you offer event planning services? Can you assist me with some or all of the planning?
You’ve read all about how important a wedding venue is in wedding planning. You’re convinced. You’ve printed off the wedding venue checklist so you can find the right site for your wedding. Bring on the wedding venue tours.
But where do you start? How do you find the right wedding venue in your area?
Here’s where the wedding venue search doesn’t start
The search for the right wedding venue doesn’t start with calls to venues or getting out your calendar. Before you contact any venues, sit down with your fiancé, and any family or friends who are interested in investing in your big day. You’ll need to set these important points in stone for your wedding venue search:
- Budget. What is your overall wedding budget? What is your budget for your wedding venue? Who is paying for what expense?
- Date. You don’t have to the exact day and month to start your venue search, but you should have a general idea of the time of the year (use these tips to choose your perfect wedding date). For example, if you want a fall wedding, ask what dates are available for months of September and October.
- Location. Consider what area suits your guests and you as a couple. Then take your planning a step further. Consider not only the geographical setting of your ceremony and distance to your reception site, but also the geography of your guests. If you have guests coming from out of town, consider a venue close to a hotel. If you’re having your ceremony and reception at the same place, consider the location of each event. Is there enough room for each? Will your guests need to wait for break down and set up? Visit your ideal venue to get your questions answered and a tour of the reception hall, ceremony site and dressing rooms.
- Style. Do you want a rustic wedding? An elegant ball? A vintage wedding in a historic wedding venue with lot of architectural detail?
- Guest list. Again, you don’t have to have the final guest list set in stone on your first day of planning, but you should have a general idea of your guest count. You’ll need this number to weed out venues that are too small (both for the safety and comfort of your guests).
- Handicap accessibility. If you have a friend or family member that needs special accommodations, make sure you know this up front. Ask every venue if they are accessible for all your guests.
How to find the right wedding venue
- Let your fingers do the walking. Use your favorite search engine to look for wedding venues that fit your criteria. Once you have a list, call or e-mail each wedding venue with this list of wedding venue questions. Ask the venue if they have your date available (or what dates are available during your chosen time of the year), how many guests they can accommodate, the cost (what is included and how long that covers), if there are any extra fees, and these other wedding venue questions. If you find your wedding venue on the internet, don’t skimp on your wedding venue tour. See the venue in person to make sure that the venue fits with what you saw on their website or social media.
- Ask friends and family. Have a friend whose entire social calendar is weddings? Do you have a family member who always is headed to the next wedding? Ask them about wedding venues they’ve visited that really stood out. From there, narrow down your options by contacting the venues and finding out which venues fit your criteria.
- Contact your favorite vendors. If you booked your videographer, DJ, band, or caterer already, ask them if they’ve worked at a venue (in your preferred style) that was really incredible. Remember, some venues require that you use a certain caterer. If you want to bring in your favorite caterer, ask the venue if they have an open vendor policy that allows you to bring in the caterer of your choice.
Your wedding venue is one of the most vital (if not the most important) parts of your wedding day, so why should your process to choose the right venue be haphazard? No, the search for the right wedding venue should be organized (other tips for organized wedding planning here) so you don’t end up spending all your money on your venue (with no money for a dress!) or choosing a wedding venue that’s way too big. Are you on the search for the perfect site for your big day? Use this wedding venue checklist to find the right wedding venue that you can say, “I do” to (and use as the foundation as you coordinate all your wedding details!).
__Cost – what is the total cost of the venue (i.e. watch for overtime fees, extra costs.etc.)?
__Date – is the venue available on my wedding date OR what dates are the venue available?
__Handicap access – does the venue have access for any of your guests with special needs?
__Location – is the venue in the area you want? How far is the venue from your ceremony site?
__Planning – does the venue have a wedding planner on staff that can assist me?
__Parking – does the venue have parking space that your guests don’t have to pay a fortune for?
__Reviews – what do other couples say about the venue? Are there a lot of complaints about the staff? (Tip: check their social media reviews.)
__Size – can the venue hold the amount of guests on my estimated guest list?
__Space – does the venue have all the spaces you need for your wedding (i.e. ceremony space, changing rooms, etc.)?
__Staff – does the venue provide the staffing you need for your wedding? Or do you need to find staff for your big day?
__Style – does the style of the venue fit with our style?
__Vendors – does the venue require that you use certain vendors? Or does it have an open vendor policy?
__Viewing – when can I see it? Can you envision your wedding there?