Booking your wedding venue is often where you spend the most money for your wedding. There’s so much to think about, it can be overwhelming to take it all in. It’s a little like a house viewing, but for one day or one weekend. You want somewhere that reflects who you both are as a couple, and compliments your wedding theme. There needs to be enough room for everyone, without being too big. Most venues have a minimum charge for guest numbers, so you need to take the drop out rate into consideration when booking your wedding venue. If you don’t know what that is, check out this post and avoid unnecessary charges from your venue.
I’ve put together some questions to ask when booking your wedding venue. These questions will help you make the best decision for you and your wedding. It’s a great way of ensuring you get value for money and know exactly what you’re getting for your money. You can also download this printable version to take along with you when viewing and booking your wedding venue.
Top Tip: Make your guest numbers before you start viewing wedding venues. Head count is a big deciding factor when it comes to every other wedding choice you make.
Q1: What exactly is included?
This is so important. It’s hard not to get carried away and caught up in the excitement of booking your wedding venue. But you need to clarify exactly what is included in the packages you are looking at. What are the venue supplying and offering? What do you need to do yourselves? Most venues are very helpful and accommodating and have great wedding co-ordinators. To avoid bumps down the road and confusion, be clear on what you’re getting and what’s included from the very beginning. And check your contract thoroughly, before you sign it!
Q2: What discounts are available?
If you haven’t checked out my top tips for attending wedding fairs, make sure you do. Those tips can literally save you thousands! If you are visiting a wedding venue during a wedding fair or showcase, ask what discounts they are offering. Most venues will have a discount at wedding fairs/shows if you book with them on the day. This means you need to do your research before hand. However, most suppliers will still extend the discount if you book in the couple of days afterwards. If they don’t have any show discounts, enquire about booking a mid-week wedding. These are often cheaper, especially in the quieter months of the year, even at your dream venue! If there is no negotiation on price or discounts, ask what else they can offer you instead. It could be a free night’s stay when you go for your menu tasting, or an additional night’s stay after your wedding. Have a chat with your wedding co-ordinator and see what they can do.
Q3: How many rooms are set aside?
Some wedding venues are exclusive. This means when you book your wedding there, you have the entire venue to yourselves. These kind of venues are becoming more and more popular. For other venues, such as hotels, the venue will set aside a number of rooms at a special rate for your bridal party and/or guests. This is totally up for negotiation! If you know you’ve got a certain amount of guests travelling a long distance, or you want your bridal party to all stay at the venue with you, get your numbers together and don’t be afraid to ask. Ask if they have a one day, one wedding policy if your wedding venue isn’t exclusive. Check how many bridal suites they have otherwise you may be the couple that doesn’t get the bridal suite.
Q4: Alternative Guest Accommodation
Whether you are booking an exclusive venue for your wedding, or a hotel. It’s always a good idea to ask your wedding venue if they have a list of recommended accommodation nearby that you can pass on to your guests. You can include this information in your wedding invites to give your guests alternative location and price options for accommodation.
Q5: What time is check in & check out?
Sometimes it’s the simple things that are the easiest to forget. Find out what time you and your bridal party can check in, and what time you all need to check out at. Although some venues are exclusively booked out for your wedding, some will have a wedding on the next day. They need to operate a fast turn over whilst still operating at a high standard.
Q6: Where can the bride, groom and bridal parties get ready?
If you are having your ceremony and reception at the same venue, check where both bridal parties can get ready in the morning. You need somewhere that’s got plenty of room and good lighting. Check if it’s a dedicated prep room. You may need to fully vacate it and get all your stuff out before the ceremony. Ask if you can see the room to make sure you have enough space and natural light. This is especially important for your hair and makeup artist. Check how close it is to where your ceremony is taking place. It’s also a good idea to ask if this will change on the day of your wedding.
Q7: What style & decor do they provide?
This is another important one, and linked to question one. When booking your wedding venue, ask what styling and decor they provide? Do they have their own suppliers? Do they do it themselves or do you need to organise this yourself? If you’re having your ceremony and reception in the same venue, you need to ask about decor for both locations at the venue. These can include things like drapes, table centre pieces, red/ivory carpet, a cake stand, menus, florals and fairy lights. What chairs do the venue provide? If you don’t like them, can they source others and will that incur an extra fee? Ballymagarvey Village is one of the best venues for providing in-house styling and decor with a team of suppliers they consistently use.
Q8: Are there any renovations, road works or decor changes taking place on/around your wedding date?
Any of these things can have a huge impact not only on the style of your wedding, but also on how smoothly it will run throughout the day. If there are planned roadworks or detours, you need to factor this into your timing to and from the church and for your guests arriving and leaving. If your wedding venue is making renovations or updating their decor, the new plans might not work with the theme you have in mind. Equally, if they are extending, some parts of the venue may not be accessible or available on your wedding date.
Q9: Drinks Reception
Ask what options are available for your drinks reception. For example, could they serve half Prosecco, and half bottled beer? Or you might want to offer your guests cocktails instead of champagne. Explore what options are available to create something that represents your wedding theme, you both as a couple and is within your budget.
Q10: What’s the price of wine vs corkage?
Before you go on a booze cruise to France or order in a couple of crates of champagne, make sure you check with your wedding venue what their price for corkage is. Then compare it with the price of their wine. You could start off by thinking you’re saving money by purchasing your own wine. Only to find out that by the time you’ve paid for corkage, you’ve actually ended up spending more money!
Q11: Who will be your point of contact on the day?
Most venues have one or more wedding co-ordinators. The one that you’ve previously met and worked with may not be the one who will be there on your wedding day. Sometimes it’s a different wedding co-ordinator, a duty manager, or events co-ordinator. It’s nice to know who that person is going to be for your point of contact on the day, should any issues arise.
Q12: Set up & Change Over
If you are having your ceremony and reception in the same room, ask what the set up will look like for both. What plans are in place for the change over? Where will you get your pictures taken? Where will you and your guests go while the change over is taking place, and how long will it take? This can also affect your wedding band’s set up. Can they set up before hand, or do they need to set up during the change over?
After you’ve asked all your questions, you should be clear on exactly what you’re getting from your wedding venue for the price and package you have agreed. Next, ask what their payment policy is. What deposit is required to secure your date and booking? What is their cancellation policy? When do you need to let them know your final numbers? What is their minimum charge for guests? This is especially important to know for your guest drop out rates. If the number of guests who show up on your wedding day is less than the final numbers you gave the venue, this can cost you money. You need to be aware what the minimum numbers are, read this post to find out what the average wedding guest drop out rate is and how to prepare for it.
Don’t forget to download this FREE printable version of these questions to ask when booking your wedding venue, complete with space to write the answers.
You might also want to read my top tips for attending wedding fairs
Or this post on what the average wedding guest drop out rate is, from real weddings