image via Tommy Thompson
1. Ask About the Wedding Date
Without this, the whole planning process has no direction. This question should be the first you ask when calling a venue. You would hate to be on a tour only to find out the date or month you want is not available.
Set on a specific date: Keep in mind that if you are set on one date, you will want to book the venue quickly. If the date has a special numerical value such as 11.11.11 or 2.20.20 book it ASAP as those dates often get booked up to 2 year in advance!
Set on a specific month/time of year: This can buy you more time since you are more open, but don’t wait too long! The rest of the planning process cannot begin until you book your venue.
*Some venues may allow you to place a temporary hold on a date so don’t forget to ask!
2. Ask About the Guest Count
This one seems self-explanatory, but it often gets forgotten! Make sure the venue meets your guest count requirement.
For example, if your planning on having 250 guests, make sure the venue can comfortably accommodate 250 guests (don’t forget to include things like space for dance floor, DJ/Band, photo-booth, food etc.).
Also, be mindful that if you’re having a smaller event (about 100 or less) to not book a venue that’s too large otherwise the space will look empty.
3. Ask About the Venue Rental Cost
What is the rental rate and what does it include? Sounds simple right?
There are 3 main styles of venues:
All-inclusive venues that provide all event amenities in-house such as food, music, décor, linens. Etc. (These services may be included in the rental rate or an additional cost)
Venues that rent their event space without amenities (Client is responsible for hiring outside vendors)
Venues that are a mixture of the 1 and 2 (Ex. Venue provides the space, food, and drinks but the client must find outside vendors for music, décor, etc.)
*Remember when asking about the pricing, make sure you ask about the tax and service fees
4. Ask About the Catering and Beverage Costs:
You will quickly find that this is one of the most expensive parts to the wedding, so it is very important to understand its policies and costs.
Does the venue require you to use their in-house caterer?
Does the venue require that you select a caterer from an approved list?
Do they allow any caterer as long as they are full-service and insured?
If you want alcohol (liquor, wine, or beer) it will likely have to be provided by the venue. Most venues hold a liquor license meaning that outside alcohol is strictly prohibited.
*Some venues require food and beverage minimums so make sure you find out what those are.
Questions #3 and #4 will likely be answered if they send you a pricing packet. PLEASE review it thoroughly. It will answer many of your questions and potentially spark new ones!
Finally, Schedule the Venue Tour!
Once you have gathered all the information and reviewed it carefully, you can narrow down the venues that meet your initial criteria and schedule a tour!
Remember that your time is VALUABLE and you don’t want to find out a venue is over your budget or doesn’t have your date available when you go in for the first time so DO YOUR RESEARCH beforehand!
Here is a little Cheat Sheet to use when contacting venues