5 questions to ask your wedding venue


There are so many things that go into planning a wedding reception that it’s often intimidating.

Not only that, it’s probably the biggest expense. You can still plan a great reception, even if you don’t have a wedding planner. The secret is knowing what to expect before you begin. Here are the most important wedding reception questions to ask of the venues that you’re considering.

1) how much is the rental fee?

Don’t let the costs surprise you. Starting with the fundamentals, the first thing you should ask is how much is the rental fee and how much is the deposit. Still, this isn’t even the beginning as far as fees go. There are probably costs that you haven’t considered yet and hidden fees that really add up. Things such as security, coat check, use of tables, linens, valet parking and other services. Ask lots of questions and take notes so that you can compare venue costs.

2) do you provide catering?

Find out if the venue lets you bring your own food or if you can choose your own caterer. Some insist that you use their own in-house catering along with some hefty fees per plate, plus tips. Others offer catering but give you a choice. Some do not have catering at all. This will be in the contract along with if they have a license for alcohol and how it is served. Ask questions and make sure you understand the choices and costs.

If you do any of it on your own, you will still need servers and many people to help. Please be considerate because unless you’ve just cooked and served at a wedding reception, it’s always more work than you imagine. Your friends and relatives will wish to celebrate with you instead of being put to work on your wedding day. Most of the time, it’s best to hire servers and bartenders. This is a big decision and will play a big part in what venue you rent.

3) do you have a gift room?

Some places have a gift room that will be either complimentary or at extra charge. All gifts can be placed in this room and locked up overnight for use the next day when gifts are opened. This is very handy just for temporary storage or if the bride, groom, and family are staying nearby and can easily return for gift opening. Keep in mind that you will probably have to transport the gifts to the room yourself. The staff may not be allowed to due to liability purposes. You may also be required to sign a disclaimer so that the venue is not repsonsible for lost or stolen gifts.

4) when can we set up?

Find out the soonest you can begin setting up and decorating. You may benefit if the venue doesn’t have an event planned for the day or evening before your wedding. Ask if you or your decorator can get in there early and get started. You will probably have to check in the week of your event to see if they booked anything that day and if they will have the tables set up or if that’s something you will need to do. Make lists and be organized.

4) what happens if I cancel?

This is something people usually don’t want to discuss but it is necessary. While some places only require a down payment to rent the venue, many are now asking for full payment when booked or the balance before your event. Most of the time, you will not receive any refunds if you cancel so you will lose your down payment or full payment. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the beast. The venues do not want to lose money due to cancellations and it is inconvenient to re-book.

You may find though that they will work with you if you need to set a different day so all is not lost. Know who you are dealing with and you may feel better about the arrangement.

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today's tip

Look for restrooms and their locations. Typically, you should have at least 4 stalls per 100 people.