One of the first steps to take in planning a wedding is to find a venue. Why first? Because so many other details, like décor, accommodations, food, and more, can’t be determined until you know what space you’re working with. Going in with a list not only helps guarantee that you won’t be so overwhelmed with the excitement of seeing a venue that you realize you left without asking all of your questions, but it also ensures that you’re comparing apples to apples between options.
*We recommend printing a few copies of this blog to take with you on tours and use as a checklist! Fill in the answers as you visit!
1. Is the venue available on my desired date?
If you have a specific day in mind to say, “I do,” then this question is an essential first to ask. If you’re flexible, ask what days they have available during certain seasons. Many venues book up fast, so get connected with your most desired venues right away!
2. What’s the capacity?
It’s a good idea to have a rough estimate of your guest list before starting venue tours to ensure there’s space for all your loved ones. Some venues, like The Classic Center, have multiple venue options, so you could have a different guest count per event if you want an intimate ceremony, a larger reception, or even a Sunday brunch added to a weekend package.
3. How many hours do I have access to the space?
In addition to the actual ceremony and reception time, don’t forget about set up, clean up, and picture-taking time. A good follow-up question to this is whether a venue has staff that does set up and break down or if this is the wedding party's responsibility.
4. Do they have in-house catering?
Some venues allow outside food and beverage vendors, while others have exclusive catering contracts. Part of the reason you want to look at venues before anything else is that the choice of venue can affect whether or not you even need to look for caterers or if that’s a two-in-one deal to check off your list in conjunction with venue rental.
5. Does this venue have a liquor license?
Similarly to question 4, the answer to this question determines whether you can check something else off your list in one go. If your chosen venue has a catering company with a liquor license, you don’t have to worry about shopping for drinks later down the line. Additionally, the more inclusive your venue, the fewer invoices you have to juggle between separate vendors.
6. Is this venue ADA-compliant?
Accessibility is critical, so asking upfront about elevators, ramps, and any other necessary accommodations is essential to ensure your guests are comfortable.
7. Is there a parking area?
Finding the perfect venue is excellent, but nearby parking is critical, especially if you have a large guest count. The last thing you want to worry about on your wedding day is all 400 guests trying to find street parking close enough to your venue to make it to the ceremony on time. Whether or not the parking deck or lot is ADA-compliant is also an important consideration.
8. Are restrooms accessible, clean, and plenty?
You may not think to ask this, but if you have a large guest count and only one bathroom nearby, the night could get uncomfortable quickly. Considering practical concerns like this upfront will ensure a smoother event later down the line.
9. Are there accommodations nearby?
If your venue is a significant driving distance from where most of your guests are from, accommodations are an essential factor to consider. After dancing the night away, nothing is more convenient than your guests being able to walk to their hotel (which can also be a smart way to make the most of limited venue parking). Many venues list accommodation options in their wedding brochure or on their website, but if not, don’t forget to ask during your tour.
10. Who will be my main point of contact on staff?
Some venues, like The Classic Center, include a wedding planner that will act as your point person at no extra charge. However, this isn’t the case everywhere, so setting expectations about who is the primary contact and who is expected to reach out after booking can help avoid any frustrating miscommunications in the future.
This is a great starter list for venue questions, but the most important thing to remember during your tour is that the Sales Executive guiding you is there to help! Don’t be afraid to ask a catch-all at the end, like, “Is there anything else about your venue I should know?” They are familiar with their space and have seen the do’s and don’t’s of previous weddings there, so rely on their expertise for anything you might have left out. And remember – take a breath and have fun!