Finding the right venue is one of the first steps in the Wedding Planning process. Not only you have to absolutely love the venue, but it also has to answer lots of logistic questions that you may have not even thought about. So here below the most common questions I recommend my couples to ask when visiting a wedding venue:
Questions to Ask When Looking for a Venue
- Is there free parking or free valet parking for guests during the event?
- Are there any special rates or partnerships with hotels or Airbnbs nearby?
- Can I use my own vendors? Is there any associated fee for external vendors?
- What equipment can be included, such as tables, chairs, linens, china, flatware, stage, dance floor, lighting, flavored water stations kitchen access (if you will bring the caterer)?
- How many staff will be used for my event? What is your staff radio? To ensure a great, quick and clean service most of the venues will offer 1.5 servers for every 10 guests for a plated dinner service. In addition, you should have a banquet captain and an event manager.
- Are there restrooms nearby?
- Are there any audio system, screen or projector included?
- Can the rental fee be negotiated for a minimum food and beverage consumption?
- What are the average menu and open bar costs, and what is the minimum consumption requested to book the venue?
- Is there any outdoor lighting on the property such as LED light or string lighting?
- What is the maximum capacity of guest?
- For outdoor locations, what is the rain back up plan room and is it free?
- Is there a power generator for back up if the power goes off? What is the cost?
- Can my florist have floral installations on chandelier on walls or the ceiling?
- Can I use real votive candles?
- How many hours am I allow to have the event for?
If you can have a wedding planner booked before you do any site visits, venue searches, or contract negotiations it will make your life so much easier! As a wedding planner sometimes I already have those answers for you and will be able to guide you in the right direction by telling you if a venue is the best fit or not. I also help my you before doing any visits collecting all information so you are well-educated before you go and check out your possible wedding venue.
Most venues will give you some extra amenities to the standard freebies if your wedding is big enough. If you have a nice budget or a good amount of guess, do not hesitate to ask for some extra deals from your wedding venue!
Tips when negotiating your Venue Contract
- If you are choosing a hotel, ask for a free night for the wedding night! Most of hotels will include complimentary stays for the bride and groom. If your guests are also staying there and are blocking a good number of rooms for your guests make sure to ask for more than just one free night! You can also request free amenities such as free welcome bag room delivery for the guests, free upgrades to your parents, welcome drinks or amenities in the rooms, or free shuttles to the wedding location (if it is outside the hotel). But remember your wedding should be big enough so that the hotel can give you back those treats!
- Staff meals or special rate for staff rooms can also be negotiated and that will save you some money!
- Negotiate the music end time! Some venues will allow you extra 30 min or more of amplifies music only if you ask for it!
- If your venue has some in-house equipment such as chairs and tables they normally ask for you to rent them from them, so try to negotiate some free rentals in trade of a menu upgrade or a higher minimum food and beverage consumption. Of course this only applies if you like their rentals and if the venue is offering the catering.
- Request a hospitality or bridal suite for the bride and groom to get ready before, or refreshed after the ceremony and even during the reception!
- If your venue is outdoors, make sure to add to your agreement the backup plan in case of rain.
- Ask for a anniversary special rate or free room stay so that you can come back a year after to celebrate and get a special price!
Remember: it is easier for a venue to say yes to your requests before you sign the agreement than after you do so!