Planning a wedding is an exciting (and kinda stressful) time. Couples have so much to think about and this, alongside the inevitable family drama, huge financial output and never-ending to-do list can be totally overwhelming. We’ve compiled the ultimate list of questions to ask a wedding venue to take the thinking out of it for you: leave it to eve to make your wedding planning process a breeze!
Getting the basics right: the first questions to ask a wedding venue
1 If you’ve already set a date, is the venue available? If you haven’t, what dates does the venue have?
First things first, check that the venue is available on your chosen date before you go and see it. You don’t want to fall in love with a space that you can’t have – unless you’re willing to change your date. If you haven’t set a date yet, you can work with your venue to find one.
2. Can you have your ceremony and reception in the same venue, if you want to?
If you’re not planning on having two venues – one for the ceremony, one for the reception – are you able to have your whole wedding day at the venue and how does this work logistically to move from each part of the day? Do you spend time in different rooms or all in the same place (e.g. for the Wedding Breakfast, ceremony, reception)
3. Have they held similar weddings at the venue(s) before?
With new venues popping up here, there and everywhere nowadays, and weddings coming in all shapes and sizes, it’s a good idea to get some insight into the experience that your venue has to see if they’ve ever done anything similar to the day you’re imagining.
4. How many guests can the venue accommodate?
Note that if you’re having your ceremony and reception in different spaces, guest capacities are likely to be different. This may also depend on how you will be seated (whether there is a top table, if tables are round or long)
5. What’s the cost – and what’s included?
Most venues have specific wedding packages so find out what is included. Is it a flat fee for dry hire?
6. Are there any other events going on at the venue on the same day?
Never assume that a wedding venue is exclusively yours on the day of your wedding unless explicitly stated, and it’s always something to ask. If your expectations are to have exclusive hire, not all venues will be able to offer you this – for example, Old Royal Naval College is a London landmark, and therefore cannot be closed to the public – so do see if this is possible if that’s what you’re after.
7. What’s nearby?
Whether you’ve done a bit of research into your favourite venue or just love the way it looks, be sure to take note of what’s nearby when you visit – and don’t be afraid to ask. It might seem like it doesn’t really matter – you’ll be inside the venue, right? – but you and your guests are likely to spend time outside, weather permitting, and if there’s a stinky factory or unattractive building next door, it might spoil things for you.
8. How long can you have the rooms?
Find out when you can access the venue and whether there are any restrictions (for example alcohol or music licenses).
9. Is any outdoor space included?
Some wedding venues have impressive outdoor spaces that’ll have you crazy in love – but if you can’t use them, it kind of doesn’t matter. If your chosen venue has outside space, find out whether you can have it on the day (if you want it).
10. What is the weather contingency?
If you do decide to go with outside space of some kind, ask your venue what their weather contingency is. Where can everybody go if it rains?
11. Is there a wedding or event planner to help us?
Many venues will provide you with a dedicated wedding planner to help you pull it all off and make sure everything runs as it should on the day.
12. Is the venue accessible for disabled guests?
Ensure that your venue is accessible – and to a degree that you are happy with.
Questions to ask a wedding ceremony venue
13. Is the venue licensed?
If you’re looking for a wedding ceremony venue that isn’t a religious establishment, you will need to check that the venue is licensed to make your wedding legit.
14. Where do guests go when they first arrive?
Is it straight into seats, drinks reception, standing outside?
15. Does the venue provide wedding ceremony seating?
Yes/no, how many seats will they provide and what are they like?
16. Is it possible to have a rehearsal before the wedding?
Wedding ceremony rehearsals are very helpful for easing worries. It means that everyone in your bridal party will know exactly where they need to be, when and with who, so if you’d like a rehearsal before the day, check that you can have one.
17. Can confetti be used and are there any requirements?
Some venues don’t allow use of confetti but may allow you to use an alternative (for example, bubbles) or request that you use biodegradable confetti. It’s worth checking if this is important to you.
18. Can you add any décor and are there restrictions?
If you’re imagining candles everywhere like an Instagram dream, lots of venues will be off the cards for you. Find out about open flames, flowers, seating covers before you book to ensure that your wedding ceremony venue can give you what you want.
19. Ask for photos of real weddings
What have they done in the past? Can they show you photos of previous wedding ceremonies that’ll make you swoon? You might like to do this for your reception venue, too.
Questions to ask a wedding reception venue
20. If you’re having your reception in the same venue as your ceremony, how does the switch over take place?
Find out when and how your venue will be turned into a reception venue following your ceremony and where your guests can go whilst this happens. Is it a different room? Is there outside space for drinks? What happens if it rains?
21. Where are wedding gifts stored?
Gift table? Secure area? Free for all?
22. Can you pick up gifts the next day?
If you’re not staying at your venue overnight, you might not want to take all your wedding gifts with you when you leave (or get someone else to). See if you have the option to collect them the next day instead.
23. Where is the closest accommodation for guests and what are their travel options?
Ask about local taxis, hotels, B&Bs. If you’re choosing a wedding venue in London or another city location then you may not need to worry so much about travel links or accommodation options for your guests, but if you’re out in the sticks, you and your guests will need to know where they can go (and trust us, your guests will ask you).
24. Ask about décor – again
Find out from your reception venue what you can and can’t do – do they allow open flames? Can you use battery-powered candles instead? Can you put things on walls? Flowers?
25. What can’t you move?
There might be some features in your venue that you don’t love and could do without (think paintings, wall fixtures, lighting) so if you really don’t like something and don’t want it in your photos, it’s worth checking that you’re able to get it removed for the day. If your venue say that the oil painting of the fifth viscount of somewhere you’ve never heard of absolutely must stay put in the centre of the reception room, it’s then up to you whether you book – but at least you know. Note: this may apply to your ceremony venue, too.
26. Is there a bar – and a license?
Ask whether you source and provide your own drinks and how they will be served. Will they provide bar staff? Open bar? Cash bar? What happens to anything that isn’t used? And don’t forget to check that your venue has a license to sell alcohol.
27. Is there a corkage fee?
Some venues charge corkage for you bringing your own wine – and it adds up.
28. Are chairs and tables provided?
Check that your venue will provide tables for your Wedding Breakfast (it’s not a given!)
29. When can you start decorating?
Find out when you can access the venue to start setup. Usually you will be able to get in the day (or evening) before your wedding but be sure to iron this out to prevent any last minute preparation panic. No, thank you!
30. Are linen and cutlery provided?
If your venue provides tables and seating for your Wedding Breakfast, find out if they can supply linen and cutlery, too. They may be able to hire this in for you, or if they have preferred caterers, might get them to do it for you.
31. Is there an easel for the table plan?
Some venues will have an easel for your seating plan. Find out if this is something you need to provide or if they already have one you can use.
32. How many people can sit at one table – and comfortably?
Your venue may tell you that they can seat ten guests at each table, but go and see for yourself when you book a viewing – you can ask to see a wedding setup – because it may well be the case that ten people can sit on one table but with very little room. Ask your venue what the magic number is: for example, eight people on each table looks too sparse, ten doesn’t give people enough room, but nine works just right.
33. Are highchairs available for children?
If you would like to have children in attendance at your wedding, find out how they will be seated (this will make your table plan a bit easier later!)
34. When do we need to confirm numbers?
Your guest list will change (probably a few times!) so find out when you need to give final numbers to your caterers – this will usually be a week or two before your wedding day.
35. What happens if our numbers change?
Find out what happens if your guest numbers change – is there a cap or any additional charges?
36. Can you bring in a band or DJ?
Find out whether you can bring in your own band or DJ if you want, and if there are any restrictions on this (e.g. noise limiters or cut-off time). Your venue will be able to make recommendations on this but you will need to be aware if there is a preferred suppliers list, because it’s not uncommon to accrue extra cost by choosing wedding suppliers who are not on that list.
37. What do they have for a sound system? Speakers, microphones, etc?
Once you have figured out what’s possible at your venue for music, you’ll need to know what equipment they have (if any) and whether your venue and/or supplier will provide it all for you or whether there are additional costs or responsibilities for you.
38. When can the band or DJ set up?
Once you start to get a feel for the timings of your day, it’s important to work closely with your venue on when your suppliers will set up and any implications this has on your guests or other parts of the day. You might not what your DJ setting up whilst you eat, or a band lugging their equipment through your Wedding Breakfast. Find out when this will happen and where you and your guests can go whilst this happens (e.g. perhaps there is an outside area for drinks, tea or coffee after your meal).
39. Is there a microphone included for the wedding speeches?
If you’re having speeches, is there a microphone at the venue or do you need to provide one? Do you need a microphone if the acoustics are great in your venue, or you have a small wedding party? Your venue will be able to advise on what they’ve done in the past.
40. What time do they allow the music to play until?
Your venue may have rules, restrictions or licensing requirements which affect when your music will need to end. Find out when this is so that you can plan your day: if music stops at 10pm, do you want to end your night there or introduce another activity to close the night?
41. Are there any options for guests who want to stay on into the night?
Weddings are some of the biggest parties there are, and it’s not unusual for guests to be disappointed to leave. If you’ve got some party animals on your guest list (or perhaps you’re one yourself), find out if there are after party options or whether people are expected to leave for their taxis on the dot (and don’t forget to make this clear to your guests on your invitations).
42. Do they have a generator for power outages?
Hopefully you won’t need it – but find out what happens in the event of a power cut. If it happens, it could affect everything from your meal to your music.
43. Green credentials?
Shopping consciously is just as important when hiring a venue.
44. Where do guests park and how many spots are available?
If you’re not providing guest transport, it’s a good idea to find out whether your venue has parking, how much of it, whether there is an associated cost and if there are any requirements (for example, guests can leave their cars overnight but must collect them by 10am on the following morning).
45. Where are the toilets?
This might seem obvious – but maybe not for the reasons you think. Yes, you want convenience for your guests, but also think about how close your toilets are to where guests will be for any potential annoyances or disruptions (smells, flooding, illness, drunkenness…)
46. Don’t forget to do a Google Search
We’re guessing that you may have researched quite a lot about your favourite venue, but don’t forget that as soon as your guests receive your invitation, they will probably Google it too. What are they going to find? What events has your venue held in the past? Is it known for anything in particular?
Catering questions to ask a wedding venue
47. Do they cater in-house or will you need to bring outside caterers in?
Does your venue have an in-house caterer, or do you need to source one? Is there a supplier list you must use if so?
48. If you’re catering in-house, will your venue provide staff?
(If you’re using an external caterer, ask them)
49. Where can the cake be safely stored?
You will need a cool, dry place to keep your cake throughout the day before you bring it out for cutting (if applicable) so that it doesn’t get ruined.
50. Does your venue (or caterer) provide a cutting knife and/or cake stand?
Find out if you will need to source your own cake stand and knife or if your venue has one. Your caterer may provide this for you if not, or be able to hire them in for you.
51. Where is the kitchen in relation to the rest of the venue?
It’s useful to find out where the venue’s kitchen is so that you can work out how close it is to where your guests will be, how your catering staff will get in and out and how visible the operation will be to everyone else: can you expect smells from the kitchen during your drinks reception? Will staff be walking through your reception room to get to the kitchen?
Admin questions to ask a wedding venue
52. What is the deposit amount?
You will likely be required to pay a deposit of 25-50% at the time of booking your venue, but this varies.
53. When is the balance due?
Find out when the remaining balance for your venue hire is due (usually around three months before your wedding)
54. What it their cancellation policy?
Not one you want to think about, we know, but it’s important to get this information. What happens to your deposit? What if you need to postpone?
55. What are the insurance requirements for you and your vendors?
When bringing in your own suppliers you may be required to provide your venue with proof of Public Liability insurance (your suppliers should be able to give this to your venue) so it’s worth knowing what’s needed.
56. Does the venue have its own insurance coverage?
Then you’ll need to find out about insurance for the venue itself, to ensure you’re covered in the event of, well, anything really.