Choosing your wedding venue is one of the biggest parts of wedding planning. As Caroline Bradley, editor of hitched.co.uk – the UK’s largest wedding planning website, reveals: “It will set the scene for the whole day so you need to make sure you pick a venue that is perfect for you, your partner and the style of wedding you’re dreaming of. We have thousands of wedding venues for you to browse on hitched, all of which will be ready for these questions!”
So before you sign on that dotted line make sure you ask your venue these key questions.
Are you licensed for civil ceremonies?
Having your wedding ceremony and reception all in one place is a great idea if you’re looking for ways to save money on your wedding, as it cuts out transport costs. Not all venues are licensed for civil ceremonies so it’s definitely worth checking this if you have your heart on saying your vows at your venue of choice.
Do you have public liability insurance?
It might not be the first question that springs to mind, but it’s important! This means the cost of any legal action is covered if anyone is injured or damaged is caused to the building. If the answer is no, walk away.
Will we have exclusive use of the venue?
Some venues offer exclusive use as standard, others don’t. The idea of sharing your wedding day with another couple might not phase some people, but if you want your day to be all about you, make sure you check this with your venue.
Do you have disabled access?
Some historic wedding venues may not have access for disabled guests – if you know some of your guests may have difficulty navigating stairs etc., be sure to check with your venue to make sure they have disabled access.
How late will the bar be open until?
This will depend on the venue’s licensing laws – some could be licensed until 10pm, others until 2am. Find out before you book so you don’t have baffled guests if the bar closes super early.
Can we have a late extension?
There is a way around an early night – you might be able to apply for a late extension at some venues, but they do need to be approved by local authorities first and it may end up costing you. But if you like to party, it could be worth it!
Is there a corkage charge?
Talking of alcohol, it’s worth finding out if your venue charge for you to bring in your own drinks. Whether you’re thinking of alcoholic wedding favours or want to throw a BYOB wedding, make sure you won’t get hit with a hefty bill if you want to provide your own alcohol.
Do you have a noise limiter?
Some wedding venues have noise limiters fitted that will make your entertainment cut out if it goes above a certain volume. If you’re planning on a loud band you might want to check this won’t be an issue.
Can we have candles?
Candles can really add a romantic ambience to your wedding but not all venues will allow them due to fire risks. If you have your heart set on a candlelit soiree, it’s best to clear this up.
Are fireworks allowed?
Wedding fireworks can really finish your night off with a bang, but not every wedding venue will allow them due to various restrictions. If fireworks are non-negotiable, make sure you check this out.
Do you have a preferred supplier list?
Some venues have a list of preferred suppliers – these are companies they’ve worked with numerous times before and trust. Some places will allow you to bring in your own choice of suppliers, whereas other places might have a list of some suppliers, such as caterers, that you are expected to use.
Is there an in-house wedding coordinator?
The wedding coordinator will know everything there is to know about weddings at your chosen venue, so if you want help with your planning it’s best to choose a venue that comes with a coordinator.
How soon can we access the venue?
If you’re planning a day full of DIY decorative details, you might need to get there the day before to set it up. Find out how soon you’re allowed access to your venue so you can plan accordingly.
Do you have accommodation?
Many guests might want to stay over so they can really make the most of the party – if you have a wedding venue with accommodation find out how many rooms there are on-site and if they offer a discount for those booking accommodation for the wedding.
Is a menu tasting included?
Some wedding venues will include a menu tasting as part of the package, others charge for it and some don’t do them at all. If the food is a big part of the day for you, it’s best to check this one out.
What are the minimum and maximum guest numbers?
If you’re one of seven and your partner has four sisters, there’s no point falling for a venue that can only host intimate parties of 20. Make sure you know the minimum and maximum amount of guests that can attend before you book.
Do we get complimentary use of the bridal suite?
Sometimes venues will offer couples complimentary use of the bridal suite as part of their packages. If it’s not included, it’s always worth asking about…especially if you're looking for ways to save money on your wedding.
Is there on-site parking?
Find out if your guests can park at the venue and include the information in your wedding invitations so they can plan accordingly.
What extras are included?
Most venues that offer package details will include a variety of extras such as use of a cake stand and knife, or certain table decorations and chair covers. Find out what is included in your venue’s deal and negotiate accordingly – you might not want the decorative details so you could talk about a reduction in cost, or you could save money by taking advantage of what they have to offer.
Do you have set packages, or is their some flexibility?
It might be a case of you pick from package A, package B or package C and there’s a cost per head to go with each of them, or there might be no package deals and you talk with the venue about what you want and don’t want and it’s priced accordingly.
Do you have baby-changing facilities?
If you have children and babies attending your wedding, make sure there are the appropriate facilities in place. If you have a lot of children on the guest list it might be worth asking about a room that can be used as a crèche or children’s entertainment area, and checking for any potential hazards such as ponds within the grounds.
Can our photographer/videographer visit the venue in advance?
Some photographers and videographers like to visit the venue in advance to get a lay of the land and to scope out potential photography opportunities and picture perfect settings. It can make things run more smoothly on the day, so check this is ok with your venue.
What happens to any unopened alcohol?
If you’ve paid for a set amount of alcohol and not all of it is used, will you get to keep it, get your money back or just lose it? Find out what your venue’s policy on this is.
Are their quieter areas away from the entertainment?
Older guests don’t always want to be right by the DJ – find out if your venue has a separate bar area or snug where your guests can escape for a quiet chat if they need to.
What happens if it rains on the day?
This is particularly important if you’re planning an outdoor wedding ceremony or want lots of photographs outdoors. If it rains, what is the venue’s contingency plan and are you happy with it?
What is the payment schedule?
In fact, is there a payment schedule? And does it work with your wedding budget? There’s nothing more soul destroying than falling for a place that won’t work with your budget so be upfront about this.
Is our deposit refundable?
All venues will require a deposit when you book, but some will refund it if you have to cancel for certain reasons. Check out what their terms are before you sign on the dotted line.
Once you’ve found your perfect wedding venue, make sure you tick it off your wedding planning checklist!