Crucial Questions To Ask A Wedding Venue

Crucial Questions To Ask A Wedding Venue

Best Questions To Ask A Wedding Venue

Updated 11/03/22. It's a fact that your venue and catering costs account for approximately 50% of your TOTAL wedding spend. It's also a fact that finding the wedding venue is the top priority for most couples, many of whom have never planned a wedding and don't really know they are doing in the early stages of the planning process. So it's unfortunate that your first contact is with the wedding venue because they are highly adept at marketing their properties and quick to suppress any negative points that might dissuade you to book! 

Having drawn up a short-list of venues that look great online, it’s time to pay each one a visit. But before you head off blindly into the lion’s den - for that is indeed where you are heading! - you can now arm yourself with a printout of our Crucial Questions To Ask A Wedding Venue! We have listed all the most potent questions to ask the venue coordinator or sales manager to enable you to find out everything you need to know to avoid any potential additional fees, charges and restrictions that might apply if you decide to sign on the dotted line. It will demonstrate to the venue that you are not the atypical, ‘green behind the ears’ couple in the early stages of the wedding planning process, but rather a force to be reckoned with!

TOP TIP: The first meeting is the best time to raise all the most important, probing questions because the venue's representative will be keen to secure a new booking and far more compliant and willing to compromise at this stage. Remember, it’s a 2-way negotiation and there are likely to be a number of points that the venue is willing to move on in order to secure the booking, even if their website, brochure or T’s & C’s suggest otherwise.

Crucial Questions To Ask The Venue Coordinator

Fees & Charges

Start by asking for clarification of ALL subsequent potential fees and charges that might apply should you book the venue. And take brief notes of all the important points. 

  1. Find out how much a 3 course menu is… this is going to eat up a sizeable slice of your wedding budget (excuse the pun) so it's essential to have a ball park figure of the venue's catering costs.
  2. Ask how much their champagne, sparkling wine and house wine costs: there are plenty of venues that have very reasonable venue hire fees to attract client’s interest and look to recoup their money through other means such as over-priced drinks. A bottle of house champagne might be £45 in one venue and £80 in another!
  3. Ask if corkage is an option – this allows you to source and supply the wine whilst the venue/caterer serves it, for a fee of course. Opting for corkage can again save hundreds, if not thousands of pounds, but corkage fees do vary considerably.
  4. Ask how much the canapés cost – again these can be eye-wateringly costly and increase your bills by hundreds of pounds.
  5. Ask about the price of drinks behind the bar – a free bar can be very expensive at £8 a pint or £12.00 for a double and mixer
  6. Late licence fees: if you intend to party until 1am, late licence fees can add hundreds – and sometimes thousands – of pounds to the venue hire fees. These are not usually negotiable but it’s best to know the costs ASAP so you can budget accordingly.
  7. If there is accommodation onsite, find out if there are a minimum number of rooms you have to take on the wedding night and clarify how much the rooms cost per night. If you are expected to book and pay for bedrooms consider asking if the venue will allow your guests to book and pay for the bedrooms themselves as opposed to you footing the bill and then having the awkward task of charging your guests!
  8. Ask about guest and supplier parking – is it free or chargeable. Can cars be left overnight without charge?
  9. Late leaving fees can leave a sour taste in your mouth. Often hidden in the small print they may be applied if guests have not vacated the premises on time. Be warned.
  10. Early access and storage charges may also apply, for example if you expect deliveries to be made to the venue before the wedding day, these often incur charges.
  11. Some venues expect you to hire their security and charge a hefty fee for the convenience, whether or not you want or need it!
  12. Check cleaning fees, such as if a guest is physically sick onsite or knocked over a bottle of red wine on a carpet. It all adds up. Insurance might cover this but you can never be sure.
  13. A menu tasting is essential as it helps you to decide upon your preferred meal. It will be prepared and cooked by venue’s caterer. Many venues and caterers incorporate the cost into their menu or package fees but some choose to apply these fees separately, as if a menu tasting is an optional extra that might not be needed! If so, what’s the charge? How many people can attend? And does it include sampling the wine and champagne too? 
  14. Your suppliers, notably planner, photographer and cinematographer will need a meal on the wedding day. Find out how much the venue charges for supplier meals.
  15. Child menu prices are also helpful to know.
  16. Check if there is a recommended supplier list you have to use. This can drastically limit your choice of suppliers. Moreover, such lists can be extremely lucrative for the venue since many only recommend suppliers who pay them a commission for being recommended in the first place. Just be aware.
  17. If you can bring in suppliers of your own choosing, ask if there are any charges for doing so. For example, venues who allow you to use your own caterer might recoup their losses by charging extortionate fees for using their kitchen.
  18. Can the venue be used for a rehearsal a week or so prior to the wedding? If so, what's the charge?
  19. Ask to see the standard chairs and tables, cutlery, crockery and linen. Ask if any upgrades are available and get prices.
  20. Do you or your suppliers need a certain level of public liability insurance in order to hire the venue? Unfortunately some venues cut their overheads by passing on the cost of event insurance to those hiring the property rather than pay for it themselves.

Getting a grip on all potentially applicable costs early on not only leads to better financial management of the budget but also helps to reduce stress!

Other Essential Factors To Be Aware To:

Aside from finding out about costs, you also need to clarify a host of other important points as follows:

  1. Check if the coordinator you are meeting with will be your sole point of contact at the venue throughout the planning process. It’s important that you are compatible and get along, for obvious reasons.
  2. Then find out if they will also be the coordinator on your wedding day. Will they cover the entire day or only part of it?
  3. Make sure you ask how long they take on average to respond to questions via email. Also ask how easy they are to get hold of during the day by phone or email. Getting them to commit to a timeframe early on helps to ensure they prioritise your communications moving forward. Bear in mind that with multiple events occurring every week, they will be juggling dozens of clients at the same time. Contact with clients is usually extremely limited until a month or so prior to the wedding, when they start thinking about payments, logistics and guest numbers.
  4. Find out if there are any other weddings or events at the venue on the same day as your wedding. If there are, ask to see where they will take place and assess how they might impact on your own wedding.
  5. Wet weather contingency plans – where will the drinks reception take place if it’s raining? Most venues will have a suitable plan in place, utilising an additional internal room or suite. It’s worth asking if they have a gazebo or marquee you could use for free if it’s raining. And beware if the wet weather plan involves ‘turning a room around’ – what happens is that after the ceremony and during the drinks reception the same room is cleared and the tables and chairs are laid for dinner. See footnotes.
  6. Ask about access times on the wedding day – the earlier you and your suppliers can access the venue on the wedding day the better.
  7. Also find out about post-wedding access times – you and your suppliers may need to pick up various items after the wedding.
  8. Can you access the venue the night before to start setting up? It’s helpful if you can!
  9. Real candles, tealights and naked flames, are they permitted? Are there any limitations?
  10. Loud fireworks, are they permitted?
  11. Is confetti permitted onsite?
  12. Are there any limitations on moving furniture around if you see fit?
  13. Ask to inspect the bathrooms.
  14. Do they have a cloakroom your guests can use? Inspect it if they do.
  15. Do they have a secure private dressing room you can use for changing, or for some quiet reflection on the wedding day or for storing wedding gifts?

  16. TOP TIP: Take plenty of photos/film of the venue interior and exterior for reference.

  17. Once you have covered all these points you can ask the coordinator to put together a tailored quote based on your projected requirements. The quote will account for your chosen number of guests, catering and venue hire, as well as any other fees that might be applicable to your circumstances.
  18. Ask about their deposit and payment terms. And if it helps, also ask if you can set up an interest free monthly instalment plan.
  19. Then ask them to email you the minutes of the meeting so you have it all in black and white. Note you might need to chase them up for this. Or if there is a lot of information and you want to be thorough and get things moving quickly, it might be better for you to draw up the minutes yourself and email them over for the venue coordinator to agree to and sign off.
  20. Finally, before you depart the meeting ask for a copy of their booking form with terms and conditions. Then read it thoroughly on your way home just to make sure everything is clear and transparent

Obviously we have not included all the basic, standard questions you should be asking the venue. The focus here is on the most crucial questions that many couples fail to consider. We have therefore assumed you have familiarised yourself with the venue’s website/brochure and have an understanding of the basics such as:

  • the venue’s style, location and accessibility
  • exclusivity
  • room layout and capacities
  • music and dancing policy
  • if dancing takes place in the same room as dinner or in a separate room
  • local accommodation and transportation

TOP TIP: Secure The Date With A Provisional Booking ASAP! Before you inspect a venue it is essential that you ask for a provisional booking to secure your wedding date. This simply holds the date for you, usually for a week or so, and allows you time to book a viewing and consider your options. There is no charge for doing so and most venues will permit you to do this, however there are an increasing number that won’t hold any dates until you physically attend a viewing. Beware – this is a highly effective ploy to reel you in, get you on-site and then hard sell the property by stressing an urgent need for you to make a quick decision due to the interest shown by other potential clients in your preferred wedding date! Unfortunately you are not going to know if they really do have other couples interested in the same date as you. But it is a decision you should be prepared to have to make if push comes to shove.

For your convenience a printable copy of our checklist of questions to ask a wedding venue is below: