When you're looking around potential venues, take a list of questions with you to ask. With the excitement of choosing your location it can be easy to forget some key things which will affect your guestlist and budget, so making a list ahead of the visit will help keep you on track. Here are a few pointers to get you started..
- Check the capacity for both the reception and the ceremony rooms. There is every chance that the ceremony room may be smaller than the reception and the venue will be licensed for a maximum number so ensure this matches your guestlist requirements.
- If the venue offers accommodation too, check if there's a discount for guests and if it's a hotel open to the public on the same day, that you have first refusal over the rooms or can at least hold them until an agreed date to give your guests chance to book. It's an idea to check for the night before too as every chance that at least some of your guests will want to stay then too.
- When I first set up and was doing a huge amount of venue research around Herts / Bucks, I was surprised how few had permission for fireworks despite being in the countryside. There are obviously still many out there, but just because a venue has big grounds, don't assume they allow them. It's also likely to be an area where the venue might have a preferred (or compulsory) supplier so do your homework. Speaking of which...
- It's good to know whether their entire list of recommended suppliers are compulsory or just suggestions, as this can really affect your budget. For example, there's a stunning luxury venue barn venue local to me that is flexible on other suppliers but will only allow one specific caterer and a specific lighting company to hang fairy lights inside.
- If your venue has a curfew and you were hoping to party into the night - ask about paying for an extension. Sometimes this is possible, although not always advertised.
- If it's of interest, can you bring your own alcohol or is there a corkage fee? Can other drink suppliers come in (perhaps there's a Prosecco Van, a Gin Bar, Local Ale company etc that you were hoping for).
- What's included in venue hire? Things such as PA system for speeches, Cake knife, Chair covers, power supply / staging for a band may be an extra charge.
- What time do you have access to the venue to set up / decorate? Can you get in the day before? The more you can do the day before the better, then you can spend the morning of the wedding enjoying getting yourself ready!
- Will the staff put out your table names / place names / favours etc or are you responsible for this. Do you need anything moving between ceremony & reception (ie: Flowers from the ceremony signing table often move to the reception room post ceremony) and will they help with this?
- Are there any other weddings on the same day. Do you have exclusive use of the whole venue or just the rooms you're hiring?
- Is there a specific style you're hoping for and if so, can the venue accommodate it. Are you allowed candles, can you bring in outdoor lighting, draping, fairy lights etc
- Is your wedding is outdoors - is there a Plan B space to use should the weather not be on your side?
- Check if VAT is included in their prices. It can be a huge shock if you're not expecting it.
- Lastly - how much will their staff do the day after the wedding? What time is the deadline to collect your belongings the following morning (yes - it's likely to be morning as there's every chance they have another event the following day). Will they pack up your belongings and co-ordinate any suppliers collecting or do you need to be present for this?
It's a long list I know and not all will be relevant, but when it comes to planning - you can't have too much information! I promise it'll make your life easier in the long run! Vx