December 7, 2012

15 Questions Every Bride Needs to Ask Her Wedding Venue


Photo by Lisa Rigby

This week, two of our lovely couples officially signed their wedding venue contracts! As a planner, it always makes me feel special to be a part of that ?deciding moment with them. Finding the venue where their marriage will take place is a super cool thing. In fact, recently, one of my couples chose their venue based on the fact that they could always return to that place for future anniversaries! How adorable is that?

Adorableness aside, signing a venue contract comes with the typical legalities, deposits and questions. Here are a few tips and questions to ask before signing on the dotted line:

1. Along with the contract terms, ask for the bottom line. The venue should provide you with an estimate including site fees, rental fees, price per head, bar estimate, and all additional fees. Often, you will see a service fee, tax and administration fee on top of this.

2. Will you see any additional fees on the actual bill? This can include things like cleaning fees or insurance waiver fees.

3. Proof read your contract. Be sure the date, time, names and location are all correct. Sounds like a no brainer, but it is worth a few minutes to look over.

4. What is the venue?s cancellation policy??Things happen. A friend recently had to cancel because her date was on an important Jewish holiday. Make sure you are comfortable with whatever the policy states. Cancellations almost always result in losing a portion or all of your deposit.

5. How many weddings will be booked on your date??Large venues like hotels can often do more than one event because their full-time staff is trained for quick set up and break down. Smaller venues typically do not book more than one event in a day. If you are concerned, be sure to ask how they handle this. A reference from a past bride could help.

6. Does the venue require a specific time for the event? The venue may have a maximum amount of time or specific hours the event can be held. Make sure this time works with the timeline you have in mind.

7. Who is your venue contact person? Even if you hire an offsite event planner, the venue should provide a contact person onsite to direct questions to throughout the process and at the event.

8. Does the venue require you to work with exclusive vendors? You will need to know this prior to signing so you are comfortable with your choices.

9. What is the flame, candle & decoration policy? This will be necessary for your florist, stylist and planning team.

10. Are you required to provide event insurance? Often venues that require you to bring in all vendors also require insurance. The cost is generally low for 1-2 million in coverage. Check with your local insurance agency. State Farm or Wed Safe also provides event insurance.

11. What is the backup plan? Be sure the venue has a backup plan for inclement weather.

12. How early can you arrive for set up? This all depends on the venue. If the space is being used for other purposes during the day, you may only have a few hours. Be sure to find out so you can communicate this time with your vendors.

13. Who is responsible for set up and tear down? No matter what venue, be sure to hire a planner or florist who can help set up, deconstruct and collect the d?cor. Your venue may also do this for a fee. You definitely do not want to be cleaning up in your wedding dress on the happiest night of your life!

14. Does the venue provide parking? Some provide parking for a flat rate, valet or street parking. If your vendor requires valet, you will also need to budget for attendant service and tip.

15. What is the deposit schedule for payment? Be sure to understand how much money you need to put down to reserve the space and when the remaining balance is due.

I could spend all day doing this, but these tend to be the most important questions to ask. Honestly,venues are not out to make your day complicated. In fact, they strive to provide you with a stress free day. Overall, as long as you are comfortable with their answers and are aware of everything ahead of time, you are golden!

Past brides, can you think of anything else you learned when signing your wedding contract? ?Feel free to post in the comments!