10 Questions to Ask Before Booking a Wedding Venue

Before you pick flowers or sample cake, you’ll have to choose a wedding venue. Some venues offer everything from coordination assistance to chair coverings. Other venues haphazardly piece together an event that may, or may not, be worth your cash. No matter how great a venue looks from the outside, signing a contract before asking the essential questions is never a good plan.

1. Rental Fee

First and foremost, find out how much any given venue will cost to rent. Pay special attention to the items included in a rental fee. Some venues consider items like chairs and tables part of the overall rental fee, while others may charge extra.

2. Staff Fee

You’ll need someone to serve food, pour drinks, and usher guests towards the right table. Staffing fees aren’t uncommon, but knowing how much you’ll have to pay is always ideal.

3. Set-Up Fee

Unless you plan on asking your wedding party to set up and take down tables, chairs, and centerpieces, you will have to pay a set-up / take-down fee. This fee can be quite high depending on the size of the venue.

4. Drink Cost

Ask about possible bar packages before you book any venue. In most cases, you can select from a full bar, non-alcoholic bar, limited bar, or cash bar. Furthermore, they may charge corkage fees if you source your own alcohol, or prohibit sourcing your own alcohol altogether.

5. Parking

If your venue is located in a busy metropolitan center, your guests may wind up paying for parking. Find out if the venue you have selected offers some kind of valet parking, or ask about renting out a large parking area. A shuttle service is also a nice alternative.

6. Overtime Fees

Weddings can run later than you originally expected. If your guests stay two hours later than planned, you may wind up with a large venue bill. Ask about any overtime fees, and try to work these fees out of your contract. Also, be sure that staying late is even possible - nothing kills a party more than being forced out the door right when you get in a groove.

7. Food Costs

Most weddings include some kind of meal. Whether snacks, a buffet, a large dinner, or light brunch, food is often the most expensive part of renting any venue. Inquire about various food packages and whether or not you can bring in your own caterer.

8. Service Fees

Do you plan on getting married on-site? If this is the case, uncover any hidden service fees before you say your “I Do’s.”

9. Amenities

Brides often need a place to change, and guests may need a place to lounge. Large venues tend to come with many different amenity options. Smaller venues may not have as many options, but this is something that you can speak to an on-site manager about.

10. Coordination Fees

If a site offers a wedding coordinator of some sort, think about hiring this person. Weddings seem simple enough, but lots of confusion can happen mid-event. A wedding coordinator may save the day!

Keep in mind that any package, rate, or plan can be negotiated. Most venues thrive off of large events such as weddings, which gives you an upper hand. If you can’t haggle price-wise, try and include china or place settings in your package deal. You’ll find that most venue managers are more than accommodating.  

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