Photography: Ellie Asher
1) The venue manger is NOT your wedding coordinator.
If you’re assuming the person in charge of the venue will also help set up décor and run your schedule, guess again. A venue manager makes sure nothing goes wrong with the facility and answers any questions your vendors have about the space—anything more is likely an extra responsibility, and therefore an extra cost. Be sure to ask specifically what the venue manager’s duties are, as it varies at each venue.
2) Ask about exclusive and preferred vendors.
Find out if the venue has exclusive vendors you must use, like a caterer or bartender. If it does, make sure you know pricing and minimums for those vendors before booking the venue, as those might be places you were planning to save money. Preferred vendors have worked in that venue before but do not have exclusivity arrangements with the venue. They can be a lifesaver on the big day because they know the venue well, which means fewer last-minute questions for you to deal with.
3) Check the BYOB rule.
Venues have different rules around their alcohol packages. Some allow you to bring your own booze and simply require a licensed vendor to serve it, while others require you to hire their bar service and spend a minimum amount on drinks.
4) Hope for sun, plan for rain.
If you want to book an outdoor wedding, be sure to review all rain options beforehand. Does your venue have a tent they can put up if it rains, and if so, is it an extra cost? If the ceremony is moved inside, where will your guests sit?
5) Who flips the room?
If you want your ceremony and reception to be in the same venue, find out who manages flipping the room. Is it the catering staff or venue manager? Or is it up to your friends and family? Unless you’re comfortable with the latter, don’t overlook this important wedding day logistic!
6) Insure your event.
Many venues require couples obtain event insurance for their big day. Ask what that insurance covers—you may even be able to insure your wedding dress, gifts and honeymoon!
7) Have a good idea of your guest count.
Unless you are willing to drastically cut your list due to a venue’s maximum capacity, you should know your rough guest count before touring venues. Similarly, if you want a small wedding of 50 guests and are looking at venues that can hold up to 350, be sure to think of ways to drape or decorate the space so it doesn’t feel empty on your day.
8) Understand your décor restrictions.
If you love a venue but hate that ugly picture on the wall, ask if you can cover it or take it down on your wedding day. Find out about décor restrictions as well, like whether you can light candles or put holes in the wall for decorations.
9) Get a complete list of everything that is included with each venue.
Do you get a dedicated venue manager? What about valet parking? Will you have to arrange for your own tables, chairs, sound system or are those included? Knowing what you get with each vendor will help you understand the value of each venue and compare apples to apples.
10) Check out all aspects of the venue.
Your venue is your wedding day backdrop so make sure to take a good look at everything you and your guests will see that day beforehand. How is the lighting during the time of day you’ll be there? Are there huge dumpsters located right next to your cocktail hour location? Don’t be caught off guard on your big day!