Congrats! You’re engaged! Now, it is time to find that perfect venue. Booking a venue is one of the very first things you should do, as popular places are booked well in advance–up to one to two years in some cases. You may already have a venue in mind, or you may need to shop around. Once you have established your ideal venue or have narrowed down your choices, keep these five questions in mind before you commit.
1. What do you get for your money?
Some venues provide a wide variety of services, including catering. You should also ask if the tables, chairs and linens, pretty much everything that is needed for dinner service is included, and if so, at what cost. If your ceremony, cocktail hour, or reception is to be held outside, you should ask if tents are provided in case of rain. And, don’t forget to inquire about the wait staff (waiters, waitresses, bartenders, etc.) You don’t want to book the spot and then learn that all of these things are an extra expense. Make sure all the bases are covered.
2. What is the payment and cancellation policy?
If for some unfortunate reason you need to cancel, it is so very important to know and be comfortable with the venue’s cancellation policy. It is likely that they will require a deposit to secure the facility. Talk to them about the policy of getting the funds back if need be. Most venues allow a small grace period, but you should ask about specific details to ease your mind.
3. Are there any restrictions you don’t know about?
It is very important to ask about anything to do with small print restrictions. Do you need to wrap things up by a certain hour? Are candles or other kinds of lighting considered a hazard? Are pets allowed (in case you have your fur baby in your wedding)? Also ask about guest capacity. What is the maximum number of guests you can have? If you are having a large wedding, this may be a deal breaker!
4. Is there a policy on alcohol?
If the venue offers catering, the fee may include an open bar, for which you’ll be charged either a flat fee, by the hour, or even by how much guests consume. If you are looking to save money, ask about having an open bar only for a short time during cocktail hour, then it turns into a cash bar for the venue itself.
5. Are there accommodations for physically challenged guests?
Not only for the physically challenged, but also for your elderly guests that may not get around that well these days, be sure and ask about ramps and elevators. These are things that venues are required to have. If they don’t, consider something else.