Now after visiting a few different venues, these questions will become second nature! In fact, you may look at this list and be like “uh – duh, Haley… I always ask these questions.”
However, for that first venue, it can be extremely overwhelming! You might not even know where to begin. Or you might think these questions are SO obvious, that they don’t require asking! But the answers can vary and therefore will be very important in calculating final pricing and therefore could play an important part in making your decision.
So here is your short-list/study sheet/quick prep of 10 must ask questions for your venue – for those first few visits when you aren’t quite sure what is going on or where to go after saying,”Hello, my name is…”
10 Must-Ask Questions for your Venue
1.What is included at base price? Tables? Chairs? If so, what type of chairs? Flatware? Glasswear? Utensils? Linens? If so, what color linens?
If some of these items are not included, it’s important to find out whether your venue requires specific vendors to provide such equipment. This could add on a pretty penny to your total cost.
2. How much time is allotted for each event at base price? How much does extra time cost?
The standard time allotment for an event at most venues is 4 1/2 – 5 hours. If choosing to have a ceremony on site, this adds an extra hour to the total event time.
3. Do you have any preferred vendors? Is it required that I choose all preferred vendors or can I choose my own?
Some venues care a lot about this – others do not! Really depends, so go ahead and ask!
4. What fees can I expect? Is there an administration fee or gratuity automatically included in final price? Are these taxed?
This was the biggest surprise to me. Many venues seem to be in one price range, but really there is a 20% administration fee plopped on to the final Food and Beverage cost. CRAZY! Be sure to incorporate this added cost in your pricing estimations (as well as tax – ugh, tax).
5. Who will be my point of contact throughout the planning process? Will someone be there on my wedding day to help organize vendors and make sure the day goes smoothly?
Depending on what type of venue you choose, this may or may not be relevant. All-inclusive type venues who are charging an administration fee SHOULD provide this sort of service. But a “basic” venue only providing the space, most likely will not.
Be sure to ask because having someone guide your day along and organizing vendors can be very helpful! The last thing you want on your day-off is to stress about what is happening next and when! (Check out my post Wedding Venue 101 to find out more regarding different types of venues and what they will provide).
6. If I want to guests to have a choice of two entrees – will the final charge be per plate ordered? Or is there a split-menu fee? Or will we be charged by the higher priced menu item for all guests?
In my opinion, this is one of the sneakiest way venues will charge you money. They say “Of course we will allow guests to have a choice of two entrees, just provide a final plate count 10 days prior to the wedding!” Sounds lovely, right?
So you and your family think, great – let’s do one nicer, more expensive entree and another cheaper entree. But wait! Turns out, some venues will you charge per person for ONLY the more expensive entree. So even if you have 3 people order the filet mignon and 157 people order the chicken – you are getting charged for 160 filets. What a pain! Other venues will charge an extra “Split-menu” flat fee per person – so watch out!
7. What is included in a per person menu price? Any or d’oeuvres? If so, how many per person? Stationary appetizers? Bread? Salad? Desserts? Cake?
This will TOTALLY vary based on your venue and caterer – some caterers advertise a per plate price that is just for dinner itself! While others advertise a per person price which includes more. Regardless of these details, it’s important to decide what features are most important to you, and determine what your budget allows at a specific venue.
Many venues will say “Choice of 5 hor d’oeuvres” or “Stationary platter” included in per person menu price – which sounds wonderful! But what does this mean? Will there be endless hor d’oeuvres passed during your cocktail hour? Or will one platter be put out, and when it empties – that’s it! Be specific about what you want so that no surprise pricing additions come later on.
8. Is a champagne toast or wine pour at dinner included or extra? How many bartenders or bars will operating?
This will often depend on the type of bar package you choose to include at your event. A full, open bar will sometimes include these additional features – which is great if you want them! But often, lower packages such as a cash bar, or beer and wine open bar will not.
If these features are very important to you, it’s important to consider the added cost of including them with lower packages. In the end, it could be cheaper to have a full, open bar rather than these added features with a beer and wine open bar.
9. How many servers will be provided per person?
It is most common for a venue to provide an average of 1 server per 10-15 people. Just like at any restaurant though, it is preferable to have more servers per guests. So consider this number wisely as it is not advertised as much as other details.
10. Is there a cake-cutting/service fee?
I know – it’s awful. Some venues will actually have the tenacity to spring a cutting fee on you at the last minute! Or if you prefer having your cake served versus a cake station, they could also charge you for extra servers. Be sure to ask these important questions before signing a contract.
Two Additional Questions if your ceremony is on site:
1. If the ceremony is on site, is any “getting ready time” allowed – or are any suites provided for getting ready?
Not all venues will provide a bridal or groom suite for getting ready, but it can be a great perk to have!! After the ceremony between photos, it can also be a great place to have for a momentary “breather” or private moment with your new spouse!
2. Who is responsible for breakdown of ceremony arrangements and set up of reception area?
The venue SHOULD take care of this – but, be sure to ask the question just in case. You don’t want to be moving chairs in your wedding dress at the last minute!