Venue Visits – What questions to Ask.
If you have read my previous blog on starting your venue search, then you are ready to start your venue search. Now you have established your very own set of venue search criteria, you can start your online research.
First create a spreadsheet or a check list, and check each venue you find online against the search criteria. Click here to read last weeks blog to download a free Venue Search Checklist. I suggest creating a long list of 8 venues that meet your original search criteria.
Next contact those venues and run through the basic questions about numbers, cost, etc. Some questions can be answered on line, but a phone call is also often advisable.
Once you know the venues on your list meet your criteria I would suggest booking visits to three venues that are your favorites so far.
Don’t book too many venue visits on one day, if you can do one visit a day within a space of a few days, that’s perfect. If you try to see too many, especially in a short period of time you risk overloading yourself. You wont remember the details of each when you return home!
When you visit your venue have your questions written down and have your check list to hand.
Questions to ask your wedding venue.
What are capacities for guest numbers – for most venues this will be based on fire regulations, so its vital that you know you have enough space for your intended guest lists! Double check that the venue’s capacity for ceremonies is the same as for your wedding breakfast and reception. Ask if you can have extra evening guests.
Are these what you thought they would be, and are they all included in the price. Do you have to pay extra for any of the venue, or is it all included? If you chose a venue because of the marquee lawn, double check this is available all year round. If you love a particular spot, and think it would be lovely for sunset photos – check that it is not out of bounds in the evening. Fancy drinks round that lovely pool – double check that this is allowed with 100 wedding guests!
What is included in the price – this is a really important question, and its good to get this clear at the outset. Firstly, this means you don’t have any surprises or additional pressures on your budget. But it also means that you can compare one venue against another on a level playing field. Some venues will include furniture, crockery, table linen, cutlery and glass wear, where as others will not, and costs for these items are often overlooked!
4. Who does what?
This is a really important question, some venues offer “Dry Hire” whilst others will offer a full service including catering, set up etc. Its important to be clear exactly what the venue will do and what you will have to organise yourself.
Does the venue provide food themselves, if so is it the cost and style of food you are happy with? If you are required to book external caterers can they be ones of your choosing or do you need to stick to a list of suppliers agreed by the venue. If so, do check out the venues recommended food suppliers before booking the venue!
Very simply what time can you arrive at the venue, and what time do you have to leave?
What times can you get access to your venue – from a set up and styling point of view this is very important, and may influence what you can do in terms of decoration etc. Check what time you have to leave the venue, this will differ hugely and can make a big difference logistically for yourself and your suppliers, as well as having a cost implication.
7. The Rules
What are the dos & don’ts at the venue… again very important to check, can you have candles, can you hang things from the beams or walls, can you bring in your own wedding cake, or wedding suppliers or must you use the venues supplier list…? all of these things could influence the planning and costs of your wedding. This is often the time when you will get a real feel for the wedding venue. How flexible and helpful do they seem?
8. Wet weather
What are the wet weather scenarios? Couples often book a venue that is perfect for an outdoor wedding, without considering the options for bad weather, and are then disappointed if the alternatives are not as nice as the outdoor options.
9. The people
I use the people that I deal with from a venue as a really good gauge of the venue as a whole. Are they helpful, do you feel you could work with them during the planning process. Do they seem customer focused and friendly? I start to take note of these things right from the very first email that I send to a venue. I consider how each enquiry and phone call are handled, but most of all I pay lots of attention to how I find the people when I visit the venue.
10. The location
Double check this is what you were expecting, is the venue easy to find, close to good accommodation, a local pub if you might need one? Can guests use public transport to get to the location, or will everyone need to drive? These are all things its worth double checking on your venue visit.
I hope you’ve found this useful, I understand that there is a lot to consider, but its all important stuff to know from the start so that you can avoid any surprises further down the wedding planning journey!
If you can’t face the thought of trawling the internet to find the perfect venue, and don’t have time to plan numerous venue visits, it might be worth considering the services of a wedding planner. As part of our Complete Wedding Design Service, we do all the leg work for you, shortlisting the venues, visiting them on your behalf, and then accompanying you on the final leg of the selection.
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