Having the perfect location for your special day is important, and booking the perfect wedding venue can be one of the biggest pieces to the large wedding puzzle. Knowing the right questions to ask can save you big headaches (and big bucks!) later down the road. Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to ask these important questions!
Day and Time
Is my ideal date available?
First and foremost, make sure your ideal date is available! We suggest trying to be flexible and wait to set the date until you have chosen a venue, because there may be discounts offered on different days of the week or different months. We know this is not always possible, so if you already have the day picked out, make sure your venue has it available!
Are there discounted rates for picking different days and seasons?
Sometimes a simple date change can save you the big bucks. Does the venue you are interested in offer off-season pricing? Most of the time if you choose to tie the knot on a Friday or Sunday instead of Saturday, you can also save big money. Another option is to have a daytime wedding. Often if you book your venue for earlier in the day and are out by a certain time, you can receive some major discounts!
Are there timing restrictions with my rental? What time can I arrive, and what time do I have to leave by?
Depending on where you choose, you may have to pack up the party and leave by a certain time due to noise, alcohol, or neighborhood laws, so be sure to know what these restrictions are ahead of time! It’s also good to ask if you have the option to extend the day of your wedding. If you and your guests are having the time of your lives on the dance floor and don’t want the party to end, know ahead of time that you can stay later if you want!
Are there specific vendors I am required to use, or do I have the freedom to choose?
This is a big one to ask, because you might be agreeing to limiting your freedom on the most important day of your life. You may be required to use only vendors from their list, and not even realize it until you are in too deep. For example, some venues require that you hire a wedding coordinator, and you must use one from their preferred list. What if you have been planning every last detail with your family already, and don’t feel like you need this planning help? Now you just acquired this additional cost that you may not have been planning for. Be sure to know if you have restrictions on the vendors you are allowed to use including caterers, planners, alcohol service, event rentals, entertainment, etc. The most important of these are the alcohol policy and caterers, and here’s why:
Let’s face it, you will be needing a good amount of alcohol for your wedding because you know how your friends and family like to have fun! The bar is one of the biggest expenses when it comes to a wedding, and knowing ahead of time what is allowed is extremely important. So be sure to ask if your potential venue these few key questions.
Can I bring in my own alcohol?
Do I have to purchase the liquor through you?
Are there corkage fees?
Are there restrictions on what I can have served at the bar?
The best scenario is to be able to provide your own alcohol, with no additional fees added in. This way you can purchase exactly what you want, and for the price it costs. Most liquor stores will even deliver the alcohol to the venue the day of your wedding for you, and pick up and buy back unopened items afterward! Often when the venue provides the alcohol, you end up paying bar prices and spending way more than what they purchase it for, with no returns at the end of the night. When you are not able to provide your own alcohol, the bar is the number one mark up cost during a wedding. On average alcohol gets marked up 450%, which is about $8,000 extra not including the labor and glassware! This can mean you are spending more on the bar than you are on the venue itself. Be sure to find a venue that is flexible and doesn’t make a profit off of the bar so your reception can be a blast without breaking the bank! Check out this link to CostHelper Weddings for more information on the average costs for a bar at your wedding (http://weddings.costhelper.com/open-bar.html#extres4)
You should have options when it comes to choosing the caterer for your special day, especially because all of them are so different! Whether you want a farm-to-table style meal for your guests, a sophisticated plated dinner, or fun appetizer stations; the caterer you use makes all of the difference! This way you can also spend the money where you would like it to go. Maybe you aren’t as concerned about the food and want to save a little money for your favorite band. Having the freedom to choose your caterer allows you to save money and pick the one that makes the most sense for you and your future spouse.
Do you have connections with local vendors, and can you help me choose who I should use?
An established venue will most likely have connections with local vendors, and they should be able to help find the right one for you. Some may even be able to save you a little money just by booking with them! Maybe you can receive a discounted rate at a hotel if you book with them, or they know of a vendor who has a current special that can save you some money. This way you don’t have to spend hours on Google checking the reviews of 20 different florists, caterers, DJs, or rental companies, you can get help from people who have witnessed their services firsthand! At any rate, we believe in getting more than just the space itself, and the event staff should be able to point you in the right direction throughout the planning process.
Do you offer package deals for rentals, or am I able to customize my special day?
Sure, you can save yourself the burden of planning every last detail, but at what cost? More times than not, the package deals wedding venues offer end up costing you a lot more of that moolah than you may think!
Can I decorate myself?
By now we all know that being able to do-it-yourself is a great way to save money, but there may be restrictions on this depending on your venue. Maybe your cousin makes fabulous paper rosettes that you want to have behind your cake table. Make sure you have the freedom to DIY your wedding so you can make décor that is unique to you! Another great way to save on decorating is to choose a venue that doesn’t need much added decoration to begin with. Finding a place that is already beautiful means that you do not have to spend half of your budget trying to hide things, and can focus more on the food, music, bar, and other fun aspects you love!
Does the venue have the capability to host my ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception all in one place?
Having one location for the entire celebration is a great way to save money. Not only will you save on the cost of the venue itself, you will not have to provide transportation from one location to another. Did we mention, you can use the same musicians, flowers, décor, furniture, rentals, and anything else this way too? If you can do it all in one location, you can really save on things you have not yet considered.
What is included in the rental, and what added perks do I get just by renting?
When you start adding everything up, it might be enough to make you dizzy. So it’s always nice to have a few things that are included in the venue rental that can take stress off of you, and keep money in your pocket. Be sure to ask potential venues what is included in the rental of the space. For example, some spaces have an onsite ice machine that is included at no additional charge. Having a full bar and serving your guests drinks takes a lot of ice, and you might be surprised how much-frozen water can cost you! Does the space offer free Wi-Fi? Do they have a built-in dance floor, or is this another charge you need to add to the list? Will there be on-site staff to help you with the planning process? If not, you might need to hire someone to ensure everything runs smoothly. Additionally, some venues offer additional packages to make your planning easy and less expensive. Does the venue offer a furniture package? Do they offer any fun décor packages? What about entertainment packages? All of these little perks can really add up to a lot of saved time and money!
When touring wedding venues, take the time to ask all of the necessary questions so you aren’t surprised later down the road. We have found that the best way to enjoy the planning process and save money is to be able to customize your day to fit you and the love of your life and spend your money where you want. This day is about sharing your love with friends and family, and showing them what is most important to you. This is all possible if you find the right venue. Good luck, have fun, and happy planning!