So you’ve researched some professional wedding venues and narrowed the list down to a few of your potential favorites. What’s next? Visiting the actual site so you can see exactly what it’s like. But before you head out on your tours, there are some questions you should ask your wedding venue. While it’s important to actually see the venue in-person, there are important things to ask about for planning purposes. For example, you want to make sure there’s enough parking if your guests are driving in for the occasion. Or if certain guests require ADA-compliant facilities, you should confirm that your selected venue has those.
With everything from bathrooms to alcohol restrictions to cancellation policies, our list of wedding venue questions should have you covered. See all the questions to ask your wedding venue on your site tour, below.
Questions to Ask Your Wedding Venue Before Your Tour
First things first, you have to set up the actual tour. Before setting foot on the premises, consider confirming these three major details. After all, you don’t want to fall in love with a venue that’s outside of your budget or isn’t available on your selected date. Call or email your potential venues to set up an official visit—then ask them about these three points.
The Basics of What to Ask Your Wedding Venue
If the entire venue cost (not just the minimum) doesn’t fit within your budget, you may have to move on, unless you’re open to cutting something else.
If you have your heart set on a certain date and aren’t flexible about moving it, hopefully the venue has it open—otherwise, you’ll have to keep looking.
This will likely be the most obvious yes or no decision about your venue: If you’re envisioning a rustic, romantic atmosphere but you’re touring a sleek, modern loft, you’ll probably cross the space off your list immediately.
Questions to Ask Your Wedding Venue During the Tour
How many people does the space accommodate?
Why you want to know: This directly relates to your guest list, and therefore, your budget. If you love the space but it only fits 75 comfortably, and your guest list is looking more like 200 (plus all your pros!), you have to decide if having the venue or your guest count is more important to you.
What’s the walking/driving distance from the ceremony location?
Why you want to know: If you’re not providing transportation for your guests, you’ll need to know how long it’ll take them to get from the ceremony to the reception. Also ask what the traffic is like around the time of your wedding to ensure your guests won’t get stuck bumper to bumper on a road for an hour.
Is the venue near guest hotels, and can you recommend any?
Why you want to know: This could impact your decision to book the venue if guests have to drive a long way to get from their hotel to the venue and back (especially if transportation isn’t provided). Usually, anything over 30 minutes is a big ask—especially if you’re having an after-party with lots of drinking, which brings us to the next question.
Is public transportation an option?
Why you want to know: You’ll want to know if the venue’s close to any public transportation, or if there are cab or driver services in the area for guests to use. After all, nobody should be driving a car after consuming alcohol.
What kinds of aesthetic features do you have?
Why you want to know: It’s important to make sure that any standout features the venue has blends with your décor vision. For example, is there a rooftop or pool? Is it on the waterfront? Are there any breathtaking views, incredible interiors or nature areas?
What kinds of services do you offer?
Why you want to know: You’ll want to know for your budget’s sake whether the venue has any all-inclusive packages for the site and food (and if any special dietary restrictions can be honored, like a kosher menu), if any rentals/pros are included (like microphones, linens and a full waitstaff) and whether an on-site coordinator can help. Don’t assume that everything is included.
Does your venue have…?
- A tent, if you want an outdoor ceremony or need a backup plan?
- A backup plan in general, in case your first option needs to be changed due to weather?
- Space for your ceremony, if you want to use the venue for both your ceremony and reception?
- Cocktail hour space, especially if you’re having the ceremony and reception at the venue?
- A separate room for childcare if you’re having an adults-only wedding and providing a babysitter?
- A coat check for winter weddings?
- A dressing room to store belongings, get ready in before the ceremony or change during the reception?
- ADA-compliant facilities and entrances, for disabled or elderly guests?
- On-site hotel rooms, to minimize transportation, secure a room block or potentially rent out the property?
- Parking for your guests?
- Ample restrooms for your guest count?
What’s your outdoor space like?
Why you want to know: If you’re set on an outdoor party, make sure there’s enough room that will comfortably fit guests, pros and rentals for the ceremony, cocktail hour, reception and areas you like for photos.
What’s your electricity like?
Why you want to know: This question is twofold: You want to know if the venue has enough outlets and power for every pro requiring electricity, and you also want to get an idea of the lighting. Is it extremely fluorescent or dim? Are they able to project the lighting hue you want onto the dance floor? These are all important things to know—especially for evening receptions.
How many hours does our rental cover?
Why you want to know: Besides the actual ceremony and reception, you’ll want to know the exact time your pros can arrive to start setting up (they usually need at least two hours, if not more) and what time they need to be out by so they know when to start breaking down. You don’t want to be charged extra if the venue has to keep the lights on for 30 more minutes.
What are the logistics for pros and rentals?
Why you want to know: Some rental companies will charge you extra if they have to walk up and down stairs, so you’ll need to know if there are stairs, a service elevator, a loading dock or a separate entrance for them. You should also ask if they’ll be charged extra for any weekday/weekend drop-offs or pickups if they want to start delivering rentals ahead of time or pick something up a day later, and what their time windows are.
What kinds of restrictions do you have?
Why you want to know: There are a few kinds of restrictions you’ll want to be aware of. Ask if there are any alcohol restrictions or permits—some venues may not have a liquor license and just allow wine and beer, and some may also request that you don’t bring your own beverages to stock the bar. Same goes for vendors—your venue may only allow you to book pros from a certain list, while others will let you bring in whichever pros you want. Ask if there are any décor restrictions, like confetti or open flames. Also check to see if there’s a noise restriction after a certain time—many venues won’t allow you to play loud music past 10:30 p.m. or so, which won’t work if you want the option to dance until midnight.
How many weddings do you allow within a day?
Why you want to know: If you’re having an evening wedding, you don’t want your guests arriving to see the afternoon wedding’s rentals being packed up. It’s normal for venues to host more than one wedding in a day (especially at a hotel), but just make sure there won’t be any visible crossover.
Questions to Ask Your Venue Regarding Finances
What’s your deposit / cancellation / refund policy?
Why you want to know: If you were close to accepting a new job, you’d want to go over your benefits and official offer letter before you sign on the dotted line—same goes for your venue. Ask if you can see a sample contract, or have their deposit/cancellation/refund policy outlined on paper for you. Things happen, and it’s better to know that you can recover any losses before you book your venue.
Questions to Ask Your Venue About Food and Beverages
Can we hire outside vendors?
Why you want to ask: This is a prime question to ask wedding vendors because some may have strict rules around which outside services they allow on their property. The wedding vendor might have a preferred list of vendors you can choose from, while others could require lengthy contracts for outside vendors due to liability issues. If you are already eying certain catering services, be sure to ask this question prior to booking your venue.
Can we bring in our own alcohol, such as wine, beer and spirits?
Why you want to ask: Bringing in your own alcohol is one way to cut corners on costs, but you’ll soon realize many venues, especially hotels, do not allow you to bring in outside alcohol. In fact, some wedding venues may not permit alcohol at all on the premises.
Questions to Ask Your Venue Regarding Vendors
Can the venue accommodate a DJ or live band?
Why you want to ask: If you have your heart set on dancing the night away, be sure to add this to your list of wedding venue questions. Some venues may have limited space or noise restrictions that could prevent you from hosting a DJ or live music.
What time can my vendors begin setting up?
Why you want to ask: This is an important wedding venue question to ask, especially if your venue hosts numerous events in one day. Knowing what time your vendors can arrive will help you plan your event and determine if they will have enough time to set up for your ceremony.
Questions to Ask Your Venue About Decor
Can we bring our own decorations?
Why you want to ask: Some vendors may have restrictions on the kinds of outside decor they permit. Along with understanding what you can and cannot bring from outside regarding decorations, be sure to ask what kind of decor they provide. This will keep you from doubling up or bringing anything that may clash with what is already at the venue.
Are we allowed to rearrange?
Why you want to ask: You may find some wedding vendors have strict rules around rearranging anything on site. Whether it’s a liability or safety issue, it’s best to ask this wedding venue question upfront. This will allow you to begin imagining what the venue would look like on your special day.