By: Carolina Hernandez

The venue will be one of the most important and also one of the most expensive decisions a couple will make during the wedding planning process, according to Maddy Sims and Sarah Hanlon from Of course by now you have probably narrowed down your choices after asking venues via email or phone the following:

·      How many guests does the venue accommodate?

·      Can the venue do both ceremony and reception?

·      What is your average cost of a wedding?

·      What wedding style does your venue provide?  

After you have narrowed down your top venue contenders it’s time to list the important questions! This includes social distancing and safety measures due to the pandemic.

Ø What is the rental fee and what packages do you provide?

Why: With packages various aspects will be handled by the same team so it can help with saving money and helping the event run smoothly. Even if it doesn’t save money the convenience will save you stress from having to look for other vendors.

Ø Do we have to use a list of approved vendors or can I use any vendors?

Why: Some venues may have a set list of specific vendors they work with. If they don’t require them, ask them if there are any they recommend. Vendors will most likely be familiar enough to know if there are any quirks or challenges with the venue making the planning easier.

Ø  What are your dining options? Is alcohol included?

Why: Usually if you have to find your own caterer you’ll have to spend extra time finding the right one. Take into consideration additional fees if your caterer charges for hauling in refrigerators and stoves. A good thing to ask is if a price difference between a buffet and a full-service. Special dietary or allergies should be taken into account and will be the considerate thing to do.

Ø What décor and equipment do you provide?

Why: A lot of venues will have furniture and decorations included in their package price. Upgrades to higher quality chairs and tablecloths may be available for some venues. If you do choose any of them provided by your venue ensure any specifics like colors and upgrades are in writing.

Ø What restrictions do you have?

Why: Some venues may only allow you to book from a certain vendor list, décor restrictions like candles or sparklers, and some may not have a liquor license hence allowing only wine and beer. BYOB option clarification is essential.

Ø Does your venue include a coordinator? If so, what is their role?

Why: “The event coordinator is there for the venue; to make sure paper towels are full, garbage is taken out, makes sure the place doesn’t burn down. They rarely help with setting up or take down”, says Laine of Laine Palm Design on wedding tips in ForeverBride. Getting clarification on what the coordinator’s role is good to know so you can decide whether it’s necessary to get a day of coordinator to avoid being more stressed.

Ø Is the venue near a hotel?

Why: This will make it easy for your guests to get to your venue especially if they’re from out of town. Not only is it convenient but most hotels offer a discount for a block of rooms that can result in an upgraded suite for the couple!

Ø Will there be any other events scheduled for the day of my wedding?

Why: Parking and noise in general can be a concern when another event is scheduled for the same day. If you want an exclusively intimate and private moment you’ll want to make sure there won’t be any visible or audible crossover.

Ø Is parking available on-site?

Why: Sometimes parking is already included in your site rental fee and sometimes it’s not. If it’s not ask how much it would be or what other options like valet are available.

Ø What are the rates for different days of the week? What about different seasons?

Why: If you are flexible with your dates and are willing to change the date to save money then this is good to ask. Prices vary from day and even time of the day. Some venues offer a discount for booking an off-season date.

Ø What is included in the total? Does it cover service charges, gratuity, and cleaning fees, or are those additional line items?

Why: This may include cleaning fees, service charges, gratuity, or third-party vendor fee. “When signing a contract, you’ll want to look over the third-party vendor fee. This is something that can add more expenses to your overall budget and tends to be a big topic we discuss with clients when picking a venue”, says BillieJo, an expert with Michelle Leo Events on MarthaStewart’s wedding expert-approved tips. You may see a “++” on certain bill items which means you’ll be paying tax and gratuity on top of the cost that’s been listed.  A payment plan may be a good option to ask about too.

Ø What are my outdoor options for both ceremony and reception?

Why: For those who don’t plan to get married in a house of worship knowing what the plan B and possibly even C is essential. You want to rest assured there’s a backup plan in case of inclement weather (especially in this Texas weather)

Ø Are there enough restrooms?

Why: Not a desirable subject but a really important one. Diana Romero, a wedding planner at Your Side Planning in San Diego, gave wedding venue tips in The New York Times. She pointed out a couple who faced a restroom challenge, “The space had only one restroom with a single stall, which isn’t enough for the 60-person wedding”. Wedding experts suggest a good rule to follow is 4 restrooms per 100 people at least.

ØCovid-19 Social Distancingand Sanitation  

A few questions suggested by Sarah Jennings, special events and marketing director at LonesomeValley in North Carolina shares the following questions you should be asking:

·     What fees are associated with postponing or canceling our wedding?

·     What available dates do you have for rescheduling?

·     In response to COVID-19, is there anything that the venue will be doing differently?

·     When is the last possible date to make changes to our reservation?

·     How much is the deposit, and is it refundable or transferable?

·     Will livestreaming the wedding be allowed?

·     Do you have mask requirements for your guests and employees?

·     How will traffic flow for guests be arranged?

·     Can we still have buffet or food stations?

·     What kind of cleaning and sanitation will be done prior to and during the event?

·     What are some creative floor plans/layouts to ensure the safety our guests?