When it comes to choosing your wedding venue, you really are spoilt for choice. From stately homes, village halls and country estates to barns, hotels, tepees and urban ‘blank canvas’ venues, wedding venues come in a whole range of shapes and sizes.
Whatever venue you choose and whatever style of wedding you’re planning, there are some things that you absolutely must clarify with your venue before the big day. I could write a whole novel on this subject but for the purposes of this month’s feature I’m sharing my top 10:
- How do I book? This might sound a little obvious, but if you fall in love with a venue, you need to know how to book a venue properly. Confirm availability, find out what paperwork will need to be completed and how much you’ll need to pay as a deposit BEFORE you sign any contracts or hand over deposit payments. Some venues will provisionally ‘hold’ a date for you to give you time to make up your mind so if this is what your venue is doing, be sure you know how long you’ve got to decide.
- What’s included? You might have seen certain spaces on your venue visit or assumed that certain things are included but always make sure and ideally in writing. Are chairs, tables and linen included? Is a bridal preparation room or honeymoon suite included? Is there an extra charge for a late licence? Can you use the venue’s tealight holders, lanterns and decorative items or will they charge you for borrowing these? If in doubt, ask for a definitive list detailing what’s included in the venue hire fee.
- What can I do? If you’ve got certain things in mind for your wedding, check that your venue allows them. Fireworks, lanterns, candles, live music outside in the evening, live music full stop, confetti… always ask the question!
- What can’t I do? Similarly, find out what your venue doesn’t allow. It’s much easier to find ways to work around restrictions if you’ve got plenty of time to come up with alternatives. If your suppliers have worked at your venue before, they should especially be useful here because they’ll understand any rules and regulations that need to be followed.
- When do you need information? Your venue will need you to confirm certain details before the wedding so be sure you know what deadlines you’re working to. Guest numbers, menu choices and room allocations if any guests are staying at the venue are all must-have details from the venue’s perspective so don’t miss their cut-off dates. Ask for a full list of what your venue will need to know and make sure that you provide the answers in good time.
- Do I have to work with any specific suppliers? Some venues insist that you work with suppliers from their list, so this is something to confirm before you start researching vendors yourself. If you’re really keen to work with a supplier who isn’t on the list, it’s likely that they will have to provide additional details to the venue so do check this in good time to avoid any stresses nearer to your wedding.
- When can we set-up? It’s vital that you know when you can access your venue to set things up for your wedding. Some of your suppliers will need to know this (it may also change how much they charge) as will you if you’re doing the set-up yourself. Whilst you’re asking this question, also check when everything must be removed by.
- What are the contingency plans? You’ll have planned the wedding day that you want but, because there are always things that are outside of your control, it’s wise to have a contingency plan in place. Where will you hold your drinks reception if it rains? What happens to your outside ceremony if it’s too hot? Where’s the best spot inside for photos if it’s too cold to be outdoors? If you’ve run through your ‘plan b’ ahead of time, whatever happens on the day it won’t be a total surprise.
- Can I meet the person who’ll be in charge on the day? It’s easy to assume that the wedding coordinator you’ve been dealing with in the run up to your wedding will also be there on the day to oversee your wedding, but this isn’t always the case. Ask to meet whoever will be running your event so that you can tell them your plans in person. This is especially important if there’s anything you’re particularly worried about or if you’ve organised something a little unusual.
- Whatever you want! Finally, remember that you can ask your venue whatever you want! If there’s a line in the terms and conditions you’re not clear on or if there’s something you want to do or someone you want the venue to look after, all you have to do is ask. This is your wedding day so make sure that you’re happy with absolutely everything.