The internet is a great starting point when searching for wedding event inspiration, but eventually you’ll want to visit the potential venue in person. A property tour allows you to get a true feel for the space and see if you click with the coordinator. This part is important, since this person will ultimately be in charge of ensuring your wedding day goes off without a hitch.
Each wedding venue you visit is set up to woo you, which means it’s their job to give you as much information and insight, so you’ll choose their space for your big day. Go prepared with a list of questions to ask when touring a wedding venue, and take notes.
General topics you'll want to cover are event space, services, and pricing. Of course, chances are you'll have spur-of-the-moment questions as well, but having a wedding venue checklist with some talking points mapped out will help ensure you cover all of your bases.
If you’re looking for some ideas, here are a few common questions to ask when touring a wedding venue:
Wedding venues often have multiple space options available, which can be modified depending on the size of your guest list. As you walk through the different layouts, consider the areas that the wedding coordinator is outlining for you. Ask to see photos of past weddings, if possible, and layout plans. Confirm what’s included in the space: outdoor space, dance floor, bridal suite, and more.
For example, for hotel ballrooms with a patio attached, will the patio attached be fully private, or will that part still be open to other hotel guests? A seasoned wedding venue manager is forthcoming with this type of information, but it’s always best to ask rather than assume.
There are certain unique wedding venues that require you to use their setup and vendors only. This may leave you with fewer possibilities to customize your special day, but the space may be so amazing there may be no need to. Additionally, there may be certain vendors that aren’t allowed on the property. This usually falls in the area of food and beverage. Typically, wedding venues want to include the reception catering as part of their wedding package deal and avoid giving it away to a third-party caterer.
However, your wedding reception venue may still be open to that option if they don't provide bar or meal service. If you have specific people in mind for your flowers, cake, and catering, make sure you ask your potential wedding venue about any restrictions.
For many, food is one of the biggest parts of a wedding celebration. Some of the main questions to ask when touring a wedding venue should revolve around menu options. Some venues may keep their choices to a minimum with no substitutions. These normally include a meat, fish, and/or vegetarian catering option. Others allow you to create a customized menu based on your specific preferences.
Also, ask if the options include a sit-down dinner, buffet line, or both. The same kind of questions apply to the wedding cake, too. Are there only a few, standard choices, or can you have a multi-tiered, multi-flavored option? Are outside vendors allowed for this portion of the reception? Most weddings have a time to eat, drink, and be merry, which means you’ll want to also plan a rehearsal dinner or tasting to see if the menu available meets your standards.
Choosing a unique wedding venue like a library, botanical garden, or art gallery may only allow you to reserve the space for a period of time before opening back up to the public. During any wedding venue tour, ask how long the space will be exclusive to you.
You’ll want to ensure you can access the ceremony venue beforehand, especially if you're getting ready and taking photos on site before the wedding party arrives. It's also wise to confirm access the day before if you want to hold your wedding ceremony rehearsal and set up decor at the space ahead of time.
Clicking with the wedding coordinator is important, since that person will help you through your planning, contracts, and making sure everything goes smoothly the day of the wedding. Ask for details about who will be available on your wedding day and for any other events leading up to the date. How many servers will there be? Bartenders for cocktail hour? You want to make sure there’s enough staff to comfortably accommodate your guests and any last-minute requests.
In general, having a good rapport with your wedding venue coordinator makes the process less stressful and will make you feel more confident on your special day.
One of the biggest parts of what to ask when touring a wedding venue is cost. Understanding what is and is not included is crucial before you release a down payment and set the date. There is generally a venue rental booking fee with costs such as service charges, gratuity, taxes, and food or liquor fees (common charges include a cake cutting fee or corkage fee).
Once you’ve toured a property and expressed interest in moving forward, the coordinator will send over a proposal for you to review. Make sure you go over every line item of the venue contract and ask questions if any of the language or costs don’t make sense.
This one is easy-all it takes is a simple comparison of calendars. If you have a tight wedding budget, ask if booking on a weekday or in an "off season" brings down the price at all. If you're set on a specific day that's already taken, ask if they can book two events on the same day.
For example, if there is an early afternoon ceremony held at your chosen wedding venue, could they accommodate one that starts in the evening on the same date in a different space? Decide as a couple if you are set on a chosen date or if you have a little bit of flexibility.
Ask how much is due to reserve the date and if the down payment is refundable by a certain time. Also, ask when the final payment is due, so you won’t have to worry about coordinating that on the day of the wedding. There may be alternate payment structures available.
After you’ve asked all the questions and toured all the potential spaces for your perfect wedding celebration, the last question is one you’ll ask yourselves: Do you love the venue? Yes, you’ll need to factor in the rental fee, additional costs and logistics for any reservation, but ultimately, you want to feel excited about the one you finally decide on. This is the place that will host one of the happiest days of your life. Of course, you’ll want to feel like it’s the right fit.
Zola can help you enjoy these moments as a newly engaged couple and start your wedding planning off on the right foot by securing your dream venue!