It’s the party of the decade, in your honour, and you need it to be amazing. You’re paying three arms and four limbs for it, it has to be special, but most couples that I meet forget to ask these simple, but important questions of their wedding venue.
Make sure you ask these eight simple questions of your venue before you transfer your deposit money.
1. What do other couples complain about?
I recently performed a wedding at, possibly, the most beautiful venue I’ve ever been to, but there was a problem.
The venue owners were obviously new to the venue business, and very amateur in their operation, having recently purchased the property.
They were lovely people, with great hearts, that had no idea.
Ask your wedding venue what other people have been upset about, or what they have complained about, or what issues have arisen for other couples.
It’s a tough question, but the answers you get will allow you to plan for a fault-free day. When you know your obstacles, they are much easier to tackle. It’s the issues that you assumed would be ok, that blindside you and leave a sour taste in your mouth.
2. What’s the deal with guest numbers?
What happens if you book for 50, but then only 48 turn up? Or if you don’t even know who you’re inviting yet, how many can you invite, and what happens if you invite too many?
Sometimes the cheapest thing to do, is to under-book, then pay the extra, if that’s available.
One couple had two RSVP’d friends just pull out on the day, and they waved goodbye to over $100.
Another couple sent invoices to guests that didn’t show up.
Make sure you are clear on the flexibility with numbers, and what your upper and lower limits are. And if you’re not happy with them, don’t make a deposit. Also, make sure you count your MC, DJ, photographer, babysitter, security guard, whoever.
3. What does the venue look like at a different time?
A good venue will have perfect photos taken at the perfect time of the year, in the perfect weather conditions.
Make sure you check how the seasons, rain, sun, time of day, and other changes will affect your wedding ceremony or reception.
Remember the the sun’s position changes through the year.
Also, if they are showing spring photos but you’re being married in summer, then ask for some more photos.
Try and see the venue at the same time of day your ceremony will be as well, so you can look at where the sun is, where the shade is and if it will be uncomfortable for anyone.
4. Are you full-service or not?
There are two types of wedding venues, full-service and partial-service.
If a venue is full-service, make sure they include the table for the gifts through to the alcohol you want. Don’t miss a beat. Also, find out what isn’t included. Many venues are full-service but you must supply a celebrant, or a photographer. OR vice-versa, they provide one, and you don’t want their provided service. Talk about all of this.
If the venue is not full-service, find out what that means.
5. Where’s the knife
The number one problem I find at wedding receptions is when it comes time to cut the cake, there is not a knife within 100 metres of the cake.
It seems simple, but make sure you ask about a cake cutting knife, and where it will be located, and who’s responsibility it is to get it.
It seems simple, but 50% of the wedding receptions I am at have this problem.
6. When do the staff leave?
The number two problem I find at wedding ceremonies is that the staff aren’t having as much fun as you are, they possibly aren’t having as many drinks as you are, and they have families to get home to.
So make sure it’s clear when staff are leaving, or what benchmarks need to be met.
One wedding reception I was MCing had me cutting and serving cake because the staff decided to go home, they were done for the night.
I took it upon myself to make sure the night went on, but there are better cake cutters, and cake servers, than me.
Make sure everyone knows their responsibilities.
7. How many weddings on the same day?
Ask about how many other weddings will be at your venue on that same day, so you know the limitations of access to the venue, or parking problems, or staff issues.
8. Can you hear me?
Many venues sell you with the promise of a PA system, that is, the speakers that play music and let the MC and speeches be heard.
I’ve only experienced one venue, and it was in Port Macquarie, that actually had a good PA system with wireless microphones and the ability to play CDs and also music from an iPod.
Every single other venue that I have been to where they have professed to have a great PA system, actually don’t.
Ask to hear the microphone on the PA system, and ask if you can play a song off your iPod.
If it’s not up to scratch, ask if you can supply your own. I would budget $100-300 depending on size and requirements.
What other questions should couples ask their wedding venue before booking? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.