Don’t be dazzled by the ballroom and forget to ask about the details. Your venue shapes the rest of your day, so start ticking those boxes to get it right.
1) Are you licensed for civil ceremonies?
This is key if you’d like the ceremony and party in one place. You’ll need to doudle-check with the local Register Office about the date, too. Don’t assume because the venue’s free, the Register will be!
2) Will we have exclusive use?
Many venues charge an exclusive use fee and, with a hotel, this may include all the accomodation. If you don’t need exclusive use, check if there are other weddings at the same time and ask how they’ll keep the two separate. Some venues are exclusive use only so research online before you visit.
3) Can we have a marquee?
A good way to to add space for bigger numbers, but not every venue is suitable. Check whether the venue is used to having marquee and all the peraphernalia (power, flooring) that goes whit it.
If your heart is set on a marquee, maybe look for somewhere that has a permanent one - many venues do.
4) What packages do they offer?
At some venues you have to pay a set fee for every aspect of your day. Ask how flexible they are – it may simply come down to a guaranteed minimum spend.
5) Let’s talk money?
You need to get a written quote, not just an estimate. Ask about the deposit, what cost might be refundable (and under what specific circumstances) and when the balance of the bill has to be paid. Nail this one early so there’s no misunderstandings.
6) What evening food options do we have?
If you have evening guests coming – or just because it will be a long day – you may need something later. Bacon sanwiches at midnigt or a cheeseboard with rustic breads can do the trick.
7) When can we taste the food?
Alarm bells should ring if you’re not offered a menu tasting. You wouldn’t buy shoes without trying them on! Ask to sample the wines, too. This is going to take a big chunk of your budget, so you both need to be sure it is what you want - and what your guests will be raving about afterwards.
8) Can you provide a late bar?
There’s nothing worse than a bar closing just as the party is in full swing. Check what time the bar is licensed until. Hotel bars will often carry on serving until the last guest goes to bed.
9) Do they have any restrictions?
Many venues aren’t insured for baked flames, so check this out if you’re dreaming of a candlelit reception. Listed buildings sometimes have restrictions on red wine and stiletto heels, which can damage floors; same goes for fireworks. Assume nothing until you’ve asked.
10) Do they offer accomodation?
If not ask whether they can recommend hotel so you can give your guests details. If you’re splashing out on a reception, many venues will affer the bride and groom a complimentary room. Don’t ask, don’t get! They may also offer guests discounted rate.