The Venue Shopping Guide

   If you just said yes and are beginning the wedding planning process, one of the first things you will do is select a wedding venue. For those of you brides tackling this task alone, we have compiled a series of questions and tips to use throughout your search. To best serve you we asked our brides what the most helpful pieces of advice we gave them during their walk through experiences were.

    First you have to know where to start your search. Think of things like what your wedding looks like, feels like, elements that surround you, things you hear, unique details you see, and whether you are in a particular area or season. Once you have narrowed down some of these things identifying the types of venues you want to look at it will be easier. For more help narrowing down your wedding style check out The Wedding Style Guide. 

   Before looking narrow down your list to no more than 3 to 5 venues. Ideally, you want to choose three venues that are different in style to start with. For instance you can try a hotel, ballroom, and country club if you like classic and traditional. Brides looking for non-traditional options may choose a boathouse, barn, and farmhouse. In selecting 3 to begin with you give yourself a fair comparison of the options available to you in line with your wedding style. If you need to look beyond those three then have one or two backups is a good idea. 

   Once you have your 3 starting venues follow the guide below to know what questions to ask and what to consider.

1. What spaces are available for the ceremony?

   Sometimes there is a separate indoor or outdoor ceremony space and sometimes the reception space has to be utilized for both.

If the ceremony space is outdoors, is there a backup plan for rain? 

If there ceremony needs to take place in the reception space what is the procedure for transforming it? Is everything needed for the reception hidden during the ceremony? How is it hidden? If by pipe and drape is that included in the price of the ceremony or venue?

2. What are the fees for the ceremony? Do they vary based on each available location?

    Sometimes venues charge an additional ceremony fee in addition to other fees. This can include a rental fee for the ceremony space, the setup and breakdown of the ceremony, an additional items needed like chairs, audio visual equipment, and any attendants you need to help make the ceremony happen. It is important to ask what is included in the ceremony fee because you will need to obtain anything not included elsewhere.

3. Where does cocktail hour take place?

4. What are your options for reception spaces? How many guests can each hold?

If the reception space is outdoors, is a tent necessary? Are you responsible for bringing it in or does the venue provide it? Are their size or installation restrictions?

Are any permits required?

If a reception space is outdoors and a tent is not necessary, is the area sufficiently covered in the event of rain. 

How are you able to layout the room in terms of tables and chairs, dance floor, dj, etc.?

5. What is included in the venue fee? Is it just a rental for the space or does it include catering?

Is there a minimum guest count required to book the venue on your date or any date?

What staff is provided?

Is there a price different between Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, or seasonally?

Does the venue include tables, chairs, chair covers, linens, napkin choices, centerpiece options? What table options are available?

Is up-lighting or any lighting included?

If it does not include catering does it include china, flatware, glassware, etc? 

If it is an outdoor venue are bathrooms included or do they need to be brought in? Is there electric available or are generators required?

6. Where does the DJ set up? Is there adequate power?

7. Is a bar package included? If so is it top shelf?

Can you upgrade liquor options? Can you bring specialty items if the venue does not carry it?

Where are the bars set up? Can you have more than one? During the reception is there room to have them within the reception space?

If the venue does not include a liquor package, is a permit required to serve liquor on site? Are you limited to beer and wine?

If the venue is a winery or brewery, are their restrictions on the alcohol that can be served?

Be sure to ask if tip jars are placed out. Many of our brides do not like when venues do this. They would rather take care of the bartenders themselves and allow guests to enjoy themselves without spending money. If it is something that matters to you it is worth asking.


8. Is gratuity included in the price?

9. How does the venue prefer payment? What is the payment schedule?

10. Are you able to use any vendors you would like? Does the venue require you to use their preferred vendors

If you do not want to use their vendors is there a buyout option?

11. What kinds of dinner service are available - cocktail style, buffet, sit down? Is there a price different for each?

12. If the venue provides catering is the cake included?

13. Do you get to do a menu tasting? How many people can you bring?

14. What dates are available? 

15. How many events or weddings do you do at a time?

16. Is there a bridal suite available?

17. Are there overnight accommodations available?

If not do they partner with any local hotels or shuttles companies?