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Sunday, 2 August 2020

Wedding Venue Tours - What to Ask


Outside of a stately greenhouse with gardens.

Tom and I have been on our fair few wedding venue tours over the last few weeks; after months of looking online it's been great to be able to get out and see venues in person! However having never planned a wedding before, it was a bit daunting to start viewing places; what should we be asking? what's important to consider when looking round? how will we know which one we want to go with? With the help of Tom I've put together a list of questions that we found to be useful to ask, and ones you may want to ask/consider when you're looking round venues yourself. 

You might have a really clear idea of exactly what you want for your wedding, where you want it, the exact date, or you may have no idea. Whichever applies to you, as a starting point it's great to reach out to places via email to request a brochure and a price list. This will start to provide you with a list of places that are within your budget; I would recommend with the prices you are quoted to look into exactly what it is you'll get within that venue hire. You don't want to book somewhere and then find out you also need to book chairs, cutlery, glassware, crockery etc for everyone on top of what you've already paid, when you weren't expecting to. Some of these may or may not apply to the type of wedding you're looking to have; but should hopefully still provide some pointers around what you may want to ask.

Venue hire

  • Is the venue exclusive-hire, or will other weddings take place there on the same day?

Some venues will hold more than wedding on-site per day. It's a good idea to know whether this could be a possibility, and if it is something you're happy with, or whether you want somewhere where only your wedding takes place that day.

  • Does the venue hire rate change depending on the time of year/what day of the week you decide to have your wedding?

This was something that changed a lot between venues we viewed (both online and then in person). Some places had the same price for say a Mon - Thurs, then a Fri/Sun and a Saturday. Others had prices dependent on the time of year, or whether it was a weekday or weekend. Whichever though, a Saturday was always the most expensive! 

  • Are things like tables/chairs/cutlery/glasses etc included in the venue hire or do you need to source your own?

As mentioned above, you don't want to book a venue thinking you get everything that you're shown on the tour, only to find out you actually have to supply it 90% of it yourself separately. 

  • Are any decorations included in the hire price? Are you able to bring your own?

Similar to the above, find out what decorations are and are not included in your hire price. Some places we visited charged extra for use of their lanterns/candles, whereas with others all the decorations we saw were included in the hire price. If you want to bring your own decorations, ask whether this is a possibility. 

  • Can you choose your own suppliers or do you have to choose out of their recommended list?

Some places we viewed online had a list of approved suppliers, that if we decided to hold our wedding there, we would have to choose from. Recommended suppliers are a great list to start with, but if you want more options choose somewhere where you can choose your own suppliers. 

  • What time can you have your ceremony?

As we're having a civil ceremony, our ceremony time was dependent on when the registrar was available. For the majority of places we viewed, they were either lunch time or late afternoon, so sometime between 12 and 4. The available times may differ between venues/type of venue or ceremony.

  • Do you need to book the registrar/celebrant separately?

Like I said our ceremony time was dependent on when the registrar was available on our chosen date. Before finalising your booking I would recommend ringing to provisionally book your registrar/celebrant so you know they're available for your date. 

  • Can you hire a band/bring your own DJ?
A lot of venues we viewed allowed you to hook up your spotify to play music throughout the day, but for the reception if you want a band or DJ, it's good to know whether you can do this (sometimes a DJ is included in the package).
  • What is the minimum/maximum number of guests you can have
You may not have your exact guest numbers when you're viewing venues, but should have a ball park figure in mind. Some venues will have a minimum number you need to commit to, and all will have a maximum number allowed. This will also tend to differ between day and evening guest numbers.

Food/Drink

  • Is there a minimum amount of spend with food/drink?
With some venues we looked at online, there were no minimum guest numbers, but there was a minimum spend for food or spend for behind the bar. 
  • Is food provided as part of the package you're paying for?
Know exactly what's included in the price you're paying!
  • Do they have set caterers you choose from? Can you use your own caterers? 
Similarly to suppliers, where in-house catering is not provided, some venues will have a list of caterers you have to choose from, whereas others will let you choose your own. 
  • Do you have an option between a full three-course sit down wedding breakfast or is it buffet style? 
If you're having a wedding breakfast, do you have the option choose between a sit down meal and a buffet?
  • Is there a corkage charge for bringing your own alcohol?
Some places will let you bring your own alcohol but will charge you corkage per bottle. Not all venues will let you bring your own.

Logistics of the day

  • Is there somewhere to stay on-site/are there hotels nearby?
If you and/or your guests need to travel to the area and the venue, you'll all need somewhere to stay! Some venues will have accommodation on-site, with some requiring you to book out a certain number of rooms for your guests to stay in (which you essentially 'sell' to guests). There may be no accommodation on-site but they should be able to provide you with a recommended list of hotels etc nearby.
  • What time can you arrive at the venue?
Whether it's to set up any decorations or get ready, knowing what time you can arrive (and what time your guests can arrive) at the venue will help you to plan out timings for your day. 
  • What time does their license run until?
This will also help you to plan out timings for your day! Some venues we looked at had the option for  you to pay extra for an additional hour or two. 
  • What time do all guests need to have left by?
This may differ from the time their license runs until, and it is useful information for the guests to have with their invitations so if necessary they can book transport to their accommodation. 
  • If you have brought decorations with you, when do they need to be taken away? That night? The following morning?
If you've brought decorations, or have floral arrangements, find out when these need to be taken away by/what happens if they're not taken away. 
  • Is there parking on-site/designated parking for guests nearby?
The last thing you want is for all your guests to turn up and not be able to park! Finding this information out beforehand will help you to know whether you'll need to book something like a coach for your guests to get to and from your venue, and factor this into your quote price.

Making your decision

  • Can they provide you with a quote during the visit/send one to you after, based on the information you've provided?
Beforehand you can guesstimate a quote based off of the price lists you've been sent, but we found it super helpful to be sent a quote after our visit based off of the information we'd provided them. I would recommend you ask for a quote based on the same guest numbers at different venues, so you can easily see the differences in price and what you get for your money.
  • Do you get 'the feels'
Ultimately, when you look around the venue you'll know if it's the place you want to get married. 

All of the venues we went to adhered to social distancing, made us feel safe and at ease and for the majority of the tours, we were the only ones in the venue at a time. We wore a mask whilst inside, and there was hand sanitiser for us to use (and we took our own). If you're wanting to get out and start viewing venues, I would recommend getting in touch to book a viewing, and ask about things like masks/sanitiser so you know before you go. 

Good luck with your tours!

Jess x 
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