What questions should you ask at a wedding venue inspection?
Getting married is a once in a lifetime experience, this means that almost everyone is inexperienced when it comes to planning a wedding. During the process of wedding planning all brides will experience at least one moment of feeling out of depth and for many of us that can happen multiple times (a day even!). Arguably one of the most important decisions of the whole wedding is what venue to choose. As this is one of the first decisions most brides will make it can also feel like the most overwhelming.
How many people can the venue hold? Should I get a marquee or is there an indoor space at the venue? How do vendors access the property? What spots are there for my photographer to take photos?
These are all important questions and are just the start of what you need to think of when inspecting a venue! Here we will compile a list of essential questions that you need to consider when picking your perfect venue. At the end of the blog make sure you download our checklist with these questions to print and take along to your venue inspection with you courtesy of Blume & Darling.
What is included in the package?
This can often be obtained ahead of time by emailing the venue as most will have information packs they can send you. This gives you some time to study the inclusions before heading in to see the venue and ask any questions about the inclusions
What is not included in the package?
Again, this is something that should be included on any information that the venue is able to send you beforehand. This also gives you an opportunity to ask which vendors the venue recommends working with for items that are not included. Most common items to check that are not included are decorations, lighting, catering and alcohol.
What is the venue capacity?
Although this may seem obvious to ask venues may have different areas or sites that you are able to hold your ceremony and reception. It is important to get the numbers that different sections may be able to hold as this may affect your guest numbers.
What spaces are available?
Your venue may have a number of different options available for ceremony and reception. Best to check them all out at the venue and ask about the capacity and set up options for each area as this will vary
How many weddings does the venue do at once?
Most wedding venues you will find only hold one per weekend. If they do hold more than one a weekend it is best to find out restrictions in terms of the areas allowed for each wedding. This is more common in hotel venues that perhaps have more than one ballroom or reception area. Most stand alone wedding venues will only hold one a weekend, this gives you time for a rehearsal the day before and pack down the following day and just gives you some peace of mind that you are the only ones there.
What is your favourite thing about the venue?
If being shown around by a venue coordinator or an owner it is always recommened to ask this question. It can help break the ice and it gives them a chance to boast about the venue and point out some positive points. You can tell in their body language how they feel about the answer they are giving and if it is a physical attribute of the venue it’s a great place to start a tour or inspection.
What is the time schedule? Is the venue available the day before and day after?
The ideal scenario is you are the only wedding for the whole weekend so you are able to get in the day before for a rehearsal and drop any items off and then you get the Sunday to coordinate vendors to pick up their items. It will save you a lot of time and hassle being able to spread these activities out rather than squeezing into one day. Make sure you check what time you need to be finished on the day. For some remote venues they may have a later time limit and do not need to consider noise restrictions but for urban or venues near residential areas you will find this time may be a lot stricter. Most venues will aim to have the wedding finish by midnight so ensure you also check what time your vendors need to be out as they will require some time to pack up as well.
Where do people usually get photos taken
Take some photos of these spots so you can show your photographer and add it to your photography list for the wedding day. Make a note of which spots are your favourite and why.
How many power plugs are there and where are the locations?
This one is particularly important for barn or beach venues. Most of your vendors will require at least one power point so it is important to get these specifications from them at the time you book them to ensure there is enough power points in the right locations. Your DJ or entertainment crew, lighting, MC and caterers may all need this information available.
What decorating items does the venue provide?
Ensure you take photos if possible of what is available, this will help you with styling ideas for the day. If the venue has quite a few items they are able to provide keep in mind this is a great money saving option to use some of the included items and you may need to adjust your wedding theme around this.
Is a decorator/stylist provided?
A wedding stylist’s job is to ensure that the venue is set up and designed the way you imagined on your Pinterest board. They will be able to help source and quote decorations for the day and will basically bring your entire vision to life. Most people prefer to hire an outside stylist as this is what they specialise in. Check out our list of styling packages available here. If a venue includes a stylist make sure you check that they will style the day and can provide assistance for any DIY items you bring in and can provide recommendations for your décor.
Is an on the day coordinator provided?
If a venue provides this, this will be someone who is there on the day to assist with anything you may need. If a venue includes this it is best to find out who that person is to the venue. Are they an outside contractor or possibly one of the owners. This is important to note as an owner cares a lot about the property and you want to ensure they won’t interfere on the day. If you are unsure if you need an on the day coordinator check out our FAQ section and contact us for a quote as this is what we specialise in.
Does the venue include any set up or pack down and clean up?
After a fun night of partying and dancing with your friends the last thing you want to do is wake up at 7am to go and pack down everything from your event and clean up! Some venues will include this in their package for you and make sure you specify that it will include both the pack down and the clean up as these are usually listed as two separate things. If the venue does not include this please contact Blume & Darling for a quote as this is something that we include in our Signature package or as an add on to any of our other coordination packages to save you the hassle and stress the day after your event. This is also a great time to ask what time you will need to collect your own decorations the next day if you are planning on taking your own.
Are there any restrictions on vendors?
For example, can food trucks access the venue if you decide to have this as a catering option? Can a marquee be set up if you decide you prefer this? The venue are the ones who are the most experienced with what can and cant be offered so best to check this ahead of time before you realise you cant book your dream wedding further down the track.
Does the venue offer catering? If so, what are the menu options? If not, what caterers have they worked with before that they recommend?
Catering costs and styles can vary hugely between vendors so it is important to take notes of all options available to you. Venue offered catering can save some stress as they are familiar with the venue, its equipment and what other guests like in terms of menu options. Generally if a venue can include catering they will have adequate kitchen facilities and will be able to build this cost into your package. Always get a list of other caterers they recommend (if any) because if they have worked at the venue before they will be familiar with the set up and how to go about it. There are a few different types of catering you can choose from such as sit down al a carte, buffet style, food trucks, spit roast, canapes, the options are endless! Take some time to think of how you envision the night and get some quotes for a few different options to find what suits you.
Is there refrigeration and running water available?
This is most important for your caterers and bar team. Refrigeration may be used to store food from your caterer and you will also need it to store your cake. A lot of caterers may use their own fridge so check this requirement with them so you can confirm with the venue. Although you will more than likely book your venue before your caterer we always recommend to pick a venue with at least a bit of fridge space. You will also store your alcohol such as champagne, white wine, soft drinks etc so best to make sure there is space for this along with your cake. Running water is important for bar staff as it means they can keep your water for guests topped up. If there is no running water you will need to consider purchasing water bottles to store in ice for guests to drink so it is best to get a venue with water available.
What kitchen facilities are available?
Kitchen facilities on site are another thing to take note of for your catering team at a DIY venue. Most caterers may have ways around this but it is an important feature to note so you can pass the information along in case any onsite cooking needs to take place.
Is the venue BYO or all inclusive (in terms of food, alcohol and inclusions) what do most couples go with?
You should be able to have access to this information ahead of time as most suppliers will include this in their package information. If this is something that is not covered it is one of the most important questions to ask when you meet up as alcohol and food can quickly add up and become the most expensive items for the wedding. If you venue is all inclusive make sure you check if that includes a team to serve the food and drinks and if clean up and pack down is also included.
If a venue has an option for all inclusive we recommend you do your research as you may find by the time you add all the elements of a BYO or DIY venue you will be over the cost to get these services included. For all inclusive packages ensure you check the quantity that’s included for food and drink so you can see if this covers what you want for your guests
If the venue is BYO, check if a bar team is required?
We highly recommend to hire a bar team if your venue does not include one. As the couple hiring the venue you then become responsible for the safety of your guests so if one of your guests does any damage or has a bit too much to drink the responsibility falls back on you which is the last thing you want to be worried about on your day.
Check that your bar team comes with an LCQ (License Controller Qualification) as they hold the license to be able to distribute alcohol and manage the health and safety of guests.
Another thing to note is if you decide to let your guests top up their drinks themselves there will be a lot of alcohol wastage. Guests will be hesitant to pour a fresh drink out of a bottle that’s already opened as they don’t know whose it was or if someone has drunk from it so you will end up finding a lot of half drank bottles the next day. This will equate to a lot of money in wastage that you will generally find could have been saved by having a team pour your drinks. Blume & Darling have a 2 person team for 8 hours starting from $630, click here to enquire about our bar packages
Can a cash bar be offered?
Some people may choose to operate a cash bar at their wedding, or may offer a bar tab for a certain amount and introduce a cash bar once this limit is reached. It is best to check with the venue if they have the facilities to provide a cash service as a different type of license is needed as alcohol is being sold. If they are not sure you will need to hire an external company with this knowledge as they will be able to guide you on how far before the event to apply for licenses etc.
Do you offer any discounts for midweek weddings?
If you are looking to save on costs sometimes venues may offer a discount if you choose to have a wedding midweek. Popular options could be a Thursday as it does not require your guests to take much time off work and think you still have the extra time on the weekend to recover from the wedding day. Your other suppliers and vendors may also offer discounts for this even if your venue doesn’t it is always worth it to ask the question.
List of recommended vendors they've worked with before
Recommended vendors are great to work with as they know the venue and the layout and can often make recommendations that are unique to the venue. Its also the perfect way to see some past wedding photos from your venue that can help you with ideas and give you an idea of how it will run on your day and you can view past couples reviews and comments.
What are the house rules?
Some venues may have restrictions on noise or finishing times for the night. Best to get a list of these in advance as you may want to list some on your invitations or even include in your MC notes for the night so they are able to do a bit of housekeeping at the start of the evening. If there are quite a few rules we recommend getting these in writing from the venue to make sure you both agree on them and that you are able to adhere to them during your day.
Is any sound equipment provided?
Your MC, celebrant and entertainment (band or DJ) may need this information. Entertainment crew will usually provide their own sound equipment but generally an MC or celebrant may prefer to use venue sound equipment including a microphone and speakers.
Are you allowed to light candles (open flame) or do you need LED lights?
Depending on the location some rural venues may have a rule against open flames. Best to ask this before you purchase any candles as you may not be able to use them for the day.
Is smoking allowed?
Most venues have an area designated for smoking but this is important just to double check for yourself or your guests.
Can you use confetti?
Most venues will generally allow confetti however, some may have restrictions about the type of confetti that may be used or some areas of the venue may be blocked off for confetti.
Are there high chairs available or is there a separate area for children?
if yes, check how many chairs are available depending on your child numbers. Some venues may even have a completely separate area for children and they will have recommendations for a nanny available to care for children on the day.
What is the cancellation policy?
During Covid times this is an especially important question to ask. With the country going in and out of lockdown it is essential that you know the policy in the event you need to cancel or change date. You will need to check if a refund option is available or an option to move the date. It is important to pick a venue that can be flexible for you in case any uncertain event happens.
Payment conditions - When is the deposit and final balance due?
Most venues require a deposit usually up to 50% up front at time of booking and generally your final balance is due anywhere from 30 – 7 days before the day of the wedding.
What dates are available in your selected month?
Best to have a range of dates to choose from in case your venue is booked on your preferred date.
Does the venue have plans for renovations or anything new before your wedding?
A lot of venues plan to do small refurbishments or renovations during the low season months over Winter. Check with the venue ahead of time what work they have planned and how extensive this is planning to be.
Are there any hidden costs you need to consider?
Items such as corkage or GST may not be included in your package pricing. It is a good idea to ask this question before securing a venue so you can get a total idea of the price of the package so you are not going over budget with any extras that are not included
Is there any other information you can give me that we haven’t covered?
Just in case you missed something and the venue wants to cover it off
Finally, ensure you check through the venues gallery and social media so you can get an idea on how other couples have set up the venue to get ideas for your own day and make sure the logistics work.
Bay Area Wedding Photographers - helenaandlaurent
Download a copy of our checklist here -