Finding the right venue is a lot like finding the right husband… Well, um, kind of. I can remember as a child dancing around in my room, wearing Cinderella’s slippers, imagining that one day I would get married to my Prince Charming at the Magic Kingdom. When Prince Charming finally popped the question, reality truly set in. Do I want a destination wedding? How much will that cost for my guests? Are Jaq and Gus going to be there to help me design my dress? (Okay maybe not that last part, but you get the point)
Before you start visiting your dream venues, you’ll need to know exactly what questions to ask to make sure you’re choosing the right place. Fortunately for you, we’ve got you covered.
1. Is my date available?
I’m sure you already have a few venues in mind, but before you pick the one, make sure that they still have open availability. Certain venues tend to book out two to three years in advance, so make this your first question to ask while shopping for venues.
2. How many people can the space hold?
Venues come in all shapes and sizes, and most venues average 250 guests per event. Keep in mind that this number might not allow for everyone to be seated and may account for standing room. Also, some venues tend to have separate rooms and not just one big corridor, so you need to decide if you’re okay with a wall separating you from some of your guests.
3. What is the fee for renting the space?
When asking about how much the down payment is, don’t forget to find out what’s included in the fee. Venues range from just a room rental to an all-inclusive package (catering, tables, chairs, linens, lighting, etc.).
4. How many parking spots are available for guests?
Even if the venue itself can hold up to 400 guests, can the parking lot hold up to 400 cars? Keep in mind that not everyone will be able to carpool and parking may be limited.
5. Can I use any vendor or do you have a list of preferred vendors?
In some cases, venues may have a certain list of vendors that you are allowed to choose from. Therefore, if you have your heart set on your favorite bakery, make sure that your venue allows for outside vendors.
6. When can I begin setup on my wedding day?
It’s an important reminder to always ask your venue when you can begin to set up for your event. A lot of brides like to set up the centerpieces and the card boxes the night prior, but in some cases that might not be an option.
7. If we have an outdoor event, do you provide a backup location if the weather is bad?
Even if the wedding is in the middle of July, there isn’t always a guarantee that the weather will cooperate. If you plan on having your wedding outdoors, make sure there is an alternative space available.
8. Are there any restrictions on the use of the space?
Typically, you plan your decor around the space, but before you invest all that time and money in the perfect pieces to fill your venue, verify if there are restrictions on how you decorate. Often times you can’t hang pieces from the ceiling or use an open flame candle.
9. Is there a bridal room and a groom’s suite?
Ask if there’s a space at the venue for the bridal party to freshen up, maybe have a quick bite to eat, perhaps have a moment of relaxation. This also may be where your photos of you and your bridesmaids getting ready are taken, so if you have a large bridal party and the room is the size of a closet, definitely find this out beforehand, so you can plan accordingly.
10. What is your cancellation policy?
Things come up; dates may have to be moved or even cancelled altogether, so it’s important to know if you are you able to cancel the event without having to pay a hefty fee.
Now that you know what to ask prospective venues, it’s time to start searching! Ironworks Hotel/Merrill & Houston’s, Eclipse Event Center/Merrill & Houston’s, Beloit Club and The Delafield Hotel sound like a good place to start.