Congrats! You are engaged to the love of your life and now is the time to start planning for the wedding! Searching for the right wedding venue takes time and can be quite stressful. If you and your partner are not familiar with the city venues, do your research! With all the emotion and excitement that comes with the early stages of wedding planning it is quite easy to see a venue, get excited and sign the contract. Below are some useful tips when selecting the venue:
1. How many hours are included in the rental?
Make sure to account for the set-up and take-down time when figuring out the number of hours you’ll need to rent the venue. Some venues allow you to access the venue earlier in the day or even the night before to set-up while some will charge extra for the additional time. Average time to set up is about 1-2 hours and take-down is about an hour. For example, assume that people will arrive for the ceremony thirty minutes prior to the invite time. Therefore, set-up needs to begin accordingly before guest arrival, not the invite time.
2. Is a ceremony rehearsal included?
Some couples find it very useful to go over the ceremony with the Officiant a few days before the wedding. Ask the venue if this is something you can book with them otherwise you’ll have to wing it on your wedding day.
3. Discuss logistics (Capacity, loading, accessibilities).
Before running out to do site visits and meeting venue coordinators, a couple should have a general idea of their guest list and the maximum number of people to invite. It’s not easy to determine this number when you’re only a few weeks into the wedding planning process but if you don’t have an idea of what size wedding you are going to have then you will not be able to pick a venue confidently. No firm count is needed to look at venues, but one of the first questions the venue will ask a couple is what their expected number of guests will be. Having a rough idea of your wedding size will allow you to cross venues off your list without having to waste time.
Logistically, in order to get your items physically into the venue, you may need a large enough doorway, a loading dock, or even an elevator. Ask if there are any difficulties or challenges at this venue. Older buildings may have a tiny elevator or even no elevator, meaning load-in takes a lot longer. If rental companies have been to a particular venue before and understand the logistical difficulties, they may charge more for delivery fees. Also keep in mind for guests that require wheelchair accessibility. If there are no elevators, are there at least ramps?
4. Where do the coats and umbrellas go?
Nothing is worse than having to sit at the table during the reception with a big puffy wet coat hanging over your chair and an umbrella on the ground. If your wedding is taking place during the wetter season of the year, ask the venue if they have a coat check area or wheeled coat racks that can later be transported to a safe room.
5. Explore the lighting and electricity at the venue.
If the lighting is not very good at the venue, you may have to bring in extra lighting, whether it’s uplighting, candles, stringed lights, etc. Dimmable lights are the best since you can adjust how light and dark you’d like the room during different events during the evening (Games, First Dance, dancing, etc). Power is also something you’ll have to think about. Outlets will dictate where the DJ can set up, or where the Photo Booth will be located.
Side note: If you plan on serving coffee to a large group using the 50- or 100-cup coffee makers during your wedding, make sure the caterers do not plug both into the same outlet as there is almost a 95% chance a fuse will blow.
6. Is there a kitchen on site?
Some venues don’t have a kitchen which means you may have to arrange for off-site catering. Off-site catering is great, but because there is nothing available to use they would have to rent the equipment (appliances, power, tables, tools, etc) which means higher costs for you. Make sure you are willing to pay these fees with the location, setup, and logistics.
7. Are there alcohol restrictions?
Without a doubt, a party is not a party without alcohol. Some will not allow you to bring your own alcohol, and others require special permits (which sometimes will be provided by the venue or the caterer).
8. Are there decor restrictions?
Nowadays, more and more venues don’t allow confetti or other real petals to be thrown because of damage to the floors and carpets and the clean up that goes along with it. Others have open flame and candle restrictions, as well as sparkler restrictions. If these things matter to you (you were dying to do that sparkler exit), best to know now and let that inform your final decision.
9. Do they have any equipment on hand for you to use?
It’s always a plus when venues provide tables and chairs, small decorations, A/V, and lighting equipment. Though sometimes the chairs are hideous (You can rent chair covers or bring in new chairs) or you may get charged for using A/V equipment, more often than not it saves the hassle of dealing with delivery companies and paying even more for delivery and pick-up fees.
Side Note: Venues are booked up very quickly these days so I suggest you start your research early in the wedding planning process.
Have a good night!