16 Things a Bride and Groom to Be Need to Ask Their Wedding Venue
By David Thurston
Is the wedding venue available on our wedding day?
Sounds like an obvious first question doesn't it, but you really need to ask it first. There is no point visiting a potential wedding venue, falling in love with the idea of getting married there and not being able to make your dreams happen because another bride and groom got there first.
If you've already chosen your special date, then we suggest you telephone the wedding venue ahead of the visit and state you can only make that date, if they are already booked up then get back to the list and find another fantastic wedding venue.
How many guests can be seated for a meal at the wedding venue?
This is fairly crucial, you don't want to book a wedding venue that have a seating area for 250 people if you're only inviting 60 to a sit down meal.
In turn you also want to ensure your guests can sit comfortably without being crammed into a small venue, or even worse, being left to feel as if they're shoved in at the back, and can barely see the top table. Once you've got a rough idea of how many wedding guests are being invited, you need to make sure your chosen wedding venue suits your requirements.
Request to see a sample seating plan, ask about whether they have round tables, maybe even ask to see photos of previous wedding meals and how the tables are laid out. This will give you a good indication of whether you can seat your wedding party and ensure everyone is happy.
How many guests can the wedding venue accommodate for the wedding reception?
Some couples prefer to have a small and intimate wedding ceremony, and then follow that with the mother of all parties in the evening. If this is your plan, be sure that the wedding venue can accommodate this. You don't want to have 200 evening guests descend on your wedding and find them all squeezed in, or unable to get to the bar.
Again, the flip-side is that you don't want to find out your wedding venue has a separate dance floor and bar area that resembles a barn – the single easiest way to have zero-atmosphere at your wedding reception is to find the wedding DJ or band playing to a half empty hall, with your wedding guests sitting around the edges not mingling.
What time can we access the wedding venue?
“Exclusively yours for the entire day!”… says their website. But what does that mean exactly? Each wedding venue will have their own rules of when you can access the building on your wedding day.
Simply confirm what time you can arrive ahead of the wedding, you don't want to be left standing outside waiting for the cleaner to turn up.
Can the bridal party get ready at the wedding venue?
Maybe this is something the bride would prefer, instead of rushing around in the morning, why not ask the venue if they have the facilities for the bride to prepare for her wedding day in the comfort of her wedding venue.
Obviously you'll want something nicer then a conference room, or a ladies changing room at a golf club, but if the wedding venue has a nice quiet comfortable room for the bride to arrive and perhaps have her hairdresser, make-up artist and the rest of her entourage help her prepare for her wedding day then all the easier.
Can we give you a CD of our wedding music for the bride's entrance?
If you're having a civil ceremony performed in an approved premises you won't be able to use any music that has religious references in the song at all. By this we mean, terms like: Angels, Heaven, God etc etc. So no Robbie Williams ballads. The wedding venue will be fully aware of this and may have a CD of acceptable music, which is fine. However, if you want to make your wedding entrance to music of your choice you need to ensure that the wedding venue does actually allow this.
Assuming they are OK with you bringing along your own CD with your favourite song on it to play at the bridal entrance, it's well worth dropping it off a day or two in advance to the wedding venue and asking them to test the CD on their player. You don't want for them to try and play it as you're nervously standing there only to find out your old CD is scratched or your CD-R won't work on their machine.
The registrar will have to approve the songs you've chosen ahead of the wedding, but they should clarify all of this when you meet them.
Can we agree a timetable of the day, or are we set to your times?
Obviously a good wedding venue will suggest times to you, they'll know how long each stage of the day will take. Ensure you can discuss the day's timetable, agree when the ceremony will start (you'll also need to approve that time with the registrar), plan how long the photos will take, agree the start time of the meal, decide what time to invite the evening wedding guests, and when the cutting of the cake and first dance will take place.
Can we bring our own drinks to the wedding venue, if not can we see the bar prices?
This is an interesting one, and well worth asking the question. Even if a wedding venue has a licensed bar available they still may agree that you could bring your own drinks along – even if it's just fruit juices for the kids, it could save you money.
If you're hiring a marquee at a venue, they will have a temporary bar for your guests – ask if you can stock the bar yourself, maybe even do a deal with someone who'll buy all the booze for you and manage the bar for the night.
Should the wedding venue insist that you must use their bar facilities, ensure you ask to see the bar prices first, whether you or your guests are paying, no one wants a huge bar bill. Also check about wine served at the meal, and champagne for toasts.
Do we have to use your caterers, or can we instruct our own?
Some wedding venues insist that you must use their caters. This may be a restriction, however their own caters obviously have the knowledge of the venue and their kitchens, and would of catered for many weddings before – so maybe it's not a bad thing.
However, it's worth asking the question as if you are not committed to their caters you can shop around, and enjoy plenty of food tasting along the way.
If it's raining, where would be the best spot to take our photos?
It won't rain on your wedding day, surely not. Hopefully not. Maybe.
If the sun lets you down on the most important day of your life, you need a back-up plan. Have a good look around the wedding venue and ask where photos are normally taken during rainy days.
You really want to avoid having an awful backdrop indoors, when you were planning lovely photos out on the lawn. Most wedding venues are beautiful places anyhow, so they'll be used to the British weather letting down brides before, and no doubt have a proffered beauty spot indoors to act as the back-drop for your wedding photographers to take your photos.
Is there a sound limiter on our wedding DJ or band?
Not a question most brides or grooms would consider asking, hence we threw it in the mix.
The thought is that if you've paid up to 500 for a wedding DJ, or potentially even more for a wedding band, then you want to be able to hear them at the back.
Unfortunately a lot of wedding venues in residential areas will be restricted to acceptable noise levels – this may mean your live entertainment loses some atmosphere on the dance floor. If you are planning a huge party for your wedding – check this first.
Do we need to order the full amount of guests for the buffet?
If you have 100 wedding guests in the evening, do you need to book a buffet for 100 people? You know that your mates will be more interested in the bar, most people who ate the wedding breakfast won't be too hungry, so why not ask the wedding venue if you can just pay for 80% of the expected guests.
This way you're saving some more money, and potentially saving wasted food at the end of the night.
Is there accommodation available at the wedding venue?
Maybe the wedding venue has a honeymoon suite available? A lot of weddings have visiting relatives from far afield, this means they'll need somewhere to stay.
You need to check in advance where you are going to spend your first night as a married couple, and if the venue has accommodation available then this could be your best option.
Even if you chosen wedding venue happens to be part of a hotel complex, you'll still need to book accommodation for those who need it, so get your bookings in early.
Do you have a wedding cake stand we can use?
Your wedding cake needs to sit on something, it's a focal point of your wedding day, and will set you back a fair few quid. No doubt the wedding cake maker will offer you a cake stand and knife for hire, but quite often the wedding venue will have a top quality cake stand ready for you.
If they do, it's another little saving and one less thing to worry about.
Will there be any other weddings on at the same venue?
Why have we left this one so late? Well, it's a personal choice whether you want a wedding venue entirely to yourself for the day, or whether you mind having another wedding party on the same day.
Whether it makes much difference or not depends on the size of the wedding venue. A small wedding venue may not have the space, or the different rooms for two large weddings.
You may find yourself sharing facilities, do you mind bumping into another bride?
Large hotels or golf clubs or private manor houses are often designed in a way that they can easily accommodate more then one wedding. Lets face it, weddings are big business so they want to attract as many as possible. If your chosen wedding venue will be playing host to more then one wedding on YOUR wedding day, ask to see where the two parties take place and ensure you're comfortable with the idea.
What time does the bar shut, and what time do we have to leave?
Surely the most important question, what time can we party until? A good wedding venue will not go around at the end of the night throwing guests out of the door, however they will expect your wedding guests to leave at an appropriate time. Clarify with the venue what time is last orders at the bar, and what time does the music have to be finished by.
You'll want one big farewell and send-off at the end of the night, so ensure your DJ is aware of the closing time and that he is prepared for the last dance and farewell to the new Mr & Mrs!
Essex Wedding specialise in wedding venues in Essex. Essex Wedding also have an excellent choice of Wedding DJ's in Essex and wedding florists in Essex to help Brides and Grooms to be with the planning of their special day.
Here are some more pages on weddingdesignchic you may find helpful when planning your wedding.