5 Things to Ask a Wedding Venue Before you Book

One of the most important elements in wedding planning is booking the venue. Whether your ceremony and reception space is in the same building or in seperate locations there's a lot to take into consideration.  

It's hard, too, to manage expectations in line with budget.  Get it right, however, and your wedding planning will be off to a flying start. 

Whilst this list is by no means exhaustive, we hope you'll find it useful. Here are our 5 things to ask a wedding venue before booking.

1.  How many guests can the venue comfortably accommodate?

Having a provisional guest list BEFORE you start looking for a wedding venue is imperative in choosing the right space for your ceremony and reception.  Nothing has to be set in stone, and it’s fine if there’s a long list of ‘maybes’, but without even a rough figure you run the risk of booking somewhere entirely unsuitable.

It’s one of the first questions that a wedding coordinator will ask, too, so it’s worth having an estimate that they can work with.  Once the date is booked and the deposit down, it’s much harder to be flexible.

Having a rough idea of guest numbers will also narrow down the number of potential venues in a given area. There's little point in wasting time considering somewhere that'll be far too small unless, of course, you're willing to be brutal with the guest list in order to force it to work.

That being said, it's worth finding out how flexible the venue can be on numbers.  Some might offer the use of other buildings or allow the pitching of marquees or tents. Having a degree of wiggle room, even if it's just three or four additional guests, could be a huge help further down the line, so it's worth asking about.

    2. Can you have exclusive use of the venue?   
For some couples, this is an absolute
deal breaker. In an ideal world exclusive use would be every couples ideal scenario, but exclusive use does ramp up the price and in some cases considerably.  If exclusive use isn't an option either for you or the venue, then speak to your coordinator about how they can improve privacy for the wedding party.

3. Is there accommodation either at the venue or nearby? (Ask, too, about discounts)

If your wedding is in a hotel, this shouldn't be a problem. In fact, it's one of the perks of having a venue with on-site accomodation. Many hotels will offer discounts as an incentive to stay, and this can be a huge draw for guests travelling from out of town.  Certainly close friends and family will be eager to extend the celebrations, too, and sharing the next morning together can be a lovely way of finishing a weekend off.

I always think it's useful, too, to research other accomodation options in the area. This is especially true if your wedding venue is a little bit fancy. Speaking from personal experience, I baulk at the idea of spending £150 on a hotel room. So be mindful of other people's budgets and offer people the choice of staying in cheaper digs, too.

4. What’s the cancellation policy?

It's probably the last thing on your mind, but it's imperative that you find out about what happens if you cancel the wedding.  Normally, you'll lose all or some of your deposit, but you'll want to be clear on that before signing a contract.  Once the venue is booked, we'd recommend taking out wedding insurance. The premium is a drop in the ocean compared to what you can stand to lose if you're wedding doesn't go ahead, and this is before you start adding vendors and service providers into the equation.

You can't plan for a sickness or bereavement or seperation so be clear on what your rights and options are should the worst happen.

5. Does the venue have liability insurance? And do you need to take out a policy?

Most wedding venues will have public liability insurance, but it's important that you're certain before booking. Some venues also require any vendors or service providers to have it, too.  This is certainly true of historic venues such as those looked after by The National Trust where breakages or damages can be expensive to repair or replace (think the chandalier scene in Only Fools and Horses). 

It only takes a photographer tripping on a cable into a vase or a toddler getting Crayola creative on a 17th-century portrait to understand why. 

Insurance is also something that you might want to ask your vendors about. If you've got your heart set on a specific photographer or caterer and they don't have it, then you might be expected to pay the premium. Coverage isn't extortionate, but it's better to budget for it in advance. Coverage of up to £2,000,000 is usually acceptable, but, again, National Trust properties or stately homes may insist on a minimum of £5,000,000

We'll be adding another 5 things.... in the next couple of weeks, and we'd love to hear your suggestions. What did you ask your wedding venue before you booked?  What did you wish you'd asked?

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