Choosing your wedding venue is one of the biggest and most important decisions in the wedding planning process. The venue is one of the largest line items in your wedding budget and will influence everything from the theme and menu to the guest list, time of year, and overall atmosphere. But it can be overwhelming to think about all of the details surrounding your venue search and to come up with the questions you need to ask to make sure it’s the right one. That’s why we put together this guide, which covers 51 questions to ask a wedding venue before booking to ensure that the one you choose is the best fit.
In this guide, we take a deep dive into all types of wedding venue questions, from simple and straightforward (i.e. how many guests can you accommodate?) to intricate and a little more complex (are there any additional fees?). But don’t worry: You don’t have to ask all of these questions during your first tour of a space. Some of the questions will likely be answered by the venue team without you having to ask. Others may be listed on the wedding venue website’s FAQ page or in the marketing materials you receive before or after your site tour. Still, we recommend that you use this as a starting point and as a reference before you sign on the dotted line.
Read on for 51 of the most important questions to ask a wedding venue before booking:
Questions to ask a wedding venue about the space itself
1. How many guests can you accommodate? This is of course a vital question to ask a wedding venue, as it will gauge whether the venue will work with your guest list size. Make sure to ask about guest limits for day vs. night, standing (the cocktail hour), sitting (ceremony and dinner), and in the specific spaces throughout the property that you’d be interested in holding your wedding.
2. Which rooms will we have access to? If there are other events happening at the same time as yours, or if the venue has parts that are private or historic, there may be restrictions on which rooms you and your guests can use. If your heart is set on using a certain room, make sure to ask as early as possible to make sure it’s OK to use.
3. Are there any restrictions on noise or how long we can stay at the venue? Many venues ask that guests turn off the music or vacate the venue by a certain time, so it’s worth checking these restrictions with the venue ahead of time.
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4. How does the venue usually transition from ceremony to reception? The venue probably has a default way of making the transition from ceremony to cocktail hour to reception. Check to make sure it fits with your vision of the day, and ask if there is any flexibility in this arrangement.
5. Is the venue accessible for those with disabilities? Make sure to ask about any specific mobility or access requirements that you know of as far in advance as possible. The venue may be able to work with you to come up with a plan for those guests.
6. Are there areas for us and the bridal party to get ready before the ceremony? While you can of course get ready at home or at a hotel, it is often easiest to get ready at the venue itself.
7. Does the venue have accommodations for guests on-site? Guests coming from out of town will want to know where they can stay. Ask whether the venue has any rooms for your guests to book and whether there is a discount for wedding guests.
8. How many restrooms are there? Will we need to bring in additional portable toilets for an outdoor event? You should plan on at least four bathrooms for every 100 guests to avoid long lines.
9. Do you have parking available for our guests? Is there valet parking? Make sure there aren’t additional fees for parking and that parking spaces are within easy walking distance to the venue.
10. Is there air conditioning/heating appropriate for the season? Make sure your guests will be comfortable dancing the night away with air conditioning in the summer or heating in the winter. If the venue doesn’t have these, check about portable fans or heaters and what they normally do to accommodate.
11. Is there a coat room? Do you provide coat-check services? Coat check may require an additional fee because of the extra staffing involved, but it’s definitely a plus if you want to have a winter wedding in a cold area.
12. Do you have any special facilities for children? Are there booster seats or highchairs available? This falls under the general blanket of child-friendliness. If you’re planning on having children at your ceremony or reception, you’ll want to check what facilities and services are available for them.
13. Is there a designated smoking area? Smoking laws vary by state and by venue. While the answer to this question likely won’t make or break your decision to book, it’s still a good thing to know just in case.
14. Is there a secure area to store wedding gifts? You may get valuable gifts on your big day, so make sure there is somewhere to store them.
15. Is the venue scheduled to undergo any upcoming renovations or changes? Don’t get surprised by changes to the venue. Ask ahead about proposed renovations and what changes they will be making. If the changes are significant, ask if you can see a blueprint or a virtual tour of what the changes will look like.
Questions about the event
16. Is the venue licensed for civil ceremonies? Sometimes venues are only licensed in certain spaces for civil ceremonies, so if you’ve got your heart set on a specific room, you should ask.
17. Can we use pets in our ceremony? Make sure it’s OK for your dog ring bearer to walk down the aisle before you buy that super cute outfit.
18. Do you have recommended suppliers? Are we required to use them? Even if the venue recommends suppliers, they may be flexible about whether you use them.
19. Do you provide catering services? Is a tasting of the menu included? Not all venues include the wedding tasting in their package price, but it’s worth doing to give you an idea of the food on your special day.
20. Is there a food and beverage minimum? Some venues will require a minimum purchase of food and beverage, which is helpful to know ahead of time for budget planning.
21. If we hire our own caterer, will they have access to a kitchen? Caterers will often charge extra if they need to bring their own grills, refrigerators, or other large equipment. If there’s a kitchen on-site and you don’t have to use the venue’s catering team, make sure the team you hire will have access to it.
22. What are the menu options and how flexible are they? You may have your heart set on a particular dish or style of food. Make sure your venue is flexible enough to accommodate it!
23. Can you accommodate guests with dietary restrictions? Make sure your guests with allergies or restrictions will be taken care of and come up with a plan if the venue can’t help them. This shouldn’t be an issue, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
24. Can we provide our own food, beverages, or alcohol? You can save a lot of money by self-catering, but you’ll need to make sure the venue allows it. They may add a fee for corkage or using their equipment, but you could still end up saving overall.
25. Are there any restrictions on decor? Can we move things around? Some venues have restrictions on open flames, fireworks, flower petals, confetti, or other things that could be considered unsafe or messy. If you have something specific in mind, ask the venue before booking.
26. Are tablecloths, dinnerware, and napkins available? Are they included? Many venues have a few options for tablecloths and dinnerware available so that you can choose them to match your decor. But you don’t want to get taken by surprise later on.
27. What size and shape are your tables? Knowing the shape and size of the tables, and how many guests each can accommodate, will help you plan out your wedding seating chart.
28. Can you accommodate a live band or DJ? What A/V equipment is provided? Some venues will require that you use their PA system and A/V equipment, while others will ask that the entertainment provide their own. Work with your venue and entertainment crew to make sure everyone’s expectations are met.
29. Do you have a sound system and microphones for speeches? Speeches — by you, the bridal party, and anyone else who may want to talk — are an important part of your big day, and you want to make sure your venue is able to meet your needs. The answer to this question will likely go hand-in-hand with the question above.
30. What are our dance floor options? Some venues provide multiple types of wedding dance floors to choose from. Others may work with vendors that provide customized options. Considering the fact that the dance floor is where you and your guests will likely spend a ton of time, this is an important question to ask.
31. Does the venue have a liquor license to serve alcohol? Liquor laws and what can and can’t be served at a venue can get confusing. Be sure to ask this question so you know exactly what to expect and can change your plans accordingly.
32. Are there any photography or video restrictions? Can we use drones? Drone photography is a wonderful option for outdoor ceremonies, but not all venues allow it. The last thing you want to do is pay for a wedding videography package that won’t even be possible.
Logistical questions to ask a wedding venue
33. Who will be the point of contact leading up to the wedding? Know who to go to with any questions after your first meeting and up until the big day.
34. How far in advance do we need to book the space? The answer to this question will depend on the venue, but as long as the space is available on your date, it shouldn’t be an issue. Still, we recommend booking your venue ASAP — usually 9-12 months before your date.
35. What time would we have access to the venue for setup? Setup time may be included in your rental of the space, but it could vary depending on the contract. Make sure this is clear from the start.
36. Is there a venue coordinator available on the day? While you may have a wedding planner or a day-of coordinator, many venues also provide a coordinator and a team to work with them to ensure that your big day goes off without a hitch.
37. What are our options in case of inclement weather? Make sure your outdoor wedding won’t be negatively impacted if a thunderstorm comes rolling in. A rain plan may involve moving the festivities to an indoor space, so it’s important to make sure that the indoor option meets all of your needs before booking.
38. Do you have outdoor heaters or umbrellas available? Some venues may have this built into the contract while others may require you to bring your own. Again, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
39. Do you have a recycling policy? If you’re planning an eco-friendly wedding, you should make sure that the venue is on board from the beginning and understands your wishes.
40. What are the nearest hotels for guests? Do you partner with them to offer discounted rates? Wedding room blocks can be a big money-saver for both you and your guests. See if the venue has any recommended properties nearby or if they can help you get a special rate.
Wedding room blocks made simple
41. Can we send supplies or decorations ahead of time? Do you have somewhere to store them? If you’re coming from out of town, it’s really helpful to have somewhere to ship things ahead of time. This means that you aren’t bringing decorations, wedding favors, escort cards, or other wedding-day essentials with you as you travel.
Additional questions to ask a wedding venue
42. How much is the deposit, and when is it due? Is the deposit refundable? When it comes to money, you can’t be too careful. Make sure you’re clear on everything from the very beginning and double-check anything you’re not sure about.
43. What is the payment schedule? Do you offer payment plans? Every venue is different, so make sure you know how much you owe, when you owe it, and if there’s any flexibility.
44. What forms of payment do you accept? Also, if you’re planning on paying with a credit card, see if there’s a percentage fee. Which brings us to our next question…
45. Are there any additional fees? This is one of the most important questions to ask a wedding venue. There may be additional fees for things not included in the venue’s normal package, like cake cutting, corkage, bar staff, coat check, or cleaning. Check these fees ahead of making your deposit so that nothing comes as a surprise.
46. Do you offer any discounts we should know about? This is a great way of asking for a discount without being too pushy. Some venues offer discounts for weekday weddings, off-season events, or even for teachers, military, or frontline healthcare workers. It’s always worth asking!
47. How long can we hold the date before putting down a deposit? A lot of venues will allow you to put a “soft hold” on a date, which basically means the date is yours until another couple inquires about it, at which point the venue reaches out to let you know that you have to make a decision.
48. What dates are available in our chosen month? The sooner you ask this question, the better, especially if you have your heart set on a specific date.
49. Do you have any other events on that day? Will we have exclusive use of the space? Some couples love the idea of having an entire venue all to themselves. But depending on the venue, that may not be an option without paying extra.
50. What is your cancellation policy? What cancellation reasons are not covered? Make sure you’re 100% clear on the policy and what you will receive back in the event you have to cancel with the venue.
51. Do you have liability insurance? The answer to this question will most likely be yes, but it’s still worth asking.
Now you know some of the most important questions to ask a wedding venue before signing!
With all your questions in hand, it’s time to start comparing venues. Read on for 13 tips to compare wedding venues and choose the best one for you.