There are so many wonderful venues out there, and all dolled up in their marketing photos, these venues sure do look dreamy. But most Couples get so caught up on the aesthetics that they neglect some of the important factors when choosing a wedding venue, so here are the Top 10 Questions you should consider (and even ask!) when selecting your Wedding Venue. Already booked it?! It’s not too late to be informed and make the necessary accommodations to suit your needs.
Where does the caterer set up, or where is the kitchen? (Inside or outside?) If you need to bring in your own caterer, find out where their station is. For most museums or historical homes, they usually do not allow the catering company inside the premises, and the caterers are forced to work outdoors. This is fine as long as you don’t mind paying a bit more for stressors like this—vendors will often consider little nightmares like this when quoting you on a price—and insects all over your food. 🙂
What’s the bathroom situation like? Is it handicap accessible? How’s the lighting? Do porta-potties have to be rented? Are they nice and clean? Maybe you don’t care now, but imagine everyone all dressed up. Think of your elderly guests or those needing assistance. Many rustic venues do not have bathrooms, so know what you are getting yourself into before you book.
What’s the parking like for guests? Is there a Valet? Meters? This could be a nuisance for your guests. For most beach weddings, for example, parking is metered, limited, and really far away from the location of the ceremony. Perhaps hiring a valet parking company could alleviate some of the stress here, but if not, and you have older folks in attendance, you may need to find an alternative. Already comes with Valet service? Great! Is it complimentary for your guests or vendors?! It really better be for your guests! If it isn’t for your vendors, they could put those fees on you and charge you more for this inconvenience because most venues do not comp a vendor’s valet ticket. In addition, many vendors need easy access to their cars, so this could prove to be a major issue.
Is there an air-conditioned Bridal Suite? (If you are not doing a First Look: Do you have 2 rooms for us?) Is there a space just for you and your Bridal Party? You will want to freshen up away from the crowd. You’ll need somewhere to leave some of your things. You may need a breather for a minute, too. A Bridal Suite is a luxury that you will appreciate that day; trust me! See if there is a room that can be dedicated to you for your day.
Do you provide food in the Bridal Suite pre-ceremony? This is HUGE. You and your Entourage will be starving and thirsty that day, so having some refreshments and snacks is ideal. Most do not provide this without an extra fee, but it is totally worth the expense. If they do not provide food and drinks in the Bridal Suite, then have someone bring some for you: a fruit and cheese platter, mini sandwiches, or vegetable crudités, etc. Get some protein in there, and be sure to have lots of cold water handy for yourselves and your Entourage! Your wedding day is a very long day, and these little sips and bites will go a long way 🙂
Do you provide a personal attendant the day of? Most do not, but it sure is nice if they do. This person is literally assigned to you, and they will do, get, and help, anyway they can! They are your voice for the entire day. They get you what you need when you need it. You are never looking for anyone because you have this person with you, doing your bidding, as you need it!
From where do we walk into the Ceremony location (the Processional) and the Reception? If you want to be hidden from guests before the Processional, this is an important question to ask. One of my Couples didn’t want to be seen, so their only alternative was to walk through a kitchen to get to the ceremony location; I kid you not! Gross. And kind of dangerous…and against some sort of health code, I am sure. Another Couple had to wait outside doors on a public street. Awkward. They could barely hear their music cues to walk down the aisle because the noise from a bustling city drowned it out! Typically, most Couples have to stand in a fully exposed spot as they wait their turn to walk down the aisle, OR they have to walk through some long, far away, perilous terrain—not an easy thing to do in uncomfortable shoes!
Is there electricity provided at the Ceremony location? If not, make sure the vendors that need power have a generator. Your DJ cannot play your music selection, and no one will hear the officiant or you during the ceremony. Nature absorbs all sound, and having a sound system (which requires power) helps counteract this issue.
What time can we arrive that day? Did you intend on getting ready at the venue? Taking pictures there? Then definitely ask this question. Some venues will not allow on the premises until an hour before the ceremony’s commencement, so be sure that accommodates your plans.
What time can our vendors arrive? Couples are not the only ones forbidden to arrive too early the day of their ceremonies. Sometimes, vendors are not allowed on site until an hour prior to the ceremony’s commencement too, and for some vendors, that’s insane! It is not easy for a florist to build and assemble your archway or chuppah let alone do it in under 60 minutes! It takes time for the rental folks and party planners to set up your ceremony décor, and if they have to be in a mad dash against the clock, they could put that stress on you by making you pay extra fees.
Can we have a Formal Rehearsal in the exact same spot as the ceremony? Rehearsals, including your choice of music and its timing for the Processional and Recessional, are the ideal way to lower your anxiety and stress for your big day. It is a dry run of the major actions with all the major players in your wedding ceremony. If you cannot have a rehearsal in the exact location of the ceremony, then you may not want to bother having one at all. The whole purpose of a rehearsal is to practice the motions of the day as close to the actual set up as possible, or what’s the point?! For example, if you are getting married on a golf course, chances are the answer to this question is NO. Golf club members pay a lot of money to use those greens, and they are not happy to share it with you and your Entourage for a Formal Rehearsal. In fact, in most cases, no one is allowed in your ceremony location until about an hour before it is set to begin, so definitely not for a rehearsal!
When you scope out the handful of venues your heart is set on, make sure you you know exactly what you are getting, or you could end up with very unpleasant surprises.
Have fun exploring your desires and creativity, and Happy Planning!!