Venue scouting – 20 questions to ask on your first visit

Finding your dream venue is one of the biggies! With it, brings confirmation of your wedding date which means the ball is set rolling for all other supplier enquiries.
Below is a helpful set of questions I found through Wedding Venues magazine which I wanted to share with you. It should help you glide through your first site visit! Venue, outdoor wedding, wedding venue, Church, marquee wedding, 20 questions to ask your venue, Lucy Davenport Photography

  1. Are you licensed for civil ceremonies?
    This is key if you’d like the ceremony and party in one place. In the UK a room has to be licensed. Ask to see photographs You’ll need to double check with the local Register Office about dates too, Don’t assume because the venue’s free, the Registrar will be!
  2. Will we have exclusive use?
    Many venues charge an exclusive use fee and, with a hotel, this may include all the accommodation. If you don’t need exclusive use, check if there are other weddings at the same time and ask how they’ll keep the two separate. Some venues are exclusive use only, so research online before you visit.
  3. How many people can you accommodate?
    Jot down an initial guest list before researching venues. You need to ensure everyone will fit in! Some venues have more than one space too so you may fit into one room but not another.
  4. Can we have a marquee?
    A good way to add space for bigger numbers, but not every venue is suitable. Check whether the venue is used to having marquees and all the paraphernalia (power, flooring) that goes with it. If your heart is set on a marquee, maybe look for somewhere that has a permanent on – many venues do.
  5. What packages do you offer?
    At some venues you have to pay a set fee for every aspect of your day. Ask how flexible they are – it may simply come down to a guaranteed minimum spend.  Drinks station, outdoor wedding, Aynhoe Park interiors
  6. Lets talk money?
    You need  to get a written quote, not just an estimate. Ask about the deposit, what costs might be refundable (and under what specific circumstances) and when the balance of the bill has to be paid. Nail this one early so theres no misunderstandings.
  7. What evening food options do we have?
    If you have evening guests coming – or just because it will be a long day – you may need something later. Bacon sandwiches or a cheeseboard can do the trick.
  8. When can we taste the food?
    Alarm bells should ring if you’re not offered a menu tasting. (You wouldn’t buy shoes without trying them on!) Ask to sample the wines, too. This is going to take a big chunk of your budget, so you both need to be sure it is what you want.
  9. Can you provide a late bar?
    There’s nothing worse than a bar closing just as the party is in full swing. Check what time the bar is licensed until. Hotel bars will often carry on serving until the last guest goes to bed.
  10. Do you have any restrictions?
    Many venues aren’t insured for naked flames, so check this out if you’re dreaming of a candlelit reception. Listed buildings sometimes have restrictions on red wine and stiletto heels, which can damage floors; some venues don’t allow live bands; the same goes for fireworks. Assume nothing until you’ve asked.
  11. Do you offer accommodation?
    If not, ask whether they can recommend hotels so you can give your guests details. If you’re splashing out on a reception, many venues will offer the bride and groom a complimentary room – they may also offer guests a discounted rate.
  12. Can we supply our own alcohol?
    Some venues charge corkage per bottle of wine, while others charge per person, which may be better value. Venue, outdoor wedding, wedding venue, marquee wedding, alcohol, 20 questions to ask your venue, Lucy Davenport Photography
  13. Do you have a list of recommended suppliers?
    A good venue will have a list of people – from caterers to live bands – that they’ve worked with before. There’s a lot to be said for putting your catering in the hands of a company that knows the venue – and the kitchens – and has worked with the team. You may have your own ideas, but don’t dismiss them until you’ve tasted the food!
  14. …and do we have to use them?
    Some venues will insist that you use their recommended suppliers. Make sure you’re happy with this otherwise that isn’t the venue for you!
  15. How much of the outdoors space will be ours?
    If you’ve got your heart set on welcome drinks in the rose garden, make sure it’s an option. Equally, always have a rainy weather plan – you need to love the interior spaces (plan B!) as much as the gardens.
  16. What are the transport options?
    Check out parking at the venue and nearby car parks if necessary – times and fees. Add this info to your invites, or post on your website. Remember that not everyone will travel by car, so include trains/buses nearby.
  17. What about children and the elderly?
    Lots of children in gardens filled with lakes and ornamental ponds may not be the best option. Neither will elderly guests at a venue with lots of stairs. Ask about lifts and wheelchair access. Venue, Aynhoe Park, outdoor wedding, wedding venue, marquee wedding, alcohol, 20 questions to ask your venue, Lucy Davenport Photography
  18. What about smoking?
    If there are designated areas in the grounds, it’s best to know where they are now, especially for winter weddings when getting to an outdoor spot could be a hike.
  19. Do you charge a facility fee?
    Some venues will charge a set up fee to hire the space. If you’re setting up yourselves, how early can you/your team get in to decorate tables, deliver thank you gifts and favours? Is there a storage space where you can lock things away?
  20. References
    If you’re unsure still, ask if you can speak to a recently married couple who can give you first hand advice!
Has this helped you to find your dream venue?

A great tool that will help you enormously in your search is Coco Wedding Venues.  Emma is the genius behind it and I worked with her on this incredible Sirens Song editorial.


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