When it comes to event details, the venue is the one most people start with after they’ve determined their budget.
You’ll look on Google, search wedding websites, look for Facebook reviews and pictures… but what happens when you’ve got a list of venues to consider? Venue appointments will typically include a tour and a sit-down chat with a coordinator to determine what your vision is for your event.
Now comes the important part of the appointment--what questions do you ask? Sometimes, in the moment, it is easy to forget what you need to know from each venue.
To help you in your venue search, check out the list of important questions below. We’ve included a free resource for you to download and take to your venues to help you check off details as you go!
First Things First…
Based on your guest list, what is the price for the venue? If there is a guest number limit, what happens if we go over that number? What is the total occupancy? Some venues have different price ranges depending on the number of guests, so you’ll want to have a good idea of how many people you’ll be inviting before visiting the venue! If the venue cannot accommodate as many people as you’ll be inviting, there’s no reason to consider it.
How are the payments broken up? Do you have to pay a deposit to secure the booking? Is there a payment plan option?
What are all the extra fees and what will have taxes added? You’ll want to include all the extra fees and taxes in your budget calculations! Just because the venue costs one thing doesn’t mean that’s all you’ll be spending for that venue. All the extras can add up quickly, so consider those figures when determining if a venue is within your budget.
Based on when you want your event, what dates are available? Being flexible on your date makes this question a lot easier, but have an idea in mind of what you want. If you know you want something, like a winter wedding for example, then stick to a certain time frame.
Are the prices different at different times of the year? What about different days of the week? Most venues will have different prices for peak season versus the off-season. Also, Saturdays are the most popular for events (especially weddings), so if you’re open to a different day of the week to save money, ask about it!
What are the options for cancellations and postponements? What are the refund policies? Each venue will have their own policies, so it’s very important to ask this of each venue you consider. No one wants to think about something terrible happening in the future, but you have to remain practical and remember that life happens!
Does the venue have dressing rooms? Are they included in the package or are they an extra charge? Will you have access to these all throughout your event?
Is the venue ADA accessible for disabled or elderly guests?
How many bathrooms are available for guests? Are there bathroom attendants? Consider how many guests you will be inviting!
What is the staff to guest ratio during events? Your venue should be prepared for your number of guests. One bartender will not be enough for 200 people. One server will not be enough for 20 tables.
Will you have access to WiFi? If your event will need something streamed, like music or a presentation, it is crucial to have access to the internet!
Is there adequate access to power outlets? Do you need to bring our own extension cords (or do our vendors)? Think about this: you may have lights, a DJ setup, a photobooth, a projector, and maybe more electronics that all need electricity. Does the venue have the capacity to power everything?
If you will not have extra vendors to do so, who will control the lighting and sound? Say you just need someone to dim the lights during a presentation or turn the volume up on a preset playlist. Can someone from the venue handle that so you don’t have to hire a production team?
Extras to Consider
What does the venue package include? Things to consider: speakers, lighting, microphone, projector, podium/lectern, tables, chairs, linens, centerpieces, dinnerware, flatware, glassware… the list could go on. You will want to know what comes with your package before deciding on a venue. Having to hire extra vendors could add up a larger overall cost.
How private will your event be? If your venue is a hotel ballroom, for example, you will not be alone in the hotel. There will be other guests. You’ll want to ask the venue about how they keep your event private, so you don’t end up with party crashers!
Is security required? Is it provided in your package or is it an extra charge? If there will be alcohol at your event, chances are security will be required. If not, it is certainly something to consider, to help keep your guests safe while having fun!
If your guests will have to travel to your venue, how far from city limits is it? Is it far from hotel accommodations? Your dream venue may be a farm 45 minutes outside of town. It’s important to ask the venue about traffic patterns, especially around the time of the start and end of your event. You’ll want to inform guests to plan accordingly for travel to and from your venue.
If your venue is outdoor or an outdoor/indoor hybrid, is there a bad weather contingency? Does the venue provide a tent? Will it be an extra charge if you need one on the day of the event? Outdoor venues should have plans in place to help answer this question quickly!
Is parking provided for your guests? Is there a designated space for them? Is valet provided? Are guests charged for parking? If your venue offers valet parking, it would be a great addition to consider for your event. No one wants to get dressed up and then end up hiking half a mile to get to your event.
Planning & Coordinating Your Event
If the venue has a coordinator, will they be there throughout the event? Do you need to hire your own coordinator to be the point person during the event? This is especially important for weddings. You don’t want to be worrying about the vendors setting up and breaking down while you’re trying to enjoy your wedding. Ask your venue about their coordination services before you hire an outside coordinator!
Are there sample floor plans to preview? Is the venue open to whatever setup you want or do you have to pick from set options? Some venues may only be able to accommodate certain setups depending on the number of guests.
Will there be any other events happening at the same time as your event?
For weddings, do you get to have a rehearsal prior to the date? Do you have to pay extra for a rehearsal or is it included in your package?
Do you have to purchase event insurance? Is it included in your package? Some venues will include event insurance in their package price. They will purchase it on your behalf. Some venues will require event insurance and provide you with suggestions, but it will be up to you to purchase. Event insurance is a great consideration for all types of events, because you can never be too sure about what the future holds.
What does the timeline for the event look like? Do you get time beforehand to prepare? What time do you need to be completely out of the venue? Venues will have a set time limit for their packages. If your package says “6 hours”, that might be 6 hours total including set up and clean up. If your event is in the evening, there may be a curfew for the area or a set time that alcohol must stop being served. You will want to consider the times of availability before setting a time for the event.