10 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Venue Before You Book

Picking a wedding venue isn't just about how good it looks in photos (although that's pretty important, too!), but compatibility with your wedding plans and love story is the top priority here. That's why knowing what to expect from the venue and what is expected of you is crucial before you sign that contract. Whether it's guest list size, all-inclusive benefits, or ample parking, some wedding locations may not cater to your greatest needs. So how do you decide which one is The One for your big day? We are sharing 10 questions to ask your wedding venue that should help you decide if it's the right spot for you!

LGBTQ friendly wedding venue in Richmond Virginia
[Photography: Brittany Lowe via this Seven Springs wedding near Richmond, Virginia on Tidewater and Tulle]

1. What are your available dates in (wedding month/week)?

It's no question that setting a date is the starting point of wedding planning. You could have your heart set on a date, but if you have your eye on your dream wedding venue, then try to be flexible if it’s not available. If it's not your dream venue and the dates are fully booked, try searching for similar locations within your ideal travel area.

2. What's the venue's capacity?

Before booking your venue, you need to have a rough estimate of how many guests you hope to invite to your wedding. You don't want a giant venue for a small and intimate wedding and vice versa. If the venue capacity doesn't meet it or is too much for what you need, it's best to look elsewhere.

3. How early in advance can I make a reservation?

If you're researching different wedding venues and still haven't made up your mind, you should ask how far ahead you have to reserve your venue and wedding date. Some popular local venues are in high demand and will require you to be decisive quicker than others so you don't lose your date to another wedding, so be prepared to act when your planning dots are connected.

Large wedding venue for over 300 guests in Norfolk Virginia
[Photography: e. losinio photography via this Half Moone Center wedding in Norfolk, Virginia on Tidewater and Tulle]

4. How many hours can the space be rented for & how early can my vendors come to set up?

A wedding day is a timeline day! To make sure your expectations are communicated and that logistics make sense, you will need to know the hours involved. This is an important question to set the stage for your wedding vendors and wedding party's arrival. Make sure your florist and caterer have plenty of time to do what they do best! (Insider Tip: Depending on the type and size of wedding you're having, you can factor no less than 2 hours for setup with your pre-wedding professionals.) Are you planning on getting ready at the venue, too? You should know when you have access to that space and what that space entails.

5. What are your payment plan options & how much is the deposit?

Help yourself plan your budget ahead of the wedding by asking the financial details. Do they take credit card? Cash? Can you break up your payments to make it more budget-friendly? When is your final payment due? With inflation rates and an unsure global economy, get those money facts in writing and plan accordingly.

6. What's included in the venue reservation price?

Some wedding venues offer food, drinks, furniture rentals, linens, or waitstaff in their price, while others have these as extras. Find out what your venue offers before booking your other vendors to help you keep your costs down.

7. Do you have a list of approved vendors/caterers or can I bring my own?

If the venue only accepts certain vendors, you should be acquainted with these pros to decide if you want this kind of option limitation, especially because every vendor has a different style and you want to make sure it fits with your wedding vision. Some venues allow all vendors, but might charge you extra for them (or it doesn't go towards your venue's minimum food & beverage rate). Some venues (like museums) may also ask that your contracted vendors show event liability insurance should damage happen, so keep this in mind when reaching out to your photographers, rentals providers, et cetera. In our past wedding experiences, we have seen that these policies generally start at $1 million, and it's up to the vendor to handle this for their business, not you!

Unique modern art museum wedding venue in Richmond Virginia
[Photography: Steven & Lily via this Institute of Contemporary Art wedding in Richmond, Virginia on Tidewater and Tulle]

8. What are your date change & cancellation policies?

The pandemic threw all of us for a loop as it halted weddings and created a bit of chaos in the world. So prepare yourselves for the possibility of an upset for your wedding day and ask the venue what their policies are. Should any unexpected situation come up right before the wedding, you should have an idea of whether you can change the wedding date or cancel it altogether. You should also know how much of your deposit you’ll be able to get back if any at all. (Beyond the venue, this is also a good time to think about getting wedding insurance, particularly if you're having a destination wedding!)

9. Are there any decor or noise restrictions?

Venues have different interiors, designs, and surroundings which can put some restrictions on your choice of decor or entertainment. Make sure to ask about that to see if the venue is a good fit for the kind of wedding you’re planning. Some common questions couples ask are: "Can I hang anything on the walls or ceiling?" "Can I have a live band?" "Can I use real candles?" If you're looking at an outdoor venue in a nearby residential community, events tend to have curfews to respect the neighbors. If you're looking at a ballroom venue, they may have wallpaper that cannot be altered with hanging hardware. If specific decor or sound is important to you, be sure to know upfront your limitations.

10. Who's our contact during the planning & on the wedding day?

Knowing who to ask if you have any further questions other than the ones mentioned above is an invaluable asset. You’ll have someone to rely on for information and avoid the confusion that can happen if you’re talking to multiple people. Ask if you can meet your point person in advance and see if you like their vibe and the way they’ll handle your wedding questions. Happy Planning, lovebirds!

Indoor and outdoor wedding venue for small weddings in Outer Banks North Carolina
[Photography: Neil GT Photography via this The Black Stallion wedding in Outer Banks, North Carolina on Tidewater and Tulle]

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