The search for the perfect wedding venue can be exciting, but also pretty challenging. There’s a lot to think about to be sure that the day is going to look and feel exactly how you want to. While you don’t need to go completely Type A, you do need to go into your search with a little preparation to find out what you need to know about the location and the venue itself before you book. This list of 10 questions to ask your potential wedding venue is a quick guide to help you get thinking about the things that matter for your wedding day. The first and most obvious question you need to ask is “is the venue available for my date or range of potential dates?” and does it accommodate the amount of guests you’d like to invite? This can go both ways, too. You don’t want to hire a venue for a 30 person intimate wedding that is normally housing 200+ guests, and you especially don’t want to be trying to squeeze in 150 people into a place that normally serves 50 guests. Beyond all this, though, lies a few questions you may not have considered.
Do we have exclusive use of the grounds or venue?
You might be surprised to know that some venues like vineyards and restaurants may still serve the general public for part or all of your wedding day. If having exclusive use of the entire grounds is important for you, then definitely check this out.
Are there limits on amplified music throughout the day and what time can we party until?
Not long ago, a couple I photographed had booked a band only to find out that the band, and indeed any amplified music, had to be wrapped up by 5pm in the afternoon. It was out of the venues hands due to zoning restrictions but it’s really important you check this out. Especially if having a band like The White Tree getting the party going is important to you. It’s also worth checking out what time amplified music is allowed until. In most cases it will be 11pm or 12pm but it’s safest to find this out before you go ahead and book.
What are the on-site ceremony locations and what is the wet weather plan?
If a venue has had weddings in the past, they’ll likely have a good idea of where the best spots for the ceremony are. We’re lucky in Australia that we can have our ceremonies basically anywhere we want and I highly recommend taking advantage of this and going for somewhere unique and beautiful. The venue will likely also have a wet weather option; find this out and make sure you’ll still be happy exchanging vows here as well as the beautiful outdoor locations.
Can we bring any supplier we want?
This usually doesn’t affect photography but some venues do strictly work with just a specific set of caterers for instance. Find out before signing the contract whether you have the freedom to select whoever you’d like or that you’re happy with the choices they provide.
What is the parking situation?
If you’re having your wedding out of town, most of your guests will likely either drive, or you’ll provide a bus for transportation. If it’s the former, you’ll need to know that the venue has ample parking for the amount of guests you’ll be inviting. One car between two people is usually a pretty good starting equation.
Do the ceremony locations have access to power?
You’ll want to know ahead of time whether the ceremony locations on-site have access to power as this might affect your celebrant, the musician if you’re having live music or yourselves with your preparation for music before, during and after the ceremony.
Are we allowed confetti?
This one is probably a little biased because I love a good (bio!) confetti photo at the end of a ceremony but you need to check with the venue that they are happy for you to do this. This is just because in some instances certain flower petals might temporarily stain concrete surfaces or they might not want the residual confetti blowing indoors. Most venues will be accommodating but might have suggestions on where you can do it.
Can we get ready on site?
Having an aesthetic and practical place to get ready in the morning can be really important and can even save you a considerable amount of money. Without a place to get ready on site, you’ll be looking at local hotels or AirBNBs plus travel from the getting ready location to the ceremony. Granted this gives you the chance to arrive in a decked out combi, helicopter or whatever suits your style, but it is an extra expense that you can avoid if the venue has options for getting ready onsite.
How much freedom do we have with styling?
A wedding is a good chance to flex your styling muscle and make the day truly represent you as a couple. You might have visions of exactly how you want things to look and it’s best to check with the venue that this can be realised and that you aren’t limited to just a couple of different options dictated by them. Injecting your personality into a day is what makes it really memorable and special, so be sure you have the freedom to do so.
What is provided and what do we supply ourselves?
Some venues have everything but the flowers ready to go, and some venues are a blank space ready to be moulded into whatever you wish. You’ll want to know ahead of time whether you need to hire in tables, chairs, linen, glassware and plates. Doing so will give you more freedom but it’s also another thing to think about and lock in. Some catering companies will provide plates and glassware, while some require it to be there ahead of time. You’ll also need to find out what facilities are available already and this can mean anything from toilets, to a kitchen, camping/glamping facilities depending on the wedding you’re having.