Picking your wedding venue is a big decision because it sets the scene for your big day, can be one of the biggest chunks of your budget, and can dictate many of the decisions you make throughout the rest of your wedding planning process! The venue you choose may influence your choice of colors, floral/decor, how many guests you can have, and more! This ends up meaning that it’s also one of the first steps in the planning process for most couples.
This month we’re hearing from Nicholle, Director of Sales & Marketing at The Grand Hall at Power & Light! Nicholle a Kansas City native, is totally fabulous and will be a total dream to work with. She is so kind and excited to be a part of the team at The Grand Hall that helps make brides dream’s come true. She knows intimately what questions couples should be asking on their search for the perfect venue, and has agreed to pass on that knowledge with me!
10 Questions to Ask when booking Your Wedding Venue
1 | What makes your venue unique?
You’ve probably already done your research online, called around and tried to get a feel for what your potential venues have to offer. You know about the tables and chairs and what linens they provide with what glassware, but there may be offerings that are easily missed on a tour. We often see brides touring either at the end of their work day, on their way home, or on a Saturday morning binge of seeing four to six venues! With the flurry of excitement and the “Bride Brain” that inevitably takes over, it’s easy to miss the custom chairs that come included in the rental price, or selection of centerpieces they have to offer. It’s likely your venue will try to sell you on these aspects already, but it never hurts to ask, “What am I missing? What can your venue give me that nobody else can?”
2 | What have you seen done in the space that has worked well?
While you will likely turn to your Wedding Coordinator for creative advice, don’t forget that Venue Management has seen multiple events from the inside-out! If you have a specific vision for your event, ask your venue if they’ve seen something similar done in the space and if they can make any recommendations. Obsessed with the idea of a 360 degree photo booth? Rely on your venue to tell you where it will see the most action and not interfere with the flow of the caterer’s service. If you are torn between stations or a plated dinner, ask your venue how their past events have run differently based on food service selection! The more details you can give your venue on what you’re thinking for your event, they’ll be more likely to give feedback (and maybe some insider industry tips)!
3 | What does the average couple that hosts an event in your space spend?
As the venue is usually the first stop on many couples’ lists, sometimes the subject of budget hasn’t even come up yet! When we ask our couples about their budget, we often hear, “We’re just getting started and not sure what we can afford.” If you’re not sure what you “should” be spending, whether the funds come from you or with parental help, asking the venue what their average couple spends is a great way to get an idea of whether or not it’s a good fit for you. While the venue is not always privy to specific pricing details from all of their events, they can give you a good idea of whether they see mostly $20,000 weddings or $75,000 weddings or a mix of both.
**FYI, the national average wedding cost is around $35,000. Kansas City’s is a bit lower, just around $29,000. Keep in mind that an average is simply an average, taking into account small weddings with personal DIY touches and also 500 guest black tie affairs.
4| Who will you have present the day of my event, and what are their responsibilities?
Every venue has staff on site the day of your event, but not every venue operates in the same manner. Knowing who your point of contact will be through the process is helpful for you and your team of vendors you’ve put in place to execute your big day! Will you have a different contact leading up to your event than you will the day of? How can you ensure that communication between the person you book with and the on-site contact has taken place? You’ll also want to know what your venue’s staff is responsible for the day of the event. Some venues have “on-site coordinators,” but to what extent are they coordinating? Perhaps they assist you in selecting the menus, contacting vendors and creating a timeline, but others may merely show up to unlock the doors and be there in case of an emergency. To ensure the success of your day, it is your responsibility to know who fills what role, so you and/or your wedding coordinator can plan accordingly!
5 | Currently, how many other events will you have booked that day, and the days surrounding mine?
The first part of the question is pretty obvious—how many other events will be taking place during yours? Perhaps your venue is in a hotel or large event space with multiple rooms. You’ll want to be assured that they will staff appropriately to take care of all parties. The second half of the question will tell you more about your day-of activities than you might imagine. An event booked the day before yours may mean that you might not have venue access until the day of your event, whereas an event booked the day after yours will likely mean that you’ll need to arrange for same-evening pickup by your wedding vendor team’s items, including floral and décor!
6 | What about a wedding rehearsal? Is that included in your pricing?
Again, every venue operates differently. Some may charge for a rehearsal—in which case you’ll want to ask how long you have access and when you can reserve it for your use. Some venues will not allow you to book your rehearsal time more than 30 days in advance, whereas others may charge a little more and guarantee you the time to rehearse. If your venue does not charge for a rehearsal—way to go! On the off chance that they will not allow a Friday rehearsal, try asking if you can come earlier in the week, or have earlier access the day of your event. You’ll also know that they’ve been asked this question before and might have some great suggestions on a site to hold both your rehearsal AND the dinner after!
7 | Where are your restrooms located?
If your venue does not include the restrooms as a stop on your tour route, ask to see them! Your guests will be frequenting them throughout the evening, and at some point, you’ll need to as well. Knowing where the restrooms are, how many there are, how far off the dance floor, if they have an easily accessible option, and if the venue takes care of them are many questions left unanswered until event day. If they are plain but clean, this gives you a chance to bring in some small floral arrangements to brighten them up. If they are not clean, you’ll have an opportunity to address this with the venue staff prior to your big day.
8 | What can I expect to spend on your venue?
Ask for specifics on all expenses—is security included or extra? Is there a service charge and if so, on what is that calculated? Many forget to consider tax, which can easily add another $500+ on your venue rental. What does the standard venue rental fee include and how much extra is it to add on an hour of reception time, or substitute your favorite liquor into one of their bar packages? Most importantly, remember to ask to review a copy of the contract before signing. Ask questions and take time to review and know your venue’s policies. Signing your name to a contract is not anything to take lightly, whether with pen to paper or convenient e-signature options! You will also want to ask, “Are there any other expenses not included in the proposal that may surprise me later?”
9 | What do you need from me?
Now is the time that your venue will lay out their expectations for you! Perhaps they have a closed catering policy, or require that you hire a wedding coordinator. They will tell you about the payment schedule, if there is one, or important deadlines for scheduling tastings, consultations, and floor plans. Some venues require that the client purchase Special Event Liability Insurance, and some require you to do nothing other than show up on your big day!
**If you like doing as little as possible (and don’t we all?!) hire an amazing wedding coordinator who can make it feel like you’ve done nothing other than show up and ENJOY!
10 | How do I reserve my date?
Date reservation policies vary from venue to venue. Find out what the deposit is, whether or not it is refundable, if they offer a soft or firm hold option, and again, REVIEW THE CONTRACT! Not quite ready to reserve a date yet? Ask how popular the date is and when they anticipate booking it. Some venues are highly desirable and booked year-round, but others, especially outdoor venues, have more seasonal availability. If you find out how long the majority of their couples are booking in advance, that will also give you a good idea of where you’re at in the process. If you’ve found THE ONE, though (the venue, not the person!), don’t wait to book—the sooner you cross the venue off of your list, the sooner you can take a breath!
For those out there who are engaged or married…what questions did you ask your potential venues? I’d love to hear other questions that you found to be helpful in your wedding venue search!
10 Questions to Ask:
Each month there will be a new post from a new vendor, so keep checking back!! Next month will be all about wedding caterers!!