You'll probably visit a few different wedding venues before you find the one you want to marry at. After all, from rustic venues to unusual venues, there's so much to choose from!
There'll be a huge amount of information to take away at each viewing and it's easy to realise you forgot to ask lots of important questions.
To make sure you've got all the essential information you need before you put down a deposit, here's a list of 51 questions to ask your wedding venue.
Image: Brinsop Court Manor House
The best thing to do for each visit is print out a copy of our key questions to ask your wedding venue and jot down answers as you go. Not every question will be relevant to you, but this will cover all your bases so when it comes to comparing venues you'll have all the info at hand.
1. Is the Wedding Venue Available on the Date I Want?
Weekends and summer months are the most popular times for weddings and can get booked up over a year in advance. Check the venue’s available dates before you start getting into the finer details - this will avoid the disappointment of finding out the venue you have your heart set on isn't free until 2021.
2. How Long Can I Provisionally Hold a Date For?
During peak season, it's important to hold your wedding date to avoid the disappointment of someone else booking it. Some venues let you hold a date for free until they get other interest, while others will ask you to pay a refundable or non-refundable deposit - find out whether you'll need to pay and how long they'll hold it for while you weigh up your venue options.
3. How Many Guests Can You Accommodate in the Day and the Evening?
You and your partner will have at least a rough idea of the amount of guests that’ll be attending the wedding. Make sure the venues you’re looking at can accommodate your guest list.
SEE MORE: Late Availability Wedding Venues
Image: Eltham Palace
4. Is the Venue Licensed for Civil Ceremonies?
If you want to have your ceremony and reception all under one roof, make sure your chosen venue has a wedding licence. If not, you may have to have your legal wedding beforehand and hold a blessing, or have a religious or civil ceremony somewhere else and then host your reception at the venue.
5. What Areas Will Be Available to Us?
It's crucial to know what space and outdoor areas are included in the venue hire fee. If your ceremony is outside, find out what the back-up plan is if it rains on your wedding day: is there an indoor or covered area the ceremony can be moved to and what will change? Ask to see it too!
6. Is the Wedding Venue Available for Exclusive Hire?
Venues vary in terms of how many weddings they will allow on one day, who else is permitted on the grounds of the venue, and the times your suppliers are allowed in and out. If you’re looking for a private wedding venue where you will be the only couple getting married and the house, grounds and staff belong to you, ensure that your venue is an ‘exclusive use’ one.
READ MORE: Wedding Venues With Large Capacity
Image: Shearsby Bath
7. If I Don't Hire the Venue for Exclusive Use, Who Else Will Be There on My Wedding Day?
This question is particularly important if you’re getting married at a hotel or historic landmark. You’ll need to find out if any areas will be open to the public or other weddings. Just because a venue isn’t ‘exclusive use’, doesn’t mean there will be more than one wedding, so it’s really important to find out the details of who will be allowed to go where.
8. Who Will Be the Point of Contact in the Lead-Up to the Wedding?
Even if you think you've asked everything, questions will arise ahead of your wedding day so you need to know exactly who to contact. It'll ease your stress to have a go-to person to contact to discuss finer details and can make your relationship with your wedding venue more personal.
9. Who From the Wedding Venue Will Be Present on the Day?
Finding out your point of contact on the day of your wedding is also just as important – will it be the same person who you’ve been dealing with the whole time, or someone new? The likelihood is it’ll be one of the wedding co-ordinators, venue manager or another senior member of staff. This is essential information for the ushers and bridesmaids as they will be taking care of any hiccups on the day.
Image: Pembroke Lodge
10. Do You Have Recommended Suppliers or an In-House Caterer?
Some venues will supply you with a list of "recommended suppliers" who they regularly work with and trust, and it can be helpful if you're not sure where to start with your search for a wedding photographer or cake supplier.
However, some venues will request that you stick only to their recommended suppliers, which can limit your choices for your big day and potentially not work with your budget.This is particuarly the case if they have an in-house caterer, who might not be able to supply a specific cuisine you want. If you do have external caterers, check kitchen facilities will be available to them and whether there's a cost involved in that.
11. Is There Enough Parking for All Our Guests?
If lots of guests will be travelling by car to your venue, check the parking situation at the venue. If they don’t have allocated parking, are there nearby car parks or roads for guests to leave their cars, do they charge etc?
12. Can Guests Leave Their Cars Overnight?
Similarly, it's handy to know if your guests can leave their cars overnight as it gives them more choice on how late they stay, whether they decide to have a drink, or whether they'll need to think ahead about taxis.
Image: Bijou Weddings, Cain Manor
13. Are There Areas For Both of Us to Get Ready in the Morning?
If you dream of getting your hair and make-up done in the bridal suite of your venue, it’s important to make sure that space is actually available. Not all wedding venues will have the facilities for you and your partner to get ready there on the morning of your wedding. Is this included in the price too?
14. Which Rooms are Licensed for Civil Ceremonies?
Most wedding venues will have more than one room that can hold part of your wedding, so make sure you find out which ones are licensed for weddings, and which ones are just for reception drinks and a disco.
15. What is the Changeover Plan From Ceremony to Reception Room?
If your reception is taking place in the same room as your ceremony, ask what will happen in the changeover and how long it will take. Will the staff set up the tables or will you need to plan for your bridesmaids and ushers to do this? What will you guests do in the in-between time? Is there a separate area for them to have drinks and take photos?
READ MORE: The Most Gorgeous Wedding Ceremony Rooms
Image: Chilston Park
16. How Flexible are You With Timings of the Day?
Most venues know from experience the best running times for your day, e.g. how long you'll want between the ceremony and reception for photos and when best to have the speeches. Ask what they recommend and then how flexible they can be. If you’re not looking for a traditional layout to your wedding day and want an informal or slightly different timeline to your day, you need to make sure your venue offers that.
17. Can You Play Music During the Ceremony?
If you’ve always dreamt of having a harpist play as you walk down the aisle, or have a chosen song you want played during your ceremony, be sure to ask your venue if they have the facilities to play music or the space to host something live.
18. Are There any Decor Restrictions?
If no naked flames are allowed then you definitely won't be walking you way down a candle-lit aisle. Ask whether you're able to hang things like lights or drapery, and check restrictions on things like candles or large flower arches. You might not know yet how you want to decorate but it's best to know what you can't do from the start.
19. Are Fireworks/Confetti Allowed?
Not all venues allow fireworks or confetti so check this. Some will be happy with biodegradeable or petal confetti.
READ MORE: The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Wedding Ceremony
Image: Burgh House & Hampstead Museum
The Wedding Breakfast
20. Do You Offer a Complimentary Menu Tasting Within the Catering Cost?
It’s very common that couples will want to try out the wedding breakfast and accompanying wines before the actual day, and a lot of venues put on menu tasting evenings where you can sample dishes from the menu to help choose your three courses. See how many people can attend this as you might like to bring your parents too.
21. What Menu Options Do You Have and Do You Cater For Vegetarians?
Will you have one, two, three or more course options for your guests? Do they offer vegetarian dishes, gluten free, or vegan? It’s vital that you let the venue know as soon as possible about any slightly unusual dietary requirements or allergies so they can ensure that they have appropriate options to offer your guests.
22. What Time is the Meal Served?
Essential to know to plan the timings of your day and work out how many nibbles you'll need before the meal and when to serve food in the evening.
23. How Much Wine is Included Per Person and is There a Corkage Fee?
Many venues will include a champagne toast, half bottle of wine and tea/coffee in their cost-per-head. You can often upgrade your wine choices for an additional cost. If you want to provide more alcohol for your guests, then you'll need to ask whether it has to be bought through the venue or whether you can bring your own in with or without a corkage fee.
READ MORE: Foodie Wedding Venues
Image: Kew Gardens
24. Are Crockery and Linen Included in the Price?
You’d be surprised how many people forget about this. It’s also worth asking what the crockery and table cloths look like as they may not go with your theme and you might want to provide your own.
25. What Size Tables Do You Have?
Are they square or are they round? How many people can fit on each table? This is all really important information that you’ll need to know in advance to do your table plan.
26. What Table Options are There For the Head Table?
Similarly to the above, you should be asking about the top table options, like how many their top table can seat and where it would be placed in the room.
27. Is There a Cake-Cutting Fee? Do You Provide Cake-Cutting Utensils?
Some venues will charge you per person to cut and serve the wedding cake which can quickly add up. You'll also need to know if you have to provide the cake slice.
READ MORE: Wedding Table Plan - Ideas and Inspiration
Image: Lillibrooke Manor and Great Barn
The Evening Reception
28. What Evening Food Options Do You Offer?
If your wedding breakfast is an early afternoon one, your guests will probably be peckish again by the evening. Are evening canapés or a buffet dinner part of your package, or do you have to pay extra? Your venue may not provide evening food at all!
29. Can You Accommodate a Live Band or DJ? When Can They Set Up?
No point hiring a live band if there's simply nowhere they can plug in. If you want dancing, this is an important enquiry! Finding out when they can set up will be helpful for your suppliers and will help you mentally prepare the logistics of your day.
30. Is There a Sound Limiter that the Band/DJ Need to Be Aware of?
Most venues will have a sound limiter. Don’t panic if this sounds completely alien to you, your wedding band or DJ will know exactly what this means. It’s simply a volume limit that they can play to, and most professional entertainers will be able to tailor the volume of their act to your venue’s limit.
Image: The Velvet Notes
31. What are Your Bar Prices?
If you’re not planning on having an open bar, it might be worth checking what prices the bar at your venue will charge. If the venue’s alcohol is really expensive, you might be able to negotiate a special price for one or two kinds of drink to try and ease the cost of the night for your guests.
32. Will Guests Be Able to Pay using Card or is it Cash Only?
Most bars will accept contactless payments, but it’s well worth checking. Guests will need to know in advance if it's cash only.
33. Could We Plug an iPod into Your Sound System?
Couples who want to cut costs at the wedding may want to ask about providing their own music. Does your venue have speakers or a sound system that you could plug a laptop, phone or iPod into?
34. What Time Will Our Evening Reception Need to Finish?
Lights-out time is something you absolutely need to know before you send out wedding invitations and start booking suppliers for the big day. It’s also worth asking if the bar stops serving at the same time, or if that’s half an hour or an hour before.
READ MORE: The Ultimate Wedding Songs of 2017
Image: Gosfield Hall
35. Do You Have Accommodation On-Site?
Asking your venue what overnight accommodation they have is essential especially if you’re getting married in a location that isn’t local to you or your family and friends. Some venues will also offer a discounted room rate or include bedrooms in a certain wedding package, so be sure to ask what they can do for you in terms of rooms and prices. If they don't, are there any B&Bs or hotels in the area? Is there a reliable taxi service?
36. Do Guests Pay the Venue Directly for Accommodation or Do They Need to Pay Us?
Finding out who pays who is key because if it’s you and your partner who have to pay the venue upfront for rooms hired, you’ll probably want to be 100% sure how many rooms you need to ensure you’re not out of pocket.
37. What Time Can Guests Check In on the Wedding Day and Check Out the Next Day?
This is the kind of information your guests will be asking you, so make sure you’re ready with all the answers. With all of the above information, you could even send out a special card or email to all guests wanting rooms giving them prices, dates to pay by, who to pay and check in and out times.
READ MORE: Wedding Venues With Accommodation
Image: The George in Rye
38. Do You Have Disabled Access?
Is there access and toilets for disabled guests? Elderly guests too might be more comfortable using a lift or an entrance that doesn't involve steps.
39. How Many Toilets are There?
At least 4 toilets per 100 guests is recommended if you don't want most of your wedding to take place in the toilet queue!
40. Is There Somewhere We Can Securely Store Our Wedding Gifts?
Couples tend to get lots of very valuable wedding gifts so make sure the venue has a safe place you can store them all.
Image: Osborne House
41. Is the Venue Child-Friendly?
See if there's a side room where you could put on a Disney film for kids during the speeches or set up a few activities to keep them entertained. Some venues, like historic ones, aren't too keen on young children running about so check their policy.
42. Is There a Smoking Area?
A heated outdoor area you can go to smoke will make for much happier guests, especially at a winter wedding!
Pricing and Payment
43. How Much Will the Initial Deposit be?
You might think the venue you want is out of your league financially, but with just a deposit to pay first, and final payments later on, it may just be doable.
44. When Do We Need to Make Our Final Payment?
Securing a final date for the venue payment allows you to map out a timeline of financial pay-outs and, as mentioned above, it can also give you time to save up money to pay for the wedding.
Image: Dartmouth House
45. Can We Negotiate on the Cost of the Wedding Venue?
Wedding venues will often give you a discounted rate for midweek or off-season weddings. It's always worth asking if there's any leeway on the price.
46. Is VAT Included in the Prices Given to Us?
VAT can sometimes creep up on you, so be sure to check if that’s included in the price or if it’s added on as extra later.
47. Are There Any Extra Charges For Staff/Cleaning/Room Hire that Aren’t Included in the Prices Given to Us?
There’s always hidden costs no one tells you about when it comes to the wedding, so be sure to ask this question. Ask if you'll incur a charge if the number on the day doesn't match the numbers you've given them too (people do bring unexpected +1s!)
48. What's the Cancellation Policy?
If you cancel far enough in advance, most venues can return your full deposit. However, you may not get it back after a certain date so check what their policy is.
READ MORE: Money Saving Hacks for Your Wedding
Image: Newton Hall
49. Do You Have Any Restrictions?
Restrictions are common with historic wedding venues to preseve the building, but other venues may also have certain rules that couples must follow. Be clear about these from the start to avoid any upset closer to your wedding or worse, on the day.
50. Do You Have Public Liability Insurance?
Every wedding venue should have some form of public liability insurance and should have no qualms providing a document that proves this. You don't want to be held responsible if a guest injures themselves.
51. Will the Venue Clear Everything Away After the Wedding or Will We Need to Organise This?
Wedding clear-ups are a very important subject to cover at the start. While a large majority of venues will have staff that can take care of the post-wedding clean-up, there’s still cases where you’ll be responsible for either doing it yourself - if you’ve hired land for a marquee, for example - or you’ll be in charge of hiring a team to do it for you.
Thanks to Cara Barnes from the English Heritage Group, Louise Hearsum from Pembroke Lodge, Francesca Cribb from Bijou Weddings and the Hand Picked Hotels Group's Chilston Park for their insight and advice on questions to ask your wedding venue.
If you're on the hunt for a real wedding bargain, be sure to check out our round-up of the best wedding venue special offers!