You can't have a wedding without a venue; what venue is honestly up to you, though. Be it a stately house, a modern hotel, or in the middle of a forest park, you have to consider particular logistics before putting down the deposit. We give you a rundown of the 30 questions you should ask your venue before booking!
Costs and Payment
How much will it cost, and how is that broken up?
- From the beginning, it's essential to get a clear and concise outline of everything you're paying for when you book the venue. Even better, get it in writing! Not only does this mean you're avoiding being blindsided by hidden costs, but it allows you to compare venues before setting anything in stone.
Will they allow a payment plan?
- There are a multitude of costs when it comes to planning a wedding; having everything come out of your bank account in one huge lump sum can be enough to send you into a full-blown anxiety attack! Talk to the venue about the possibility of setting up a practical payment plan that lets you confirm your perfect wedding while still being able to afford the rest of the day!
How much does their reschedule fee cost?
- Things happen, whether that be illness, horrible weather or family emergencies. Talk to the venue beforehand about the cost of rescheduling the date it is set in stone? This can save you an absolute headache later down the line if you're able to plan accordingly and put some money aside for contingency (You can add this to the honeymoon fund if everything goes swimmingly).
Do they have any vendors they could provide or recommend?
- There may be photographers, caterers or florists that have worked with the venue before that the venue can recommend for you. Having a vendor who knows the space, they're working in not only saves you time; they know who to ask about things they need and can generally use their prior knowledge of the location to their (and your) advantage.
What time can the vendors arrive?
- Different venues have very different timeframes that vendors can set up; depending on how busy the venue is; they may have events before yours that they need to clear out and clean up. This cuts down the amount of time your vendors have for setup and can be detrimental to smooth running. To prevent this, talk to the venue about the earliest the vendors can start setup (get it in writing) and then discuss this with your vendors to ensure they can get everything done in that timeframe.
How many people can the venue hold?
- This is a pretty important question to ask from the beginning; there's not much point in booking a beautiful venue if you can't fit everybody you want into it. So be realistic about your numbers before you talk to the venue (You may want an intimate wedding venue but have an enormous guest list you want to invite). You never know; they may have a secret ballroom or patio area that's perfect for your event.
How many bathrooms will be available?
- This might not be something you consider in the planning, but it is certainly something you'll think about on the day. The last thing you want is a massive queue for the one available bathroom.
Can the ceremony also be held here? How much extra cost would that add to the rental fee?
- If you're planning on having your reception in a more out-of-the-way location, then why not consider having your ceremony there too? It will save time and money between the reception and ceremony and give your photos a more cohesive theme. Ask your venue about the possibility of this and if hosting both events at the one venue would add extra costs or rental fees to your initial amount.
What's the backup plan for outdoor spaces if there's bad weather?
- If you're planning an outdoor wedding or ceremony in Ireland, then it's probably for the best that you ask your venue about their backup options in case of rain. Also, take a look around the rest of the venue for photo opportunities if the great outdoors betrays you.
Do you have liability insurance?
- I'm going to be frank here, people like to drink at weddings, and when people get drunk, accidents tend to happen. Having liability insurance protects you, your partner and the venue if somebody gets into an accident or breaks something if your gifts get stolen, or your dress gets damaged. It's better to be safe than sorry!
Are there decor restrictions?
- You and your venue may have different ideas of what is and isn't appropriate wedding decor. It's not so much a matter of taste as it is a matter of safety. So before you head out and buy 200 white pillar candles, talk to your venue about if they'll let you use them all or if it's too much of a fire hazard.
Do you have an inventory of decor that I can use? E.g. candles, candleholders, vases, tablecloths etc.
- There are specific decorations that you might not necessarily have to buy for your wedding day; ask the venue if you're package includes access to their decor inventory for things like tablecloths, candle holders and vases. It might not seem like much, but this can save you a healthy amount of cash on something you're probably not going to use again.
Can I move things around?
- This might sound ludicrous to some people, you pay all this money for a venue, and they don't let you move the furniture about? Some venues will be 100% chill with you scooting things about so you have ample space for your event. Other venues, however (A stately manor, for example), will potentially have valuable and fragile furniture that either can't be moved or have to be moved by staff trained to move it safely and without damaging it. Just because you hate the baby grand piano in the back of the room doesn't mean the venue will move it for you.
Is there space for a band or musicians?
- If you're planning on having live music for your reception and ceremony, ask the venue if they have allocated space to set up for the night. Depending on the music you have, the size of the room varies vastly, e.g. if you have a singer and acoustic guitar player, you'll need a much smaller space than a full jazz band. If you've already booked them, talk to your musicians about the area they'll need for the night and relay this back to the venue.
Will there be microphones for the speeches?
- Depending on the venue size and the number of guests you invite, you may need a microphone for the reception speeches. Your venue may provide one for you, or you might have to nab one from the band. Again, it's better to have a clear plan before the speeches start so there isn't confusion or a delay!
Food and Drink
Can they serve alcohol?
- Some venues are BYOB; that's not necessarily an issue, you can always rent a bartender for the night. The problem, however, can come down to cost.
Will we incur a corkage fee for bringing our own alcohol?
- In a bid to make up for lost profits from a BYOB event, some venues may charge a fee to open and serve alcohol provided by you and your significant other. This can range from €10 to €40 per bottle, depending on the location you've chosen and the alcohol you've provided.
Will there be a kitchen available if I hire my own caterer?
- This is pretty important to ask the venue; if you want to hire your own caterer for dietary reasons or because of personal preference, then you need to know if they'll have space to prepare your meals. If they don't provide the space, you have three options, hire their caterer, hire a food truck or take your business elsewhere.
Are chairs, tables, silverware and tableware provided, or will I have to rent my own?
- You may not consider tables and chairs something you have to rent for your wedding day, but certain venues require it. So don't get caught off guard closer to your wedding day; ask your venue right off the bat if renting dinnerware and furniture is something they require.
Is there a cake-cutting fee?
- A cake-cutting fee is usually in itself just an incentive to hire their in-house baker as opposed to a separate baker to make your wedding cake. It's not usually particularly high in cost, around €1 - €2 per slice. However, if you can avoid spending €200 to cut the cake, you spent €500 on then why not? Splash that cash somewhere else!
Day Of Staff
Who do we go to with enquiries on the day?
- Not everybody hires a wedding planner for their big day; however, a wedding coordinator is the closest you'll ever come to having a fairy godmother. They make sure the day runs smoothly and pull all the strings in the background so that if something does go wrong, you'll be none the wiser. Some venues provide a coordinator; some do not. So discuss with your venue beforehand who you'll talk to during your wedding with general enquiries, rearranging plans or maybe just a warm hug.
Will the venue provide serving staff for the food and drinks?
- This may come as a shock to some, but smaller venues don't usually have the staff to wait tables at an event; they may, however, be able to point you in the direction of a company that provides serving staff for events.
Is there an additional charge for bar staff?
- Depending on the venue, they may provide a bartender in your wedding package; however, if you want a more specialised cocktail bartender or sommelier, it may be accommodated, but it can come at an extra price. At the end of the day, though, you're paying for luxury and a unique experience on the happiest day of your life; splurge a little and wow your guests!
Is there an in-house caterer? If so, how much will that cost?
- An in-house caterer is generally the less stressful option; they know the kitchen and all its equipment well, know the local suppliers they regularly get food from, know the venue staff, and, most importantly, know how to cook! A bonus of the in-house caterer is a reduced cost as the venue will want to keep as many aspects in-house as possible.
How many meals is the in-house caterer used to cooking for one event?
- You may be cutting costs on hiring the in-house caterer, but if they're not able to cook food for 100 or more guests in good time, then you'll probably wish you had splurged a little more. Ask the venue organiser about previous weddings and the number of guests, google around for reviews to make sure you're getting value for money.
Does the venue have accommodation available for the guests?
- Depending on the venue, they may or may not have accommodation available for your guests; discuss beforehand how many rooms you need and the date of your wedding to ensure you're not getting married on a blackout date.
If not, can they recommend somewhere to rent?
- Not everywhere can accommodate a large number of people requiring accommodation. They may, however, be able to recommend somewhere else to stay. If you're planning to get married in a relatively metropolitan location, this shouldn't be an issue. The trouble arises, however, when your location is remote.
Do they have space for the bridal party to get ready?
- While specific venues won't have rooms for rent, they may have a bridal suite for the bride and bridesmaids to get ready in. So if you want to avoid climbing into a car in your wedding dress, then discuss the availability of a bridal suite for the day of your wedding.
Can we block book rooms for guests?
- If your perfect venue is secluded and remote, then it might be a good idea to ask about block booking rooms for your guests. For those unfamiliar with the term block booking, it essentially just means to reserve a large number of rooms at the same time and usually under one name. This guarantees that every guest will get a room regardless of how busy the venue gets closer to the event (it also prevents forgetful family and friends from trying to book accommodation at the last minute). In addition, specific venues may offer a discount for block booking.
Is there a reliable transport system from the closest town to the venue? E.g. bus, uber or taxi service etc.
- If your reception venue is out of the way and not within walking distance of your guest's accommodation, then it's vital to ensure a safe mode of transport for them back to their beds. For example, you don't want your guests to drive under the influence, so talk to your venue organiser about arranging a bus or taxis that will take them from the venue to their accommodation.