Photo provided by Visual Poetry by Meghan
By: Hillary Hanson, The Wild Basin Lodge
We hear it all the time from engaged couples searching for the right wedding venue: planning a wedding is overwhelming. Since hundreds (if not thousands) of details are involved with planning the perfect wedding, it’s no wonder that couples become stressed when planning their dream day. That being said, couples who pay attention to the details, have the support of friends and family, and book the right vendors can create beautiful and unique events that they will remember forever.
Quite often, the first vendor couples need to schedule is their wedding venue. This helps establish the date and location to forward to guests. Additionally, since venues may include certain services in their wedding packages, knowing the venue gives couples an idea of what additional vendor services are needed. The following are ten essential questions to ask wedding venue representatives to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your venue:
1. Do you have my date available? The best venues often book the most desirable wedding dates 9-24 months in advance. Rather than selecting a specific must-have date, we have found that couples often benefit from discussing a month and optimal days of the week that would work for the wedding.
2. How many weddings do you host per day? Couples seeking a private and personalized wedding need to consider how many other weddings may be hosted by their venue at the same day or time. This question can indicate how much personalized attention to expect from the staff.
3. Do you have restrictions or rules on guest counts and do you allow kids? Depending on the size and popularity of the venue, the location you’re considering may have rules in place for wedding guest counts. For instance, venues occasionally require a 75-guest minimum on Saturdays in June. If you’re looking for a weekend date and plan on having a small guest list, make sure that you know the minimum guest count requirements before you tour your dream venue. Alternatively, if you plan on having a large wedding, make sure to ask about the venue’s capacity. Make sure you know if your venue allows kids and ask about their policy for including kids in the guest count.
4. Do you have additional ceremony site fees? This is a little-known trick wedding venues occasionally have in place to charge couples extra. Some other common venue fees that add up quickly may include linen, tables, glassware, and china rentals, ceremony seating rentals, food service staff, and concierge services.
5. Do you include catering in your wedding packages, is on-site catering required, and what’s your alcohol policy? Couples planning a very specific budget for the big day should take catering budgets into account. Onsite catering at venues is often beneficial to reduce added costs and ensure that the food will be freshly prepared. If you’ve narrowed your possible venue list down to two or three locations and have estimates in-hand, make sure to consider the additional cost of catering if it’s not included. Also, if you have a specific caterer or friend who you would like to hire, find out if your venue requires specific caterers. Always ask if outside alcohol may be brought in and how the venue handles alcohol at weddings.
6. How much should I expect to pay in service charges and taxes? The service charge essentially means that you don’t have to tip your venue at the end of the night, and typical charges can range from 18-25% of your wedding bill. Taxes, of course, vary greatly from different counties, and you’ll want to include that information in your estimates. Many resort towns add on an additional resort or lodging tax. The venue locations outside of resort towns don’t have the lodging, resort, or bed tax, so remember to ask if that tax is grouped into your wedding venue costs.
7. Do you include wedding planning, day-of coordination, and/or concierge services? According to Bridal Festivals, the average Colorado couple will spend $1745 or about 6.8% of their wedding budget on a wedding planner. Venues that include services such as day-of wedding coordination or concierge services offer a huge cost-savings by including planning and coordination services in their wedding packages, so couples will want to plan accordingly.
8. Do you have on-site lodging and do you require that we book lodging at your venue? If you’re considering a hotel, country club, or lodge for your reception, you may have already noticed that lodging is readily available for your guests. Some venues require that couples book and pre-pay for a certain number of rooms, and you’ll want to include that information in your planned budget. Possible lodging locations and contact information are key pieces of information to include in your wedding website for your guests. Some venues also charge the aforementioned service fee for lodging rather than the typical lodging tax, so make sure to clarify how lodging is charged before signing a contract.
9. Can you send me your preferred vendor list and are there restrictions for outside vendors? Preferred vendor lists can be excellent resources for couples seeking the best wedding professionals near their location. Some venues require couples to only use the vendors specified on their list, so if you planned on using a friend or family member’s services, you will need to clarify with your venue if that’s allowed. A great tip is to always ask if vendors pay money to get on preferred lists or if the venue’s list is based on merit and professionalism.
10. May I have a full estimate including everything we’ve discussed? An estimate is a handy resource for budget-conscious couples and a great indicator if your venue is willing to put care and effort into their clientele’s needs. Once you’ve received your estimates, toured venues, and selected your location, make sure to read your wedding agreement or contract thoroughly to ensure that your estimate reflects the same verbiage without hidden fees before your sign anything.