Think you’ve found the perfect ceremony and reception sites? Great! Now it’s time to make sure. Virtually every location has its own big list of rules about what you can’t do and what you must do. Use this handy list to make sure that you’re aware of any rules that might interfere with your perfect image of what your day is going to be like.
Rate the Space
- Is the location adequate for both the ceremony and reception? What about a cocktail hour? Is the a good flow between the rooms?
- How many rooms are there?
- How many people can each fit?
- What shape are the rooms? Rectangular, square, round, L-shaped?
- Are they open or do they have pillars that may get in the way?
- Are you limited to using only one room? Or only the room inside?
- How many bathrooms are available? (There should be about one per 25 guests.)
- How big is the parking lot and is there an alternate parking lot than can be used? Figure for suburban areas, where most people drive, you’ll need a minimum of one parking space per two guests.
All About the Money
- What is the cost of the location and how many hours does that get you? And how much is charged for overtime?
- Are there different rates for different days of the week, time of day, and various months? Some combination’s offer great discounts! Others come at a premium.
- What is included with the price? Tables, chairs, linens, plates, glasses, silverware, sound system, and dance floor?
- Are there any additional fees, such as cleaning, set up, cake cutting, bar staff, wait staff, and security?
- How much of a deposit is required to reserve the date?
- If you decide to choose another location can the deposit be refunded?
- Is there a fee for canceling or changing the date?
On the Clock
- What hours is the venue available?
- Will there be other parties booked before and after yours? And will that cause any time restraints?
- Does the site allow for various events to occur simultaneously but in different rooms?
- What will the length of the ceremony be?
The Great Outdoors
- Is there an outdoor area that can be used?
- Is there enough lighting and electrical outlets for an outdoor ceremony and/or reception?
- Is the outside area buggy? Will it need to be sprayed? Who is responsible for this?
- When will the grass be cut? And when will the lawn be watered?
- What happens if it rains? Are there tents available? Will they cost extra? Can they be heated or cooled? Is there an alternative indoor area?
- What decor rules are there?
- What items can be used – rice, bird seed, real flower petals, bubbles, doves, butterflies, etc?
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!
Your goal here is to find out which services the venue requires that you use, if you can have any food and/or drink you do yourself without a catering license, and if you can use outside vendors, such as a caterer, bartender, band, or DJ.
- If a bartender is provided, how is he or she paid, and is this service included?
- Is the champagne toast included in the price of the catering?
- If you are allowed to bring in your own vendors, can you provide your own alcohol?
- Are there restrictions on the type of alcohol allowed on site?
- Are kegs allowed?
- Are there corkage fees on wine and champagne?
- Will a cake cutting fee be charged if you bring in your own cake?
- What kitchen facilities are available in the case that you bring in your own caterer?
- Can the caterer make full use of the supplies available in the kitchen? What supplies are available for use?
- Are there coffee pots?
- Is there an ice machine?
- Will you be charged extra to use any of these items?
Lights, Camera, Action
- What, if any, are the volume limits on music?
- Are there restrictions on the type of music that can be played?
- Is there a cut-off time?
- Can music be played outside?
- Is there a microphone available? Can it be used free of charge?
- What does it cost to use the speaker system?
- Is there a piano or organ? Can it be used by someone hired personally or will it be provided? What will it cost to bring in an outside musician?
- Are there any restrictions on filming or taking photos?
The Miscellaneous Details
- Must you clean up yourself or does the site provide the cleaning services?
- Is there enough parking? Is there a valet? Is there a charge for parking?
- Is there a coat check? How much does that cost?
- Are there dressing rooms? Do they have locks on them?
- What are the restrooms like? How many? What is there proximity to your event?
- Can the ceremony site be decorated?
- Are there restriction on how or what you decorate with? Are candles allowed? Are there rules on hanging things from the ceiling? What about walls?
- At the ceremony, can you incorporate your own vows into the program?
If you’re satisfied with the answers you get to all these questions and the ceremony and reception sites looks great, you can feel much more confident in your decision to book the venue!