We covered this topic a few years back in the Under the Vintage Veil days, but as you can see, things are a little different now! So we’ve revamped this post for people who are having a totally creative, unique wedding and want to do things their way. If you’re looking for a blank-canvas wedding venue, or somewhere that will allow you to add your own special touches, then this post is for you. Assuming you’ve covered the basics (dates, capacity and so on) here are the essential questions to ask your wedding venue.
All images in this post © Satureyes
Are you a full-time wedding venue?
Sounds like an odd question, right? But lots of universities, schools, gardens and other properties that have another main function aren’t always able to provide the blank-canvas space you might want for your big day. A dedicated wedding or event space will often be more flexible in accommodating off-the-menu requests, as it were.
Do you have set wedding packages?
If you want to plan your own wedding, from start to finish, then avoid venues with mandatory packages. They’re perfect for someone who wants the majority of their wedding done and dusted, but not so great for somebody who wants to get stuck into their own planning. Don’t rule out a venue on the basis that they offer packages, they could just be for people who would like them, but be aware that packages, while sometimes more budget friendly, may box you in creatively.
Can we bring our own food and drink?
Some venues require that you use their own caterers, others that you purchase alcohol from them, or that you pay a hefty corkage fee per bottle to bring your own drink. If an in-house caterer isn’t an issue for you, then make sure you find out exactly what you can get for your money before you commit to your wedding date. Based on an experience I had when planning my own wedding, I always advise couples to make sure they can meet the in-house catering costs, or they risk being priced out of their own wedding.
Which spaces are licensed for civil ceremonies?
This may not apply if you’re having a religious ceremony or getting married in a registry office, but if you want to get married at your venue, make sure that you find out which spaces are licensed for ceremonies. Just because a venue has a civil ceremony license doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to tie the knot in the space you want, as specific structures have to be licensed.
What comes with the room?
There are two reasons to ask this. The first is that, with many blank-canvas spaces, you will need to rent in your own tables and chairs, possibly bring your own sound equipment and so on. The second is that sometimes what you think is a blank-canvas room actually comes with something that can’t be removed. Look out for things like pianos, paintings, upholstery and so on to gauge whether your empty space will be as empty as you would like.
How long will we have the room for?
If you need to decorate your whole space without the help of staff, which can be the case with a totally blank room, then a one-day turnaround is going to be pretty tight. Find out if you have access the day before and the day after to set up and take down.
Are there any restrictions?
Planning on ending the night with fireworks? Hiring a kick-ass band? Hoping to hang things from the walls? Want some fabulous big balloons? Always dreamed of being sent off in a shower of confetti? Make sure you talk to your venue first. If you have your heart set on any extras, ask for a full list of restrictions. For example, is there a noise level restriction on the venue? Are fireworks allowed? Is confetti allowed at all (most venues will allow biodegradable confetti, but some have a total ban)? Can you have candles? Do your electronics need to be PAT tested? If anything is a dealbreaker, it’s best to find out before you put down a deposit.
Will there be a member of staff on hand?
Some venues will allow you to plan your totally unique event from start to finish but the sacrifice is that you won’t have any staff on hand to help out. Others may provide staff on the day, or liaise more closely with you. Find out exactly how much help you can expect so that you can plan accordingly.
Are there any extra costs?
With some venues, you may find that there are extra charges such as cleaning costs and damage deposits. Make sure you find out early so that there are no unpleasant surprises later on.
Will we have exclusive use of the venue?
Some venues with more than one facility or space will sell more than one wedding on the same day. This shouldn’t be a problem, as the venue will hopefully be experienced in keeping wedding parties separate, but if you can’t bear the thought of sharing your big day with another wedding party, then this could potentially put you off.
Most venues will be upfront, thorough and a dream to work with, these questions are just insurance to make sure you get exactly what YOU want! Don’t forget to let the venue know just how you intend to use it so that there are no misunderstandings and have an amazing wedding day!