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5 Important Topics to Discuss with your Wedding Venue

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

There are so many important questions to ask your wedding venue, but I've narrowed it down to my top 5 that you absolutely can not miss, speaking as a previous Wedding & Event Venue Manager!

Venue: Sheldon Inn Restaurant & Bar in Elk Grove, CA

  1. Venue Access Time: Let's say your ceremony + reception time at the venue is 5pm-10pm. It's important to clarify how much time you have prior to the event to set-up and how much time you have after to break-down/clean-up. If you've watched my stories on Instagram, you know this might seem like a very cut and dry question, however I've found that the answers can differ between venues.

Questions about time before the event:

  • If your venue has a "getting ready" area like a bridal suite or groom's lounge, ask them how early you and/or your bridal party can arrive on-site to get ready. *Also ask what their policy is on food and drinks being brought into the bridal suite and what the clean-up policy is (sometimes venues have cleaning fee's for the bridal suite. Read the fine print in your contract or ask your Venue Coordinator).

  • "What is the earliest time a Vendor can come set-up?" This is especially important if you have an event designer or live band (they usually require plenty of set-up time).

  • If your venue will set-up tables and chairs for you, ask what time they will be done and if the venue will set-up anything else like linens, dinnerware, etc. If not, you will need to calculate how much time you will need to do this and delegate a team.

Questions about time after the event:

  • What is the music cut-off time? *Especially important for an outdoor event due to City Noise Ordinances

  • What time do my guests need to be off-site?

  • What time do myself and my bridal party need to be off-site? *Sometimes venues will even require all cars out of the parking lot by a certain time if they have to lock a gate entrance

  • What time does everything need to be cleaned up and off-site by? *Sometimes the 10pm event end time also means everything has to be cleaned up so make sure to clarify if you have any additional time after the event end time to do this. If you do, ask how much time you have and put together a clean-up plan (this is something your wedding planner should do for you)

  • Ask what your venue's policy is on leaving any larger items overnight, such as your wedding arch, farmhouse tables, etc. if you don't want to spend time loading these up at the end of your wedding.

2. Alcohol Policy:

If your venue allows you to bring your own alcohol, this can potentially save you some money but be aware this can also be a huge headache.

  • If you are opting in to bring your own alcohol, remember that no one likes a warm drink! You'll need ice. Who's going to pick that up? Where can you store it? Does the your venue have coolers or an actual bar area where the ice can be stored? Where are you going to chill 100 bottles of beer (no one likes a warm beer!) How much alcohol do you need to bring? Do you need to rent wine glasses? Who is going to clean those at the end of the night?

  • Consider hiring a professional bartender service for this, especially if your doing mixed drinks. Just trust me on this one (there's a lot more to say about this but I'll save it for another blog post).

If your venue provides the bar for you, take a sigh of relief! Just pick from their list and you should be good to go. You can always ask if you can do a Signature Drink too.

  • Find out if your bar has a beverage minimum and what their policy is if you do a Cash Bar (aka your guests pay for their own drinks). Sometimes venues will require a minimum amount spent for a cash bar, and if the minimum is not reached then you are responsible for the rest.

3. Parking: Depending on where you're getting married (especially in the city), parking may be limited. Ask how many parking spaces your venue has and where guests will be entering from (this is important to know because I like to place gift tables, guest books, champagne/"welcome wine", etc near the entrance so guests don't miss it on their way to the ceremony!)

  • If the entrance to parking isn't clear, ask if you can put up signage or if they'll allow a parking attendant to direct guests where to park.

  • Pro Tip: Where I live, the City estimates 2.5 people per car (yes, you read that correctly), so you can do the math to figure out if the amount of parking spaces works for your guest count.

4. Food: One of my favorite topics! Ask if your venue allows outside catering or if they require you to use their own.

If your venue allows outside catering (aka you hire your own food service), ask:

  • Do you have an outside catering fee? *sometimes venues charge per person or a flat rate if you do not use their catering.

  • How early can my caterer come set-up?

  • Where can the caterer set-up? *don't forget to ask your caterer if they bring their own tables or if you'll need to provide them; if they don't, see if your venue has any you can use.

  • Is there a place for the caterer to store food or supplies?

  • Do you allow food trucks? If so, where can they park?

If your venue does not allow outside catering, ask:

  • Do you have a food & beverage minimum?

  • Do you have a kids menu? What is the age range for the kids menu?

  • When do you need the final headcount by? *caterers usually need a headcount by a certain time so they can order all the food.

  • Do you offer Vendor Meals? *usually vendor meals are at a discounted price, it is common to feed your DJ, Photographer, and Planner at weddings. Make sure to let your vendors know ahead of time so they can plan when they'll take their meal break!

5. The Contract: Going through a wedding venue contract can be a task. Make sure that you read everything and ask your venue any clarifying questions before signing. Some major things to look for are: Cancellation Policy, Inclement Weather Policy, COVID Clause, Moving your Wedding Date, Food & Beverage Minimum, Payment Schedule, Venue Policies and more. A good wedding planner is well versed in Venue Contacts and can clarify any details for you.

I feel like I just scratched the surface on questions to ask your Wedding Venue, but you will seriously sound like a pro if you go though all these details with your Venue Coordinator.

More in depth blog posts to come on these topics so stay tuned!

Happy Planning Friends!

- Details by Danielle

Download the list of questions to check off at your next meeting!

Important Topics to Discuss with your We
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