The following list of questions and tips (used with permission from Here Comes the Guide) will help you make a good decision when deciding on your venue. Print these questions out and use them as a guide while you’re talking with a venue contact or reviewing a venue information packet. And of course, add your own questions that relate to your particular event (e.g. “Can my dog be the ring bearer in my ceremony?”)
TIP: Don’t forget to have a notebook or your planning binder handy so that you can record your answers to all these questions.
• If you really love the site, ask the venue representative to put together a proposal with all the pricing and policies—including the tax and service charge—so you have an idea of the basic cost.
• Bring a camera with you to every location you visit, and organize the photos by location name when you get home. After seeing a series of places, it’s easy to confuse them. Having a photographic record will help you remember what was special about each site.
• Pay attention to venue as a whole: Check out everything, including the restrooms, the foyer, the dressing rooms, the outdoor lighting and even the kitchen. You want to be sure your vision can be realized at this location. If possible, make arrangements with the site representative to visit the venue when it’s set up for a wedding.
• Get EVERYTHING in writing. Your date is not officially reserved until you sign a contract and, in many cases, give a deposit—even if a site contact says you don’t need to worry about it. Once you’ve found THE PLACE, make sure you ask what is required to get your booking locked in and then follow through on satisfying those requirements. And don’t assume that just because the site coordinator said you can have 4 votive candles per table, you’ll get them. Before you sign a contract, read the fine print and make sure it includes everything you and the site contact agreed on. As new things are added or changed in your contract, have the updated version printed out and signed by you and the site representative. Also, document all your conversations in emails and keep your correspondences.
(The preceding questions were written by Denise Auerbach at Here Comes the Guide website and are used with their permission.)