If you are anything like most brides, once you find the venue of your dreams, you just want to sign on the dotted line and move onto the next step. So when the venue manager hands you the contract you may not be inclined to go through it line by line. But the fine print of your wedding venue can determine all sorts of details about your wedding, from who can bake your cake to the color of your tablecloths. Before you sign, make sure that you ask the following questions:
Is this venue truly able to accommodate all of your guests?
Make sure that any room(s) that you are using has a guest capacity that will exceed your list. It's great if the room where you are having your ceremony can hold 200, but not if the area for your reception only holds 50 (people will want their cake, fire department be damned).
Also, as your guests will most likely be driving, make sure that the venue has adequate parking. Some venues use off-site parking. If they do, will you need to hire a shuttle? Will the venue require you to hire parking attendants?
Can you party all night?
Ask about neighborhood or local noise rules. If your vision of your reception involves dancing all night but there is a noise ordinance for 9pm, you may want to find a different venue.
What are the rules regarding alcohol?
Make sure that the venue can legally serve alcohol and make sure you understand what rules or regulations will be enforced. If they are not permitted to serve alcohol and you love the venue, be honest with yourself about how important it is to drink at your wedding. For some couples, it's no big deal. But sometimes when you have divorced families, crazy relatives and old college buddies in attendance, drinking is a must.
Be clear on any permits that are your responsibility. Also ask about tiny details such as corkage fees, bartender gratuities, and if you are required to choose from the venue's alcohol list.
Does the venue have a list of required vendors for you to choose from?
If so, do your research on those vendors before you sign. This research will allow you to find out things like if the rental company only has white tablecloths and if the bakery will make pies instead of a traditional wedding cake. If you find out that the bakery specializes in x-rated sheet cakes, it may be a bad sign!
Will our wedding be the only event booked here that day?
If you are splitting up a day with another wedding, inquire about things like set-up, delays, and traffic issues. The last thing you want is an angry bride tapping her foot outside because you ran a little long.
What if it rains?
If you are planning an outdoor wedding, chances are that weather is a major stressor for you. Would you be able to still have your event at that location?
Ask the venue about their back-up plans, and if they say they have plenty of umbrellas - move on.
When do you expect deposits?
Make sure that you are crystal clear on the payment schedule, all fees, and deadlines. Pretty soon wedding bills will come piling in (fun, huh?) and having a thorough understanding will keep you from being surprised.
Just remember, all of these details can sound really scary and overwhelming, but by getting all of this done at the beginning, you are preventing issues from popping up in the future.
Photo Credit: Emily Takes Photos