15 Questions To Ask Wedding Venues

October 10, 2022

This is a busy time of year for wedding bookings with lots of couples getting engaged or starting to book their dream day.

Finding and booking a venue should always be the first step in planning your wedding but it can be a bit daunting if you don’t know what questions to ask.  That is why I am here to help! After capturing 100s of wedding days and actually getting married myself in 2019, I have but together this helpful guide for you.

1.  Is there an option to provisionally hold a date?

A lot of venues will allow the option of holding a date for a short period of time free of charge while you consider your options, others will ask for a refundable or non-refundable deposit. 

2.  Are you available for our preferred date and can you accommodate all of our guests? 

This should be one of your first questions you ask and a lot of couples often forget to ask these questions. You could be wasting time looking at a venue when they may not have availability or the necessary capacity to suit your needs.

Drenagh Estate Wedding

3.  Are you licensed for civil ceremonies?

Quite a lot of wedding venues now offer the option of hosting both your ceremony and your wedding reception. There can be advantages to spending all of your wedding day at the venue as it does away with a lot of the timeline stress both for you and your guests. I always find that being able to do everything in the same place means a much more relaxed wedding day. Most venues will charge an extra room cost for hosting ceremonies.

4.  Will there be any other weddings taking place on the same day? 

When I got married the venue had another wedding that day. I only saw the other couple from a distance once throughout the whole day and never saw their guests. Like me, this may not be an issue for you but it’s worth knowing all the same as potentially there could be knock affects. For example, if there is another wedding taking place on the same day as yours could this cause issues in terms of areas to use for your wedding photographs?  Will there be restrictions for you and your guests to certain parts of the venue? 

5.  Are there any restrictions on venue use?

I would have loved an outdoor ceremony but at the time I got married our venue wasn’t licensed to hold ceremonies outdoors. That has now changed, with covid a lot more venues got the outdoor license. But if you are having an outdoor ceremony or considering it, you need to know what the plan is for bad weather and if there is another covered area you can use instead. There may be areas at the venue you have seen and would love to use for your wedding photographs but that the venue may not allow you to use. Even ask the wedding manager to show you the areas which are available for use during the day.

Lough Erne Resort Wedding

6.  What about suppliers?

Venues will sometimes only allow certain suppliers and this is especially true with caterers. You don’t have to stick to the list! Many wedding vendors appear on recommended suppliers lists because they pay the venue to be and that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the best choice for you. 

A lot of venues also only recommend photographers that pay to attend their wedding fair or that have provided them with free images for their website and/or other marketing material.

You want your photographer to be the best fit for you, not just from a list. I love going to venues I haven’t actually been too and finding beautiful areas within the venue with fresh eyes, rather than going to the same venue over and over again. It gives me the chance to be more creative for you on your day, rather than the same fav spots at certain venues.

7.  Can we get ready at the venue?

I got married at Galgorm Resort & Spa in 2019 and we actually stayed the night before. We could relax, go to the spa and have a nice meal. We started the morning with a beautiful breakfast before getting ready. Make up artists and hair stylists will travel to the venue for you. It made the whole process much more relaxing. This is a great option if your whole day is at the venue so another question that should be on your list.

8.  Are there any wedding decoration restrictions?

Every venue will have different rules around room decorations especially when it comes to things that could potentially cause a risk. Some venues will only allow the battery powered candles for example. I love a confetti shot but this is another question you should ask if you have dreamt of that image, some venues will not allow confetti but may allow petals, so it’s worth asking.

County Armagh Wedding

9.  Are you flexible in regards to the wedding timeline?

Venues will often make recommendations for the timeline of your wedding day but this might not always fit in with your own plans for the day though. Venues will always make recommendations based on what works best for them. Some venues allow very little time for photographs which can have an impact. This has never impacted on me as I work fast anyway, I want you to enjoy your day with your guests not be posing for me all day long!!Always exaggerate the amount of time you will need for the various parts of the day just to give you a little more space and maybe even time to relax.

10.  Ask questions about the wedding meal!

For us food was super important! Ask the venue if they can provide you with a copy of the menu options and if you have any vegetarian guests ask them if they can accommodate this. If, like me, you have children attending your wedding it may also be useful to ask them if they can offer a kid’s menu as well. We had a table for the kids and they loved having dinner all together.

11.  In terms of wedding entertainment can you accommodate the band, D.J etc.?

In my experience even with the best intentions the first dance is never at 8.30pm as most couples think, the earliest I have had was 9pm (the latest 10.30pm!). The room needs to be changed around, the band/DJ needs in to set up, do sound checks and the time slips away. This is also another reason to have short speeches before the meal to give the hotel staff the time needed for a quick change around. Some venues the band/DJ can set up while the meal is still in progress but not all.

It may be advisable to also ask practical questions around what time the entertainment needs to be there to set up? Is there a sound limit they need to be aware of? Can they set up without guests leaving the room or top table being moved?

Lough Erne Resort Wedding

12.  Can we have a dedicated wedding co-ordinator?

Most venues will provide you with a dedicated point of contact to deal with all of your queries. They will be able to help you along the way. We had an amazing wedding co-ordinator throughout but on the day another member of the team looked after us. Both were amazing at their jobs, trust the team and if you have any concerns don’t be afraid to ask them, that is what they are there for.

13. What guest accommodation can you provide & is there a special rate?

Some venues only have a limited amount of rooms they can offer your guests at a discount rate or at all. If you have families attending the wedding with kids, it is worth asking if there are family rooms for those guest. If you have chosen a smaller venue or a venue with limited availability ask the venue for accommodation recommendations nearby for guests.

14.  What are the hidden costs?

You should receive a general breakdown of costs but sometimes not everything will be covered. To ensure you do not get any unexpected surprises ask questions about fees for corkage, is there an additional charge for using an indoor ceremony room if the ceremony can not take place outside due to poor weather etc.

15.  What is the cancellation policy?

Every wedding venue will offer different payment options in terms of deposit costs, the date your final balance needs to be paid for and some can offer discounted pricing for mid-week or off-season weddings. Different venues will also have different cancellation policies.

I hope that this post is helpful to you. Most of all enjoy this time and process, it is so exciting! You are getting married, make sure to do your day your day and you will have a fabulous day!!

Melissa x


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