This article was published June 28, 2017. Click here to read my more recent posts.
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Wedding bells are ringing! If you’re in the process of planning a wedding, you know that nothing is set in stone until you have a venue—so after your budget, the venue should be the first thing on your to-do list.
While some like to do the reception and ceremony all in one place—a set-up that is often be easier for guests—that’s not always an option with the reception venue you choose. If you’re in that boat like me, then it’s likely you’ll be touring spaces for your ceremony—but don’t forget to do your due diligence before you book. Here are seven questions to ask the venue coordinator while you’re shopping around:
1. What’s the plan if it rains?
Most people don’t want the skies to be gray and stormy on their big day, but you’ll regret it later if you fail to plan ahead. If you’re thinking about saying your vows outside, is there an indoor space that can be used if it rains? A tent? Remember that your guests will likely be dressed up for your wedding—and they won’t want to get their nice clothes wet and muddy. Unless you’re planning a wedding that’s all-indoors, make sure you have a back-up spot available.
2. How will chairs be arranged?
Do you want the chairs arranged in a certain way, perhaps in a circle or spiral? Will your guests have the sun in their eyes? Will they be in the way of a photographer? Do you want an aisle? Especially if the venue will be providing set up for you, you’ll want to go over this stuff as soon as possible so you know if your ideas will work in the space.
3. (How) can I play music?
If the ceremony venue doesn’t have speakers set up for you, can you bring your own? Is there a maximum volume that you (and your DJ) should be conscious of? Do they know where the best places to put speakers are? Keep in mind that some places—particularly smaller venues—may not even allow music to be played. Double check on this before you book to ensure a disaster doesn’t occur closer to (or on) your wedding date.
4. How early can/will the space be set up?
Are you able to set up the ceremony space well in advance, or does it have to be on the day of? Do you need to account for time to do this, or will they do it for you? Don’t forget about the rehearsal: if you’d like to rehearse the ceremony the night before, you’ll want to know if the space will be set up for that—or if it’s even available!
5. What time can my guests arrive?
Have any early-birds on your guest list? Prepare for them by making sure your guests will have somewhere to hang out in the 15-20 minutes prior to your ceremony starts. Alternatively, you may choose to do a ceremony rehearsal the morning of your wedding rather than the night before. Either way, try to have all the logistical information on hand before it becomes an issue by checking with the venue to see how early you have access to the space.
6. How long do I have the space for?
Do you need to have someone tear down the set-up immediately after the ceremony? Can the chairs stay there overnight if necessary? What if you’re late to the ceremony—can you push that time back? Are there any events occurring right after yours? How long will you have to take photos in the space? These are all questions that you need to go over before you book. You also might want to go ahead and reserve extra time if necessary, so you know you’re covered if you (or any of your VIPs) are running late.
7. What will you do if the space becomes unusable?
If your ceremony venue is ripped apart by a tornado, you’re going to want to get your money back. Make sure that this question is addressed in your contract, and that you know whether or not you’ll get the full amount back (including or excluding your deposit). Although this is a worst-case-scenario situation, you’ll want to be prepared for it
These are all things I went over with my ceremony venue before I booked, and I’m so glad I did!
Did I miss anything? Share your advice in the comments below!
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