Questions to ask your wedding venue, ceremony venue & caterer – the most comprehensive list

Important questions to ask your wedding venue, ceremony venue and caterer!

Important questions to ask your wedding venue, ceremony venue and caterer!
Vrede and Lust wedding venue, Tulbagh, South Africa

Choosing a venue is one of the first things that you need to do when planning your wedding. Picking the right venues for your ceremony and reception are invaluable to creating your perfect wedding day.

Before you start visiting your dream venues, you’ll need to know exactly what questions to ask to make sure you’re choosing the right place. Since you’re probably only going to interview venues once in your life, you might not know exactly what to ask. Luckily, we have got you covered!

Important questions to ask your wedding venue, ceremony venue and caterer!

The wedding ceremony site and reception venue are the cornerstones for your wedding event, so it’s important to pick a site that fits you and your grooms vision, your budget and the kind of day you would like to have. Of course going with a reputable venue is important – reliability is a big factor you need to consider.

When booking the venue for your wedding you are entering into a business agreement. While the person you are working with is not likely to be deceptive, they are in business to make a profit. Consequently, there are certain aspects you should confirm and get in writing to avoid last minute surprises. Also, when thinking about and comparing costs between different places, it’s important to understand the details so you can make a direct comparison.

Important questions to ask your wedding venue, ceremony venue and caterer!
Groot Constantia Wineyards, Cape Town, South Africa

Below is a long list of the things you should be checking with your wedding venue before making any decisions about where to hold your wedding.  For a really comprehensive planning kit, get yourself the Sheer Wedding Planner  and Budget tool. It’s got detailed worksheets for your wedding planning and budget tracker.

This list probably looks overwhelming, and I don’t recommend you sit the wedding venue coordinator down and interview them about everything all at once, but definitely read through it to help you avoid missing any important parts that you didn’t know that you need to know. You might be able to cover some of the questions yourself by reading on their website – they might have an information sheet already available.

Important questions to ask your wedding venue, ceremony venue and caterer!
Vrede and Lust wedding venue, Tulbagh, South Africa

photo credits: manhattan bride // zara zoo photography
Here are the all important questions you need to ask before signing on the dotted line.

Questions specific to the ceremony venues

  1. Where will the sun be positioned during the ceremony? 
  2. Are we close to nice photo locations? 
  3. Are there suitable spots for family/group photos? 
  4. Does the ceremony venue supply a sound system or can they give us any advice on acoustics? 
  5. Is there seating available for family/elderly guests? 
  6. Is it wheelchair accessible? 
  7. Are there restrooms? 
  8. What sort of passing traffic can you expect to get at this venue?
    If outdoors, you many not want cars and foot traffic walking nearby in the ceremony

 

Questions for Reception Venues

  1. Is it available on the day we want to get married? What days are available?

  2. How much does it cost to hire the venue? What exactly does it include?
    Ask to see an itemized breakdown of costs. It is critical for you to clarify the agreement not only so you know the final cost, but also so you understand which extra costs could possibly fall on your shoulders.

  3. Are there reduced rates for winter or weekdays?
    You could save as much as 40% on venue costs

  4. How many people can the venue accommodate?
    Find out if that number includes the staff members

  5. Can I use my own vendors? Is there an additional charge for that?
    Many locations have their own coordinators, caterers, or other professionals they want you to use for your event or included in the cost.

  6. Does the price include alcohol or is that extra? (See separate list of questions for alcohol further down)
    Some venues will charge based on actual wine, beer, and liquor used. If this is the case, the quoted fee will not include those items.

  7. Are rentals included in this price? What items am I likely to have to hire in? Tables, utensils, chairs, or just décor?
    Smalls like champagne coolers, table runners, napkins, candle holders and other adornments may or may not be provided. Find out what you can rent from the venue or what you need to outsource yourself – you don’t want to  realize on the day that there are no table cloths!

  8. How many hours do we get at the venue? Is there a time limit?

  9. How much are additional hours?
    The cost of going over on time can be substantial.

  10. Are there set up fees?
    This could be especially important to make clear if you plan to have both your ceremony and reception at the same venue.

  11. When can we access the venue to decorate?
    Sometimes only get access the day of the wedding – you’ll want to be getting ready then and would need to delegate to somebody else

  12. Do you do the set up and clean up or do I?

  13. What staffing/support is on hand for set up and clean up? During the wedding? Post-wedding?

  14. Is parking extra? Is parking free for guests?
    It may or not be included in the quoted fee.

  15. Is it wheelchair accessible?

  16. How many restrooms are there?
    Make sure you are happy with their appearance too! Ask if you would be allowed to decorate the restrooms, if you wish to do so.

  17. If there is an additional service charge – does it cover all tips?
    Does the fee cover extras to staff or do they feel it is customary to tip certain additional staff?

  18. Is there a time limit and what’s the cost of going over?
    There is often a set amount of time you can utilize the reception space

  19. How they will arrive at the final cost?
    If you are charged per person for any piece of the reception, you will want to understand how it has been charged.

  20. Is there an additional cost for my other vendors (photographer, videographer, planner, and DJ/band)?
    Your professionals will need to eat, so it is important to know if or how you need to count them. Should they be in the final head count or reported separately (In other words, if you can get a discount rate for the vendors)?

  21. Is there space for a band or DJ? Are there noise constraints?

  22. Is there a dance floor?
    Sometimes that will affect the number of guests the place can seat, as there might be less space for tables if it is in one room

  23. Are there special considerations for children?
    The child cost is most often less than the adult rate.

  24. What are payment terms, i.e. what sort of deposit is required and when is final account settled?

  25. What is the cancellation policy? 

Questions to ask about catering

  1. Can I bring in my own food, other drink, and cake?  
  2. If I do bring my own food, drink, or cake are there extra charges? 
  3. Do they have an on-site caterer/chef or do we need to arrange our own caterer? 
  4. Do they have an on-site kitchen? (If not, you will be limited to the types of food service available) 
  5. Is there a range of menus? 
  6. Will the menu be able to cater to different dietary needs (vegetarian, low-carb, gluten free etc) 
  7. Will we need to inform the caterers in advance of dietary requirements, or can they cope with these requests on the night?

Questions to ask the reception venue about Alcohol

  1. Are you fully licensed? 
  2. Do they have the brand of alcohol you favour? 
  3. What’s the corkage fee – is it per person, per bottle or a set charge? 
  4. What happens to half drunk bottles of wine, or left overs? 
  5. Do I need to hire glasses or will venue arrange? 
  6. Do I need to arrange bar staff? 
  7. Do I need to arrange a duty manager for the bar? 
  8. Do they allow bring your own toasting wine/ champagne? 
  9. Do they do alcohol packages?

 

Are there any other questions you’d like to add to this list? Comment below with any questions we’ve missed or handy questions you asked.

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I Do Wedding Decor

DecorDIY

So, you are engaged, you are excited, and you have a Pinterest wedding board with endless DIY projects and decor inspiration pins that all look so  fun and fantastic, and you  have already started 4 of them simultaneously?

(Hey – that sounds like me!)

But before you get started with the embroidery hoops, burlap chair covers and hand calligraphed wooden signs, just stop and think for a moment. Am I able to make this look good in real life? Do I have the time, resources and concentration for this, honestly?

Unless you are a seasoned DIYer and creative, got some necessary tools in the shed, plenty of time and space to work and to store, chances are that the amazing DIY pin might make your wedding decor more or less wacky-tacky and painful to achieve. Save yourself from the frustration of having worked on something for months, then realizing the week before the wedding that it looks not only like it has been stolen straight from pinterest, but in a shabby in a not-so-chic way.

If you are doing your decor yourself in order to save cash, think again carefully. A lot of materials are not cheap to buy and sometimes hard to come buy – this would obviously add extra stress and take up your valuable time, not to mention create holes in the wedding budget uneccesarily.

Therefore, I feel the urgent need to curate this list for you, all the bold and beautiful aspiring bohemian-or-not-bohemian brides out there, because you actually don’t want your wedding to be over-styled and there is only so much decor that your guests can absorb and appreciate anyway. Don’t go wild with the burlap just yet, rather focus on a few co-ordinated statement pieces – less is more even when it comes to wedding decor you know –  we don’t want weddings like a licorice all-sorts packet. Choose with sensibility and style in mind, do your carefully selected projects really well, as supposed too doing many in a maddened creative frenzy.
Then you should find your DIY-ing really fulfilling and fruitful! It can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your wedding preparation, if done cleverly.

DIY decor projects  

That are actually:
-DO-ABLE even for those with clumsy fingers and no previous crafting skills
-CHEAP, but not tacky, and uses materials that you can find in nature, a supermarket or in your recycling box
-BEAUTIFUL not just on photo, will appeal to your guests whichever age and create the right rustic romantic atmosphere
-TASTEFUL and rustic but in an elegant and understated way. I’m all for rustic elegance when it comes to weddings.
-SUSTAINABLE. Reused. Repurposed. Recycled. What other words describe a perfect wedding day?

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Image via Bridal Guide

Not talented with free hand script writing? Block style print will look just as good, and be more readable for your guests too. A pallet will do the job if you don’t have a blackboard handy. Will work for any rustic, woodland, boho-chic, gypsy, festival, industrial, barn-style, beach, summer, eclectic, outdoor, backyard or any modern wedding theme. Bonus: reuse after to a coffee table project for your new home. Bang.

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Image via Buzzfed

I can see this really working as leading the path for guests walking to the ceremony area. Head out to nearest woods, gather fallen branches from the ground, grab a few wildflowers then mount with glass bottles and twine. PS. Make sure the branches are securely fixed in the ground! Casting them in a bit of concrete will help with stability.

Two examples of rustic aisle decor than only takes minutes to assemble. Baby’s Breath flowers are so perfect for weddings – white, angelic and cheap. I like the idea of wrapping doilies into cones – you can do this for your confetti too. Images via juliehanandesign.com and Deer Pearl Flowers

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Image via bluevioletevents.com

What can I say? Scattered foilage on the floor. Lit block candles. A frame built of branches and greenery. It all comes together into  ethereal,  romantic and DIY friendly ceremony  magic.

Image via Pinterest and Fab Mood 

Ceremony outdoors and don’t have a wall? Well hang a long piece of lace in a tree and get married right there. Or you are handy with a hammer (or can get someone who is involved), three sturdy planks or branches will give you a beautiful arch to decorate with foliage, flowers and fabric.

(TIP: instead of buying new fabric, consider finding lace or plain curtains in your local charity shop and sew them into one long piece)

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Via 100layer cake

If you and your groom are feeling a bit on the wild side, or just want extra boho-vibes for your ceremony, consider building a wedding tepee!

For your confetti, why not take advantage of something that is abundant, free and biodegradable? Rosemary, olive leaf, or even lavender for a boost of fragrance and pretty colour. I love the idea of using book pages or musical notes to make the cones. Head to the garden store, a farm or a friendly neighbours garden. Easy and green!

You want something to create atmosphere around the venue where people hang out for cocktail hour. With branches, foilage, bottles and seasonal flowers you can easily make yourself a few ornaments that will wow without being wasteful of your time or budget, or mother earth for that matter.

Images from Wedding Chicks and Amazon

Are you into bunting but want to do it differently? Using bits of lace trim, (off cuts and scraps are relatively cheap at the haberdashery store) re purposed fabric or ribbon, you can make yourself a rather pretty  garland. Paper doilies are also a sweet addition to any rustic or whimsical decor. Garlands can be used as a backdrop, chair decor or just above head to create an instant festive atmosphere.

Project instructions can be found here

Twine orbs: all you need is a round balloon or ball you dont mind destroying, a few rolls of twine and white glue. Anyone can make them and it doesn’t take long either, and they are very versatile. Can be mounted in different ways as suggested above, to create a dreamy and impressive installation in trees or suspended in the reception ceiling. You can also wrap some string lights around them for an atmospheric light decor later in the evening.
A great thing about twine orbs is that you can re-use them in your home afterwards; they create great chandeliers or decorative patio lighting for example.

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Hulahoops are not only good for waistlines and entertaining kids for hours, you can also make the most stunning wedding chandeliers with them. Add string lights, lace, foilage of perhaps strings of beads, and you got a show stopper chandelier. All you need is a bunch of hoops, materials of your choice and a tall ladder. When the wedding is over and everyone has gone home, you can throw a big hula hoop competition for the wedding party. Or give the hoops as gifts to anyone with a sense of playfulness.

Image via Want that wedding and Free people

Backdrop making should not make you drop of creative exhaustion. Get your bridesmaid to tie freshly harvested flowers and foliage on twine the day before the wedding. Attach to another string or branch and use to decorate the walls, the photo booth, the ceremony or as decoration behind your and your grooms chairs.

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Idea from here

This is originally not a wedding project, but I can see this really working as decoration on your gift or guestbook table. Grab a few bottles and jars from the recyling, prime with universal primer and then paint in colour of choice. The stencils can be found in an arts and craftshop, or with a home printer, a craft knife and some good finger work can be DIYed at home. Fab decor for your home after!

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Image via Rustic Wedding Chic

Who could guess that tomato cans or bean tins could look so pretty? Plan a few months ahead, save up your tins, find a spray paint in your preferred colour and some more of the lace off cuts or ribbons I mentioned earlier. With a few flowers, baby’s breath and/or foliage you can have yourself some really pretty and ingenious flower features to decorate empty areas of your venue. I’d consider using these as part of the table decor too. Upcycling at its best.

Im rounding this post off with some chair decorations for your ceremony, but could also be used for the reception part of the day. If one is truly minimalist, eco-conscious and budget orientated, the chair decorations could be skipped altogether. But sometimes, such as for weddings, one just wants to go the extra mile doesn’t one. So I hereby welcome you to do your DIY the simple, understated but oh-so-rustic-elegant way. Happy foraging!