5 Key Wedding Venue Shopping Questions

wedding venue - erich mcvey photography
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You’re officially beginning wedding planning and realizing that you can’t do a single thing without a date or a venue. After tons of research on whether you want a “garden feel with a water feature” or a “rustic chic vibe” you’ve come up with your theme. You’ve scoured over almost every wedding site out there to get appointments with your top 3-5 venues. While the pictures look awesome online, you know that pictures don’t always tell the whole story and you want to go visit the venue in person. Before showing up to your first venue, make sure that you are fully prepared with what questions to ask and you have a clear idea of what your budget and requirements are. For example, are you looking for more of a DIY wedding or something a little bit more all-inclusive? Have you chosen a date? Are they available for your date? Once you figure out those parameters, these are the key questions that you may forget to ask each venue:

wedding venue - erich mcvey photography

Photo Credit: Erich Mcvey Wedding Photography

1. Liability Insurance

This is something I wouldn’t have thought about asking, even for a second. However, some properties will require it and it’s good to know when you’re securing your final budget and the paperwork you’ll need to provide.

Wedding liability insurance provides coverage for damages that you or your guests are responsible for during the wedding or the reception. Most times, if your rehearsal dinner is within 48 hours, the provider will cover that as well. Many packages range from $80-100 and cover $1,000,000 in damages.

wedding venue - sean cook wedding photography

Photo Credit: Sean Cook Weddings

2. Wedding Venue Security

Is there security provided? If not, is that something that you require to be provided? Many venues require a hired security guard if alcohol is being served. For me, since I was required by my venue, I had them focus more on not letting wedding crashers in than worrying about the alcohol. But either way, it’s important to know about these hidden fees or requirements when choosing your wedding venue.

wedding venue - rhphotoarts

Photo Credit: Rhphotoarts

3. Wedding Venue Parking

This is a big one unless you’re planning on shuttling all of your guests in. These are the questions you need to ask your potential wedding venue when it comes to parking:

  • How many parking spaces are available?
  • Will guests be charged for parking?
  • Do we need to hire valet or is it included? If so, how much is that extra cost?
  • If there is no parking on site, where should my guests park?
  • If you’re planning on doing a shuttle: Are there any restrictions on the size of the coach or shuttle that would pick up my guests? Do you have a preferred vendor for us to choose from?

wedding venue - KT Merry Photography

Photo Credit: KT Merry

4. Corkage and Cake Cutting Fees

Both of these are hidden costs that you need to be aware of. Some venues may provide both alcohol and cake, but others allow you more freedom to bring in outside alcohol, food, and staff. Beware of the random (and sometimes outrageous) fees that some venues try to tack on.

The corkage fee is normally in place to deter you from using outside vendors. However, these fees can start adding up quickly. On average, a corkage fee is $20. If you have only 10 bottles of wine or champagne, you’re already looking at an extra $200 that could’ve been used for something else!

The cake cutting fee is mostly to cover the venue’s staff serving the cake. While we understand the necessity behind that, charging by the slice or sometimes taking on an additional 20% gratuity on top of everything else, is a bit extreme.

Make sure that you cover both topics when walking through with the venue coordinator at your appointment. You’ll thank us later!

wedding venue - elizabeth nord photography

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Nord Photography

5. A List of Nearby Hotels They Recommend

Many venues have partnering deals with nearby hotels. They can help get you in contact with the right people to get great hotel block discounts. This list will also be extremely helpful when you start choosing which venue is perfect for you. Unfortunately, some venues are located in a gorgeous and remote area. Meaning, the closest hotel is 20 minutes away, and they don’t have a shuttle service (aka you’ll have to get one).

Here are some more questions to ask regarding hotels they recommend:

  • Do they provide a complimentary room at a nearby hotel for the couple on the night of their wedding? Or an upgrade?
  • How do they normally shuttle the gifts from the venue to the hotel?
  • What are the differences in costs and value of these hotels?

wedding venue - hunter ryan photo

Photo Credit: Hunter Ryan Photo

Many of these venues that you’ll be visiting know a thing or two about hosting a successful wedding. The coordinators are versed in walking you through every inch of the property and pointing out the restrooms, the outlets, the lighting requirements, the heating/cooling elements, etc. They paint the ultimate picture of what you can expect. They will cover most of the questions from other wedding venue questions list without you even having to open your mouth. However, these are the questions they tend to skip over or forget to mention. Memorize and recite these 5 questions while venue shopping and you’ll be extremely prepared for choosing the perfect wedding venue for your big day!

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