This is crucial. Having my own venue and planning multiple off site events, I've learned there are so many important questions to ask. The answers are not always in black and white. Girl, get it in print.
Entrance – If your wedding is on Saturday, when does the venue allow for set up. Some can be very accommodating while others only allow for a certain amount of hours on the day of. YIKES! Some venues allow for you to come in the day before to set up (a beautiful thing) while others charge for use of the facility the day before.
Exit – If exit time is 11pm, does that mean the reception must end at 11pm or does everything have to be cleaned up and out by that time?
Vendor Preference – Some venues allow you to use any vendor as well as allow for DIY weddings. Then, there are other spaces that have a list you must use or charge a fee if you use those not on their list.
Alcohol – Many spaces have certain restrictions on what you can serve or how you serve it. I have seen a few that don't allow any alcohol at all. Almost every venue I have worked with requires a host liquor liability insurance policy. But trust me, even if they don't require one, GET IT! *Budget Tip – If you have narrowed down your venue search to a few venues, check their alcohol policy. If one requires you to use their bar service and the other allows you to bring in your own and simply pay for bartenders, that will be a huge monetary difference.
What's included? Tables? Chairs? Linens? Coordinator? Etc.
Bathroom Facilities? Are there enough for your amount of guests?
Candles – This may seem trivial but if you have always dreamed of a room filled with hundreds of real candles flickering, a venue with a no candle policy is probably the last place you want to hold your romantic reception. The same goes with sparklers.
Pets – This too may seem silly but if you are in love with your furry friend and it is an absolute MUST for him/her to be included, ask first! I remember when one of my best gal pals got married. She wasn't going to ask the venue and just show up with the pup. I told her that was NOT an option. There was no way I was going to have her bawling crying if they told her no that day. Knowing her and how obsessed she is with her dog, her make-up and day would have been ruined. But, praise the Lord we asked weeks in advance and they were ok with it.
Kitchen – Is there one? If so, what appliances are there? Is there cooking allowed?
Clean Up – Whew this can get overlooked. Who cleans up? Who picks up the trash? Is there places for the trash or does it have to get hauled off? Who sweeps? If there is a kitchen, who mops?
Parking – Where is it and is it enough? Is there a parking attendant? If so, is that included in the rental price?
Retainers and refund policy
Hiring Other Vendors
BE HONEST! When contacting a vendor, there is nothing wrong with letting them know up front what your budget is! Two things will happen either 1) they tell you they can't do it or 2) they tell you they can. The majority of the time it is really that simple. It's also a huge time saver for you and them. Again, clear communication is key.
Not every vendor has a price list. You can call the rental company and get a price sheet for round tables and chairs but not all vendors work like that. Example: A floral designer. If you called and asked me how much 10 centerpieces would cost, I couldn't give you an answer. There are so many variables. How big? What containers will be used? Do you want lots of greenery or none? Do you want daisies and mums or do you want garden roses and peonies? On the other hand, if you're trying to narrow down your list, you could call and ask for minimums or starting points.
Be prepared to meet in person. Many vendors want to get to know their potential brides.
Get their contact information and asked what is the preferred method of communication? If they rarely check their email, that's a good piece of info to know!
What is their average response time? Do you like to stay on top of things? It may not be a good fit for you if a certain vendor is laid back and takes 1-2 weeks to respond to clients.
Do they have office hours? In a world of smart phones and instant messaging, we often assume we can contact someone we hire 24/7. This shouldn't be the case. Hopefully your vendors have a life outside of weddings. I bet if you show respect by not contacting them during their off times, you will get their undivided attention during their business hours. You may even get a "favorite bride ever" award!
Don't assume just because you discuss something it is going to happen. Get everything in writing.
When it comes time to sign contracts, READ every word! Please don't worry what your vendor will think if you read through everything! This is your day and you want it to be fabulous (and so do they)!
When making decisions, speak up! Don't be scared to let them know if you don't like something! Great vendors have a main goal....to make their bride happy!
Below are checklists for vendors. Use these to help ask the right questions when meeting a vendor for the first time! Print off several if you are meeting more than one in each category. Afterwards, you can sit down with the groom or your mom and have great notes to compare and see which one you want to hire.