Before you plan to schedule a site visit with a reception venue, you should first call or email to check the venues availability, capacity, rules/contracts, and pricing. You don’t want to fall in love with what you had in mind as the perfect venue to having your heart broke because it’s not available, won’t hold all your guests, or it’s way beyond the budget you have set for your upcoming event. This doesn't have to be for a wedding event. This pertains to any and all events at reception halls or venues.
When Speaking to a Possible Venue Choice, you should ask the following...
- How many hours does the fee include? Are there overtime charges? What is included in their overtime charges? Contract?
Most reception halls or venues, 4-8 hours is pretty common for an event. You should have time before and after event for any set-up or take down. Ask how much time you will have so you are able to complete everything you have planned including any cleaning that may be required by venue. If it appears that you may go into overtime, make sure you check with your other vendors that will be affected as well, like your photographer, wedding planner or clean up crew. Be sure to get a copy of said contract and fully read it and ask any questions you may have before signing.
- What is included in the rental fee or package? Do they provide an inside caterer or do I bring my own? Licenses? Insurance?
Are there tables, chairs, décor, linens, dishes, or flatware included? Many venues offer collections that include everything and others allow you to bring in everything independently. A four star hotel may sound expensive, but until you look at the costs of furnishing a tent for 200 people, chairs, linens, catering, your expenses quickly add up. Ask about certifications, permits and licenses for your vendors such as catering.
- Can the Reception Hall be used for a ceremony and reception? If so, how long does it take to change the room?
Most hotels and Reception Halls have lobbies, so, quite often rooms can be “flipped” while the guests are having cocktail hour. Or you could also break for photography. Many times half of the room will be set while the other half is used for the ceremony. Your venue will give you a timeline and pricing according to your set up. Even if you plan to have an outside ceremony, you still need to ask this question in case of weather. You don't want it to rain and then wonder who is going to move your ceremony inside day of. This could lead to much stress and possible disaster.
- Can I bring in my own vendors or is there a preferred list required by the venue? Do they need licenses or insurance?
Most venues will let you bring in your own vendors, but preferred vendors are ones you may consider because a preferred vendor translates into - a vendor in good standing. These vendors have worked in the venue before and are familiar with the inner workings and challenges of said venue. They already know the staff and have good working relationships with them. Quite often with caterers, they want them from their list as they have all the proper paperwork and licenses to work at their property or that is required by contract or state licences. They also are familiar with the house kitchen and can ensure your food is warm when promised.
- How is alcohol handled at the venue? Can I hire my own Bartender? Licenses?
Most commonly venues provide alcohol packages. They are liable for serving the liquor, so this makes sure they are able to manage the flow of your event. If the alcohol packages are a bit pricey, ask if you can bring in your own bartender, and see which way would be more cost effective.
- How many people can the space hold according to my room set-up? ( Your Wedding Coordinator can provide you with a seating arrangement or chart prior)
It’s better for the room to be a little too big than a little too small! Trying to fit more people into a room makes tables crowded and difficult for servers and vendors to provide a proper service. You also may require the additional room due to rain and moving your ceremony inside.
- How much are tax and gratuity? Are they included in the package prices?
Taxes and gratuity can vary greatly from state to state or county to county. Some venues include both in their prices while others add it on. Be sure to consider this when you are planning your budget, as it can be well over 30% of your reception budget, which is a good chunk of change that could have been used elsewhere.
- What is the parking situation? Are there Ushers? Permits? Paid Parking? Passes?
Is there a large parking lot? Can the parking lot accommodate my guest count and vendors? Will you be sharing the lot with anyone else such as businesses? Is there a valet available and what is their a cost? Will you pass the cost on to your guests or pay for it in advance? Is their handicapped accessible parking provided? Shuttles? Passes? Permits?
- What are the payment options? Are their payment plans? Contract?
Do you take check or credit cards? Can I pay online if booking from another state? What is the payment schedule? What is their cancellation policy? What happens if there is a natural disaster? What happens if I cancel? Is their a deposit? Is the deposit refundable?