As many people may not know... in my work prior to becoming a Celebrant, I worked for many many years as a Wedding Co-ordinator in hotels both here in Ireland, and in my home-country of Australia.
As such, I have a lot of experience when it comes to how weddings work for the "other side". Which is absolutely invaluable for me in my now vocation... as well as being able to pass this knowledge on to couples in the planning stages of their weddings.
There is, obviously, a lot of intricate details - specific to a particular venue - that change... But, for the most part, the basic running and co-ordination of events - especially weddings - hasn't changed at all over the years.
And, as always, it is so great to be able to pass on some of my years of experience to you, as you plan your own big day.
I, still now, even after years of being a Celebrant, get asked a lot about certain aspects of how things work (with weddings) in the hotel industry.
One of the biggest questions I get asked is; "What should we ask our hotel/venue when looking at booking it for our wedding?"
And here's a pretty extensive (but not exclusive) list of some of the top things which you might want to find out. Obviously there could be many other, more specific questions, you might need to ask your particular venue. Some of these questions might not apply to you... but they'll give you a good starting point....
GENERAL WEDDING Q’s
How many guests does your venue cater for?
Are children allowed?
Do you have more than one wedding per day? (Exclusivity)?
Room hire fee (for having ceremony on-site, or other function rooms)?
Do we have to hire additional furniture for the wedding - ie; chairs, glass-ware, chair covers etc?
Is it possible to have a marquee on the grounds?
Is there a charge for this?
"Day Two" event possible?
Are there minimum numbers?
Safe available for gifts/ envelopes?
How much is the deposit to hold the venue?
When does this need to be paid?
Final balance due when?
Will I receive a written contract?
Can a contract be amended with specific requests/agreements? (prior to signing, of course)
What is the cancellation policy?
What if we need to change the date?
How is payment accepted? Credit card, cash, bank draft etc.
Are there varied wedding packages available?
Is there a reduction on "mid-week" or "low season" weddings?
What percentage of the bill must be paid before and after the day (on check-out)?
Final guest numbers attending the wedding (for dinner), are due when?
If our minimum number of guests is not reached, do we pay additional up to the contracted number?
Who is the co-ordinator on the day (is it different to the person who'll be your contact during planning stage)?
Kick out time for children?
Photography allowed on-site (inside if raining)?
Is there onsite parking for guests?
Is the venue wheelchair accessible?
Where can the ceremony be held?
Is there a fee for the ceremony room?
Can we have the Ceremony outside?
Is seating provided?
Are chair covers provided?
Is there an “alter” table provided
Are any decoration provided for the ceremony area? Candles, Lanterns, Flowers etc?
Who decorates the ceremony area?
What time is the ceremony area set up / when can we access this area?
Are there any restrictions with what type of decoration we can use? (ie, naked-flame candles allowed or not?)
Is confetti/confetti bombs/fireworks allowed on-site?
If the ceremony is outside, and it rains, where is the “Plan B” option?
How long before the ceremony do we need to make a decision on outside or inside?
What time does the ceremony have to start?
Is this time flexible?
What are the maximum numbers for the ceremony area?
Is there a PA system (microphone & speakers) for during the ceremony?
Is that available if we are outside too?
Where do musicians set up?
Is there power available for musicians/PA system (especially if outside)?
Is the ceremony area used for another part of the day? Ie; is it also the drinks reception area?
Where does the bridal party prepare for the ceremony?
Who meets the bridal party on arrival to the venue?
Who do we contact if we’re running late for the ceremony?
Accommodation rate/s for guests?
Are there any rooms which are complimentary for us?
Does this include breakfast?
Is there a 2nd night accommodation rate?
How many rooms held for wedding guests?
When must these rooms be booked by?
Check in time for guests?
Can you get ready there (check in early or stay night before)?
Check out time? (Bridal party/guests)
CATERING / FOOD
Where are canapes/ arrival drinks served? How much are these?
Is there a menu tasting?
How many can go?
Is there a charge for the tasting?
How many choices for dinner courses ?
Alternative meal choice for dietary requirements ?
Is there an extra charge for the having a choice of starer/mains/dessert?
Is there a Children's menu?
What time does dinner service begin?
When do we have speeches? During the dinner service or before we are called into the dining room?
What time do "Evening" guests arrive at?
What time do you serve the late evening food?
When do you need final guest numbers for meal afters?
Can our videographer / photographer / musicians get food? Is that included or additional cost?
Tips for staff included or not?
Is there a charge to cut cake?
Cake stand/ knife provided?
Tea/ coffee served with cake?
Can we provide our own cake – or does it have to be a “supplier”?
When can the cake be delivered and who sets it up?
CATERING / DRINKS
Tea/coffee for arrival/drinks reception included?
Where does the arrival/drinks reception take place?
Where are drinks served from?
Can we bring our own alcohol/wine?
Corkage fee? Is this per bottle - or a flat fee for the event?
Any drinks included for toasts ?
Residents bar closure time?
Is a bar extension available?
If so, what time can we have it until?
Is there a cost for the bar extension?
MUSIC / ENTERTAINMENT
Music to finish by what time?
What time can the DJ/band set up at?
Where will the DJ/band play?
Until what time can evening entertainment continue?
Can we play music during the meal?
Is a dancefloor included?
DECORATION By what time/day prior to the wedding should we deliver wine, favours, table plan, place names, other decor etc to the venue?
Who decorates the venue?
If we deliver our own items, is it the venue staff or ourselves?
Function Room/s set up time (if you want to decorate yourselves)?
Does the venue provide decor for ceremony or dinner tables? Floral arrangements, Candles etc?
How will the tables be decorated?
How is seating arranged? (round/ long tables, top tables)
How many guests can be seated at each table?
Do you provide high chairs for babies?
Do you provide menus and place cards?
Do you provide table plan?
Where is the table plan displayed?
Can we make changes to the layout/decoration of the room?
Do you have a choice of crockery, cutlery, linen, glassware?
Do you require us to leave the room to allow staff to re-organize the room for the evening reception, and if so, do you have a room to facilitate us while this takes place?
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Don't be worried about asking a lot of questions to your venue. They will appreciate that you're thinking of things that will contribute to your day. And be sure to get any specific points added to your contract - if there are points that are agreed outside of their usual wedding package. It is always best to get "out of the ordinary" things put into writing so you have something to refer back to at a later stage.
Hopefully this will give you ideas to grow your own list and help you on your way to securing your perfect wedding venue! Best of luck with your planning!