Questions To Ask Your Venue
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR VENUE
With Christmas and New Year just behind us and Valentine's Day just around the corner, there is a lot of talk about engagements! If you have recently got engaged, congratulations! You are now probably frantically putting together all of those Pinterest boards and more than likely scouring Google for possible wedding venues. Don't panic, once you have pinned down a few potential venues to visit we can make this process a little easier by sharing our helpful guidelines for what questions you might like to ask the venue during your ‘showround’.
Is my date available?
Try to be flexible and consider the dates either side of your ideal date as this will give you a better opportunity for securing a date at your favourite venue!! Some venues will have slightly reduced rates for Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. The first choice for many couples is a Saturday but we urge you to not rule out a Friday. A Friday can make for a lovely weekend offering your wedding party the opportunity to wake up on the Saturday morning and have the whole weekend ahead of them without the pressures of rushing back to work!
The price will also differ depending on what season you choose to get married. Summer weddings are for many the preferred option but Autumn and Winter weddings will often come with a few hidden perks as well as, at some venues, being regarded as 'off peak'. With many venues decorating their venue for the festive season it could mean you benefit from, for example, not needing to spend so much on flowers. At The Tythe Barn we put up beautiful winter branches, that are lit with tiny fairy lights - as well as an enormous Christmas tree and lush foliage.
Can you hold a date?
Many venues won’t hold a date for you as booking is done on a first come first served basis. But do ask! The Tythe Barn will allow you to put a ‘note of interest’ on a particular date for ten days.
Can I have both a ceremony and a reception?
If you’re not planning on getting married in a church then ask whether your venue is licensed for a Civil Ceremony. Check up on the options for either an indoor or outdoor ceremony too and whether there is a back-up plan if it rains.
You will need a registrar to carry out a ceremony. Ask who is responsible for booking this? Many venues don’t organise this for you but will provide the contact details for you to speak to the Registrar in person. Note, the venue has to be booked before the ceremony but you also need to check that the ceremony time you would prefer is available before confirming the booking!
Can I choose my own ceremony time?
Some venues are given specific time slots by the registrars so contact them early to get the maximum choice. Do think carefully about your time. If you have your ceremony too early your guests that have spent the morning getting ready and then time travelling to the wedding may well be arriving hungry. These aspects are worth considering - you don't want your guests drinking on an empty stomach and if they are hungry the venue may advise on ordering substantial canapes which consequently has an additional cost implication. Our experience has shown that the guests that have travelled a long distance will require something to tide them over until the wedding breakfast particularly when you bear in mind that the ceremony lasts around half an hour and the reception drinks one to one and a half hours so a 1pm ceremony will mean that your guests will potentially not eat until 3.00pm! It Is also helpful when thinking of your ceremony time to think about the time you want your evening guests to arrive. At The Barn, we always suggest working backwards from when you wish for your evening guests to arrive.
How many guests does the venue accommodate?
Very important. If you are planning a big wedding do make sure you do your research regarding numbers. No good falling in love with a venue to find out later that they cannot accommodate the number of guests you would like to invite.
Remember to count babies and children in your final numbers - even if they are in a highchair. They will still need a place setting and are classed as ‘bums on seats’.
Are there different options for the table layout? Most venues will have set table layouts that work well in the space and are efficient in terms of serving the food. At The Tythe Barn we offer a number of different layout options which can depend on your numbers. Some layouts also work better with particular menu choices! If you are looking for a more relaxed feel often banqueting tables work well and you don’t need to think about table plans.
Can I get ready on site?
In terms of convenience if you can get ready at the venue it is a great, relaxed way to begin your day. It also saves on a wedding car! If you can get ready on site, what time can you arrive at the venue and how many will the space allow for? At The Tythe Barn we have The Nook which is a fantastic barn which has been restored entirely for the purpose of allowing the bride, her mum and bridesmaids to spend the morning getting ready in. The buzz here on a wedding morning is brilliant and it is not unusual to see the bride popping across to the barn to check on the progress of the preparations.
Is there a cost for this privilege and how do we retrieve our belongings at the end of the day? Most venues will charge a small additional charge for a ‘preparation’ room. Don’t forget it has to be cleaned, maintained and heated. At The Tythe Barn we organise for all of your ‘bits and bobs’ to be collected at the end of the day by one of our members of staff and they place them in our ‘Nook Store’.
Can we bring our own food?
The catering is a fundamental part of your day and it is important to clarify, early on in your planning, all of the details regarding what is on offer. Many venues will have their own in-house caterers with many options for you to consider. If you have very particular requirements for your food, then do check that the venue can provide this for you. All venues are different and some are much more flexible than others. At The Tythe Barn we have outstanding caterers who are very flexible when it comes to choosing your menus. We can offer tastings and even recreate that ‘special pudding’ your granny may have cooked for you as a child! Always ask - It’s worth it to make your day special by adding in those personal touches!
Is there a minimum spend on food?
Some venues may have a minimum spend on both food and beverages, particularly during the peak months. Check what the details are and make sure you are happy with any restrictions that are in place.
Can I bring my own wine?
It is normally the case that the venue offers a wine and drinks list and you would select from there, however if you are allowed to bring in wine then more than likely this will incur a ‘corkage’ charge. Remember too, any ‘alcoholic’ favours may incur a ‘corkage’ fee.
Can I have a band, DJ or play our own playlist on our Ipod?
The musical entertainment sets the tone for the evening and is often a very personal reflection of the couple. Make sure you choose carefully. Couples often think they will cut costs by making up their own playlist and plugging into the venues ipod dock. Yes, this might be a cheaper option but what a DJ can bring to your wedding is the experience of gauging the 'feel' of the evening and pick up on the mood of the guests. DJ’s can sense when the mood needs picking up!
Are there any noise / time restrictions?
Most venues, particularly those in more rural settings, will have restrictions and licensing laws they need to abide by.
Check the space provided for dancing in the evening. Does it fit with your requirements? The Tythe Barn has a large area of clear, flat flooring for the dancing with a super disco ball above!
Is there a place for the band to change?
Some bands will make this a requirement within their contract...The Tythe Barn has a band room.
Can we serve evening food and what percentage of the guests will the venue cater too?
Look at what’s on offer for evening food and ask how flexible the venue is. The Tythe Barn has a number of possibilities - from pizzas made up in its very own wood-fired oven to the old cart that is used for putting the hog roast on in the garden.
What’s included in the venue hire?
You will probably want to be the only couple getting married at your chosen venue. Double check that it provides exclusive use. Some venues will have a number of different weddings on at the same time but will use different function rooms. At The Tythe Barn we only ever have one wedding on and our wedding parties have full use of the barns, the facilities and the grounds all day.
It’s also important to find out what else might be included in your venue hire as well as finding out what would be considered as extras. Most of what you see at The Tythe Barn is included in our venue hire, for example tables, chairs, candlesticks, car parking and lighting. (We provide a comprehensive list of what is included and what has additional charges). Ask your venue for this, it should be something you can keep to hand.
Are there any strict limitations at the venue?
This may include things like no fireworks or planning organised care for children...sometimes venues will require a designated adult who is responsible for the younger children, particularly if the wedding party has a large number of very young guests!
What’s the booking process at the venue and do I get to meet the person who will be running our day?
Venues will follow different structures with their booking process but the usual pattern is for couples to pay a 50% deposit at the time of booking and then the balance will be due nearer the actual wedding date. Remember if the caterers are a separate company to the venue you will want to find out the booking procedure for them as well.
Find out and clarify any cancellation terms and conditions. Although you’d hope there would not be a need to cancel it’s always worth being familiar with how this works.
Once you have booked your venue you will be keen to find out who will be running your day and who will be your point of contact leading up to the wedding. It’s nice to meet this person early on and to familiarise yourself with them - having a great rapport with your Function Manager helps everything to run smoothly!.
Is there accommodation on site?
The importance for accommodation on site is a personal choice but don’t be put off if your favourite venue happens to not have accommodation on site - quite often there will be a number of options for both you and your guests locally and the venue may well have a prior agreement for preferential rates at both local hotels and B&B's.
Check if the venue has a bridal suite. At The Tythe Barn we have a real treat for our couples - The Shepherds Hut.
Can the venue recommend suppliers?
Check whether the venue has a list of recommended suppliers or indeed a list of suppliers that you are expected to use. In most cases, venues will have the details of lots of suppliers who work at the venue frequently and therefore are very familiar with the space. At The Tythe Barn we hand all our couples a very detailed list of suppliers that have worked at The Barn and that we consider to have done an amazing job. We don’t actually call it a ‘recommended’ list but is an extremely helpful list of contacts from florists to photographers and from cake baker to taxis. We also suggest looking at our website and noting down any photos in our gallery that highlight a couples favourite flowers or perhaps their preferred style of photography. From here it is easy for us to recognise the florist or photographer and pass on their specific details to our couples.
Is there wheelchair access?
It is always worth checking this. At The Tythe Barn we know we are covered on this point having held a charity event for 32 people in wheelchairs!
Does the venue provide ‘gift list’ cards?
Some venues will send out a gift list card with the contract if they have an association with a particular company. At The Tythe Barn we are extremely lucky that the owners have their very own online shop that offers some of the gorgeous products that are found throughout The Tythe Barn as well as selling amazing gifts and homewares – tempting for new couples who are either setting up home or looking for that unique little find. https://www.theartisanhouse.co.uk/
Does the venue have bespoke stationery available?
It’s always nice to keep the stationery in-house if you can. What’s nicer than receiving a wedding invite with a sketch of the venue on or a place setting that you can keep as a memento? In-house stationery also helps to keep things simple and ties everything together. It also sets the tone for the wedding. Having this organised by the venue is a great way to take the pressure off and allows you to focus on some of the other details! At The Tythe Barn we have our own stationery complete with a wonderful sketch of the front of The Tythe Barn drawn by a local artist. It is also very reasonably priced as each item is based on a template which couples can then amend with their own details thus keeping the costs down. Here’s a link: http://www.thetythebarn.co.uk/weddings/stationery
Does the venue offer anything in the future to allow you both to celebrate an anniversary or an excuse for you both to reminisce about the special day you had?
At The Tythe Barn we find our past couples are frequently asking if there are any events on at the barn that will allow them the excuse to return and experience a little bit of nostalgia. For that reason we like to keep in touch with our past couples about any events that may be happening and we also offer anniversary nights in our wonderful Shepherds Hut. Take a look: http://www.thetythebarn.co.uk/weddings/the-shepherds-hut