Question #1: What comes with my rental fee or my food and beverage package?
If you are having your wedding reception at a hotel or restaurant, you will most likely have tables, chairs and linens included in your fees. However, if you decide to have your reception in a park, garden or a facility you should make sure you are not going to have to rent additional items. Will the cookie table be extra?
Question #2: Does the caterer include equipment or do you have to rent it?
Most of the caterers I have worked with include all of the stoves, grills, service ware, etc., however, on a wedding earlier this year,the caterer informed me my client would need to provide everything from the linens to the charcoal for the grills. That was a huge additional expense and a great deal of additional work.
Question #3: How do you charge for service people?
Some wedding venues charge a percentage of the overall fee and others have a separate service fee. Make sure you figure this amount in when planning your budget. Either way, the amount could be significant.
Question #4: Do you have any additional fees?
Some venues and caterers will charge you a cake cutting fee if you do not purchase through them. While cake cutting fees can seem like an unnecessary expense, over the years I realize that most wedding venues when they charge those fees, they decorate the plates or add additional accompaniments to the cake (think chocolate covered strawberries!).
Question #5: How many hours do I have the facility and personnel.
If you like to dance the night away, make sure you are not in a location that will require you to leave at a certain time. For example, if you choose to rent out a night club on a Saturday evening, most likely they will want your group out by 10:00 p.m. so they can open their doors to the public. Most wedding venues will allow you to stay if you pay a room rental fee, or simply keep the bar open.
Question #6: Do you have decorations I can use?
Some locations have items in-house like plants, latticework, votive candles and even centerpieces that you can use. That can be a huge money-saver.
Question #7: What other events are taking place at the location and how do you have it scheduled?
Most larger wedding venues will have multiple events in one evening, especially if your reception is at a prime time on a Saturday night.The key is to find out how these other events are scheduled compared to yours.It is best not to have both parties starting at the same time as guest arrival can become confusing. The best option is to have the cocktail hours scheduled an hour apart—that way the guests from one party will already be in at dinner when the other guests arrive.
Question #8: Is there plenty of on-site parking and is there a fee?
If you are using an alternative wedding venue, there may not be sufficient parking. You may have to ask your caterer to arrange for valets for you. This creates an additional expense, but the flow of your event will be much smoother than if people have to struggle to park. Another option is to find a convenient parking lot and ask if you can use it for your wedding reception. You would then have to provide shuttles back and forth to the reception. If your wedding is taking place at a hotel or restaurant, there should be plenty of parking, but there may be a fee. If you pay for all of your guests, you may be able to negotiate a discount.
Asking these eight questions before booking your wedding reception venue is sure to help you find a space that suites your style.