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Important questions to ask a wedding venue

Published: November 17th, 2020

Every couple wants the ideal wedding day, and one of the main aspects of planning it to perfection is choosing a venue. This can set the tone for the entire day, and help bring through any themes — for instance, if you have a vintage theme, you might want a quaint, historic venue to match. Prior to choosing a space, you should visit a few different ones to make sure it’s the right location. However, each viewing should provide plenty of information about your venue of choice, and give you the chance to ask questions about availability, catering and venue space to help you make your decision.

With so many elements to consider, you might forget to ask a few important questions. Here at Sandon Hall, we can host your perfect wedding and make it an occasion to remember forever, as you mark your big day surrounded by 400 acres of gorgeous Staffordshire countryside. You can find out more about what we offer by downloading our brochure. With that in mind, here are some things to consider asking when visiting a wedding venue. 

General questions

Is your chosen wedding date available?

This is the most important question to ask, as the last thing you want is to set your heart on a dream venue only to find out your desired date is unavailable. Weekends are the busiest slots, especially during spring and summer, so you should always ask about their availability first to avoid disappointment further down the line. However, if your date isn’t available, you could enquire about other free dates around the same time.

How many guests does the venue accommodate? 

It’s likely that you and your partner will already have a guest list in mind, including a rough number of attendees, so it’s critical to make sure your chosen venue has enough space for everyone you want to share your special day with. At Sandon Hall, we can host weddings for up to 1,000 guests in our marquee set up, while our elegant reception rooms can seat a maximum of 120 people.

Do they offer wedding packages? 

Venues which offer packages are worth seeking out, as you pay a set fee that covers aspects like the ceremony, accommodation and catering, so be sure to ask what kinds different venues have to offer. We provide a bespoke package which allows you to hire the venue, and use our recommended suppliers. This includes a bridal day room, a wedding coordinator to assist with the day, the civil ceremony itself, and more.

The venue

Does the venue accommodate entertainment?

Before booking a DJ or band for your wedding reception, you will need to check with the venue that they can accommodate a performance, including any necessary equipment, like a PA system or a drum kit. You may also want to enquire about space, and noise limitations. For instance, a venue located in a residential area may have a curfew, as well as restrictions on music volume, while barns and manor houses often have fewer restrictions..

Is on-site accommodation available?

If you have guests travelling from afar, they’ll almost certainly be looking for somewhere to stay. Rather than booking a nearby hotel, you may want to ask the venue if they are able to offer anything, as they can sometimes provide a discounted rate on rooms, or include accommodation in their existing wedding packages. For instance, Sandon Hall’s on-site accommodation is located within its newly refurbished country house which is a Grade II listed house offering period charms, modern comfort and a luxurious space to stay in.

Do I have to use your recommended suppliers? 

Wedding venues will often suggest suppliers for you, who are often services they trust and regularly use for weddings. For example, we recommend using Flowers by Breige for your floral arrangements, and The Estate Boys for your drinks. You may find that some venues are stricter on this than others, and require you to use their recommended suppliers, so be sure to check in advance.

Where can I have photographs taken?

While viewing venues, be sure to look for the ideal spot inside or outside of the venue to take your wedding photos. Ask where couples typically stand around the grounds — you could even ask to see previous photos for inspiration.

The food and drink

Does the venue offer in-house catering?

Many venues provide in-house catering, but you shouldn’t assume this outright. Ask what the menu options are, and whether they can accommodate dietary requirements of certain guests, including meat-free options. Sandon Hall has a selection of preferred caterers for you to choose from. These are highly experienced chefs and most will offer a menu tasting experience for you to ensure your food options suit your tastes ahead of your big day.

Is there a cake-cutting fee?

Venues can charge per-person to cut and serve your wedding cake. These costs can quickly add up, so make sure to ask about the cake-cutting fee in advance, so you don’t get a nasty surprise on the day.

What are the rules around alcohol?

Ask the venue if it has a liquor license, and whether they can provide their own bar and alcohol. Most venues will have a paid bar, where your guests can buy their own drinks, and if this is the case, it’s worth asking if there is a minimum spend you will need to reach by the end of the evening. If you’re planning on bringing your own alcohol, you’ll need to ask about corkage — how much the venue charges for opening and serving your alcohol. Some venues will charge per bottle, while others will charge per guest.

stately home wedding venues

The cost

How much is the deposit?

Every venue will require that couples pay a deposit to reserve their wedding date, so ask how much it is and when it will be due. It’s also important to inquire about the date of the final payment, and whether the deposit can be given as part of a payment plan. Deposits vary from venue to venue, but typically the cost of your deposit will affect how much you pay later, which could help keep the overall cost of your wedding venue down. This will be especially beneficial if you pick somewhere extravagant. 

What is the cancellation policy?

If for any reason you need to cancel your booking, you’ll need to know the venue’s cancellation policy beforehand to prevent you losing out on your deposit. Most venues will return your full deposit if you cancel far enough in advance, but make sure to ask when the cut-off date is, just to be on the safe side.

Does the cost cover everything?

Always ask what the venue includes in the price before you sign a contract. Some venues offer wedding packages which can cover elements such as catering, alcohol and entertainment, while others might provide just the hire of the venue alone. To avoid any nasty surprises later down the line, ask for a breakdown of everything your wedding venue can offer.

The ceremony

Is the venue licensed to hold ceremonies?

Not all venues are legally allowed to hold wedding ceremonies, so if you want to get married in your dream location, you’ll have to find out whether they have the appropriate licence. Typically, even licensed venues will only be allowed to hold wedding ceremonies in certain rooms. Fortunately, at Sandon Hall, we are licensed to host your wedding ceremony in either the church, conservatory or library, so you have the whole event on our grounds. We are also licensed in the Drawing Room, Grand Saloon and the Temple Garden — for outdoor ceremonies.

How long does changeover from ceremony to reception take?

Some venues can host both your wedding ceremony and reception, and sometimes these may be the same room. If this is the case, you should ask how long the changeover process is, and where guests will be able to gather in the meantime. You’ll also need to enquire about who will be responsible for arranging and overseeing that changeover — ask if only the staff will be setting things up, or whether your guests need to help out as well.

Are there any restrictions on decorations?

Venues will have different policies about the extent to which you can put up wedding decorations, so it’s best to ask long before you start planning the look or theme of your big day. For example, a venue may not allow any naked flames, which prevents you from using candles. Listed buildings are likely to have more restrictions, which may include not serving guests red wine or banning attendees from wearing stiletto heels, both of which will help to protect the flooring. Think about all aspects of your ceremony, and ask specific questions about them — whether you are allowed to hang things like twinkling lights or drapery, for example, and their rules on confetti.

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