So you're engaged! Congratulations ... now you want to get stuck into planning your perfect day. One of the earliest and most important decisions a couple makes is where the ceremony and reception will be held. And if there's one element of your wedding that will affect every other part of your plans, its your venue. Your venue can dictate so many things, from the number of guests you can have through to your style concept and colour palette.
To assist, below are the top questions that couples forget to ask when considering venues, plus some images of a few of our favourite Victorian wedding venues.
1. What’s your weather contingency plan for outdoor spaces? If you're considering holding any part of your day outdoors, you require a weather plan. Don't just think about rain, think about wind, extreme heat, hail and all manner of unexpected weather nasties. Ensure that you ask your venue what options are available should the weather turn bad and what time-frame you will have to decide whether or not to implement them.
2. What furniture, decor or table settings are provided/included? Often, venue websites show different styling options for a space. This doesn't necessarily mean that those chairs, linens, lights and vases are included in the package price though. Make sure you understand exactly what the venue does come with because hiring in furniture and decor can be costly.
3. What security services are included or required? Some venues require security to be hired in at your cost. Make sure you know what the requirements are, whether or not security is included in the price and what restrictions are placed on who you can hire.
4. Is there a minimum spend? Minimum spends catch those who are having a smaller wedding (often in the hope of saving costs) unawares. Make sure that you know what the venue's minimum spend is if they have one and ensure you aren't paying a whole lot extra per head just because you're having a few less guests.
5. Will we have exclusive use of the venue? Unless you want to share your ceremony or reception with onlookers or unwanted guests, it pays to make sure that the venue you are looking at offers exclusive use. If it doesn't, investigate what means are in place to ensure your day is private and intimate.
6. If we book the venue, do we have to hire certain vendors/suppliers? Some venues only work with certain businesses, restricting your choice in suppliers such as florists, furniture and decor hire companies, DJs and more. If they do. ask to view their vendor list and make sure you feel comfortable with those vendors before you hand over your deposit.
7. What time is available for set up and pack down prior to and post the wedding? You might be surprised at how many venues allow just 2 hours for set up prior to the commencement of the celebration. Some even charge per hour to access the venue earlier than the allocated time. Trust us when we say there's not too many spaces that can be set up and styled to perfection within 2 hours. Especially considering your family and friends will be getting ready or at your ceremony during this time!
8. Do you have any decoration restrictions? Dreaming of clusters of romantic candles, floral installations and fairy lights? Just make sure you know what your venue allows. Common restrictions include no use of candles and no attachments to the roof and walls.
9. What noise, alcohol and timing restrictions apply? If you're fantasising about celebrating until the break of dawn, just make sure you know when your venue requires the party to end. It can be as early as 10pm. Liquor licences can also be restrictive, so ask what applies to your venue and ensure you know if difference licences apply to different areas (e.g. the outdoor area as well as the indoor reception space).
10. Are we able to move or change anything? Don't like that big ugly couch in the centre of the room? Not into the green chairs? Make sure you ask your venue whether or not they are able to be removed. Some venues won't allow it full stop, while others could charge you extra.
And a final, very important tip: Make sure you understand clearly what the package price quoted really includes. Read your contract thoroughly and check for extras like GST (its always included, but not always made clear until you get the invoice), fees for menu changes and catering to allergies, minimum number of guests (different to minimum spend and can result in extra charges) and anything else that might increase the overall cost.
There's many other questions you need to ask your venue before you proceed but above are some of the one's that we think are most likely to be forgotten. Just remember, if you don't feel confident, don't make the deposit! And always bring along someone you trust for a second opinion. Once you're locked in, it can be a little tricky to back out!
What are your wedding venue hunting tips and tricks? Any advice for all those engaged couples out there?