What to Ask when Booking a Wedding Venue

In our opinion there are three vendors that are the most important to consider for your wedding day. Obviously with us being photographers we may be a little biased…. but we do consider photography the most important; there are two others that we believe stand out just above the rest in making your day a dream come true. Your venue and your coordinator. We’re going to dive deeper into what you should look for in a coordinator later (read that blog here), but today we will discuss what to look for in wedding venues and questions you should ask.

Kala and I for the past 5 years have worked at some pretty amazing venues. We have worked at both new and established venues. We have worked at outdoor and indoor locations. We have photographed weddings in barns, fields, industrial buildings, and hotels. What we have found is that no matter your style or preference there are few things all the top venues offer, have, or give their brides and grooms and we wanted to share those with you.

There is no blueprint for running a venue. Even top-quality high-end venues can have a wide range as to what they offer in their packages. Some venues you have the entire weekend when you book your day, some don’t close to the public until an hour or so before your ceremony time. This is something to keep in mind when venue hunting and knowing how you picture your day going.

Likewise, along with knowing how much time you have the venue for, a good question to ask is if tables, chairs, and linens are provided. If not, you will have to find a rental company to provide these necessities. Or if you hire a wedding designer, many of them have an inventory of commonly used items for weddings that you could use.

Parking. Is it really that big of a deal? Most venues you just assume have ample parking for everyone so no worries, right? Wrong. Many venues may have to have annex parking a good way away from the ceremony location. For this especially if you have older guest attending you would want to make sure they have a shuttle service of some kind, usually a golf cart or two is sufficient. If the parking lot isn’t lined or may be tight, do they have staff to help with parking, so it is utilized to its fullest potential. While this is your day, you still want to save your guest the aggravation of not knowing where to go, or it becoming difficult to leave later. Some top-quality venues even have a shuttle service from hotels if your guest need the transportation. It never hurts to ask.

Knowing your venue’s rain plan is quite possibly the most important item in this blog. If you are getting married at an indoor venue only then this is a moot point. For purely outdoor venues it is important to know if there is a backup plan, or will you have to rent a tent? Some venues may provide the tent if they don’t have a second ceremony location on the premises. If you are lucky some venues have the best of both worlds. An amazing outdoor ceremony location with a beautiful indoor/backup location. Some large barns and industrial venues have ceremony locations outdoors, and the reception is indoors, and incase of inclement weather they have enough space to host the ceremony and reception both indoors.

Receptions are undoubtably the most entertaining and enjoyable part of the wedding day. Knowing how your venue assists in that fun is critical. Do they setup and breakdown or do you need to hire help? Do they take care of the trash or do you need to have someone pick it up at the end of the night? Do they provide the ice for drinks and alcohol or do you need to plan to have coolers of ice brought in? Do they have a bartender on staff, or do you need to find a bar service? Receptions are the part of your day that you have the most number of vendors working: venue staff, videographer, coordinator, DJ, bartender, catering staff and photographers. It is possible that some portions of your needs may be covered by a different vendor. Sometimes venues don’t clean up, but the catering staff does. The venue may not have a bartender on staff but some DJ services have bartenders as a part of their packages.

All venues can have the following issue, which is sometimes an after thought during the reception, so learning the answer before the you book is important to keep your day running smoothly. What does the restrooms situation look like? Is there more than one? Is there portable restrooms? Are there enough facilities to handle your number of guests? Guests will be having dinner and drinks, and this is often times an overlooked part of venue planning. 200-300 guests need the proper quantity of lavatories, otherwise you may see folks waiting and performing a different line dance than the cupid shuffle.

There are so many great venues that we have worked with. You would think as photographers we grade venues on how pretty they are, or how nice the lighting is. We aren’t novices to wedding photography, we can work around those things. To us our brides become our family. We judge venues on how well they treat and take care of our brides. Because of this we consider your venue choices important. It is truly your day. You are going to look back forever and remember that as your wedding. Leveraging us, we consider it a part of our role. We are available to assist each of our brides in wedding planning and day of details. From the time we become your photographer to the time you speed off in your getaway car. So, if you haven’t chosen a venue or would like our professional opinion comment, email, or message us it is what we are here for.

  1. […] top of your list when planning your wedding—your photographer, venue, and wedding coordinator. You can read our tips here on what to look for when you are booking a wedding venue. Finding a great coordinator is vital to your wedding day. We are going to dive deeper with our […]

  2. Thanks for explaining how the reception is the most entertaining part of your wedding day. My fiance and I are planning our wedding for next month. We’ll try and find a venue that is fun but also follows the social distancing guidelines.

    • Kala Hurst says:

      Hey Franklin, we are happy to share our experiences with venues right now. If you’d like to chat more just reach out!

  3. As you mentioned, it is a good idea to figure out how long you will have the venue scheduled for so you can plan accordingly. My sister is getting married next year, and we need to try to find the perfect venue for her. I will keep these tips in mind as we look at all our options.

    • Kala Hurst says:

      Hi Shaylee! If you’d like to chat about our experiences at different venues and/or how they photograph we can schedule a time.

  4. My little sister and her high school sweetheart are getting married in a few short months, and as the maid of honor, one of my jobs is helping them find the perfect wedding venue. We live in an area that rains quite a bit, so I like that you talk about the importance of having an indoor location along with the outdoor location as a backup plan. My little sister and her fiance both love the idea of a rustic wedding, so a barn could be a great way to have an outdoor and indoor option!

  5. Megan Alder says:

    I like that you recommended asking the venue all the questions you need to ask, especially, asking about how much time they will have to decorate the venue and other things to ensure all the extra things you want to add will be possible. My fiance and I are getting married soon, and we are venue hunting, but we don’t want just any venue since there are a couple of things we want to add to it. I will definitely follow your advice to ensure that we find the perfect place to celebrate our wedding.

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