Key questions when viewing a venue
You’ve seen pictures online. Maybe you have attended an event in this space before. And now you have an appointment booked to discuss YOUR day.
Get the most out of that visit and walkthrough and cover all of the important details. Take notes, don’t be afraid to ask your venue contact to repeat themselves or clarify, and come prepared with your list of questions. We have suggested some critical ones below!
Perhaps a really timely one is, how are events hosted here being impacted by COVID? What are the current restrictions on the space, how have you changed your protocols, and what does it look like if we are forced to reschedule?
Cover the basics such as what areas are available, and what are the capacities for each. Discuss any flexibility in room and area layouts. Does a room reconfiguration allow for slightly more people, or allow for a smaller number to look less sparse in a large room? Is there an outdoor space that you can use, and is there an indoor backup? We’ve written an entire blog post on taking that leap and booking an outdoor space, if that’s something you’re considering!
Who is your contact throughout the booking and planning process, but more importantly, confirm who is onsite day-of. It can be quite frustrating to have made all of your plans with one staff member, only to find your day-of contact was privy to none of that and is someone that you have never met. Get a feel for those contacts and the venue’s event execution process.
Ask about access. At what point would your booking begin? Night before? Day of? And similarly, at what point is your booking complete, when does cleanup have to be finished?
What aspects of setup are your responsibility? Can you simply provide the centrepieces, or do you physically have to place them on each table? Can you provide a seating plan and name cards for staff to layout during table set up, or do you need to place them? And at what point will the tables be set and ready for place cards? Do you need to be there to oversee the delivery of the cake? Do you need to be there to oversee an external decorator?
Talk about your ideas, even the ones you are nervous to ask about. Were you hoping to use your cousin’s catering company? Is that an option? What do the staffing arrangements look like if you bring in your own caterer? Is a food truck a possibility for the late night snack? Is there a list of preferred providers that includes recommended local food trucks?
Speaking of a preferred provider list, ask about it for all aspects of your day. Outside caterers, cakes, décor, tent rentals, AV, bands, DJs, etc.. Is the preferred provider list merely a list that the venue recommends, or is this a list of vendors used exclusively by this venue?
What kind of storage is available? This might apply for before, during, and after. Can décor items be dropped off earlier in the week if that’s what is convenient for the provider? Is there somewhere that wedding gifts can be securely stored overnight and picked up the following day? Can cars be left overnight in the parking lot?
What are your options for the bar? This is a big question, and one that we have tackled as it relates to the possibility of an open bar in another blog post. Do you have a favourite wine and can you bring it in to serve? Is there a corkage fee? Would you like to offer a signature cocktail? Is there a particular beer that a guest of honour would like to see? Who holds the liquor license? When is last call? Can last call be earlier? Thinking about doing a toonie bar or a ticket bar, what do the logistics look like for that?
What is available to use? What is included in the room rental and what is available at an additional fee? Are there venue-provided centrepieces? What are the linen choices? What does inhouse AV look like? Does the venue have chair covers available? What style of tables are available and how many? Is there a podium and is it suitable for your theme?
Are there any limitations? This might apply for lighting, décor, open flame candles, last calls, area included in the liquor license, available dates etc..
Spend the time before your venue visit to create your own customized list of questions. Take your time going through them and ensure you get the answers that you need. Make note of the answers, or ask your venue contact to send through notes of your meeting. Ask the same questions at each venue, for the sake of easy comparison when it comes to making your decision. There is no such thing as a silly questions, and remember, a great venue team is there to do everything possible to make your dream event a reality!