Venue Wisdom - Part 2: Questions to ask your venue that will save your budget

Knowing that the wedding venue is the single largest wedding expense, any and all tips that could potentially reduce this expense are SO important! And that’s what you’re going to get today: a focused list of questions to ask your venue that will have a significant impact on your budget.

What’s different about this post is that I’m not going to list out a ridiculous number of questions (I’ve seen there are tons of websites where you can get that). Rather, I realize that with different types of venues there will be different questions you need to ask as not all questions are created equal. So, let me break it down by venue type!

If you are having a beach, outdoor, or outdoor/indoor combination ceremony & reception:

4 questions to ask:

(1) How many chairs can be set up in the designated ceremony space? Is this max capacity the same as the number of people who can comfortably sit for dinner and then also dance in the designated reception space? 

Why is this important?

Knowing this will help you gauge the max number of guests you can invite which ultimately impacts how much you’ll spend on sending out invitations, creating programs, and spending on food/drinks/desserts.

(2) What is included in the cost of the rental space? Is there a different cost for the ceremony versus reception space?

Why is this important?

Often times outdoor ceremonies come as a blank slate and you have to fill in all the pieces with decor of your choice. So, knowing this will help you determine how much extra money you’ll have to add to your decor and design budget.  

(3) Do you have a sound system for the ceremony?

Why is this important?

Imagine going to a beautiful outdoor wedding and you can’t hear anything except the birds chirping because there are no mics connected to the officiant, the couple, or anyone else who is part of the ceremony. That would be bad!

You need to know whether you need to contract with an external vendor to provide a sound system that is not only in compliance with the venue regulations, but that can also provide top quality acoustics given your ceremony and reception setup. If you do, you need to add the need for a production company to your venue budget.

(4) What is your inclement weather plan?

Why is this important?

Some spaces may have a weather plan already factored into their venue design, however, if they don’t you may have to have a rental company on standby to order a sizable tent if the weather indicates anything less than sunny. With a tent also comes the need potentially for a dance floor, lighting, possibly heat if its an autumn wedding = more money.

Additionally, if the designated outdoor ceremony space doesn’t allow for a tent, you may have to take the ceremony into one of their indoor spaces which could be an additional cost if it’s not already factored into their venue package. 

If you are having a classic/traditional/luxury wedding in a church or hotel:



3 Questions to ask:

(1) During what season (or even days of the week) do you have the best deals?

Why is this important?

Hotels and churches are the most common wedding venues so they likely have a very high demand. If you are flexible on the date, you can save money by booking their space during an off-peak season / less popular day, which can save you thousands of dollars.

(2) Am I required to use your vendors or can I bring in my own?

Why is this important?

This is especially critical information for the hotel venues. They often times have their own in-house event teams, which include caterers. If you are set on having a certain type of food at your wedding that has to be catered by a particular vendor, your need to know, a) if this is possible with this venue and b) if so, if/how much they will charge you for bringing in an outside caterer. Further, this will allow you to know how much you need to increase/decrease your catering budget.

Knowing this will also help you determine if you can negotiate with vendors of your choice - if you have to use in-house, you can’t shop around for the best pricing.

(3) How much time is included in the venue rental fee? Do you have a hard-stop time when all the guests need to be gone by?

Why is this important?

Churches and hotel venues often need to turn over quickly for the next event (or if its a Saturday event at a church, prep for Sunday service). If you’re dead set on having your reception last until the wee hours of the morning, it may be possible, but they may have to charge you extra. Ask up front so you can know how much you’ll be adding to your venue budget if you do decide to go with this location.

One of the most important category of questions you should ask your venue, regardless of the type of venue, is about their HIDDEN FEES. These creep up on you and can become a budget burden if not properly accounted for.

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Questions about hidden fees include:

(1) Do you require me/my caterer/or both of us to have an event insurance policy?

(2) What are your fees/requirements for alcohol?

(3) What are your fees for policy violations such as going over allotted time?

(4) What are your service fees and taxes and how are they calculated?

(5) How much is your damage/maintenance deposit and when is it due?

(6) Will the price of the rental change if the estimated guest count changes?

(7) Are there fees associated with paying the deposit or balance by credit card? If so, what is the percentage?

What do you think? I'd love to get your feedback! Leave me a comment or send me an email at

P.S  - Download a PDF summary of this post here. It'll be a great resource to have in hand during your venue visits!