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#1 Will I have a dedicated venue coordinator on my wedding day?
Even if you're not planning to hire a wedding planner, a day-of, or venue coordinator is a must. He or she will oversee all the nitty gritty details related to your venue needs before, during, and sometimes, after the wedding. It's also best to meet the planner or coordinator ASAP (here's what you should ask them) - someone you can get along with will make the wedding planning process a lot easier!
#2 What are the rates for different days and times?
As you'd know, there are different rates for different days of the week, but don't forget to take note of the season or peak periods too. Also, check if your venue charges an additional surcharge for "auspicious dates", popular dates, or public holidays in general.
#3 What time will we have to clear the venue?
Some venues allow you to use them for a limited number of hours only, and may charge additional rates if you overstay your welcome. If you're having a lunch reception, you usually have to clear off by a certain time to allow for preparations for the dinner to begin (if there's a second wedding happening on the day of). For dinner receptions, you may have to vacate after a certain time too, as the staff will need time to clean up the venue for the next event. Ideally, yours should be the only event on the day so you'll have ample time. Plus, multiple events can leave your guests confused, too.
#4 Are there additional charges to the overall bill, and what's included in the total amount?
When looking at prices, don't forget to include tax and service charges (most venues usually list prices before tax). This is about 17 per cent on top of your overall bill, which will be reflected. Also take note to ask about miscellaneous fees, including setting up, cleaning and/or gratuity charges.
#5 Are there any preferred vendors I have to use?
It's not a must for you to use their vendors, but you may have to pay an additional fee on top of hiring your own. So weigh the costs before you confirm anything.
#6 What happens if I don't make the minimum cost?
Most venues will have a minimum number of tables, or minimum spend for food and drinks. Check if you can include anything else (like a free bar or additional desserts) into that minimum.
#7 Do we have to purchase liquor through you, and is there a corkage fee?
Speaking of beverages, many venues will probably give you the option of purchasing your wedding day booze through them, but be aware of pricey markups. Before you start sourcing for your liquor elsewhere, and bringing it to the venue, find out if the venue allows for it, and if there's a corkage fee. Then weigh your options.
#8 Is there a payment schedule I should adhere to?
See if you're able to negotiate an installment plan, especially if you're looking at hefty charges for your reception or banquet. Some venues will be able to work out a plan you're comfortable with. If your credit card offers rebates for a certain amount spent, see if you can divide the total sum to the number of times to max out your points.
#9 Are there any decoration and noise limitations?
Candles, certain flowers, arches of certain heights... you'll have to ask your venue coordinator or manager to see if there are any restrictions, so you can pass on the message to your wedding stylist and florist.
A ballroom wedding would probably give you more leeway when it comes to noise, but other event sites, particularly those near residences, might be under noise ordinances. It'll be a major dampener to have to put a stop to the music just as you got the dance floor buzzing!
#10 Are tables and chairs included?
Don't take anything for granted. Sometimes, the fees listed may only be for the rental of the venue. Anything extra will cost.
#11 How many people can it comfortably seat?
Most venues will give a number that maxes out the capacity of the place. Make sure you convey your vision to your coordinator or manager (for instance, you want a casual wedding with lots of mingling, so everyone has to move around easily), to give him or her a clearer idea of how many people you may be looking at.
#12 What are the perks included in the package?
Some perks (like a percentage of complimentary invitations, parking coupons, complimentary meal vouchers for after the wedding) may be worth the price you're paying overall, and others, though cheaper, may not have as many perks. But at the end of the day, it really depends on the type of wedding you want to have - whether it's a hotel banquet, or an intimate outdoor garden ceremony.