It might seem like a great idea to get married and celebrate surrounded by beautiful nature on a beach, on a mountain, in the woods, or in someone’s backyard, but remember how many logistics there are to consider. To save yourself time, and many headaches, make sure to hire a professional, certified wedding planner who will ask the right questions, especially regarding location and infrastructure. This way you can start your wedding planning adventure with less worries and more time to enjoy the fun things, like food tastings!
Here is a sample of questions to ask before booking the reception venue:
- Is it close to the ceremony?
Bonus points if it’s in the same location or walking distance! Organizing a shuttle bus can also be an excellent option. Research parking options and let guests who are driving know ahead of time if they need to pay for parking. Having a designated person in charge of transportation might be needed.
- Is it close to public transportation?
Think about how guests will arrive and leave, especially if alcohol is being served. Keep track of the bus or skytrain schedule and research a reliable taxi service contact number before the wedding! Never assume a car share service will be a solution. Also keep in mind where people are staying and if international guests need to be close to the airport.
- Is it on an island?
Make sure guests know the ferry schedules and prepare for the unexpected delays or cancellations. If possible, see if guests can get there the day before and leave the day after, especially during the high season. TRUST ME.
- Is it accessible for those who have mobility issues/use a wheelchair?
Make sure the venue has a ramp/elevator if there are stairs, or anything else that might aid personal travel. If outside, you may need to provide extra lighting or flooring for pathways. Nature is awesome but can be tricky to navigate for people with disabilities or other mobility restrictions. Make sure the area is safe for children, elderly persons, and people with other difficulties.
- Is there a source close by for clean drinking water?
Make sure catering and bar staff have nearby access to a clean water source or rent a portable water tap if necessary. Also, NEVER assume there is an ice machine to use at a venue unless it is written in the contract and confirmed for use. It’s always best to bring your own ice in a cooler.
- Does the venue offer to provide furniture or other onsite rentals?
Many indoor venues have chairs and tables available to use/rent. Your planner can look over the contract to make sure everything is clear regarding who is responsible for the setup and break down of any venue furniture and make sure there will be a venue coordinator onsite to answer any questions and help with operation. If outdoors, also confirm who will be responsible for moving any chairs, tables, and other rented items from the space. It may not be as easy as you think!
- Does the venue have a working kitchen/oven?
Again, do not assume an indoor venue ihas a kitchen that is properly equipped for your catering team! The planner can set up a site visit for someone from the catering company to make sure they will have everything they need to prep, cook/reheat, serve, and clean up for dinner. If outdoors, they might have to get really creative and need a lot more brough on-site. If you are planning on using food trucks– just remember they are usually not equipped to provide a large amount of food all prepared at the same time, so there will be a wait.
- Are there enough washroom stalls for guests? (at least 2 for every 50 guests)
Having clean, unisex washrooms is a great option for keeping guests comfortable and lines flowing. Make sure the venue has enough stalls for all of your guests, or plan on renting some portable stalls. Ask if the stalls are wheelchair-friendly and have at least one baby-changing station. Also ask if someone can check the stalls every so often to make sure they are working, clean, and have enough toilet paper, soap, and drying options. You can add a special touch by having a few extra toiletries in a basket by the sink for guests to use- like mints, bug spray, sunscreen, baby wipes, and the number for a local taxi service.
- How does the venue handle the weather?
Before booking the date, think about the weather that time of year and ask what options they have to make sure guests are comfortable. If inside, do they have A/C and heating? If outside, you may need to rent heaters, provide blankets or umbrellas, rent tents, etc.
- Are there enough power sources and outlets?
There are many things the planner can check on during a venue site visit, and outlets and power sources are definitely on that list. Music/Entertainment (DJ, Live Band, Sound Board,) may need at least an outlet of their own, catering might need one for a coffee/tea station, decor might need one for lights, and a photo booth might need one too. Not to mention extension cords, electrical/gaff tape for tripping hazards, and waterproof extension cords and generators for outdoors.
Overwhelmed just reading those 10 important questions? That’s just one reason to hire a wedding planner! They will look over the contract and confirm all of the details so nothing is missed. Booking the right venues can kick off your wedding planning journey in a great way, and booking an eco-conscious wedding planner can be even better for your wallet and the planet!