Searching For The Perfect Wedding Venue

6 Questions To Ask Your Wedding Venue

Outdoor wedding
London wedding venue Shangri-La Shard
London wedding venue The Dorchester

1) Have a date in mind

We know this is such an obvious one, but there are brides who do look for their perfect venue a year or two in advance of their wedding date. Even if you’re just looking, please still have a date in mind. The reason we suggest this is because if you’re just looking around and you fall in love with the place, how upsetting will it be if in a month’s time you know your date, call up and they say ‘Sorry we are fully booked on that date, and there are no other dates available around that time’. We would suggest to call up the venue first before visiting to ask if your date is free. Then book an appointment to view, this limits the risk of any disappointment before you go. We wrote a previous blog about how off peak seasons can be cheaper so check it out if you are interested in understanding a little bit more about peak and off seasons.

2) Know Your Numbers

Most venues will have maximum capacity numbers on their website or in their brochure, but it’s still a question you must ask. Just like having a date in mind, know your numbers before going in. It doesn’t have to be the exact number but an estimate is useful. If you’re having guests between 280-300 and the venue's maximum capacity is 230-250 then you know straight away this may not be the one. Venues don’t put a maximum capacity on their space to be awkward this is usually for health and safety reasons and let’s face it, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Having said this, if the maximum capacity is 250 and you know your guest count is about 280 and you really want this venue, we would advise to try and make A and B lists. It is a well known tip to always over invite guests as a certain percentage will always be unable to make it. This way, if people from list A aren’t able to come, you can easily move to list B.

London wedding venue The Gherkin

3) Have a rain plan

If you’re planning to have your wedding and/ or reception outside, you should always make sure the venue has a ‘plan B’ or a rain plan in case the weather has other plans. This could be, moving inside (if there is a building attached to the land) or if they are able to have a marquee set up in case of rain. If the venue is able to either move indoors or set up a marquee, it is also worth asking what the extra costs involved would be. If the venue isn’t able to provide an alternative solution and you’re planning on getting married between October and February (or any time of year in the UK!), it might be worth considering if this is the venue for you- unless, of course, you like to take risks!

4) Find out the time limit

This is a good question for all you party people out there. What is the guest and music curfew at the venue? Most venues will have a time restriction of when the your guests need to depart and when the music has to stop, mainly for factors like it being in a residential area. It is possible at some venues to extend the curfew for an hour at an additional cost but don’t expect this to be the case. Although the venue may only hire the space until a certain time, it is also worth asking if your vendors need to be out by this time as well. Bear in mind, if your vendors (photographers, planners, candy carts etc) need to be out at the same time as the guests, they will need to pack up early in order to meet the curfew, so make sure this is factored into your planning.

London wedding venue Westminster Abbey
London wedding venue The National Gallery

5) Do’s and Don’ts

It is always important to check what the venue will and won’t allow in terms of décor. Most venues have restrictions on items that need to be hammered, nailed, stuck or even blue-tacked to the wall. If you’re a well-organised bride or host that knows exactly what decorations you want, you can most definitely ask this question on the first venue visit. If you are unsure of the décor you want at this stage, don’t worry. You can ask the basics and once you have more of a plan in place, their events team will be able to answer any more in depth questions before making any final decisions.

Going back to music, one other important thing to ask is if the venue has any restrictions on the type of music you can have. Some venues only allow nothing louder than music through their speakers or string quartets for example. If you have your heart set on a 25 piece big band, make sure this will work with your venue.

6) Understand your responsibility

If you have decided not to hire a wedding planner, it is a good idea to ask the venue if they supply a coordinator that will handle the responsibility of making sure your wedding or party flows. The drinks, the food, the lighting and sound as well as the staff. However just a heads up, a wedding planner and a venue coordinator are completely different. Another good question that you may want the answer to is whether the venue is ‘Dry Hire’.

Dry hire: When a venue just hire out the space and nothing else. Some venues may supply the staff and bar drinks but always check before you assume.

Dry hire is a good way to save money, and a great alternative if you really want to do things your way. Just remember you will be responsible for sourcing tables, chairs, linen, catering, drinks, cutlery, lighting and sound. Some venues may differ in what they can supply, so it is always worth asking.

London wedding venue Caroline Gardens
London wedding venue The Barbican

So those were the few questions we feel would be most beneficial to ask your venue when visiting for the first time. This will help you get a feel for the place and what they are able to offer. Here’s a quick recap:


Know your numbers

Rain Plan

Time Limit

Can and Cannot do

Understanding Your Responsibility

You don’t have to ask all of these questions on your first visit. If you can, that’s great but don’t stress out over it. Like we said, there is no limit on how many times you can call a venue for more information and get advice once you know what you’re looking for.  

This blog was inspired by ‘Put a ring on it podcast’. Click on the link that will take you to the episode that got us at YEP thinking and inspired.

Let us know your thoughts below on what questions you wished you asked in hindsight if you have done your wedding venue search already.

Thanks for reading!