Looking for a wedding venue is a lot like looking for an apartment: a little bit fun, a little bit stressful, and mostly exhausting. But when it comes to touring a wedding venue, there are several things that couples tend to forget about until it’s too late. Avoid regrets and go over these key details before you commit to your venue…
1. Power & Outlets
Yes, this venue is gorgeous—but can it handle the power needs of an event? Some venues may require you to rent a generator (or several) to avoid blowing any fuses with lighting, music, heaters/air conditioning, and other power demands a wedding brings. And if they do have on-site power, make sure you know where all the plugs are. Historical buildings often have far less power outlets than modern spaces, so make sure you have what you need for getting ready (especially if you’re plugging in hot hair tools) and the rest of the day. You may need an extension cord if you have a specific plan for where you’ll be needing things like lighting and audio equipment.
2. Contingency Plans
For the most part, no one is aiming for rain on their wedding day, but everyone should consider a venue’s “rain plan” before booking. Some venues move outdoor weddings inside, others set up tents, others don’t have a backup at all. Make sure you know what the plan is and consider that you may be using it. In Southern California, you may also want to consider wildfire dangers. Is your venue surrounded by forest or in a known fire-prone area? What do they do if the venue is unavailable or damaged? Do they have partner venues they can work with in emergencies? Will your deposit be refunded? Of course you don’t want these things to happen, but if they do you’ll feel a lot better if you know the plan.
When you imagine your wedding day, you probably aren’t thinking about cleaning up afterwards. But someone has to do it! Be sure to ask who is responsible for cleanup (it’s usually you) and when you’re required to have the venue clean. Some venues have to be cleaned immediately following the party whereas others allow you to clean up the next morning. Ask your wedding planner to help you come up with a cleanup plan (ideally one involving a cleaning staff and not you). Make sure you also get trash guidelines from your venue, because some spaces hold you responsible for any trash left on-site (even in trash bins).
4. Hidden Rules
Are you envisioning a romantic, candle-lit first dance? Is your dog going to be your ring bearer? Don’t forget to check ahead about your venue’s rules and restrictions. Many venues prohibit candles or open flames of any kind. Sparklers are also commonly not allowed. Some venues also limit confetti throwing, animals, or food trucks on the property. Most LA venues also have music volume restrictions after 10pm (which is dictated by county law rather than the venue itself).
If you’re able-bodied, you probably haven’t given much thought to accessibility, but if you have disabled guests you’ll definitely want to make sure you can accommodate them. If you’re expecting elderly guests, guests in wheelchairs, or guests who otherwise struggle with physical mobility, make sure to keep this in mind during venue hunting.
Is the whole property wheelchair accessible? Historical buildings tend to be far less accessible than modern ones. Keep an eye out for step-up entryways, tight corridors, and non-accessible restrooms.
Even people who don’t use wheelchairs may have mobility issues that make it difficult for them to traverse hills, uneven terrain, stairs, or long distances. How far will guests need to travel between parking and the ceremony space? How much of it is uphill? Ask the venue manager if they have designated accessible parking or a drop-off space.
6. Taxes & Fees
Depending on where you live, your venue rate may be subject to local taxes. Make sure to ask if those taxes are included in the quoted price or if they are additional (and get the full quote for how much that will be). Some venues may require gratuities for staff that are rarely included in the rate, so be sure to ask about any included gratuities and account for them in your budget. Venues may also expect you to cover clean-up costs and trash removal through them. Extra fees may apply if you want to have them move furniture or set up a dance floor. Get any additional costs cleared up from the start.