|Getting married at Chapel-by-the Sea
or a beach wedding venue? Know your
wedding venue questions!
As you begin looking for a beach wedding venue and places for a wedding reception, you’ll most likely get caught up in the excitement of picturing your dream wedding! However, remember that you’re there for business – the business of planning a wedding and/or planning a wedding reception! It is important to visit each location armed with a wedding venue checklist. Your checklist of questions will help you determine whether each location you visit can provide you the wedding you’ve dreamed in your head. After all, noone wants their perfect wedding day ruined by something preventable.
Let’s begin your wedding venue checklist!
- What will we do if there is inclement weather and/or rain (particularly if you’re having an outdoor event)?
- If you’re having an outdoor event, when is the decision made as to whether the event will be moved indoors?
- What is the deposit fee? In our experience, most beach wedding venues (such as resorts and hotels) required at least 50 percent of the total cost as a deposit, with the remaining balance due right before the wedding. TIP: Try to negotiate the lowest possible down payment when dealing with any vendor. This minimizes your financial risk in the case of a cancellation or dispute.
- What is the refund policy? Ask the manager to spell out the circumstances under which you are eligible to receive a full or partial repayment. If you receive a contract while you’re there, ensure the contract includes this verbiage.
- Are there day fees? These are charges that some resorts tack on for guests staying at a different hotel or resort than the one where your wedding is taking place. In our case, when interviewing places for wedding reception, South Seas was going to charge us $5 per guest to trolley our guests from the parking lot to our potential wedding/reception location. Never-mind we would have been spending a minimum of $20,000 just to have our event there. You’d think they could have thrown in that freebie.
- Is there a price-escalation clause? Many of the vendors we met insert this into their contracts to cover unforeseen expenses (food increases, higher demand, etc). If possible, set a cap on the expenditures that can fall under this umbrella.
- What are the due dates for every payment? Remember, you’ll need to plan ahead for the time it takes to mail these checks to your wedding destination.
- Can the payment be made via other means? Speed up the process via Mastercard and Visa!
- If you’re potential venue is a hotel and/or resort, can you arrange a special room rate for your guests?
- Does the venue offer wedding insurance? This will protect you if the venue goes out of business.
- Is there a list of “Preferred Vendors.” This is important information, in case you happen to fall in love with a particular florist, cake designer, etc before you pick your venue!
- Is there ample parking for guests that may not be staying within walking distance of the venue?
- What dates are available in the month you’re thinking? Are there any differences in price by sliding your date to different weeks of the month or days of the week? In our case, the hotel room rates dropped by $100/night by moving our wedding 2 weeks later, and we could have potentially decreased our “Food and Beverage Minimum” by having our wedding/reception on a Friday or Sunday.
- Does the venue maintain liability insurance? It is good to double-check this in case something were to happen and/or someone were to get hurt.
- How much time will be available for set-up and tear-down of the event? Make sure you coordinate with your vendors to ensure there is enough time!
- If applicable, does the venue provide coordination services? What is included?
- What’s included in the wedding package rate?
- Is the location affiliated with any particular religion? Will they allow weddings of a different and/or non-religious affiliation?
- Are any of your ceremony “extras” included – tables for unity candles, sand ceremony, etc?
- Is there a “getting ready” room where you can touch up your makeup before walking down the aisle?
Questions to Ask Your Reception Venue:
- Does the reception venue provide their own catering, or do you need to hire an outside caterer?
- If an outside caterer is required, what facilities do they have onsite for your caterer to use? Full kitchen? Partial Kitchen?
- If use of a 3rd-party caterer is NOT allowed, does the venue charge a food and beverage minimum?
- Is the food/beverage minimum flexible based on season (high versus low), and also day of the week (weekday v. Friday v. Saturday v. Sunday)?
- What tables, chairs, and centerpieces are included? Are they upgradeable?
- Will the venue provide additional side tables as necessary (such as cake, presents, and DJ tables)?
- What linens, dinnerware, and silverware are included? Are they upgradeable?
- Are the dinner options plated and/or buffet style?
- Are there options for dinner “stations” and/or appetizers (such as a cocktail hour)?
- Can the dinner options be slightly tweaked if there are options that do not sound appetizing to your guests?
- Does the venue offer dinner options for vegetarian guests?
- Is there an option to do a “tasting” before making final menu selections? We were torn on a few of our dinner items and the tasting helped us create a dynamite dinner menu that all our guests were raving about!
- Are there restrictions on how late your music and/or reception can go? Some venues had restrictions based on proximity to guest rooms and/or sea turtle mating season.
- How late can you serve alcoholic beverages? Can you bring your own?
- What alcoholic beverages are available? Can the venue do a “signature drink”? Are they willing to get your favorite drink (such as a particular champagne) if it is not listed in the beverage packages?
- Does the venue charge a “cutting fee” if you prefer to get a cake from your favorite bakery?
A Few Extra Tips:
- Get everything in writing! We went back and forth a few times with our chosen venue regarding the wording of our contract. We wanted to ensure the venue listed everything that was discussed in detail: archway type, chairs, timeframes, dinner menu, wine/beer/liquor list, and ceremony and reception locations, inclement weather locations, and included decorative items.
- Take a camera as you visit potential venues! We took pictures from multiple angles at all the venues we visited. This really helped us narrow down our choices and helped us envision our wedding as we started deeper in the planning details.
- Get detailed pricing sheets from EVERYWHERE! Weddings are expensive and most places charge you a-la carte for just about any and every option. Make sure you obtain price sheets from all the venues and play with the numbers.