7 Things to Look for When Scouting an Event Venue

There’s nothing more exciting then finding THE venue.

Perfect location.

Perfect space.

Perfect vibe.

All White Ceremony Venue

It’s easy to fall in love with it right then and there….and then you start reviewing the contract.  When I’m scouting venues, I look for the following 7 key items in the contract:

  1. Rental Hours
    How many hours will you need your venue? 3 hours for a family gathering? More than 4 hours for a wedding?  The hours provided in the rental agreement is one of the first items I review.  You want to ensure you won’t have to pay an additional per hour fee to get enough time for your event–I prefer to select venues that offer all-day rentals.
  2. Individual Site Fees
    Costs can pile up quickly when venues charge a rental fee per separate site (i.e. garden, ballroom, parlor).  Many couples will want to have separate spaces for their ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception.  This can potentially mean a higher rental fee since you’ll have to sum 3 separate site fees.  I look for venues that have one rental fee which includes all spaces.
  3. Ceremony & Reception Fees
    These fees are similar to, but slightly differ from, individual site fees.  Some venues charge a rental fee per wedding component–ceremony, cocktail hour, and/or reception.  There are many venues that charge one fee–and reasonable ones–so if possible, don’t get sucked into this trap!
  4. Contract Inclusions
    There’s nothing better than a venue that throws in a few “extras”–chairs, tables, bridal suites, parking, etc.  If the before mentioned items are included in your site fee, you’ll automatically reduce the number of vendors you’ll have to coordinate with, and–most importantly–you’ll save money on much needed rentals.
  5. One-Stop Shops
    Many venues boast offering “everything you need for your wedding”–catering, furniture, linens, the cake, officiants, you name it.  Now, this can definitely be appealing for many brides but I want to make sure I raise a red flag here.  When you don’t have choices, you aren’t given the opportunity to compare pricing.  You HAVE to use their vendors even if you find a better deal elsewhere.  Before cementing a contract with a “one-stop shop” venue, make sure to get your fee broken down into its line-by-line components (or get the per person cost).
  6. Preferred Vendors
    Always check to see if the venue has a preferred vendor list.  If they do, the first question I would ask is if you HAVE to use someone on the list, or if they are open to the use of outside vendors.  Even if a vendor is preferred, it doesn’t mean they’re the best option.  In some cases, a vendor has paid the venue to be on the preferred list.  I’m always open to these lists, but I prefer to select venues that give me the option of using any vendor I choose.
  7. Hidden Fees
    It’s easy to overlook a few sneaky fees like clean up, security deposit, and cancellation fees.  There are some venues that won’t have cleaning fees, but most will have security deposits and cancellation fees.  In terms of security deposits, try to look for venues with a lower deposit amount and ensure that you are guaranteed to get most to all of your deposit back.  For cancellation fees, check to make sure you can get at least half of your rental fee back if you cancel within an allotted period of time.  Don’t get caught in a “no refund” situation!

For more event insights, visit my Tips & Advice board on Pinterest.

Photo credit: destinationweddingmag.com

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