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5 Tips to Know Before Booking Your Wedding Venue

by Sharon Auld

At Naturally Chic, we work with couples from the start of their wedding planning process right through until their special day. In addition to full planning and design, we offer Wedding Day Management services (also known as Month of Coordination). By the time we get involved with our “Day of” couples, most of them have already found their wedding reception venue. While it’s a great thing to have found the perfect venue, couples often experience challenges after they’ve signed their venue contract. These “challenges” usually are a result of miscommunication with a venue or simply just not knowing what you’ve signed on for. For whatever reason, problems with your venue can be very frustrating.

So what do you need to know to avoid problems with your venue?  First off, don’t expect there to never be any issues. Consider yourself extremely fortunate if everything runs smoothly from the start to finish of your wedding. With any service you contract for your wedding, there is always communication and with communication there is the potential for misunderstandings. Good communication is an ongoing process and takes work. However, you can potentially avoid headaches if you follow these Five Tips:

  1. Take your time choosing a venue. Take your time to go out and visit several venues. The perfect venue for your friend might not be perfect for you. If you can, take several weeks to go out and look at various venues each weekend. You definitely don’t want to be pressured into signing on with a venue when there might be other spots that are better suited to you, your budget and even to the style of wedding you are envisioning. Even if there are only limited booking spots left at a venue, you may want to ask if they could hold the date for you for one week so that you can review the contract and get back to them. This tactic doesn’t always work in your favor, but at least you won’t be pressured into signing a contract only to find that with “hidden costs” it far exceeds your budget.
  2. Know the “hidden costs” of a venue. Okay, hidden costs might be a bit misleading. Most venues are not out to deliberately deceive you, but it may feel like it when you only hear about “corkage fees” or “cake-cutting fees” after you’ve signed a contract. Many of these terms are fairly standard within the industry, but when it’s your first time planning a wedding you may not have heard about them. Other costs that may not be on your venue contract might include; AV equipment, dance floor set up, ceremony set-up fees, over-time fees, SOCAN fee, gratuities and the list goes on. Ask the venue what other costs you can expect to pay that are not on their written contract. If you don’t ask, you may not know until you get the final bill.
  3. Carefully review the venue contract. If you really want to avoid surprises, read your contract over thoroughly. Know exactly what services the venue is offering to deliver you and for how much. Know the “fee schedule” for when deposits and payments are due. Know the cancellation clause. Also, be sure you know what is not included. Hopefully by the time you receive a contract you’ve already asked the venue all sorts of good questions. If the answers to these questions are not addressed in the contract, ask for them to include it.
  4. Get it in Writing. Bottom line, if it doesn’t say it on your contract, don’t expect it. While it’s nice if someone’s offers you something verbally, it’s even nicer if it’s in writing. The truth is people make mistakes, sometimes they don’t know the correct answer or weren’t in a position of authority. There’s also lots of turnover in the hospitality industry and you may be dealing with a different person on your wedding day. Without having something in writing, there may be no way to verify your claims.
  5. Keep copies of all communications with venues. Mistakes happen. Keep copies of emails, keep telephone logs of conversations and be prepared to pull these out if you need to clarify any issues. You never know when you may need these documents.

Bonus Tip:

Many wedding planners like Naturally Chic offer consultation services. Even if you are not wanting to have a wedding coordinator present on your wedding day, you may benefit from hiring a coordinator for just an hour or two to discuss specific issues such as venues and contracts.

They may be able to save you lots of leg-work by recommending wedding venues that are suited to your wedding style, guest list and budget. They can review contracts with you or give you the heads up on costs to expect . They may even show you ways to negotiate costs with venues or avoid some of these costs altogether.

What is in the best interest of a venue or venue coordinator is not always what is in the best interest for you. A wedding coordinator has your best interests in mind.

The best of luck and happy planning!

For more information on our wedding planning and design services contact us at 1.888.679.0956 or or via website at

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