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It’s officially official! You’re engaged and you’re ready to pick the time and place where you’ll start your next chapter together via a venue tour. You’ve likely already got an idea in mind of the type of venues you’d like to tour. From historic estates and posh museums to lush gardens and oceanfront hotels, there are venue options for every type of couple, especially here in Virginia.

Wedding Planning Cornerstones

Before you jet off on the Google rabbit hole of venues, it’s important to do some investigating of your wedding day options. Essentially, you need what we call the “Cornerstone of Wedding Planning” or a three-point list of wedding basics. Without these basics, you’ll be unable to limit your venue search to what is feasible and will potentially waste hours of your time! Here’s what you need:

  • Budget: You won’t get far without knowing your budget! That being said, setting the budget is an entirely different conversation worthy of its own future blog post. To keep this short, gather information about what you and your family can contribute to your wedding day without needing to take out loans or going into substantial debt. Now, allocate roughly 42% of that budget to your venue rental fee(s), catering, beverages, and cake.
  • Guest List: Your guest list controls so much of your budget and overall abilities! In terms of venues, you’ll want to make sure the venue can comfortably host all of your guests by checking out their max capacity.
  • Expectations: You’ll need to cover a few basics before touring venues, including:
    • Do you want to hold your ceremony at the same site as your reception?
    • What time of year or month do you want to getting married?
    • Do you want to have a local, domestic destination, international destination, or elopement style wedding?
    • Do you see your wedding being more formal or casual?
    • What type of venue fits the overall style of your wedding day vision?

Wedding venue Suffolk Virginia fountain

Venue Tour Questions

Have you sorted out your three cornerstones? Good! Let’s move on to touring venues. For simplicity, we’ve included a short and sweet list of questions to ask during your venue tour. It’s not inclusive of everything, but it is some of the hot button items! Here you go:

  • What is the max capacity?
  • What dates do you have available in our chosen month(s) and, if interested, can we place a soft hold for our preferred date before booking?
  • How much is the deposit, when is it due, and is it refundable?
  • What is the payment schedule?
  • Is the date transferable if something happens and the wedding needs to be rescheduled? If so, how much notice do you require?
  • Do you require us to use a particular set of vendors or in-house catering? Can we bring in vendors outside of that list? If so, do those vendors need to complete any paperwork or share any information to be approved by the venue?
  • Do you require us to hire a professional, licensed wedding planner?
  • Are there changing areas available for both sides of our wedding party and our attendants?
  • How many restrooms are there for guests? Will we need to rent additional restroom spaces?
  • Are rental items such as tables, chairs, linens, and tents available for use?
  • Can we move any furniture or other items around the venue, as needed?
  • Can we use sparklers or candles? If we can use candles, are there any restrictions on types of candles or necessary glassware to contain the candles?
  • If the venue is open to the public during the day, what time can we start the ceremony?
  • How early can vendors access the space and can we leave décor there the day before the event?
  • What is the parking situation for guests? Is there valet or parking attendants? Will we need to hire parking staff?
  • What is the bad weather plan?
  • Do you have heaters on-site if it is chilly outside?
  • Do you have a sound system or does all amplified sound need to come from the entertainment vendor’s systems? What is the power situation for vendors that require power sources?
  • How far is the closest hotel or guest accommodation space?
  • Will there be another wedding at the venue that day?
  • When can we have our rehearsal? If there is a wedding the day before ours, when do you prefer we have the rehearsal?
  • In contrast, do you allow other couples to hold their rehearsal on-site during our wedding?
  • Are there any other restrictions not previously mentioned?

Venue Tour Catering Questions

Now that we’ve got those questions settled, let’s discuss one other facet of venues: in-house or required catering. If a venue requires in-house catering, here’s a bonus list of questions to ask about the catering on-site:

  • Can we see sample menus and proposals? What is the typical price per person?
  • What is the payment schedule? How much is the deposit?
  • Is gratuity included in the catering invoice? What is the percentage? What is the service charge?
  • Is there a cost to do a food tasting? Can we do a tasting prior to booking?
  • Can we bring our own cake? Is there a fee for corkage or cutting the cake for serving?
  • Can we bring in any of our own food and/or alcohol while we’re getting ready?
  • Is there an additional charge for bartenders? Can we bring in alcohol for the event if we secure an event license?

Don’t forget to write it all down and take pictures! Contact us if you need additional venue tour questions. Happy venue hunting!

Wedding couple Virginia venue

Vendor Credits

Special thanks to the incredible vendors involved in the styled shoot photographs above: