Before scheduling an on-site visit with a Chicagoland reception venue, call or email to check availability, capacity and price point. You don’t want to fall in love, only to have your heart broken because it’s not available, won’t hold all your guests, or it’s way beyond the budget.
As you’re talking to a prospective venue, here are 10 key reception venue questions to ask:
- How many hours does the rental fee include? Are there overtime charges and what do they include? With most venues, 4-5 hours is standard for an event. You will usually have time before and after for set-up and take down, confirm how much time you will have so you are able to complete everything you plan within the allotted timeframe. If you do decide to go into overtime, be sure to check with your other vendors that will be affected as well, like you DJ or band.
- What is included in the rental fee or package? Do you provide the food or do I bring in an outside caterer? Are tables, chairs, linens, dishes, and flatware included? Many spaces offer packages that include everything and others allow you to bring in everything ala carte. As you compare venues, be sure you are comparing apples to apples. A hotel space can sound expensive until you look at the costs of furnishing a tent for 200 people!
- Can the same room be used for a ceremony and reception? If so, how long does it take to flip the room? If there is a lobby area, quite often rooms can be “flipped” while the guests are having cocktail hour. Many times half of the room will be set while the other half is used for the ceremony. Your venue will give you the timeline and costs for this quick turnover.
- Can I bring in my own vendors or is there a preferred list supplied by the venue? Most venues will let you bring in your own vendors, but preferred vendors are truly ones to consider. These vendors have worked in the venue before and are familiar with the challenges of the venue. They know the staff and have good working relationships with them. Quite often with caterers, they want them from their list as they have all the proper paperwork and licenses to work at their property. They also know how to work within the provided kitchen and ensure your food is ready and warm when promised.
- How is alcohol handled at the venue? Most venues will provide the alcohol packages. They are liable for serving the liquor, so this makes sure they are able to manage the flow.
- How many people can the space hold according to my room set-up? It’s better for the room to be a little too big than a little too small! Trying to fit more people into a room makes tables crowded and difficult for servers to provide proper service.
- Will there be other weddings happening on the same day? Most venues that have large spaces will have more than one event happening at a time. They are quite good at managing the crowds so only one group at a time is using the lobby or other common areas so you do feel like you are with only your wedding party.
- How much are tax and gratuity? Are they included in the package prices? Taxes and gratuity can vary greatly. Some venues include both in their package prices while others add it on. Be sure to consider this when you are planning your budget, as it can be well over 30% of your reception budget.
- What is the parking situation? Is there a large parking lot? Will you be sharing the lot with others? Is valet available and what is the cost? Will you pass the cost on to your guests or pay for it in advance?
- What are the payment options? Do you take credit cards? What is the payment schedule? What is the cancellation policy? What happens if there is a natural disaster?