16 Questions to Ask Your Destination Wedding Venue
Planning a destination wedding has its own set of details to keep in mind. A little secret: Once you find your destination wedding venue, the rest of the details really do start to fall into place. Haven't found it yet? Use our local venue search (search by style and price) or try out The Knot Venue Concierge. It's a (read: free) service that'll help you find your venue stress-free.
Okay, found a few possible venues and ready to move on to the next step? Ask these questions before you book:
How experienced are you with weddings and have you ever hosted an event for [insert number of guests you're inviting]?
Tip for the taking: Ideally, a venue that has hosted its share of nuptials is a safer bet, but wedding-specific experience isn't necessarily a deal breaker. If they've ever hosted a corporate event, conference or party, that's an indication they can handle your wedding too.
What do you offer versus [insert the name of another venue or hotel you're considering]?
Tip for the taking: Mentioning a specific example of another competitor you're considering shows you've done your research and you're serious. This will give them the opportunity to point out distinctive features of their facility as well as any wow-worthy special services they might offer in order to win your business.
Do you offer packages or is everything custom or à la carte?
Tip for the taking: Find out exactly what's included in each of the different packages, so you'll be able to make realistic cost comparisons.
If there aren't packages, how are your weddings priced (per guest or is there an additional fee to rent the space)?
Tip for the taking: The best way to get the price that fits your budget is to compare —even at the same site. Saturday night is prime time for weddings and parties, but if all of your guests will be around (and free) for a few days, there's no reason you have to wed at a traditional hour. Choosing a less popular day, time or season is likely to save you some money.
Are you flexible when it comes to customizing the menu, music, flowers, rentals and so on?
Tip for the taking: If you really want a certain pro (for example, you definitely want to bring your own photographer), or if you have specific needs (like a kosher or vegetarian meal), this is the time to find out if they'll accommodate you. If getting what you want will cost you extra, you need to know up front and use that to help you make a final decision.
What spaces are available for the ceremony and reception?
Tip for the taking: Just loving the look of a spot isn't enough—you also need to know it can comfortably fit all of your guests, and that it's available to use on the date and time of day you want. Because some venues book multiple weddings at once, find out if that secluded beach area you've been eyeing is actually a possibility for you. And definitely take a look at any plan B options they offer in case of inclement weather.
Is there an on-site coordinator?
Tip for the taking: One of the major perks of using an all-inclusive venue is the wedding coordinator who often comes as part of the package. They'll have tons of experience planning weddings at the venue and know who the best local pros are. If the hotel has multiple coordinators, find out if you'll be working with one or a few. If it's more than one, ask who the main point of contact will be and confirm that she will be working the day of your wedding.
Can you refer me to some recent clients?
Tip for the taking: The best way to find out if a venue is truly as good as it seems is to read reviews, but for a small or offbeat resort or hotel, that may not be an option, so references will be your best friend. They'll give you the inside scoop on any problems to anticipate. If possible, try to talk to people who've had events that are similar in style. Better yet, ask to see their wedding photos—seeing pictures of real weddings that took place at the venue (and not just staged photos from the venue website) will give you a stronger idea of what the space really looks like.
How much of a deposit is required to reserve my date?
Tip for the taking: Double-check not just how much you'll need to pay to reserve your spot, but also when each remaining payment is due, so you can plan to have plenty of cash on hand whenever you need to pay the balance.
Does the hotel have enough rooms for all of my guests on my date?
Tip for the taking: Having all your guests in the same place will be a lot more convenient—plus, it makes it easy for everyone to mix and mingle and get to know one another. If they can't all fit in the same hotel or you want to offer accommodations at another price point, choose somewhere close enough so no one has to spend all their extra cash paying for cabs. (Ask the venue to make suggestions for nearby alternatives.)
Do you offer group discounts?
Tip for the taking: Since you'll be bringing a large amount of business at once to the hotel, they'll likely offer some kind of group discount. See what kind of deals you can negotiate with them. And while you're discussing money, find out if they charge a visitor fee for guests who aren't staying at the hotel to attend the wedding.
What types of activities are there on the property? What's nearby?
Tip for the taking: While you're visiting the venue, if you have a chance to speak with the on-site coordinator, this is a great question to ask. You should also find out if the hotel or resort will coordinate activities for you and your guests.
Do you offer a shuttle service or other transportation around the area, as well as to and from the airport?
Tip for the taking: Most guests flying in for your affair likely won't be renting a car, so mobility is definitely something to think about. If the venue can provide transportation to and from the airport, that's a huge plus, since that's usually the most expensive cab or shuttle ride your guests will have to take during their stay.
Are children allowed, and if so, is there an age cutoff?
Tip for the taking: Some all-inclusive resorts, like Sandals, are adults only. Those may be a great option for the honeymoon, but not so much if you were planning for your littlest family members to attend your wedding. If there are babies or kids on your guest list, double-check that the venue is family friendly.
Do you host more than one wedding on the same day or at the same time?
Tip for the taking: If the place is large and spread out, this may not be a big deal—but if there isn't a ton of space and other guests could wander into your reception, you may want to consider a different venue. Or ask what policies are in place to keep confusion at a minimum, because the last thing you want is to have the cheering and clapping from another wedding drown out your "I dos."
How formal is the hotel?
Tip for the taking: You need to find out if the hotel really fits your style. Ask about the standard attire in their restaurant. If you're looking to have a laid-back party, then a jacket-required dining room probably isn't for you.
Find your dream destination venue here!