You Need These Points on Your Reception Venue Contract

Your wedding venue will take up almost half of your budget (if not more), so don’t leave anything to chance. Before you sign, double-check that your contract covers these key points.
by The Knot
Tall white rose centerpieces at indoor wedding reception venue
photo by Genevieve Nisly Photo

Take our word for it: You want to make sure you're covered down to every last little detail before you sign the wedding venue contract. It's definitely not as fun as picking out flowers, trying on dresses or tasting cakes, but finalizing your wedding venue contract is quite possibly the most important part of the wedding planning process. Let's put it this way—you don't want it to be the week of your wedding and realize that your venue doesn't have a liquor license. (PS: If you're not there yet and haven't found your venue, use our local venue search or try The Knot Venue Concierge—a free service that'll help you narrow down your options.)

Here, the basic points that every reception venue contract should have:

  • Name and contact information for you and the venue
  • Date and time frame of your reception (the average dinner and dance reception is about four hours—longer if it includes the ceremony)
  • Exact names of specific room(s) to be used
  • A detailed description of your reception space, including the décor (color of walls, type of flooring, chandeliers), plus any amenities, like a stage or bridal suite
  • What time pros (like the florist and DJ) will be able to set up
  • Approximate number of guests and number of tables to be set up (include a floor plan if possible)
  • An itemized list of what the site will provide (from waitstaff to linens, plus special services such as a coat check and valet parking)
  • The name of the manager who will be on hand on your wedding day and the name of an acceptable substitute
  • Proof of insurance and liquor license
  • Anything else you agree to orally that you want set in stone
  • Setup, cleanup, overtime and any other fees
  • Total cost (itemized)
  • Deposit amount due
  • Balance and date due
  • Cancellation and refund policy

Sign it and breathe a sigh of relief. Your biggest decision (after choosing to get married, of course) has been made. The rest of your planning will now begin to fall into place—we promise.


Now it's time to put the knowledge to use, and find the best venues in your area here.

Still looking for your venue? Here are the most important questions to ask during your site tour

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