Choosing a venue for an event can be difficult. There is so much to think about, from the accessibility for guests to the style of venue and whether it is suitable for your entertainment. Firstly you’ll want to do some research online into venues in the area your event will be held. You are usually able to find basic information, such as capacity and cost on the venues website and from there you can make a shortlist of venues to check out in person.
When visiting the venues it is a good idea to take a list of questions to ask. Here are some suggestions:
Is the venue available on the date you want?
Probably the most important question. There is nothing worse than falling in love with a venue only to find it’s not available on the date you want. To have your perfect venue it may help if you can be flexible, so have a couple of dates in mind for your wedding or choose weekends either side of the special day for a birthday party. If you can, get your venue to hold your chosen date while you check your entertainer available. Venues are normally happy to hold a date for a day or so.
How much is the deposit? And what is their cancellation policy?
Venues usually require a deposit to be paid on booking, with the rest payable any time up to the day of the event. Checking how much you will need to pay and by what date will help you budget for your party. It’s also worth asking about the venue’s cancellation policy. Some venues offer refundable deposits or hire fees if you are giving enough notice of cancellation.
Are they able to offer any discounts?
It’s always worth asking if there are any discounts available, particularly during their off-season when there are fewer bookings.
Is there space for all the activities you plan on having and all your guests?
Check the dimensions of the space you plan to hire to make sure all your activities will fit. Is there going to be space for your DJ, dance floor, photo booth and seating? Venues have limits on numbers depends on how you plan on using the space. If you are having a disco and a finger food buffet, you may decide not to have tables and chairs in order to save space. You may also decide to hire a marquee to expand your space, check with the venue what options are available. Also check whether there is plenty of space for your entertainer to unload. Think about how easy it will be for your entertainer to set up, depending on your chosen entertainment it might not be practical, or indeed possible, for them to carry their equipment up several flights of stairs.
How flexible is the layout of the venue?
It’s always a good idea to think about the layout for your event early on. From the obvious things like power sockets and fire exits which may limit your options, to the placing of your activities for access. For weddings, where you may want a more formal dining arrangement, does the venue have screens to pull across so you are able to separate the two areas? Would you be able to switch the entertainment area with the dining area if that layout would work better for you? Is there an area of the venue to put the photo booth? Do you need a quiet area for families with young children to take a break? Also consider your entertainment. If your event is starting before your entertainment, will your entertainers be able to easily set up out of the way without disturbing the rest of your party.
Who is the main point of contact for your event?
You should always ask for the number of someone you can contact directly about your event. This will be the person you, your suppliers or your entertainers will call if you have any other questions in the lead up to your party or need to make any changes to your booking.
Will you have access to the venue before your event starts?
Most venues allow you access before your event starts to set up and decorate and again after your event to clear up. Make sure you are clear on the time you will have access from and to. You will need to pass this information on to your caterers and entertainers.
Can you hang decorations?
Venues often have restrictions on the type of decorations you are allowed or how decorations can be fixed to walls and ceilings. Always check what the venue permits before your hang any birthday banners or bunting for your party.
Does the venue permit smoke machines/bubbles/confetti?
Check what the venue will allow before hiring any extras like smoke machines. It’s also a good idea to ask about confetti so you can inform your guests, some places prefer you not to have confetti as it takes a lot of clearing up, while others will allow bio degradable confetti or things like dried flower petals.
Is the bar fully staffed? Does that cost extra? Is it a cash only bar?
If there is a bar at your venue check how this will be run on the day of your event. Are bar staff included in the hire cost? Also worth checking whether it is a cash only bar so you can let your guests know, many bars in smaller venues do not accept debit/credit cards.
Is there a preferred caterer or are you free to choose our own?
Some venues have a list of preferred caterers to choose from. Whilst this can be good as the caterers will know the venue, it does mean you are limited in being able to shop around for a good deal; something to consider when budgeting for your party or event.
Are guests able to leave their cars overnight?
Check with the venue whether it is ok for guests to leave their cars overnight so they can enjoy a drink at your party. This is often fine but venues will state the time by which vehicles need to be collected and accept no responsibility for vehicles left overnight. Make sure you notify guests on the party invite of the time their vehicle will need to be collected.
What else is included in the hire price?
Some places include tables and chairs, linens, glassware and cutlery with the hire fee. Check exactly what your venue includes so you can budget anything extra.
If you are looking for tips on choosing a venue for a child’s party, read our children’s party venue tips blog post
on our sister site