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5 questions to ask your wedding venue before you sign the contract

You've finally found a venue where you can picture your nuptials transpiring in all their glorious romance. Before you sign that contract, though, you need to know that weddings are big business, and you're a source of a paycheck to your wedding venue. You can't make wedding venue decisions on the spur of the moment, and you absolutely must read the contract – every last word. Be sure to ask these five questions before you sign on the dotted line.

What is the exact price? 

Don't get estimates. Find out exactly how much you can expect to pay for your wedding, and check to see if there's a premium if you have additional guests. Some venues, for example give you a specific guest limit, and then charge you for each guest above that number. Others require extra payments if you use the venue's decorations or stay late. Make sure you have a clear understanding of each and every payment you must make and whether and when you can cancel to get a refund.

Do you have insurance?

Never book a wedding at a venue that's not insured. Insurance protects you if anyone is injured at your wedding or if something goes wrong – such as a natural disaster or a last-minute cancellation by the venue. It might seem like a nit-picky thing to care about ,but if something goes wrong at your wedding, you'll be happy you chose a venue with the insurance necessary to fix the problem.

What rules must my vendors follow?

Almost every venue places some restrictions on what vendors can and can't do. For example, your photographer might not be able to take photos everywhere, and your caterers might have to follow local food safety guidelines. Some venues even require business licenses and liability insurance from each and every vendor, so ensure that the expectations are clear – and seem reasonable – at the outset.

What can I do at the venue?

You already know that you probably can't swing from the rafters or spray paint graffiti on the walls. But there might be additional restrictions that are less intuitive. Find out whether you can hang decorations, if there are local noise ordinances you must follow, or if certain behavior – such as excessive drinking – can get your guests tossed out. Rules are usually pretty commonsense and unobtrusive, but if your venue places tons of restrictions on how you act at your own wedding, you may want to move on.

What's the schedule? Almost every venue places restrictions on the couple's schedule. You might, for example, be able to show up no earlier than two hours before your wedding. Alternatively, your venue might require you to have everything out of the building by a certain time. Ask for specifics of the schedule and double-check to ensure the venue's ideas work with your own.

It's easy to get caught up in a rush of excitement after finally settling on your venue. But if you allow that excitement to cloud your judgment, you could be stuck paying for a venue that doesn't offer what you need. Take some time and a few deep breaths, and interview your venue. If you see any red flags – such as a rude hostess or bad food – it's time to move on. You'll be glad you did on your wedding day.


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