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The 5 images shown are of the outside of Sopwell House in St Albans, a round table decorated with a white cloth and flowers in glass vases on a log slice at South Farm, a yummy lemon and vanilla cheesecake style dessert from Aubrey Park Hotel, top table s

5 Questions you should ask potential wedding venues

As you look at various wedding venues and narrow down to your favourite ones, you might wonder what you should be asking them, to give yourselves the best chance of choosing the best option. Outside the obvious question on cost of course, what else should you ask? Read on to find out.

First up, How are their preferred wedding suppliers chosen?

How a wedding venue selects their preferred suppliers will change from one venue to the next. I always think it's best to find out if those suppliers are recommended because they've worked with them, and if so can they show examples of their work? If a venue is upfront enough to tell you that their suppliers pay to be on a list then that's pretty fair, however when a wedding venue recommends someone that has never worked at their venue or they're unfamiliar with their work (ie can't give you a simple pitch for that business) then I suggest proceeding with caution as chances are they've paid to be on that list and don't have a real working relationship. Now a preferred supplier might pay to be on a list and be really great at what they do OR they could just be trying to bump out their competitors - do your research on each supplier to make sure they're legit.

Next, how exclusive is your use of the venue?

Epecially for hotels, I recommend checking how many bedrooms as well as function rooms they're prepared to hold for you. Will your venue potentially be hosting other weddings or parties? Some venues do this and if so, again they may have ways to manage this and they should be prepared to tell you what those are so that you can plan accordingly. If they say you get full exclusive use, make sure you know what the timescales and scope of that are. Don't assume any part of your wedding venue is exclusively yours, get them to explain what they mean. If it's not exclusive, make sure you're not paying a premium for exclusive use ie if some of the hotel rooms are given over to other paying guests then it's not really exclusive! If you're not worried about exclusivity, just make sure you know where you and your wedding guests are entitled to go, for example, some venues won't let you in the gardens when other couples might be using them.

Now, what times can you access the space/s/area/rooms?

Don't assume that you've booked enough time based purely on them saying you have the venue the 'whole' day, after all there are 24 hours in a day and you might assume that means you get access at 8am where they mean 10am. And if you need time the day before (and let's face it, most people do) then you need to make sure this is agreed and costs explained in advance of signing anything - you don't want to suddenly be met with a large bill for the time you thought you'd already booked. Likewise if you have use of multiple function rooms for different parts of your wedding, make sure you know when you need to vacate each one, that way you can build it into your schedule for the day.

A biggie but, what are you able to provide yourselves?

If you're thinking about having a cheese tower instead of a traditional wedding cake, or you've got your eye on a cute little horse box gin bar, make sure you know what you will and won't be able to supply yourselves. Some venues will refuse a cheese tower on the basis that they can provide cheese platters, it's not the same thing I know, but some wedding venues don't see it that way. If you're thinking about providing your own entertainment but your venue has a package that includes it, it's worth asking for a discount as you won't be using that service. See how they react but be open to their suggestion unless you have your heart set on someone specific.

Ask them what else you need to know?

This can be a tricky one for a wedding venue to answer, but hopefully they know the answers to questions you haven't asked them yet. Their FAQ's may already be on their website but a longer explanation of common wedding planning questions they're asked may well throw up things you hadn't even considered. If there's something in their FAQ's that seems a bit weird, ask them about it. For some venues, it might be that they only host ceremonies at specific times of the day; get to the root of anything you don't understand from the information they sent you before your meeting with them. Now is the time for clarity, as forewarned is fore-armed.

These are just a few of the main questions you should ask at your prospective wedding venue meeting. The key with all your suppliers, including your potential wedding venue, is to do your research and ask lots of questions. A bonus question I think may be important to you and your wedding planning though is Who will be looking after you on the day? It might not be who you think.

Happy Wedding Planning X