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The A – Z of Booking a Wedding Venue

What to consider when choosing your reception venue.

When you are visiting your wedding venue for the first time, without a doubt this is the best time to negotiate exactly what you want. 

Before you agree to give them your valued business it is time to unleash your bargaining power and be prepared to bargain hard! You may be so excited about your wedding day that you want to get everything sorted as quickly as possible but remember what you don’t ask for, you won’t get!

You’ll stand a much better chance of being looked after if you ask nicely rather than blatantly demand.

Available Dates

Bear in mind that hotels will usually offer better deals for mid week weddings, even up to Thursdays. The overall discount can be significant, ask about this and depending on your budget it may be much more favourable to have a mid week wedding and you could get a lot more bang for your buck. Saturdays can be such a popular day it can be more difficult to negotiate as the venue may have a few more brides interested in this day too.

Bar Extension

What time do they stop serving alcohol? Some of your guests might want to party hard into the night, and some residents’ bars are stricter than others. Check this out up front! Do you have to pay for a bar extension or is this included in your package?

Cancellation Policy

Not something you want to think about but this is the time to be realistic. I’m not suggesting you and your partner are going to split up, but unfortunately it is not beyond the realms of possibility that something crops up resulting in you having to postpone. What if there is a bereavement in your immediate family a couple of days before the wedding? Ask about their policy, what are you liable to pay if you had to postpone for a few months or worse still, cancel?


Ask if centrepieces are provided. Most hotels will incorporate your colour scheme into the centrepieces.


Save money by asking if the flowers can be moved from the church to the hotel. Flowers can really hike up your overall budget.

Guest Numbers

Ask if there is a minimum number of guests that the meal price will be based upon? Ask when you need to give final guest numbers to the venue and what the venue’s policy is on “no shows”.

Function Sheet

Ask the venue to confirm they will provide you with a function sheet outlining the full details of everything you have agreed with them, including the running order of your day. Leave this in the trusted hands of a family member or the best man.


This is also the best time to negotiate on your menus. Arrange a day to have a tasting session (free of charge!), including sampling the wines. Ask about corkage perhaps it would be cheaper for you to bring in your own bottles (most off licences do good bulk deals!). Ask the venue how they manage this maybe you can ask one of your family members again to be a minder – someone needs to keep an eye on the number of bottles used. Remember it may not be easy to validate how many bottles of wine you drank after a long day with many thirsty guests. A suggestion would be that the venue would collect the corks/caps from the wine bottles that have been opened that way you only pay for what was used. Also ask about vegetarian options, kids menus and if there is a choice of course available on the day. Also ask if you have to pay for the privilege of having a choice.

Microphones for Speeches

Ensure they are included in the price and also any other AV equipment you are using like a big screen to show family photos. Make sure they can provide an AV expert on hand who can sort out any technical difficulties.

Other Weddings

You may be looking at a large hotel that has more than one ballroom. It’s your big day and you want all the attention. Ask at the time of booking will there be only one wedding in the hotel on your day?


Negotiate a room rate for your guests you should be entitled to a reasonable discount possibly even complimentary rooms for bridal party or parents and the bridal suite thrown in. Don’t forget to check out the price of the rooms beforehand so you will be armed!

Set Up

What time will the room be fully set up? You may want to assign one of your family members who is not in the wedding party to go and check the room beforehand to ensure everything is in good shape save the stress and worry!

Service Charge

Is this included in the price you are being quoted?

Size of Room & Layout

How will your wedding party numbers fit into the room how many tables can fit, where would you put the top table? Are the tables round, square or rectangle or a mixture? Where would the stage go? Where would the DJ go? Where will the dance floor be? Will they have to move tables for the dance floor?  Some function rooms have different layouts think about how the room would work for the meal and the after session when you want everyone to mingle.

Smoking Areas

Is there a comfortable area outside for your smoking guests? If you are having a winter wedding you might want to ask the hotel to provide a canopy outdoors to protect them from the elements and a heater to keep them warm!


How many banqueting staff will be looking after you on your big day? You want to ensure speed of service for the meal a slow service could mean that some of your guests might only be having their starter when you are already tucking into your dessert. Check that you will be assigned a duty manager who will be present all day to be your main point of contact for the wedding.

Table Plan, Place Settings, Table Numbers

The venue should be able to print your table plan for you check if this can be sent in the day before the wedding in case there are any last minute changes. They should also look after your table settings and table names/numbers free of charge of course!

Welcome Drinks

View the area where you will have your drinks reception. Check it is big enough for all your guests.

Your 1 Year Anniversary

Many hotels offer a free meal or even an overnight stay for couple’s first anniversary. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Remember, in the current economic climate you have a good chance of receiving many freebies and extras when compared to even two years ago. It goes without saying that you will probably have much better success if you ask nicely rather than blatantly demand them. Good luck!

Sarita Murphy
Event Manager



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