Engagement season is here! This means newly engaged couples everywhere are starting to plan their wedding day and looking for wedding planners and other professionals who can help them pull it all together.
The first stop: choosing the perfect wedding venue!
There are so many options out there, especially here in beautiful historic St. Augustine. So how do you decide which venue is right for you? Don’t worry! We have compiled a list of the best wedding venue questions to ask so that you can find the location that best suits your needs and budget.
Remember, it’s your big day and there is nothing wrong with conducting interviews to see what the venues offer before making a decision.
If you are looking for a wedding venue in St. Augustine, we invite you to contact us at the Lightner Museum. We would love to answer these important questions for you over the phone, or set up a venue tour to answer your questions in person before you sign on the dotted line. We offer private tours seven days a week—even on event days!
1. Can You Accommodate My Guest Count?
Before the wedding planning process can really begin, it is important to discuss your guest list with your fiancé, family, and anyone else who will be playing a crucial role in planning your big day.
The guest count doesn’t need to be exact, but you do need to know an approximate number before reaching out to wedding venues.
Here at the Lightner Museum, we have hosted weddings as small as 40 guests, but our average wedding is typically closer to 150 guests to take advantage of the Historic Pool’s grand space.
Some venues, like the Lightner Museum, are also flexible depending on your desired layout. We’ve accommodated weddings of up to 225 guests for a wedding reception.
2. What Dates Are Available?
One of the most important parts of the early wedding planning process is picking the wedding date for your ceremony and reception. Some couples prefer to choose a date that is already meaningful: an anniversary, a holiday, or a date that just has a nice “ring” to it (get it?).
We recommend having several date options, or a range of dates available when you start reaching out to wedding venues. You may find that pricing varies widely depending on the day of the week or the time of the year that you choose. Some venues also book up very quickly, so having some flexibility will open you up to having more venues to choose from.
3. What Options Do I Have for Catering and Food Service?
Having an understanding of your options for catering and food service is essential before making your final venue decision. Some venues, such as restaurants and hotels, require you to use their in-house services for wedding catering. This can have benefits and drawbacks.
If you are looking for a one-stop shop, having an in-house caterer can make the planning process quick and easy. However, you may be more restricted when it comes to the price of catering and menu options.
Below are a few other great questions to ask regarding catering:
- Do you offer buffet, plated, and/or family-style dinner service?
- What is included in the price of catering? Are there any service charges or additional fees?
- Do you include buffet tables, plates, flatware, or linens? If not included, can these be rented for an additional fee?
- Do you offer a catering tasting? Is this included or an additional fee?
- Can you accommodate different menu styles like Latin, Indian, Southern, Italian, or Asian?
- Do you offer Kosher, vegan, gluten-free, and vegetarian options?
- Do you offer late-night snacks, desserts, or specialty items?
At the Lightner Museum, we offer two different wedding packages to suit the unique needs of our couples. Our Custom A’ La Carte Wedding Package offers the flexibility to choose a caterer that best suits your taste and budget from our list of preferred vendors. The All-Inclusive Intimate Wedding Package includes catering in the package price.
4. What Vendors Can I Choose From?
Venues often have relationships with other local wedding professionals, such as wedding coordinators, photographers, caterers, and DJs. These vendors may be recommendations or requirements. Venues see first-hand the critical role quality vendors play in creating a stress-free event.
If there is a particular vendor that you have your heart set on—like the wedding coordinator who did an amazing job planning your best friend’s wedding—make sure to ask your venue about their requirements early on. Some venues will make exceptions for vendors that meet a certain set of requirements.
At the Lightner Museum, we have a fabulous list of top-notch Jacksonville, Orlando, and St. Augustine-based wedding vendors to help you create your perfect wedding vendor team. We do require that you choose a wedding coordinator and caterer from this list. If you choose the All-Inclusive Intimate Wedding Package, many of your must-have vendors are included in the package price.
5. What Is Included With My Venue Rental?
Asking what venues include in their wedding packages is crucial in picking the right place for your big day. Included amenities vary widely from one venue to another. Some venues are simply blank spaces where you can create your own “wedding package” from the ground up. Other venues include all of your tables, chairs, vendors, and much more.
When looking at venue prices, ask about any additional fees. Costs for rental items, delivery, liability insurance, and labor fees can add up! Not to mention, the more outside vendors you have, the more time (and potential stress) you may have during the wedding planning process.
There you have it; the top five essential wedding venue questions to ask before you say “yes to the address.” While there are so many things to consider when choosing a venue, remember that your vendors are here to help you. Ask plenty of questions, take a deep breath, and have fun. Remember, you’ve already made the most important decision of all–you’ve found the person you are choosing to spend your life with!
Are you just getting started with planning your dream wedding here in St. Augustine? Our wedding venue specialists are here to help you answer any questions and schedule a tour!