9 Questions Every Couple Should Ask Before Booking Their Wedding Reception Venue

The wedding reception venue is the last thing on your wedding day but is the first thing that you will want to lock in. For most couples, it is when the real party begins. As wedding stylists, we love a good party and when we see you bogeying on the dance floor, we know you’ve had an amazing day.

We’re a bit biased but we believe that the first thing you should do is to hire a wedding stylist (or a wedding planner). This is because you want someone who has experience with weddings and can understand your requirements at a glance before you lock yourself into a particular wedding reception venue that may not be best suited for your needs.


Since your wedding reception will be the most expensive part of the wedding day, we want you to get the maximum enjoyment from choosing the right venue

So to help you make the best-informed decision, we’ve put together a list of 9 questions that you should ask before booking your wedding venue.

  1. Are there minimum requirements we should aware of?

  2. Are there different rates for hiring the venue on different days of the week?

  3. If we proceed with the booking, do we have exclusive use of the space?

  4. What does the pricing include and what is not included?

  5. Are there specific start/end times we should be aware of?

  6. Is the venue weatherproof?

  7. Can you show us the accessibility options available to us and our vendors?

  8. May we see a sample of decor items that you provide?

  9. What limitations are there for using the space?

Are there minimum requirements we should be aware of?

Many wedding reception venues will have a minimum spend. This minimum spend value may vary depending on factors such as the day of the week (e.g., Saturdays tend to have the highest minimum spend due to it being the most sought after day fo the week for weddings), seasonality (e.g., many reception venues have winter special rates as it is often quieter during the winter months).

Some venues may express this minimum spend in terms of the minimum number of guests (e.g., 120) rather than a specific dollar figure.

If you’re thinking of having a smaller (or smaller) wedding reception celebration (e.g., less than 100 guests), this is a must-ask question. For most venues, should your actual guest list be less than the minimum requirement, you can expect the venue to charge you based on their minimum guest pax.

Are there different rates for hiring the venue on different days of the week?

In Sydney, September through to early December tends to be the peak season for weddings. It picks up once again after the new year before tapering off by early May. Typically speaking, for the Australian market, the off-peak season for the wedding industry is in the winter months (i.e., June - August). For this reason, many wedding reception venues offer special rates (often discounted rates) for winter bookings.

Similarly, Saturdays tend to be the most sought after day for having a wedding. It doesn’t require your quests to take half a day off work and there is an entire day after the wedding day to act as a hangover buffer. This is why wedding receptions on Saturdays rarely are discounted because there are a limited number of Saturdays available each year.

Therefore, if you’re flexible on having your wedding on a weekday or on a Sunday, you will find that most reception venues to be more accommodating and/or flexible with minimum spends.


If we proceed with the booking, do we have exclusive use of the space?

Some wedding venues host more than one reception at any given time. Large function centres purpose-built for wedding receptions commonly do this - venues such as Le Montage, Doltone House, and The HIGHLINE can comfortably cater for more than one reception at the same time.

This has implications for you and your guests (e.g., number of parking spaces available on-site, common breakout areas, overhearing the speeches or DJ music from ‘next-door’). As your wedding stylist, quite often we find that venues such as this have restricted access times for us to come in. This can mean that you cannot have the backdrop or ceiling install that you have been dreaming of.

Similarly, some reception venues are also licensed restaurants. You may find that unless you buy out the entire restaurant, they may run their business as usual (but at a limited capacity). Once again, the implication of this is that you and your guests do not have exclusive use of the entire space.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a venue running multiple bookings at the same time. Just be sure to ask how they managed these situations so that you are fully aware of what you’re getting yourself into.

What does the pricing include and what is not included?

Different venues offer different things because every venue is different.

Food, included (and excluded) beverages, staffing, in-house A/V equipment, furniture and decor are just some of the things that will vary between each wedding reception venue.

Don’t make a decision on the per head cost alone but rather, get into the nitty-gritty details to avoid disappointment.

A common thing that many couples don’t know to ask is with regards to wireless microphones and in-house speakers. It is easy to assume that these come included with any venue but it often pays to ask well in advance so that you may make the necessary arrangements.


Are there specific start/end times we should be aware of?

Most reception venues are fully licensed, As such, they are licensed to serve alcohol to a certain time after which, they are not allowed to serve you and your guests with further alcoholic beverages. Some venues are licences till late while some are not. It is in your best interest to ask when bar service will be cut off to avoid disappointment.

For more selfish reasons, we recommend that you ask a venue when vendors may have access to the site to set up decorative elements. Similarly, ask when decorations must be torn down and removed from the premises. Some venues allow next-day bump out but many of the larger venues that run events every day are less inclined to do so.

The more leeway allowed, the happier your wedding vendors will be (and possibly save you some serious dollars if they don’t need to hire more staff due to restricted bump-in/out timeframes).

Is the venue weatherproof?

We want you to have the best day of your life rain, hail or shine (but preferably the latter - but also not too hot please). Whilst outdoor receptions underneath the stars are every bit as amazing as they sound, it not weatherproof at all.

You will want to ask the venue whether it has adequate heating and air-conditioning facilities. This particularly applies to marquees.

Can you show us the accessibility options available to us and our vendors?

  • Is there a loading dock?

  • Is there an elevator that the florist, planner and wedding stylist can use?

  • What is the size of the elevator? Can goods be moved in these elevators or is there a specific goods lift?


May we see a sample of decor items that you provide?

One easy way to save money on wedding decorations is to use the supplied decor. However, not all chairs, tables, and most certainly not all linens are of the same quality. We advise that you ask to see examples of decor items to see if they’re appropriate for the picture of your wedding reception that you have in your head.

What limitations are there for using the space?

For understandable OH&S and insurance reasons, most reception venues have a list of restrictions on what you can and cannot do. Common limitations include the exclusion of using naked flame candles (fire hazard). Many venues specify that all candles must be rested on something so that the wax run-off does not ruin their linen/decor.

If you want suspended floral installs, you will definitely want to ask the venue what rigging options are available (if any).

And for that picture-perfect sparkler exit? Ask if sparklers are allowed on-site. Some historic buildings do not allow sparklers on their grounds so this is something you want to know before you book it for your wedding reception.

Lilac Zhang