What do couples ask wedding venues before they even visit?

The six top questions couples need answers to, before viewing a wedding venue…

When prospective clients contact a wedding venue, there are six key questions that are always on their list, regardless of their style, theme or budget.

It doesn’t matter what you think your venue’s key features or selling points are – if they’re not important to the couple who are viewing, put blatantly, they really won’t care, so make sure you address these key questions as an absolute priority on your website for prospective clients to easily find, before they pick up the phone to book a viewing, otherwise you will be wasting their time as well as your own:

Credit: Aga Tomaszek Photography

1. How many guests can you accommodate?

It might sound simple, but if you can only seat 60 for a ceremony or 90 for the wedding breakfast and the interested couple are struggling to bring their daytime numbers anywhere below the 200 mark, they’re not going to book you, it doesn’t matter how beautiful your venue is.

So, be clear upfront, what is your ceremony capacity? How many can you seat for the wedding breakfast? And, how many additional guests can they invite to their evening party?

2. Do you have availability for my date?

Not everyone has a set date in mind, but usually they will have an idea of the month or at least the time of year.  So, if you have limited availability or can only offer weddings during certain seasons, tell them this!  There is nothing more frustrating for a couple, than visiting a venue to discover that they only offer dates in peak seasons when they had planned on a November wedding or that you only offer weekend dates, but they had hoped to squeeze in a mid-week event.

If you have the option of a booking calendar on your website, then this can be a great tool… as long as it is always completely up to date!

Double check that you definitely have availability, assuming they do have a set date in mind, when booking in a viewing just to be certain!

3. Are you licenced for a civil ceremony?

If a couple are looking for their wedding day to all take place at one venue and you don’t have a ceremony licence, make sure they know this!

Increasingly these days, couples are opting for humanist ceremonies or a celebrant to perform their wedding ceremony for them, so that they can have their wedding, their way, and might well be prepared to consider a low-key official ceremony prior to the day with a couple of close family members or friends, but this might be something they need to get their heads around so giving them the facts and the options upfront means that if they do come back to request a viewing, they know exactly what they can and can’t achieve at your venue.

4. How much do you charge?

There is no getting away from the question of money and whilst in a typically British way, we like to avoid discussing money (ooh, it’s a ‘horrible grubby topic’) it is absolutely key!  Couples need to know what the venue hire, ceremony fee, catering packages, bar prices etc. are.  They just have to! and if your venue is way over budget for them, save them the embarrassment of having to explain that.

Clarify from the outset what the costs to them will be, so that they can break down the price per. guest and understand if they can make the numbers work. If they can, fabulous they’ll arrange to visit you.  If they can’t, well they were never going to book you regardless of how fabulous the ceremony room or the grounds look and it will prove to be a miserable experience for all.

5. Do you offer corkage?

If I had £1 for every time I’ve heard this question asked…..

This is a question so many people ask and venues invariably shy away from answering, just because in the main, they hate saying no to prospective clients.

Honestly though, don’t panic about it.  If as a venue, you are happy for clients to bring in their own alcohol and you are providing the service of chilling it, serving it to the tables, hiring in glassware and clearing it all away afterwards to return to the hire company, then the cost to you per head is your corkage fee.  In many cases, venues find that this just isn’t worth their time and resources as they would prefer to only sell their own wine, particularly if they have a good source of supply, more than one venue so can purchase in bulk or also serve alcohol through an on-site bar.

If this is the case, just be honest with the client as to why.  Often prospective clients assume it is much cheaper to bring in their own wine or don’t understand why you charge a fee for them to do this, so a clear explanation as to the reasoning behind your decision is often sufficient.  Or if you might be prepared to consider their request on a case by case basis (they might want to bring wine from a family vineyard so something similar), tell them this!

6. Can I Bring in my Own Caterer?

Depending upon your venue, this is definitely a common question couples will require an answer to upfront – if you have a hotel and a restaurant, the assumption is that your caterer will provide food service for all events, however for marquee venues or wedding and event specific locations, your caterer is a key consideration for prospective clients.

Increasingly the question of a caterer is lead by price – usually if their budget doesn’t stretch to a three course sit-down, they’d prefer a hog-roast or hot buffet instead.  However, often it comes down to reputation or previous experience of that caterer – if they have been to an event that the caterer was particularly good, or bad, this will inevitably sway their decision.

Whether you choose to restrict access to one sole caterer, or a small number of recommended suppliers or infact open your venue up to any caterer the client chooses, is your decision, but do ensure you take all possible factors into account before choosing which route to take (I go into much more detail on this subject in my blog post: Sole Caterers & Catering Agreements: Pros & Cons) and most importantly at this point, clarify your position on your website and explain your reasons why!

I think the most important thing to remember, is that relating to any of the above questions, there is no right or wrong answer – all of these questions will depend upon the specifics of your venue and you can’t tick the box for every inquiry, so don’t try to, just be open and honest so that your prospective clients gain a good insight into your venue and understanding of your offering before they pick up the phone or fill in the ‘Contact us’ box!

Any other questions you think are key before couples even step through your door? Let us know!

Zoë Binning Ltd is Wales’ most recognised wedding venue business consultant, helping Welsh wedding venues increase their conversion rates, drive profitability and secure positive feedback.

Zoë is an advocate for developing sustainable, eco-friendly and ethical wedding practices within the industry and can provide advice and support to help your venue to become more sustainable and eco-friendly in its endeavours.

Discover more about Zoë’s wedding venue consultancy services here and book a consultation directly with Zoë here.

To subscribe to Zoë’s newsletter, to receive all her thoughts and advice on the wedding industry and her latest posts direct to your inbox, you can do so here.