You’ve found the perfect wedding dress, finalized your guest list and narrowed the invitations down to three possible designs. With a few things now out of the way, it’s time to focus on the location of your wedding ceremony. But there’s so much more to the right wedding venue than simply being a beautiful location for photos. Of course, you want a stunning location to say your “I dos”—just be sure you take more than a pretty backdrop into consideration before signing any contracts. Meet with event managers and set up tours for each venue that catches your eye, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Here are six red flags to look out for when trying to find your dream wedding venue:
- Confusing and complicated contracts: Contracts are in place to show that both parties understand and agree to the terms of service. But while a lot of reading and signatures are usually a given, wedding venue contracts should only be comprehensive, not confusing and overly complicated. Watch out for strange clauses—like the venue prohibiting you from leaving negative online reviews—and a lack of detail.
- Too many additional costs: In most cases, the charge for the venue itself is not all you’ll end up paying. Additional costs are likely, but there shouldn’t be very many more. Let’s say the venue says there are extra charges for things like parking lot and restroom use—these are the kinds of accommodations that are typically included with most venues, so treat these extra charges with suspicion.
- Negative reviews: Scheduling a tour of a venue in advance is a must. It’s your chance to see the location while a sales representative talks the place up. No matter how drawn you are to the venue, make sure to get online and read reviews of the potential wedding venue. If too many negative online reviews pop up, you should reconsider your options.
- Poor first impression from the staff: Take note of how reliable the staff seems before you book the venue. Did the event manager show up to your appointment on time? Were they quick to respond to your emails or phone calls? Communication is key, and trustworthy staff is important.
- Weddings aren’t their specialty: A venue may be great at hosting holiday parties and non-wedding events like fundraisers, charity auctions and corporate meetings. However, they may not be used to catering big parties and may not understand everything a wedding entails. When looking for the perfect location for your wedding, search specifically for venues that have experience hosting weddings.
- Your gut is saying NO: Trust your instincts! Weddings cost a lot of money, with a big chunk of your budget going to the venue. If something about the venue, staff, contract or anything else feels funny to you, cross them off your list. A questionable situation is not worth your time, your money or your sanity. This is your big day we’re talking about, after all.