If you talk to seasoned wedding planners, many will agree that beyond things like the dress, the photography and the food, the thing of utmost importance on your wedding day is your venue.
It’s the first thing your guests see on arrival and it’s what they’ll be surrounded by for the rest of the day and night. So if you want to ensure you’re equipped with all the info you need to pick the right Melbourne wedding venue for you, read on.
Inspecting wedding venues: how to plan
By this point you’ve probably narrowed down the wedding venues that you want to inspect. A lot of couples tend to view two to five venues in one day by booking site inspections back to back.
If you plan on doing the same, then you’ll want to speak to the venue manager or wedding coordinator that you’re meeting with in advance to find out roughly how long each meeting will take. In our experience your inspection could take anywhere between 30 minutes and 1 hour depending on how much you’ll want to discuss and how big the property is.
Each wedding venue is unique and on a busy day, your memory can wane, so, listen up grooms and brides of Melbourne, because there are a few things you’ll want to have with you on the day:
- Your fiancé, of course. This isn’t a decision that should be made on your own.
- A notebook and pen for jotting down special features and any information the manager or coordinator gives you. Be sure to ask at the start of the appointment if they will give you a copy of all the information discussed or if you really need to jot down everything.
- A smartphone or camera to take photos of the things you like or dislike.
All of these things will come in handy when it comes to debriefing and making a decision later on.
Apart from asking the manager or wedding venue coordinator lots of questions, you’ll always want to keep a couple of things at the front of your mind:
- Your budget.If you find that once you start talking the wedding venue costs start blowing out, it might be time to move on. Otherwise, ask the representative you’re meeting with if they have any recommendations on how to make the day a little cheaper. E.g. change your preferred day of the week or change from dinner to a lunch reception.
- The venue’s style.If you have a certain theme in mind, then the venue’s style is obviously going to impact your decision. Remember to keep this in mind, as it can be easy to get carried away with other features, even when the style of the venue is not to your liking. Ask to see the entire property so you can get an idea of what photos might look like and where guests will congregate etc.
But… don’t give up your dreams too easily. If one of your wedding ideas is to have a garden wedding, but you find yourself looking at a DIY warehouse venue, then obviously that venue and your goals for your big day are not going to merge well.
What questions should you ask at Melbourne wedding venues?
The best wedding venues in Melbourne will take the time to show you around the property and will be happy to answer your questions.
Separate to all the considerations and tips we’ve outlined above, there are some key questions you should be asking. The answers you get will give you a good idea of what the venue has on offer and whether it’s the right fit for your you.
See the questions below.
How many hours are included in the cost of renting the venue?
This question should be asked because you’ll need to work out if a) the time offered is long enough for the kind of wedding you want to achieve, and b) if you’ll have enough time to have other vendors set up things like flowers, a wishing well, and any other little touches that personalise the space. Also double check if there is a separate venue hire on top of the price per person.
Am I able to bring my own styling props? And are there any decorating restrictions?
This is an important question for those couples who want to add their own personal touch to the space. Some venues offer full wedding packages, which includes all the furniture and props you’ll need for your big day. Others will allow you to bring your own items, but might restrict things like rice/confetti, hanging things from ceilings etc.
For outdoor weddings, are guests allowed to use the grounds?
If the wedding venue is on a property, then it makes sense to ask if your guests are allowed to roam around the property and gardens. If guests aren’t allowed to explore the entire property, find out and take note of what’s off limits and what parts your guests can actually use.
Who’s responsible for setting up and taking down wedding flowers and decorations?
When you’re speaking to venues, you need to find out if they do the setting up or if you’ll need to hire another person to do this for you. If the venue does the setting up, you’ll also want to find out if this is part of a package or if you’ll be charged an extra fee.
If it’s an outdoor wedding venue, do they have a backup plan?
Find out if any wedding venue you’re considering has a backup plan in the case of bad weather. We do after all live in Melbourne, so this is crucial for just about any month of the year!
Are there any restrictions in place for the wedding photographer or videographer?
Some venues will have restrictions on where photographers and videographers can operate, so find out if any of these restrictions will apply to you e.g. where you can go, how long you have etc.
Do you provide a day-of wedding coordinator or manager? Or will I have to source my own?
There are a lot of wedding venues in Melbourne that offer day-of wedding coordinators as part of their packages. This can be of significant stress relief in the days leading up to the wedding – because this way, you’ll know that you won’t have to worry at all on the actual day.
Does anything we’ve seen today come at an extra cost?
Make sure you are crystal clear on all the costs involved. If you are really interested in the venue, ask if you can get a cost breakdown in writing for you to refer to when making a decision.
Can I have a sample wedding contract which includes your cancellation policy?
Try and get a sample wedding contract if you can. This will give you a rundown of what costs you might be liable for if you need to cancel.
Is a ceremony rehearsal included?
If you have a big wedding party, making sure everything goes to plan can feel like you’re coordinating a west-end theatre production. For this reason, some venues offer a ceremony rehearsal before your big day. If the venue says that they do offer this service, then find out if it is at an extra cost.
Where are the entrances?
This sounds like a weird question, but it’s actually pretty important. You’ll want to look at the entrances to the venue to see if they’re appropriate for any guests who might have any mobility issues.
What kind of heating and cooling facilities does the venue have?
Depending on what time of year you’re having your wedding, you might need cooling or heating facilities, so find out if your venue is well-equipped so that you and your guests are comfortable.
Can I have a price breakdown?
Try and get a price breakdown if possible. This will help you to budget and understand if what you were quoted includes things like service charges and GST. The last thing you’ll want to be met with is a bunch of hidden fees that you weren’t aware of.
Is the parking area big enough for my wedding guests?
Find out if there’s a parking area on the property dedicated to wedding guests. If the area is small, find out if there are affordable parking options close by.
Do I need to use wedding vendors that you work with?
Some venues will have their own vendors who work on both wedding receptions and ceremonies. For the most part, this can be really convenient, as it’s one less thing for you to have to organise when you’re already overloaded with other pre-wedding tasks.
Are there accommodation options close by for guests travelling from afar?
If you’re inviting guests from overseas or interstate, you might want to offer them a list of well-regarded accommodation options in the area. Can also be a good idea if you want to extend your night for quite a late finish so people don’t have to drive home.
What’s the very latest that my guests will need to leave the reception?
Make sure you ask this question, as time and noise restrictions at wedding locations in Melbourne and Victoria will differ depending on where they are.
Some venues are required to shut down by a certain time, to avoid disturbing neighbours, while others will be able to function into the early hours of the morning. Knowing this kind of information will help you determine if the venue can work to your desired timeline.
Does your venue do more than one wedding at the same time?
Some larger function venues (especially hotels) will have more than one wedding on at a time. Make sure you find out if the venue you’re interested in does this, and if so, ask if there will be any crossover between the two (or more) separate functions – and how it will affect parking, accessibility, accommodation, vendor set ups etc.