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10 Questions to Ask Your Party or Event Venue

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If you are planning to host your party in a hired venue like a restaurant, hall or historical building there are some important questions you need to ask to get the best result for both you and the venue.  Keep this list handy and ask these questions of the catering or event manager at the venue you are considering for your party:

  1. What time can I get in to set up the event and what type of access will I have?  Make sure you have enough time to get the venue set up for guests and negotiate these times with your other vendors if you are hiring them such as your florist, decorators and hire company, cake maker and musicians.  Each will need time to set up and prepare before your guests arrive.
  2. Is there anything we cannot have at the venue?  Many restaurants and venues won't allow you to have candles and fireworks for example.  If you have your heart set on thousands of ambient candles softly lighting the room, this may not be the venue for you.
  3. What are the bad weather alternatives?  If your venue is outdoors or has access issues in inclement weather, get the Plan B options from your venue now, so you are comfortable with the alternative arrangements if it happens on the day.
  4. Will you have enough staff to give me the service I'm expecting?  The answer to this question comes down to a compromise between budget and service needs.  You should have this conversation with the venue before the party so that you and the venue know what your expectations are and what the venue is expected to provide for your budget.
  5. What happens if our party runs overtime?  Many venues will charge you a fee if your guests stay longer than the agreed end time, because they have to pay their staff to stay longer.  Find out what the costs are if you have this problem and be aware of the surcharge.  If you are uncomfortable with the charge, make sure you allocate someone from your family or friends to move the guests on so you don't have to pay this to the venue.
  6. Can I use my own suppliers?  Many restaurants will only allow you to use florists, cake makers, catering and entertainment companies that they have agreements with.  If this is the case and you want to use your own suppliers, then you may have to change venues.  This is one of those big compromise questions - if you don't like the way they do things, you may have to compromise on location to get the flowers you want on your tables.
  7. Do you have a beverage package?  It is generally cheaper to provide your own drinks, but many restaurants won't allow this.  The next best alternative is a beverage package which you choose based on your budget and taste.  Read the fine print and make sure you have enough to drink for your guests, because if you run out of drinks, it is not only embarrassing to ask guests to pay for their own drinks, the alternative to pay per drink at the bar is very expensive for you.
  8. Are there noise restrictions? This one may not apply to you, but if you're planning a massive party with lots of guests and intend to dance into the wee hours with loud music, make this clear with the venue up-front.
  9. Are there any drinks or food we can't serve? If you have a venue that won't allow red wine and you have your heart set on it, then it might be time to think about another venue.  This can happen in historical buildings with restrictions on dark coloured drinks and food.
  10. Do you offer any discounts?  Hosting an event is expensive.  Don't be shy to ask for a discount from every vendor.  You will be surprised what they offer.


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