So you have booked your perfect venue and start sending out Save The Dates. Then, you’re sent the contract and suddenly see a long list of restrictions. What do you mean, you can’t have candles?!
But don’t panic. We at The Wedding Secret have scoured these restrictions lists to find the questions you should ask your venue – before you book – so that you aren’t unhappily surprised. These are several fairly common restrictions that you should always ask about and take into consideration before deciding upon a wedding reception venue.
Will the venue close at a set time?
Firstly, find out whether your party will have to finish at a set time, and whether this affects your decision to book. For example, some venues require that you have left by 10pm. Others allow you to stay later, but will likely impose restrictions on noise (music and other!) after a certain time.
If your chosen venue is located in a residential area, there may be restrictions on noise levels altogether, which could mean problems if you are thinking about hiring a band, or even a sound-system.
Does the venue hold a suitable alcohol licence?
Another possible restriction to be sure to ask about is the venue’s alcohol policy. Some local authorities impose limitations on the serving of alcohol in certain locations. This is a particularly relevant restriction to ask about if you’re thinking about planning an outdoor reception, or using a temporary structure such as a marquee.
Make sure that your venue has obtained the appropriate licence before you think about moving any alcohol there – the last thing you want on your wedding day is for the police to show up and take it all away! And double check the corkage fee if you plan on bringing your own. Having spent so much money on your wedding, you don’t want any extra surprises on the day.
Are children allowed?
Unfortunately, many luxury wedding venues impose restrictions over where children may go, and at what times. If there will be children attending your wedding, it’s a good idea to find out if the venue has any child-minding facilities or services in place, as, for example, some are able to provide babysitters in the evening.
Some venues refuse entry to children altogether, and others issue warnings to parents who let their kids wander. Check the policies before you book and invite any parents, or pregnant guests!
Can I decorate how I like?
Some venues have decoration restrictions, which you will need to make sure you are aware of well in advance so that you can prepare something that fits in with the requirements. For example, some venues will not allow you to use certain flowers that are prone to creating pollen stains.
In old buildings especially, there are likely to be constraints about adding décor to the walls and ceilings. Venues might ask you how you intend to attach things, for the safety of both the guests and the building.
Some venues are additionally strict and particular over their other restrictions; some don’t like confetti, and some even forbid high-heeled shoes for fear of the flooring becoming damaged – this likely won’t go down well with at least a couple of wedding guests!
Can I light candles?
There is little more romantic than flickering candlelight. The idea of filling your wedding reception with glowing light is appealing. However, a lot of venues have a ban on candles, or at least uncovered flames. Buildings need to have strict fire regulations, and unfortunately candles just don’t fit into their plans.
You can check to see if they will allow lanterns and other covered flames. Otherwise, look into electric versions. You could still get the desired effect, but with no chance of fire.
What are your restrictions on fireworks?
Whilst we are on the subject of fire risks, let’s talk fireworks. If a hotel or manor house has a large garden then they may allow you to set off a spectacular firework show. Some may forbid it outright, whilst others will set a distance limit from nearby buildings. It is your job, not your fireworks provider’s, to make sure you know the rules.
Even if you are booking a marquee and an open field, there will still be rules in place. This also goes for sparklers, fire pits and anything else that may come with a night outside, so be aware.
Am I able to use my own suppliers?
It is important you ask the venues you are interested in if you are allowed to bring your own caterer, decorator etc. with you. Sometimes you are obliged to choose from their list of contractors and suppliers. This is especially true for venues with restaurants.
Sometimes, even a venue with an in-house catering team will allow you to bring in an outside caterer and use the kitchen. Other times, venues won’t have a kitchen and your chosen caterer will have to bring in their own equipment. This could raise the cost of hiring your catering.
However don’t assume that it is just food that is affected. Everything from DJs to photographers may be provided by the venue are you may not be allowed to hire anyone different.
Can I bring my own equipment?
When getting ready on-site, you might want to bring the kitchen sink. But this can’t necessarily be the case.
Any electrical equipment that you bring to venues should be PAT tested. If you are booking someone for your hair, check that their hairdryers and straighteners are compliant – they should be. Otherwise, there should be appliances in the bedrooms if it is a hotel that you are looking at.
The same is true of other electrical equipment, especially amplifiers, PA systems and even lighting. Check with your wedding band or DJ to make sure they aren’t turned away on the day.
What else should I know?
We have listed a further sample of other limitations you may come across:
- No red wine (until guests are seated)
- Limited (or no) parking on-site
- No smoking on the grounds
- A maximum room capacity (including guests, suppliers, and everyone)
- A necessary minimum charge on the bar
- No moving of furniture
- No food trucks
- Restricted start time for vendors
Make sure you are aware of any restrictions well in advance
Venue restrictions should come clearly stated within the contract or information pack often supplied. If you cannot find details of their restrictions in the contract, simply ask about them just to make sure!
This article should act as a list of questions which you can take to the venues on your list so you can find the perfect fit for your needs.
The important thing to remember is that you will need to find out well in advance about any limitations a particular venue may impose. That way, if you still love the venue despite its restrictions, you will have enough time to adapt your plans around them in order to create your perfect wedding reception.
What are some limitations you weren’t expecting at your venue? Were you prepared? How did you get around them? Let us know below!