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Wedding Venues 102 – Contracts & Fine Print!

Jan 19, 2021

Today we’re sharing part two of our Wedding Venue series covering all you need to know about those contracts and the fine print! (Especially after 2020, we could all use some tips here, right?)

Did you miss out on part one? Hop over here to read everything about how to find your perfect wedding venue, where to start, and what questions to ask!

Now let’s dive in!

Know What’s Allowed: You know what they say about assuming…

Different venues have different allowances and restrictions that may be governed by the building codes, city zoning, or even just personal preferences of the venue owner.  The hot ticket items here usually include candles, noise and signage, among others. Do not just assume all things are allowed.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Are there restrictions regarding real flame?
  • May we have a band or a DJ?
  • May the DJ/band use your in-house sound equipment?
  • Is there a time that the music must stop or have volume lowered?
  • Are we allowed to put any signage outside of the venue?
  • Are guests allowed to be outside the venue during the event?
  • What are the restrictions in regard to decor? For example, may we affix things to the walls or ceiling?
Greenpoint Loft, Photo Credit: Redfield Photography

Hidden fees: Scour that contract!

There can sometimes be surprise costs or hidden fees that are plainly written into your contract but may not be visible to your never-done-this-before eye.  Be sure to look out for the following:

Capacity bumps – perhaps you signed for a 100-guest event but there may be a possibility of your guest list growing to 150 or higher.  Confirm there will be no rate hikes based on larger capacity numbers.

Electricity/wifi- if you believe you’ll need outlets or wifi – best to suss out if those two items are included in your existing pricing or if they are additional.

Garbage removal or cleaning fees – will you be responsible for removing all garbage and/or will there be an additional fee to do so?  Also, will there be a cleaning fee tacked on the final invoice?

Insurance/licensure: triple-uber check and discuss the insurance and also licensing requirements.  If the venue allows you to bring in your own alcohol, don’t assume that they don’t require you to obtain a liquor license.  If they do…you need a caterer to supply that.  Which means they have to sell you the liquor.  Which means in a round about way, you can’t bring in your own liquor…unless you find a shady caterer.  Which means CHA-CHA-CHA-CHING.

The Pink Moon, Photo Credit: Maggie Marguerite Studio

Force Majeure vs. Refund: The contract nitty-gritty

This section comes with a disclaimer. I am not a lawyer and cannot be held accountable for any legal issues that arise in your contract process.  Ok – done – read on!

Once you’ve decided on that perfect locale for your nupt’s you’ll inevitably request a contract. 

Will you, complete your due diligence by checking the contract for the correct date, timeframe and correct guest minimum?  Make sure not to sign a contract at your expected guest maximum and remember to pay close attention to the force majeure and cancellation clauses.

Force majeure is there to protect the venue against not being able to perform due to uncontrollable circumstances due to acts of god, war, weather, spontaneous combustion, etc.  Be sure that it also protects you with language stating there will be at least an opportunity to mediate and come to a mutually beneficial reimbursement arrangement.

If there is a cancellation clause – it will more than likely deem your deposit forfeited if YOU cancel.  Yeah…that’s understandable…so…get insurance!  However, what if they cancel?  What if they wake up one day and decide that they no longer want to be a wedding venue?  You’re F’d! – unless there is a something protecting your deposit.  Don’t go overboard!  But ask for language protecting you against change of heart by the venue – aka – full return of deposit.

So…there you have it!  When you’re vetting the venue be sure to do your due diligence.  Don’t rush into it until all your research is done.  It could mean the difference of thousands of dollars!  Thousands of dollars, which in my opinion would be better spent on a honeymoon. third course, or a baller bridal suite!





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