Post # 1
The Fiance and I are planning on visiting a (“our”) venue today to (hopefully) sign a contract! Honestly, I am excited to have this long search over with, and hopeful that everything goes smoothly. I am also fairly confident (yet cautious) that this venue is not trying to screw us over.
We’ve already been through a contract signing process before with a different venue (didn’t sign though), and it didn’t go well. Thanks to them, I now know a good amount of red flags to watch out for, and I have more questions to ask ahead of time now. And I’m generally more cranky about wedding planning, but that’s unrelated. 😛
We’re paying for this ourselves, so I am especially vigilant about the contract and costs.
I know to check and make sure everything we’ve been promised is written in the contract, etc.
We (meaning I, haha) of course will read the contract thoroughly – I am the type of gal who reads all contest rules, contracts, and privacy policies before signing up for a contest / website / service (sounds like a good time, right?), so that’s not something I’d skip out on.
If we have to take it home to review, we’ll certainly do that but I’m secretly hoping not to.
As I am writing this, I am getting the feeling that “put a deposit down and review the contract at home” may be the case today. That’s alright with me. Just a hassle with work schedules, but it’s not the end of the world.
Does anyone have any general advice to follow?
Any general venue contract protocol to know?
Things to look out for?
Any good vibes to send our way? (one can always use good vibes)
I hope I don’t sound too green behind the ears about this, but I’ve never signed a wedding venue contract before (and hopefully never will again!)
I haven’t found too much practical information about signing a venue contract (but there is tons of info out there on other vendors) so hopefully that means things are generally very straightforward.
Or one can hope, right? 😀
Thanks so much!
Post # 3
I would not put a deposit down and THEN review the contract at home! I asked my (now signed) venue for a sample contract once I was interested. They got the deposit when I signed the contract! Things I looked for off the top of my head:
- how much is tax, tip
- are there limits on alcohol (eg no shots allowed at our place, which is a deal breaker for some, but was a deal MAKER for us!)
- is there somewhere to put the gifts/cards safely locked away for the night
- when does the bar close
- when does the venue itself close
- are things you’re thinking of doing (e.g. photobooth) allowed/not allowed
- rules on children (some places are actually adult only)
- menu prices (discounts for vendor meals, children)
- when do they need your head count by and what info they need re: allergies, etc. and will they accomodate those allergies!
- what kind of decorations are allowed
- what kind of decor is included in the price (centerpieces, linens)
- recommended vendors (hotel, dj, photographers)
I had a bunch more but I cant think of them right now, a lot were more physical observations of the place, but google things to ask and you’ll find tons of Q’s! 🙂
Post # 4
For my venue, the policy was to give the deposit first, and then they supplied the contract, which we had to sign within 2 weeks to guarantee the reservation. My venue is owned by the local government, so this process wasn’t sketchy or anything.
My venue doesn’t provide any food or much in the way of service, so a lot of the advice on what to look for in a contract didn’t apply to me. My main advice to is to read the contract over very carefully. Ask about anything that seems questionable. For example, if you were told that your reception has to end at midnight and your vendors will have an hour to clean up and the contract says that everyone including vendors has to be out of there at midnight, ask about that. Also, if there is information that is not included in the contract that you think should be in there, ask about that. Don’t settle for any wishy-washy answers- make sure everything is clear to you before you sign. See what the contract says about what happens if there is a problem with the venue (power outage, natural disaster, etc.). Make sure that you get a copy of the contract, and keep it somewhere safe. Good luck!
Post # 5
@kristen182: Thanks so much!
The deposit I mentioned was a “hold the date” deposit, not the real deal, but you are right – we shouldn’t put that down if we haven’t read the contract.
Fortunatley, this venue has been really clear with what they provide for us and with their pricing (it’s why I liked them so much hah). We got the low down on the bar situation, included reception items, venue closing time, special food requirements, etc. etc.
So many of my questions have been answered already!
I mean I had a five-page document full of questions when we went to visit places. I had a lot of questions.
Oh, and “spacial / physical obervations” are our middle names – we both work for architects, and we met through our architecture major in college. Once the rep from this venue (who would also be our maitre’d on the day of, which is nice) found that out he took us on an extremely detailed tour of the entire venue, because he helped to design it.
So the good news is that we found no glaring problems with the venue itself.
Obviously I haven’t seen the contract yet, so who knows – things could change on there.
You know what?
I’ll request an emailed copy of the contract today before we meet, if they can manage it. 🙂
Honestly, the venue we almost went with got shady at the end and started asking us to pay for many things they had originally said were included.
I think I am just super concerned (paranoid?) about something like that happening again!
I maybe am more worried about this than I really need to be.
Post # 6
@asbtoabs: Thank you!
Yes, the deposit I mentioned is a relatively small amount and more like a “hold this date” deposit. It’s a private venue, but also a resturant so I can understand why they’d do that.
We live in New Jersey, and the venue was able to keep all the scheduled weddings going on directly before and after Hurricane Sandy (the storm mostly happened in the middle of the night here) without power. It was a nice thing to know, because it indicates that they’ll try their damndest if something like that happens.
Good point on the venue end timing. I’ll make sure I take a look into that, I think I would have neglected to check. I hate time math.
The nice thing about this venue is that we haven’t received a wishy-washy answer on any of our questions so far. And we had a lot of questions.
They have been so straightforward it’s astounding – we hadn’t seen a venue where anyone was this to-the-point with us right off the bat.
Post # 7
You should be good! You sound like me 🙂 Our venue was great at answering all our questions too, just make sure their answers/numbers match the contract is the key! Ours were spot on, so I had no actual clarifications required when I was reading the contract “They said x, and the contract says x, sign sign!” Good luck! and yes, does not hurt to ask for a sample contract!
Post # 8
First, any deposit you pay should go on a credit card. You can pay the balance off right away so you can avoid interest. A credit card in most cases is going to give you FAR better consumer protection than writing a check. If you put a deposit down by check and the venue goes out of business, you get in line with all the other creditors and wait for ages to maybe possibly get a few pennies back on the dollar. If you pay with credit card, you just file a form with the credit card company and they reverse the charge, and it becomes their problem, not yours.
Other details to consider, which may or may not be important to you:
-Access rules for times other than your booked event. If you want to do a rehearsal, when can you do it? Is there an extra fee? How about setup and breakdown time?
-Who is responsible for setting up and breaking down? Is there a fee?
-Is there any sort of cleaning fee? what kinds of situations would incur a cleaning or damage fee?
-What is the cancellation penalty? If it is less than the deposit, what is the timeframe for getting your money back and how is it issued? Check? Refund to credit card? If it is more than the deposit, how and when are you expected to pay?
-Is there personnel available to accept deliveries, such as flowers? If so, what hours? This might not actually be a contract clause but you need to know in advance if their policies work for you
-How early can the vendors or your party come to set up?
-What other situations or conditions can lead to penalty fees?
-Is the deposit transferrable to another date? To another bride/groom? Any fee associated with that?
Post # 9
@fishbone: Thanks, those are really great questions!
This venue doesn’t let us use a credit card for any of the payments, though we should ask if we can (what’s the worst they can say, no?).
We applied for and received a credit card together just for the wedding expenses – even though we have the money on hand, we wanted to build the credit together (so our money worked for us!)
We plan on using it for other vendors, though.
Post # 10
Ask for a list of “preferred vendors,” and ask if you’re bound by this list…especially if your venue isn’t a restaurant, hotel, banquet hall, or anywhere else that does their own food. Some of the designated reception halls in my area have a list of “preferred caterers,” and they’ll flat out refuse to work with anyone who isn’t on their list. Note that this might apply to bakeries as well. Ask if the list covers a variety of price points, and then do your own research.
It’s kind of a big deal – the venue itselff might be in your price range, but the list of caterers and bakers they work with might be too expensive.