There are hundreds of event venues in the greater Phoenix area and each one is unique from the next. Finding the right venue can be overwhelming as you compare and contrast the amenities offered by each.
Over the years I have heard many stories from clients who finally found the perfect venue only to learn that the “fine print” in the contract divulged information that they had not thought to ask. These often stressful situations can be avoided by asking a few detailed, but often unthought-of, questions.
- How many hours are included in the price? Some venues only allow four hours and then charge you per hour for each additional hour; some include eight hours. It is best to check during your initial appointment so that you can add any extra charges to your budget. If you need more time than what is included in the base price consider asking for a discount on the additional hours – especially if your event is on a non-peak night (Sunday through Thursday).
- Does the venue require events end at a specific time? Some require events to end by 10pm or 11pm due to facility regulations or neighborhood ordinances. Be sure to ask.
- What is included? Does the venue provide tables and chairs? Is there an additional fee to use their equipment? Is a changing room available (generally used for bride’s / groom’s dressing rooms) and is there a fee to add these rooms to the contract?
- Is staffing included and what type of staffing? Museums typically include staff to insure the integrity of the museum is not compromised. Park and garden locations provide rangers. Both types of staff are not on site to assist with your needs but to make sure the museum / venue is secure. If you need help with décor, event management, etc. you may need to bring in someone to assist you.
- Is decorating allowed? Many venues will allow free standing decorations but won’t allow anything to be taped or tacked to walls or ceilings. Are candles allowed? I love candles, they add the perfect amount of ambience to any event, but be sure to check to make sure that your venue allows real candles. Some will allow candles as long as the flame is contained in a candle holder. Some venues will only permit flameless candles. Make sure that you know what is permitted so that you aren’t surprised on the day of your event.
- Parking – where is parking and is there a charge for parking? If you are covering parking fees for your guests, this could be costly depending on the parking policies of your venue. Be sure to ask up front so that you can plan accordingly.
- Seasonal Issues – if your event is in the summer, where are the windows? Will the venue or room receive a lot of western sun thus heating the room? Will the room be cool enough to be enjoyable? Conversely, if you are planning an event in the fall, will the grass be over-seeded and if so, when? Will this conflict with your event? Many venues may not know this information any more than six weeks out but it is in your best interest to ask.
- Does the venue have special requirements to rent the facility such as insurance? Some venues will require the client to take out an insurance policy for $1 million to cover the venue from liability, damage and loss. While, in most cases, this can easily be added to your homeowner’s insurance, the increase in coverage, even for one night, can cost several hundred dollars. Check with your venue to be sure you aren’t surprised.
- Considering live music? If so, check to see if the venue allows live bands. Is there a noise ordinance or volume restrictions? This applies to both live music and DJs.
As you can see, and have probably already experienced first-hand, getting to know your venue is much like getting to know your fiancé / significant other was on your first date. Make sure that you ask all the right questions and you will be a match made in heaven!