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First Step: The Wedding Venue

By April Clark

Popular wedding venues in North Carolina get booked mainly during the peak summer wedding season, so it’s advisable that couples book as soon as they have found “The One.” What makes a venue “The One,” you might ask? For starters, does the venue complement your style as a couple? Does the location coincide with your theme? It’s perfectly normal for couples to search for their chosen wedding venue 12-18 months before their wedding date, giving them plenty of time to plan, visit venues and make a final decision. Once you’ve found a few locations to choose from based on your style and theme, the next step is to ask a series of questions. Here’s what couples should think about before signing on the dotted line:

Can I receive a copy of the contract before committing?

When choosing a venue, ask to look over the contract prior to committing, then compare it to other places that are also in the running. Be sure to look for things like cancelation fees, inclement weather policies and insurance coverage.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. What should I consider?

Location is imperative when choosing a venue. Ask yourself if the location is easy to find, especially for out-of-town guests. Also, consider a location that will accommodate both the ceremony and reception. Marti Leone, owner of Manor at Carriage Farm, has a beautiful 112-acre farm. She says, “Couples love our location because we have enough space for a ceremony, cocktail hour, and formal reception. We’re excited to announce our pavilion opens March, 2017.”

What are the venue’s hours of operation?

Depending on what time of day you plan to have your ceremony, consider the reception and how long it will be. Does the venue stay open during the time you want to have your reception? For example, a sunrise or midnight New Year’s Eve wedding are out of the ordinary, so find out if the venue charges more for early or late events.

Are there noise or volume restrictions?

Some venues are located near private residences, therefore the city’s noise ordinances will determine whether or not you can play loud music after a certain hour. If you love the event venue, be flexible with the time of your ceremony and reception.

What time can my vendors arrive at the venue?

Some vendors have multiple events on Saturdays and may need to drop off your rentals or cake a few hours before you arrive. Find out the times vendors can drop off items before you book.

Does the venue double book?

Some venues have an event during the day and an event that evening. Look for venues that only book one event daily just in case you run behind schedule; you don’t want to miss a thing!

Where are the restrooms located?

Some restrooms are not located in the reception site. Look for a facility where the restrooms are at a comfortable distance for your guests.

Do you have elevators and ramps for wheelchairs?

If you invite guests with different abilities or the elderly, you will need a location that can accommodate them with ease.

Is there a kitchen for prepping or cooking?

Some venues have a kitchen that can be used to cook last minute dishes for your reception. If the venue only has a prep space for service, ask your caterer if this will work before you book the venue.

Do you have outdoor electricity, special lighting, and generator backup?

Ask if your outdoor space has electricity and special lighting or if you will have to rent these components. Also, take into consideration that a generator should be available as a backup for your special day!

Are rentals like chairs and tables available?

Most venues include the tables and chairs, however, you may want to ask about other rentals like a dance floor and tablecloths. Some venues have these for an additional cost.

The Day of Your Wedding


Is there an outdoor backup ready in case of bad weather?

Many venues, especially during the rainy season, have a backup ready for an outdoor wedding. Make sure you discuss this with the venue and ask that the backup be set up before the ceremony. Melissa Cogliati of the Hudson Manor says, “Every couple should consider their ceremony/reception back up plan carefully, as the weather in North Carolina is so unpredictable. The Hudson Manor in Louisburg provides elegant climate controlled spaces for the ceremony and reception (on-site Wedding Chapel and Grand Ballroom), as well as a covered outdoor ceremony site that can be used instead of the garden in case of rain.”

Is there an on-site event coordinator?

Some venues require that you use their on-site coordinator in addition to your professional planner. Venues like having an on-site coordinator to make sure your event runs smoothly and to have this professional on-site in case the need arises. Other venues require that you have a professional coordinator in lieu of their on-site coordinator.