You’re certain to have a million details to consider when planning an important event like a wedding, large party or corporate event. One of your first decisions is likely to be determining the venue where the event will be held. This decision is critical to the rest of your event planning, so you’re likely to want to get it out of the way early on. However, in your haste to choose and book a venue, don’t neglect the details.
It’s critical that you appropriately negotiate the contract with the venue, so that you understand all of the details of the contract and so that you can ensure that there are no surprises. Some of the items we recommend you discuss with your venue coordinator before agreeing to a contract include:
- Facility area to be used – If you are not renting the facility in its entirety, it’s important to understand which areas your event will utilize.
- For example, will your guests share bathrooms with the guests of another event?
- Where will your guests park? Will a valet be provided for parking? Does the venue have disabled access?
- How will the room be set up? Can you make changes to the set up?
- Will your guests share a bar with the guests of another event?
It’s very important to understand how other events being held at the facility during the same timeframe will impact your guests. If necessary, you might negotiate being moved to a different area of the facility in order to make your event more private. In addition, you should ask about the room set up.
- Deposit and payment requirements – Most likely, your venue will require a deposit in order to hold the facility for your date. A few venues may ask for payment in full up front, but we don’t recommend that you pay this way. While it’s expected that you would pay some monies in advance, if you pay the entire fee up front, then you have little or no leverage with the vendor if you are unsatisfied with your event.
- Cancellation Policies – It’s important to understand the venue’s cancellation policy.
- If you cancel your event entirely, will you lose your deposit?
- What if you simply want to reschedule the event?
- What are the venue’s policies if they have to cancel your event due to unforeseen circumstances like storm or water damage?
- Will they locate a new venue for you?
- Many venues will work with you, particularly if you want to reschedule the event rather than cancel it altogether, but it’s important to have this discussion up front.
- Staffing Levels – Negotiate with your venue up front about the level of staffing you’ll be assigned. It’s important that you feel comfortable that enough staff will be dedicated to your event to keep your guests well taken care of and your area tidy. If your event will share staff with another event, you should be alerted to this up front.
- Attendee Numbers – Be certain that your contract contains the number of attendees your event is expected to support. Of course, you may list this in a range on the initial contract, but it’s important that you’ve spelled out how many attendees are expected.
- Full Price Disclosure – Many venues have optional extras that are not included in the original price you’ve be quoted for the use of the facility. Some of the items we recommend you ask about specifically include:
- Wait Staff
- Dinnerware and Glassware
- Parking with or without valet
- Supplies for business meetings like audio visual equipment, note pads, water and mints
- Set up and clean up charges
The venue you choose and the amenities they offer your guests are a critical part of a successful event. Be certain to take the time to fully negotiate your contract with your venue coordinator to ensure that your event is everything you’ve expected.