Questions to Ask Before Selecting a Wedding Venue

I recently wrote a blog post on how to find your wedding venue. I discussed a number of questions about the costs of the venue — which I think are important enough to reiterate! I also am adding questions to this list that you should keep in mind before actually signing any contract with a venue. If you’re looking to double check questions that you should ask, be sure and check out the Here Comes the Guide questions to ask when evaluating a wedding location.

Photo from The Wedding Lens

General questions on costs/facilities to ask

  • Seating/guests
    • How many people can they seat/fit?
    • How much is the deposit/down payment? Is it refundable?
    • Does the venue provide chairs? Do you need to rent chairs?
    • Do they charge for the chairs/setting up chairs?
  • Facilities
    • Is there a dressing area for the bride & groom?
    • Are there bathrooms accessible to guests?
    • Is it wheelchair accessible?
  • Food, drinks, & catering
    • Does the venue provide food, drinks, or other catering? Do they have preferred vendors?
    • If they have food & drinks for weddings, then find out a price range, you will select your final food/drink options later. Most venues give a per person rate. (Be sure to check whether each price option includes a buffet, a seated dinner, an open bar, limited drinks, etc.)
    • Can vendors use the kitchen facilities? (Are there kitchen facilities on site?)
    • Is there a per-person cake charge?
    • Is there an additional charge for linens and utensils?
    • Is there a service charge for serving the meals?
  • Music, Dancing, Flowers & Decorations
    • Does the venue have a dance floor? Does it cost extra?
    • Does the venue permit amplified music?
    • Is there a sound system? Can an outside DJ or band use it? Is there a cost
    • Do they permit decorations/flowers? Can you bring in decorations from outside or does it have to be done through the venue? What is the charge?
  • Miscellaneous
    • Do they charge for clean up
    • Does the venue require wedding insurance? (Check out the blog post on wedding insurance if you have no idea what this is!)
    • Are there restrictions on the site? (no confetti, etc)
    • Do they have any other costs and fees? (service charges, etc)

Specific Questions to ask yourself to make sure the venue is right — at the right time

  • Go to the venue at the time of day you want to get married to make sure the lighting is right and sufficient.
  • Is there sufficient lighting? Ask the venue if there is additional lighting available.
  • If it is outdoors, are there coverings or tents that can go up if it rains? Can you bring in umbrellas? (Are there charges for tents? What is the charge?
  • Do you like the people at the venue? Can you work with them?
  • If they require a certain vendor, is that okay with you? Do you like the vendors?

Questions to ask about the contract before you sign

  • What happens if one side or the other has to cancel? Do you still have to pay fees? Can you get reimbursed if it’s their fault?
  • Is there a contingency plan if it’s outdoors and it rains?
  • Are they requiring you to do something you do not want to do or incur costs that you dont want to incur?
  • READ it thoroughly! Make sure you understand it. Take your time, don’t feel strong-armed into signing it. If you can, have someone else who isn’t involved in the process read it too. They might see something you didn’t.

~ Natasha

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Weddings, Marriages, & the Law – Part II

In Weddings, Marriages, and the Law – Part I, I discussed what it means to be married and what happens to your rights and obligations upon marriage. I also promised a few other parts that discuss prenuptial agreements and wills (both of which can alter the rights and obligations that arise when getting married) and legal agreements, like contracts with vendors, that might require guidance so you know what to look out for.

This blog will discuss prenuptial agreements and (briefly) wills.

Again, as a lawyer, I have to include a disclaimer. The following should not be considered legal advice. This is only legal information; if you need legal advice that is relevant to your own situation, you should talk to a lawyer.

Second, both The Wedding Lens and I disclaim any agreement with links that I’ve included. Most of them have legal information; some also contain an opinion. I link to them for informational purposes only.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement (or “prenup”) is a contract that an unmarried couple signs prior to marriage or lawful union.  The contract explains what happens to property and money if the marriage or union ends.

Why should I?

Because if you don’t, the state will.  In other words, if you and your significant other do not come to an agreement prior to marriage about how your assets will be divided and the unwanted, unexpected divorce/split up happens later on in life, then the state gets to decide how your assets will be divided. Why does that matter?

Well, let’s say that before you get married, you bought a house.  You used your own money and the house is your pride and joy.  You don’t sign a prenuptial agreement.  You get married.  Something goes wrong (which yes, I know, you don’t want to think about right now) and you end up filing for divorce.  You want your house back. It was yours and you paid for it, after all.  Guess what? You don’t get it. In most states, you only get half of it.  I know what you’re thinking – you paid for it! It doesn’t matter…. You get to split it. Along with everything else.

So that’s why.  If you have real property or any kind of assets, a prenuptial agreement is helpful to ensure that you get what you had – or at least what you are comfortable with getting back.

You don’t have assets? Well, what if one of you makes more than the other or you are planning to have kids?  You might want to agree to a certain amount of alimony so that you each are able to sustain yourselves.  You care about each other and you wouldn’t your significant other to be destitute, even in the unmentionable time of divorce.

What? You don’t have assets and you aren’t having kids? Great! Are you getting an advanced degree? A Bachelors degree? A Masters? An MD? PhD? JD? MBA?  Maybe you’re not sure right now, but you might pursue one later? Well, in some states, your spouse is entitled to the value of your degree and/or the increase in your earning potential.

For example, say after you get married, you go to law school.  You graduate at a time when the average attorney makes $100,000 (I’m making this up; I have no idea what the number is.). BUT you want to do public interest work, so you only make $45,000 – which happens to be exactly the same salary you were making before law school. Because you’re working constantly and not making any money, your spouse wants a divorce (I know, I’m sorry, it’s just an example!). In some states, he/she is entitled to half of your earning potential, not your actual salary; in this case $50,000! (Even though you only make $45,000!)  In addition to that, depending on the state, your spouse may also be entitled to additional financial support for helping you through law school — even if the support was purely emotional.

It’s kind of amazing how the state can determine these things! But, like I said, you can alter this by signing a prenuptial agreement. Then you can do whatever you want!

Why shouldn’t I?

I don’t know why you shouldn’t. Here’s why YOU think you shouldn’t (and my responses).

“We’re never getting divorced!” – Great! Then what’s the harm in signing the agreement? Even better if it never gets used.

“It’s uncomfortable to talk about this!”  or “It makes me feel like he/she doesn’t trust me!” – Talking about money matters and financial well being will bring you closer together. You shouldn’t be afraid to discuss dicey topics with someone with whom you’re spending the rest of your life. The agreement isn’t for NOW and hopefully it NEVER applies, but it can’t hurt to have one in place — especially if you have any assets (as I discussed above).

“I don’t have any assets.” – Okay, then there’s probably no reason to agree to how your nothing will be divided. I still encourage you to do your own research and talk to an attorney about the possibilities.

But We’re Already Married!

That’s quite all right! You can do the same thing in a post-nuptial agreement.  Same idea, but POST marriage (hence the name).

We’re Not Worried About Divorce

You dont have assets, you dont want a pre-nuptial agreement or a post-nuptial agreement, but you’re worried about what happens to your assets, children, etc if one or both of you happens to die. What do you do?  Well, that is all taken care of in a will or a trust — or both!

Because all of these laws vary considerably with the state in which you live — especially if you are creating a trust or some other form of a will, I won’t go into great details about wills. But a will allows you to determine where your stuff will go and who will care for your children.

A lot of people are terrified about talking about wills; it requires talking about something quite worse than divorce. But if you have children, PLEASE write a will. PLEASE. Not only should YOU (not the state) decide who your kids go to, but YOU should be able to make sure that they have the money and financial stability that they will need to continue on the planet without you.

I know, harsh topics today!

Do you have questions?  Feel free to email or post here. 

~ Natasha