You've already read through the lists of questions you're supposed to ask before you book your wedding venue. Well, here are a few more you may not have thought of.
Not having enough outlets to go around is a hassle for your vendors, but not having enough properly wires circuits can be dangerous. And yes, we have worked weddings where the lights went out in the middle of dinner because too many things were running off a wimpy circuit. If you're at a big resort and/or a "wedding mill" type venue, it's probably not an issue. But at those "boutique" venues that are really just private residences or ranches outside the city trying to make a few extra (thousand) bucks on the weekend, it's almost always an issue! So be sure to ask...
- How many outlets are available for the vendors? Are they available in all three areas (ceremony, cocktail and reception)?
- How many separate circuits are there in each area? Were they professionally wired?
Even if you don't understand the answers, it's valuable information your caterer and DJ will appreciate knowing.
2. Load in, access
Again, we're talking about those boutique/residence/ranch places here. One beautiful countryside venue we worked last year had no way of accessing the ceremony or reception sites without walking over a long, uphill rocky path. That meant that the DJ and catering companies had to hand-carry each piece of equipment. But it also causes a lot of concern for anyone in a wheelchair or some of the older guests who just have a little trouble getting around. So please ask your venue...
- Is there paved ramp access to the ceremony and reception sites?
- Can a vendor or a guest with mobility issues just drive right up?
3. Noise restrictions
Let's say your reception ends at 10:30. Let's also say your venue requires your DJ turn his music way downat 10:00, or even 9:00. Now let's say they never mention that to you ahead of time. Yep, that happens-- a lot! So your wedding reception ends not with a bang, but with a whisper. Other restrictions might be that the speakers can only be pointed a certain direction or that they don't allow microphones of any kind (yep, we've seen that, too!). Sometimes your venue contact will tell you about these things but assure you that is no big deal. But of course they're going to say that. So ask the following questions, and then run the answers by your DJ...
- Is there a curfew on loud music? Are there any restrictions on audio equipment?
Maybe your venue package includes a day-of coordinator. One less thing to worry about, right? Maybe. Not all coordinators are created equal, and very often what the on-site "coordinator" does for you is far less than one who is independently hired. Most often, your simply assigned to the banquet manager who is available literally the "day of" the wedding to help cue music for the ceremony and the grand entrance, only disappear again once dinner starts-- whereas most independently hired coordinators are much more involved, working with you even weeks beforehand (including the rehearsal) and then helping out with all aspects of the wedding, from setting up centerpieces in the morning to carrying the gifts out to the car at the end of the night. So, if you've been promised one of those venue-provided coordinators, please ask:
- What exactly will the coordinator be doing? How early does she start helping us out? More specifically, is there anything she doesn't do that most independent coordinators will do?
Beautiful Saturday afternoons are the perhaps the best (and certainly the most common) time for weddings, but they're also the worst time to find a parking spot. This might annoy your guests, but it will almost certainly delay your ceremony start time-- which in turn throws the whole timeline off. And because this blog is supposed to be from a Wedding DJ's Perspective, I'll mention that it also makes your poor DJ's loading and unloading a much more complicated affair (cue sympathetic violin music). So ask the following, and then pass along the answers well in advance to guests and vendors:
- How many reserved spots are there for family, vendors, etc.?
- Where are the nearest pay lots, and how much are they? What are the best places to look for free spots?
6. Control over lighting
You don't want the same lighting for dinner as for open dancing, do you? I didn't think so. Think about how a restaurant is lit. Think about how a nightclub is lit. Enough said. Separate switches for separate fixtures (chandeliers, sconces, etc.) is great; separate dimmers is even better. No control over any of them is, well, less than ideal. That's why you should ask...
- Does my DJ and/or coordinator have access to the light switches? If not, who does?
- How many options and combinations do they have to play with?
So there you are. Now go ask those questions! Because the More You Know... ;)