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22 questions to ask your San Diego destination wedding venue before signing the contract

Updated: Apr 10

Selecting the venue for your destination wedding in San Diego is one of the first things a couple will do once engaged. In this article, I will list and explain which important questions to ask before signing your hotel wedding contract so that you can have a clear picture of inclusions, costs etc.

wedding table with blush and white flowers

Photography: Mirelle Carmichael Photography

The questions are specific to hotel venues, I will create a separate article and talk about other types of venues as the questions might look a bit different.

  • How many hours of rental are included? Generally, the total number of hours includes: ceremony, cocktail hour and reception. Some venues will also include in their contract the set up and break down hours.

  • What is the cost to add an extra hour? Depending on your city rules and hotel policy, you might or might not be able to add an extra hour.

  • What is the weather back up plan and when will it be decided? No bride or groom wants rain or strong wind on their wedding day but it is important to ask before booking so that you can envision the plan B and be ok with it in case it happens.

  • What is your service fee/service charge/administrative fee? This fee is generally added on top of rentals, food and beverage, along with the sales taxes and varies between 20 to 26% (or more). It includes gratuity for the venue staff (banquets team), and administrative processing.

  • Is the tasting included in the cost? For how many people?

  • When will we need to finalize the menu? This will give you an idea of how much time you have to select the menu. Keep in mind that most of the times, once the items are selected, you can't really switch them. The reason is that hotels need to plan and order for fresh food for your wedding and because of their structure they might need to do it in advance.

  • When is the final count/final guarantee due? This is the last day for you to give the final breakdown of the meal count. Generally after this date, you will not be able to lower your meal count even if some guests decide to cancel.

  • What is the food & beverage minimum? This is the minimum amount you agree to spend, no matter how many positive RSVP you get. It is very important to try to calculate if the minimum makes sense and if it gives you some wiggle room in case you need it. Often, if the RSVPs are lower than expected you can solve the issue of the food & beverage minimum by upgrading your food or bar package or add some appetizers, late night snacks or desserts.

  • Which bar packages do you offer? Can we have his & her signature cocktails? Hotels often have different tiers of bar packages that will give you basic or premium brands and choices such as beer & wine bar, full bar, wine service, etc. If you are planning on his & her drinks make sure the venue can do the cocktails you have in mind and ask if there is an upcharge.

  • Can you list which rentals are included in the cost? Hotel venues are great because they often come with tables, dinnerware, chairs, linen/napkins. Make sure to have a list of inclusions and go into specifics. For example, if chairs are included, ask for a photo!

pinterest article name and flowers

  • How many weddings do you have per day? The answer might vary based on the size of the hotel. Some larger hotel can host multiple weddings per day.

  • Is there a bride getting ready room included? What time do we need to leave the room empty? Some venues provide a bridal suite or a getting ready space for the bride. Ask for photos, location, inclusions so you can decide if you want to use that room or maybe your own hotel sleeping room.

  • Is there a groom getting ready room included? what time do we need to leave the room empty?

  • How early can we start setting up? This is very important for the vendors such as florists, planner, entertainment. Often the venue gives you 2 or more hours of set up time. Keep in mind the set up time might vary based on the complexity of the event. Some wedding might need a whole additional set up day!

  • Are there any vendors that we *must* select from your recommended vendors list?

  • Which upgrades do you offer for rentals? I am talking about upgraded linens or napkins, charger plates, chairs, etc. If your venue doesn't offer it, it is not a big deal, you can get them through a rental company and actually get much more choices!

  • How does parking work for our guests? You might want to host valet parking for your guests, make sure to ask if it is possible and the total cost.

  • Will you be here on our wedding day?When touring the venue you will probably meet with an event/catering manager, it is important to understand who will be yours and your planner or coordinator point of contact.

  • Is cake cutting and serving included?

  • Is the champagne toast included?

  • What if we want to secure some guestrooms for our guests? You might want to have a room block at the hotel where you are getting married. If this is the case, make sure to check out my blog post about room blocks for all the important information you need to know! You can find the article here.

  • Can you prepare an estimate with the grand total? Lastly one of the most important questions: how much all of this will cost me?? Make sure you include, rental, food and beverage, any upgrades, parking fees, tasting, etc.

I hope you enjoyed this article, if you have questions or you are looking for help to plan your wedding make sure to fill out our form at this link!

Here are other blog articles about planning your destination wedding in San Diego:

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