1 dozen things to ask about your venue

To celebrate 12 months of 2012, and because I love lists. I've thought up a couple top 12 lists for the year. Here are 12 things you want to ask your venue (that you may not have thought of) as you're planning your wedding:

1 How many guests can we have?
You first have to know if your party will fit. If the venue max is the same as your guest list a year out, it won't fit everyone who you end up adding last minute (it always happens!)

2 What comes with the rental?
The venue is one of the largest pieces of the wedding puzzle, and there's nothing wrong with being crystal clear from moment one about what you'll get. They say they provide chairs, look at the chairs! Linens, know your color options. If it's just an open space, it's the most freeing artistically, but definitely more expensive.

3 Where do we get ready?
You don't want to be hanging out with your girls in a closet upstairs, make sure your venue has an appropriate area. Also, make sure your not paying top dollar for a jacuzzi tub you'd never use.

4 Can I have my ceremony AND reception here?
Some places will charge a separate ceremony fee if you're having both parts of the wedding on site. You'll also need to see if you're allowed two different areas or if guests will have to move out of the way for the space to change configurations in-between.

5 Can I take that ugly thing down?
I know galleries that will let you take art off the walls you don't like, but more often than not, you can't touch anything in the space... you're stuck with what's in there. Paintings, furniture, all the knick-knacks. Or you might be able to move something, but not outside of a certain area (dining table doesn't have to be in the middle, but it can't be removed from the room, stuff like that) Make sure you can live with what's there!

6 Are there extra charges for additional set-up time?
Are you and your girls decorating the space yourselves? Do you have 15 different vendors who all have different delivery windows? Make sure you know exactly when you'll get access and what might cost extra. Same for breakdown!

7 Do I have to use your caterer?
On-site catering, one simple bill can be easier and often save money, but if you want to get more creative to stretch your budget further, this can really lock you into a tight spot. Check catering prices on the list before you commit to a venue, as they can blow a budget. Also, if you have your heart set of something specific, make sure one of your caterers can delivery it.

8 What's the deal with alcohol?
Easiest way to save money, buy your own booze. Find out if you can, or see about going with a flat-rate package for your "eat drink and be merry" friends.

9 Are there noise ordinances about being outside?
If you want an all outdoor affair, dancing in the moonlight and such, you may run into some issues. Lots of places will not let you have amplified music after a certain hour, or sometimes at all when you're outside. If you're a late night crew, you may want to take this into consideration before you book.

10 Will you be there on the day of?
Do you just loooove the woman who gave you your tour? Make sure you ask if she'll be the one there day of, especially if you're not working with a planner. You want to know exactly who your point of contact is, and to see that friendly face when everyone's buzzing around.

11 Where can we dance?
I once saw the perfect venue and loved everything about it, I could picture cocktails under the pergola, a whole room dedicated to dessert (I told you it was perfect for me!) great flow, lots of space, perfect. ...except that you couldn't dance there, you had to dance downstairs in a low-ceiling basement down a dark stairway. It's not that it was bad (though it wasn't great) it was just completely cut off from all the beautiful things on the main floor, and I didn't want to abandon my non-dancing guests in a whole different part of the building.

12 What do you need to secure our date?
Do you need it all up front? Half a half? Do they give you a week to get the finances together? Make sure you're coming in armed if it's a hot spot and your jockeying for your date.