Picking The Perfect Venue for Your Nigerian Wedding: 33 questions to ask
Many couples do not understand the importance of picking the right venue/space and how to go about choosing the right venue for them.
As your planner, I want you to have a perfect day and that is why I would be listing out the important questions to ask before picking the perfect venue for your big day.
Tip 1: Ask yourself if your guestlist is inclusive of vendors, children, plus one’s, nannies or drivers? If no, then know that you are preparing for more than your actual guestlist in reality.
Tip 2: When visiting a Nigerian Wedding Venue, have in mind that the hall manager most times are not honest with the actual number of guests their space can accommodate. They increase the number. So if they tell you their space can accommodate 500 guests, in reality, their space can only accommodate 400 guests.
TIP 3: Prepare for more.
If you are expecting 500 guests for instance, it means you are looking for a venue/space that can sit at least 700 guests.
Put into consideration the space for vendors setup and also prepare for extra guests, between 100 to 200 more guests. This will include, children, nannies, vendors set up space, and plus one’s.
The Basic Questions
1. Ask if your date is available… even if it is not available, you may want to ask for other available dates in the same month as your wedding, in case you change your mind or you like the hall so much.
2a. Number of tables they have. Ask for the number of tables they have.
If they says their facility can sit 500 guests, they should have 50 banquet tables but if they have 40 banquet tables, then they probably mean that their hall can sit 400 guests in banquet settings (which is the settings you need) and can sit 500 guests in theatre style.
2b. Ask for their Covid restruction rules and capacity… in light of covid, event Centres in Lagos and other states are only allowed 50% of their usual capacity. So if the hall can sit 1000 guests for instance, you may only be allowed to bring in 500 guests. This may mean that you may have to negotiate for a higher number or provide more items yourself, like more seating chairs and tables etc…
Trick: Most venues only have the number of banquet tables that can fit into their space. A banquet table can sit 8/10/12 guests, depending on the size of the table. Be sure to confirm. This way you can know the actual guest size their hall can accommodate.
3. What does their facility come with
For example, extra tables for vendors, security, stage, cleaners, canopies for vendors that will be setting up outside etc… This will help you to factor in the extra costs you will need to add up or whether you will need to get another venue all together.
Note: Not all Nigerian wedding halls come with chairs and tables, stage and the likes and you may need to pay extra for these items
4. Ask for the number of chairs and tables that they have.
Some halls do not have the number of chairs and tables for the number of guests they claim their hall can accommodate.
5. Type of chairs and tables they have
Many halls come with plastic or banquet chairs while a few come with fancier chairs. If you want fancier chairs, you may have to get these separately or look for a venue that already comes with the type of chairs that you want.
Note: More so, some halls have about 2 or 3 types of chairs (Chiavari, Dior) but at different costs, please be sure to ask which of the chairs your package comes with and if there is an extra cost for this. Do not assume that because you see a the of chair as at time of enquiry, that the hall comes with it.
6. Ask if they have tables for vendors to set up with.
Like the caterer, dessert, small chops vendors will need tables to set up and these tables are normally different from their round banquet tables.
If the venue has tables for vendors, it is important to ask how many they have, because some halls do not give all the number of tables that you may need and you may still need more tables. If they do not have extra tables, you would have to rent more tables which will add up to your budget and also needs to be prepared for.
7. Do they have a changing room?
You don’t want to hurry off to your hotel just to change into your reception outfit or you may need to rest your back or legs or use the restroom just before you are called in by your MC.
8. How many hours of electricity are you entitled to for your event?
Tip: The average they should provide is 8 hours and an extra 30 minutes for vendors to try out their equipment set up before the event starts. Some halls give lesser than 8 hours.
9. Ask how much their extra hours go for (It’s normally starts from 30k to 150k per hour), it all depends on the venue and their terms.
10. Ask about their Parking space
If they do not have ample parking space, ask for their alternative parking space.
Tip: Also ask if they provide Lastma officials for the cars that may be parked by the roadside. If they don’t, you may need to get some Lastma officials for this purpose, to avoid your guest cars getting towed.
11. Ask if they power the band and DJ with electricity?
Not all halls power band and DJ, while some power DJ’s only. Also remember to tell your vendors so that they can make proper arrangements (this may cost the vendors more and they would need to factor it into their quotation).
Note: Some venues do not allow circular music, so be sure to ask if the venue will allow your DJ play circular music
12. Ask if the AC’s are working well? Can they be tested before my event?
Tip: Once you see many standing fans in the hall, chances are that their AC’s don’t work properly. I may advise that you find time to visit the venue when they are having an event.
13. Ask if they have an alternative space if you will be having a 2 in 1 day event, that is, a traditional and wedding reception ceremony.
14. Ask for where the vendors are expected to set up
If you are expecting 500 guests and the hall can only sit 500 guests and they don’t have space for vendors in the outside the hall (in the compound) then this may not be the right venue for your event.
15. Also ask if the vendors are allowed to use electrical power points in the hall or if they would be needing extension boxes.
16. If vendors are going to be setting up outside the hall, they need some form of protection/shade from the sun or rain as the case maybe. Ensure that the hall has arrangements for this. If they do not, be ready to add this to your budget.
17. Ask about their refund and cancellation policies. What happens if you cancel your event and want a refund? What percentage will be refunded?
18. Easy access for guests with disabilities. If you have an old grandma who uses a wheel chair, it’s important to consider guests with disabilities when picking the perfect venue.
19. Ask about their restrooms, how many they have and if they have separate restrooms for female and male guests. And also if they have cleaners for the restrooms and hall.
Questions about decorations
20. Can decorators set up overnight?
Some halls do not allow this, while some do and others charge a fee for this… If they don’t allow overnight decorations, then your decorator may need to work a day or 2-days before the wedding day to ensure that they are done with the decor before the day.
Note: Whether the hall allows overnight decorations or not, don’t let this bother you, as many decorators know their way around these things. Your duty is to inform the decorator, so that they know how to work around it.
21. Do they allow any form of hanging on for walls or ceiling and do they allow draping on their walls?
If you are the type that likes all the decor paparazzi, hanging flowers from the ceiling, sticking one thing or the other on the walls… Be sure to ask the hall manager if they allow this. Not every hall allow decorators to hang stuff on their ceilings or walls
22. Do they arrange tables and chairs according to the floorplan for the decorator? Do the decorator have to arrange tables and chairs themselves.
I’ve had an experience where the decorator came in the day before to start their decor set up and we were shocked to know that they don’t arrange tables despite them asking us for a floorplan. It set us back some hours, as we had to set up the chairs and tables first. So ask just to be sure.
23. Ask if the hall comes with a stage for the couple’s sweetheart area.
Not all halls comes with a stage and this may either come at an extra cost from the hall or the decorator arranges for one. But this will come at an extra cost to rent a stage.
24. Ask if they have any event a day prior to your event. If they do, you would definitely want to inform your decorator, so as to enable them work with the available time allocated to them.
25. Caution fees
Some venues have general refundable caution fees for the client, while some have the caution fees for the vendors.
A refundable caution fee is the money paid to caution the vendors from destroying anything on their property and will not be returned to them if they damage anything or don’t clean up their work stations.
Note: The caution fee is not the same for all the vendor’s. The decorators and caterers normally have the most amount, while others have lesser amounts. Be sure to tell your vendors how much much caution fees are, so that they are prepared.
Some halls won’t allow vendors to enter the hall or set up until they pay the caution fee. Also be reminded that they are to collect their refundable caution fees after the eventied all their terms are met.
26. Halls with pillars
Halls with too many pillars can be a disaster. The hall arrangement can be a bit tricky and decor can look funny if the decorator is not a skilled one, even a skilled decorator can be confused when working with a hall with pillars.
Plus pillars eat into any space. So a 500 capacity hall with a lot of pillars would probably sit 300/350 banquet style.
Questions on Food and Drinks
27 Are you allowed to bring in your own vendors, like food drinks etc…?
While some venues may allow you bring in your preferred vendors, some halls don’t allow this and already have their own in-house vendors and may charge a corkage fee if you want to bring in your own vendors.
28. Cooking foods like Amala-on-point at the venue
Generally, wedding halls in Nigeria won’t allow cooking on their premises because of the open fire that is involved in the cooking process, among other damages.
But some halls allow some food types to be cooked on their premises. These food types may include, small chops, grills, shawarma etc.
In cases where foods like Amala-on-point is not allowed to be cooked on the premises, the food vendor will need to prepare everything from home and bring to the venue and served from coolers.
29. Ask what time your vendors can come in to start their set up.
While some venues may allow vendors come in a day before to start their set up, others allow vendors to come in early in the morning on the day of the event. So be sure to ask.
Also ask for the available space for the vendors to set up, especially the caterer as it shouldn’t be close to the restrooms
30. Ask if alcohol is allowed. Some halls don’t allow alcohol to be served, especially if it is a religious space.
Other Questions to ask
30. Special effects
Special effects like fireworks/pyrotechnics/open candles and flames are not allowed in some halls. Please be sure to ask.
31. You may also want to ask for the nearest hotels to the venue, for out-of-town guests that may want to stay close to the venue.
32. Ask if there are security measures against touts in the neighbourhood.
Touts is a common thing at Nigerian event centres and may be harassing your guests. Some venues have security measures against these touts to make their guests feel safe.
33. What happens to guest’s missing items if found?
I hope this helps. Good Luck!
You can also read: Wrong Assumptions Nigerian Couples Make When Planning Their Wedding