For many of us, our wedding will be the biggest event we’ll ever plan. The process of wedding planning can be fun, but it can also seem overwhelming. From your dress to the DJ, and everything in between, planning a wedding can require a lot of thought. That’s especially true when choosing your wedding venue: Even if you think you’ve found the absolute ideal space, you’ll want to do a little research to make sure it’s the right choice for you and your soon-to-be-spouse.

At The James, we’re dedicated to helping guests plan memorable weddings, from the first toast to the new bride and groom to the last dance of the night. As part of our Weddings at The James program, our hotels offer the space, catering options, and event expertise every step of the way to create a truly memorable experience. Wherever you choose to host your special day, be sure to ask all the right questions to ensure that your venue is perfect.

What size weddings do you typically host?

Your ideal venue should be experienced in hosting weddings and should be comfortable handling a wedding with the number of guests you plan on inviting.

Do you offer wedding packages?

Find out how the venue prices weddings: Do you buy a package that includes food, for instance, or is everything priced a la carte? If you will be bringing in your own caterer or music, make sure that there are no hidden fees to do so. You’ll also want to know whether the venue offers discounts on certain days—weekdays are apt to be more affordable than Saturday nights, for example. Ask if the venue offers deals if you book by a certain date. For example, at The James Chicago, couples who book before March 31, 2016, can choose from a variety of discounts and complimentary amenities.

Will you be hosting other events on my wedding day?

Since some venues book multiple weddings for the same date, it’s a good idea to ask what areas will be available to your guests and which are off-limits.

Do you offer space for rehearsal dinners and post-event brunches?

Some venues don’t just host your wedding—they can also provide space for friends and family to meet before and after the event. If you plan on having a rehearsal dinner, a post-wedding brunch, or both, ask if the venue can accommodate it. At The James, for example, our signaturerestaurants, bars, and other gathering spaces allow you and your guests to toast your big day over a delicious meal—without ever having to leave the area.

Are you licensed to provide alcohol service?

Some venues may lack a liquor license or are only licensed to provide certain types of alcohol—wineries may only be able to provide wine and not hard alcohol, for example. You’ll also want to ask how alcohol is priced, if there is a limit on consumption or on when it can be served, and whether there is an additional fee for bar staff.

How much of a deposit do you require?

It may seem obvious, but finding out how much you owe, when, and in how many installments will help you keep cash on hand during a time when you’re overwhelmed with details and planning.

Can you refer me to some recent clients?

Get the names of couples who recently had their wedding at your prospective venue—they can give you the real scoop on what to expect.

Asking these and other questions about you venue can go a long way to ensure your dream wedding—and be sure to get any answers in writing.

Interested in having your wedding at The James? Explore the space and our guestrooms in advance by setting up a meeting with our wedding specialist in Chicago or New York.