Choosing a Wedding Reception Venue

Determining where your reception will probably be THE most important decision you will making regarding your wedding for several reasons. The first, is that no matter how lovely your ceremony is, the reception is really the bulk of your wedding. It’s what people talk about the most. They talk about the food, the music, the dancing…you get the idea. Keep in mind that the reception doesn’t have to be all about the big bucks. The most memorable wedding and receptions are about personality and fun. Guests just want to have decent food, something to drink and good music to either listen or dance to. And while dinners can easily cost $65 per person (or more in some cases)it certainly doesn’t have to in order for your guests to have a good time. When interviewing reception sites and their managers, there are several things to consider.

First, and most obvious, is that they have your date available. Secondly, what do their prices per person start at. There’s no point in looking at a site if you can’t afford it, because part of you might feel that you missed out on something if you fall in love with a place that will not only blow your budget, but put you in serious hock before you even get married. If you are considering an on-site reception (meaning in a hotel-type setting versus a home with a tent-for example), here are ten things to consider:

1) How many guests can the site hold (many have limitations, or have a required number of guests you need to pay for regardless if you actually have that many)

2) What kind of liquor options are there? A full, open bar will add on probably $15-20 per head (maybe more), but limiting your options to beer and wine, having an open bar only part of the time, or offering a couple of premixed drinks will all reduce that price.

3) What is the gratuity? Most will automatically charge you between 18-20% (someplaces may be more)

4)Is a buffet cheaper than a sit-down (note: it SHOULD be. Buffets require less staff and are almost always less expensive)

5)What hours will the reception run? Can it go longer? What would the overages charges be?

6) How are vegetarian meals handled? (this is usually only a concern when having a sit-down dinner and you can’t offer a completely vegetarian choice – chefs usually have a contingency plan for this an for the person with an unexpected allergy, but it is something to inquire about)

7) Is there a place for the bride and groom to change…a place to wait before formal introductions are made

8) Can to-go meals be set aside for the bride & groom (you may be too busy/excited to eat much and having a meal ready for later is really nice).

9) Who makes the cake? If you bring in an outside cake, what are the cutting/serving fees. If the site has an in-house baker, be sure to see pictures…the cost of cutting/serving might just be worth it if the baker is sub-par.

10) Be sure to get it in writing…and if it isn’t in the contract, make sure it gets there. Relying on someone’s word, while it sounds good in theory, can be dangerous. People forget things, things change…you want to be prepared. Do you research, bring paper and write everything down. Again, no matter where your reception is, the most important thing to remember is that you want your guests to have a great time. It doesn’t need to cost you a fortune for them to do so, and the best way to insure everyone “parties like it’s 1999” is to do your homework and make an informed, budget-minded decision.

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