The wedding reception is the most important part of a wedding -- after the vows, of course. It's where your guests will be spending the majority of their time. This means a reception venue must be able to accommodate dining, the musical entertainment, a dance floor and a place to cut the cake. Selecting a venue may seem both overwhelming and daunting. But it doesn't have to be if you following these simple tips.
Before you select a wedding venue, be sure to first set your budget. Determine exactly how much you can spend on the reception. Will you need to make budget cuts elsewhere to get the reception of your dreams? Decide where you can make sacrifices if need be. Maybe you set a higher priority on food instead of décor, or maybe it's something as simple as not having your napkins monogrammed.
You'll also want to narrow down your guest list before looking for a venue.
Once you have your budget and guest list determined, it's time to plan your reception. Consider the style of your wedding when looking at venues. Will you be having a casual or formal reception? Does the venue complement your theme or clash with it?
Consider also whether the space will comfortably fit all your guests, tables, a dance floor and DJ or band. If your ceremony and reception are taking place at the same venue, will there be enough room for both? Will there be a logical flow for both events plus a cocktail hour? If you answered no to either of these questions, the venue is not the right fit.
The devil is in the details. Besides style and space there are many other things to consider.
How long of a drive is the venue from your ceremony? Is there a large gap of time between the ceremony and the reception? Either one of these may cause guests to decide to do other things instead of attending your reception.
How private is the venue? While a public beach or park may make a beautiful venue, it also means strangers can stop and stare. It also means you probably will not be able to serve alcohol. Hotels and banquet halls also have their fair share of lack of privacy. There may be other functions going on at the same time as your reception, meaning noise could be a factor.
Does the venue have a nice view outside its windows? If not, does the décor make up for it? Be certain to see a venue in both natural and artificial light. Pay attention to how the rugs, furniture and walls look in light situations.
Double check to see if there will be enough power outlets for use by a DJ or a band. How are the acoustics? If you have guests who smoke, is there a dedicated smoking area? If your wedding is in the summer, is your venue air conditioned? Is there plenty of nearby parking?
The Fine Print
Ask to view the reception space when its set up for a wedding the same size as yours. A venue which looks like it will be perfect when it's empty might not be once the furniture and musical equipment is set up.
Don't be afraid to ask plenty of questions about what will be included in the rental fee and what is extra. Will you be required to use their vendors or can you use your own? Are any other weddings book for that day?
Finally, be sure to read the contract thoroughly before signing. Any negotiations should be done prior to signing the contract. Make sure to get any verbal agreements in writing.
Once you pick a reception location, you should be filled with a sense of relief. The most difficult part of planning your wedding is complete.