When you start planning your wedding one of the things to have at the top of your list of things to do is to look at wedding venues and to decide where you want to have your wedding reception. This location may be one and the same for your wedding reception and wedding ceremony or they may take place in different locations.
When choosing a venue for your wedding reception first you need to decide where you want to get married; what city or area. To decide on the place you may need to drive around a bit of take a trip unless you already know of a location in your or your fiancé's hometown (or where you currently live) that would be a good wedding location for a reception. Some people do a lot of research online first, unless they have a wedding reception idea already, to find out what is available and to find comments and testimonials about how the venue worked out from others friends or coworkers that have had their weddings there.
If you are having difficulty deciding where to have the wedding consider things like; what places means a lot to you/your fiancé, were do you have special memories, what is the proximity to where you live (this may make it easier for planning and execution purposes further down the line), what time of the year are you getting married (this may help narrow things down as some areas are more suitable for certain seasons). Sometimes if you have a large family it may also be convenient if they do not have to travel too far. If you are okay with not having the whole family showing up then no need to make that a priority when deciding on your wedding venue. Really, you should make sure that where you have your wedding is a location where you and your fiancé feel comfortable and happy.
If you do already have an idea of where to have your wedding reception you can start by calling that place to find out if you can come and look at the location and to talk to them about whether or not they cater to weddings/rent the place out for weddings. A lot of times if you are looking to only rent a hall there are set prices for renting it for one day. Make sure to ask questions about your wedding venue such as:
- How many people can they accommodate for?
- How late can you play music? And how loud? Whether or not there are fees associated to having a DJ or live music?
- Is there a stereo system and speakers available?
- Is there room for a DJ?
- Do they cater? If not, whom do they recommend (who do they usually deal with or are they not at all involved with this)?
- Is the room available for a wedding rehearsal the day before the wedding? (if you are having the ceremony and reception in the same location)
- Do they have staff available to serve food and beverages?
- Are there tables and chairs available? And if so, how many?
- Are there linens included and if so what color are they?
- Is there a coat check service?
- If you are having the ceremony and reception in the same location also ask how much time they need to flip the room for dinner (during this time no guests can be in the room)?
- Can you bring in your own alcoholic beverages?
- What is the corkage fee (this will affect the price range you are looking at)?
- What do meals range in as far as prices goes (ask to get a menu)?
- What type of food do they serve?
- How much can meals be custom made?
- Do they serve vegetarian meals?
- If you are considering having a wedding reception at a hotel ask if they offer a discounted room rate to your guests (some hotels will block off a set number of rooms that are reserved for your guests and any rooms not booked a couple of weeks prior to the wedding will be available to the public. Often this offer of a discounted rate has an expiry date so make sure you know what that is so you can advice your guests as to when they need to have made their reservations by). Also, make sure you are aware whether or not you have any obligations as far as room bookings go. If the hotel blocks off a set number of rooms for you some hotels require that you pay for any rooms not booked by the time of the wedding.
- What do they take care of and what do they not take care of?
- Who is the contact person? Is this someone who can be considered a wedding organizer from the venue's perspective?
Forming your idea of your wedding reception may be gradual but leave a bit of room for flexibility. If you have everything set in your mind it might be hard to find that 'perfect' place. And remember too look beyond what is there before the room is transformed for the wedding. Make sure you know what the staff at the wedding venue will do for you and what is included and what you will need to organize and bring.
If a hotel is not your thing, think beyond that. A lot of golf clubs do weddings. There are also community halls and similar such as convention centers that might even have a catering service that they offer. Other alternatives are lodges or maybe your parents' backyard. You can find more about some of these alternatives in the other pages within this section.
When you look at a place make sure that you both go together if possible (unless you are comfortable with one of you making the decision). Unless you already know of the perfect place for your wedding reception then look around for a bit and see a few different places so that you can form an opinion as to what you want and what you do not care for. Make a list of pros and cons for the places and compare it to what your 'must haves' list to make sure that you get what matters the most to you.
Being flexible with your wedding dates can also increase your chances getting a particular wedding venue booked. If you are already set on your date, than it might make it more difficult to find that perfect place because if they are booked already, there is not much you can do about it.
Many wedding locations will require down payments when booking a room. Be sure to find out if its refundable or not before handing over your money. This down payment is used to reserve the room for you and often is the starting point for your wedding venue contract.