Choosing The Perfect Wedding Reception Venue
We already talked about choosing the perfect wedding ceremony venue, and now we are going to talk about the reception. Typical ceremonies last anywhere from 20-60 minutes, whereas most receptions can run over 6 hours! This makes it paramount to choose the perfect wedding reception venue for your big day.
Below, we will talk about a number of factors couples should consider when picking reception venues.
Much the same as for ceremony venues, you want to make sure that the reception venue can hold all of your guests comfortably. Typically speaking, more guests will show up to the reception than to the ceremony, so make sure you get your numbers well in advance. We always advise to book a venue that has a maximum capacity 5-10% larger than your expected guest count.
Nobody likes bumping chairs with other guests every time they try to stand up. Nor do they like having to move tables out of the way to make room for a dance floor. Don’t get carried away and book a reception hall for 500 people when you are only going to have 200 guests, but ensure there is lots of walking around room. This is especially true if you are having children at your reception. Children will run around. A lot. Make sure there is ample room for them.
We photograph a lot of our weddings in Alberta during the summer. Most of our winter weddings are destination weddings to Mexico, Jamaica or Costa Rica. Having an outdoor reception in the Caribbean is a lot easier than having one in Alberta, and most of our local weddings have indoor receptions. We will not deal with outdoor wedding receptions here, we will assume that it will be indoors.
With that in mind, you should ask yourself a few questions. Are your guests going to have to travel far from your ceremony location to your reception location? We have weddings where the ceremony and reception location are over an hour apart! That can make it very difficult for your guests, especially older ones or ones from out of town, to make it to the reception on time. Just because your limo driver knows all the shortcuts, doesn’t mean Grandma Joan does!
Parking is another key factor to consider when booking your wedding reception venue. Does the venue have enough parking for all your guests? Is it easily accessible by public transit for those who may want to drink but not drive? Are there taxi services available?
What kind of a feel do you want your reception to have? Fun? Romantic? Dramatic? There is a big difference between booking a community hall and booking an actual wedding reception venue. Yes, you may be able to add decorations and lighting to a community hall, but that may not be enough to hide gross plaster walls, hideous fluorescent lighting, and stain covered chairs. Typically speaking, you get what you pay for. If you are on a tight budget and cannot afford anything but a community hall, then you have to work with what you have. If you have a more flexible budget, definitely do not skimp on your wedding reception venue!
Professional decor and lighting can make a huge difference on the atmosphere of your wedding. This again is something you do not want to skimp on. It is very time consuming to handle it yourself and often can be just as expensive as a professional company to rent or buy linens and other decor.
Some venues allow outside caterers, while others do not. Make sure you check with them if you can bring your own caterer in! If you cannot, make sure you test their food – ideally not in a private taste testing where the chef has all afternoon to prepare for you – but see if you can access the venue at another time and try their food. Look for reviews and ask around – food is something you definitely do not want to have any problems with.
Check with your venue about extra costs. Many venues lure couples in with cheap rental costs, but then add on a tonne of other costs. We have had many couples frustrated with poor communication and added costs from their venue. Things to look out for are:
Cake cutting costs – Some venues will charge $50-$200 to cut and distribute your cake!
Microphone/PA costs – Are you bring in a DJ? Do they have the necessary equipment? Is your venue going to include the PA system?
Corkage costs – This one can be huge. If you are serving alcohol at your wedding, make sure you know exactly how much you will be charged if you bring in your own, or if you use the venue.
Slideshow – Are you having a slideshow? Are you going to bring your own projector and screen?
Your wedding reception venue is likely going to the place where you spend the most time on your wedding day. Ensure you chose the best one that fits with your wedding!