How to chose a
wedding reception venue
by Tash Hughes of
Once you start planning a wedding, you soon realise that
the venue is a critical step in the process. The venue
can set the date and the style of the whole occasion.
Having booked a venue, you will then know what else
needs to be done – for instance, some places need you to
find floral arrangements, drinks or waiting staff but
others don’t. Knowing the venue will establish what else
you do, or don’t, need to do.
Of course, you could have the reception at home, your
home or someone else’s, but for now let’s assume you
want to hold the reception somewhere else.
So how do you choose a venue?
There are a few things worth deciding on before you
select the actual venue for your wedding. There will
probably be a number of venues that you like and knowing
the following details beforehand may make it easier to
choose between venues you like.
So, try answering the following questions before you
start looking at venues…
- How many people are you planning to invite? You can
write two lists – the ‘must invites’ and the ‘would
love to invites’ to get two different numbers
- What is your budget for the reception? Many venues
will charge per head so divide your budget by how
many people are expected
- Do you want a band or DJ? You will need a venue big
enough and need to allow for this in your budget,
- Do you like formal or casual?
- Are you inviting people with any physical
restrictions? Getting a few wheelchairs up stairs
isn’t going to be easy…
- How long do you want between the service and the
reception? This can limit where your venue is
- What time of day, which day of the week and which
month are you getting married?
- Do you need space for any cultural or traditional
activities? For instance,
smashing plates, pinning money to a bride, a bridal
waltz, separating men and women, raising the bride
and groom during dances and tossing a bouquet
require some space
- How big is your bridal party? How many people will
be sitting at the head table?
- What sort of food do you like? Are you willing to
move away form traditional wedding foods?
- Do you have a lot of people who will be hard to seat
together? If so, maybe a stand up affair will suit
- Do you like modern or heritage environments?
Remember this will form the backdrop for photos,
too. YOU may decide to do something completely
different like go on a boat, a tram or a plane! This
is definitely one to discuss with your spouse-to-be
so you find something you both like.
You can find potential venues in a number of ways, such
- Driving around the area you like and see what you
- Using the Yellow Pages or internet to look up
‘wedding venues’, ‘reception centres’, ‘restaurants’
and ‘function centres’
- Ask friends and family for suggestions and
- Revisit places you have attended functions in the
- Asking any service providers you may already have,
such as a florist or photographer
- Go to bridal expos, especially as many are in
reception venues so you can check out the place as
you attend the expo
Choosing the venue…
Once you have found some potential venues, you need to
look into them in greater detail.
Having already made some decisions (e.g. budget, size of
room), you won’t have to spend any time on completely
unsuitable venues. And will be able to cross out others
as you learn more.
To save time, it is often worth calling the venues first
to find out the basic information and then making an
appointment to view the venue in person. For instance,
you can ask if they have a dance floor and cross them
from the list if they don’t have one.
When speaking to and visiting the venue, make sure you
feel comfortable with the staff; if the staff don’t show
much interest in you or your wants, then you will have
to wonder how they will treat you on the day.
As well as making sure they meet your criteria set
earlier, consider the following questions…
- Does their price include drinks? Can you supply the
- Is there a separate room for the bridal party?
- Will you have to share the venue with another
- Are they comfortable with children attending your
- How flexible are they with the arrangement of
- Do they supply flowers around the room? How about
table centrepieces? If so, can you have any say in
- Will the room feel cramped with the number of guests
you have chosen? The venue may fit 100, but only if
half of them can’t get out of their seats all night…
- Will there be enough parking?
- Will the reception have to end early because of the
You may end up with a few venues to choose from, or you
may find these questions leave you with the perfect
venue for your wedding.
If you are still trying to select the right place, you
might find checklist to be helpful. That is, write out
the things you consider essential and then those you’d
like and tick them off for each venue. Include the feel
of the place as an essential and only tick it if you
were really happy with the way staff treated you. The
venue with the most ticks is probably the one you want.
- For a final decision between venues you can’t decide
between, compare the following details:
- Which is available on the better date?
- Which is less expensive?
- Does one offer any special features or deals?
- Does one offer space for pre-dinner drinks or even
to have the ceremony itself?
It may seem like a lot of work to choose the right
venue, and it can be. But many couples find that making
some decisions beforehand makes it much easier to find a
Whichever venue you choose, make the most of it and have
a fantastic wedding!
Tash Hughes is
a professional writer and an incurable romantic! In
between romantic gestures, she runs
Word Constructions so she can
solve writing problems for all business people. Tash
regularly writers, letters, webcopy, media releases,
articles, newsletters and marketing documents.