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How to chose a wedding reception venue

by Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

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?

Before choosing…

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, too
  • 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 located.
  • 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 better
  • 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.

Finding venues…

You can find potential venues in a number of ways, such as:

  • Driving around the area you like and see what you spot
  • Using the Yellow Pages or internet to look up ‘wedding venues’, ‘reception centres’, ‘restaurants’ and ‘function centres’
  • Ask friends and family for suggestions and recommendations
  • Revisit places you have attended functions in the past
  • 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 drinks yourself?
  • Is there a separate room for the bridal party?
  • Will you have to share the venue with another function?
  • Are they comfortable with children attending your wedding?
  • How flexible are they with the arrangement of tables?
  • Do they supply flowers around the room? How about table centrepieces? If so, can you have any say in these details?
  • 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 residential area?

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 venue quickly.

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.

This article is available for free use on your web site or in your newsletter.

It must be acknowledged as written by Tash Hughes of www.wordconstructions.com.au and copyright remains the property of Tash Hughes.

Please notify us of your use of this article or to request information on commissioned articles.


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