Your To-Do List For Receptions

Once you and your fiancé are pronounced husband and wife, you will be ready to celebrate with family and friends. Therefore, it’s important to choose a site that reflects not only the tone of such a momentous occasion, but also the festive demeanor of a joyful affair. To help you during your site selection process, consider the answers to the following questions. They will go a long way in narrowing down your choices until you plan the perfect reception for your big day.

  1. Size does matter. Your first consideration at every possible venue is determining how many guests you can have for your event. This will vary based on type of meal and seating (buffet versus seated dinner), bar setup, music selection (band versus DJ), and dancing choice. If the site cannot accommodate all of your guests, then it’s time to move on to the next possible option.
  1. Consider your vision. When selecting a reception site, make sure it ties into your overall vision for your wedding. A contemporary hall filled with a lot of glass and metal will not complement your elegant, yet traditional wedding theme. Likewise, an antebellum plantation probably won’t fulfill your dream of an edgy, modern wedding day. If you do find a venue you like that doesn’t necessarily adhere to one particular style, talk with the venue’s wedding director to see how you can customize the space to reflect your wedding tone and theme.
  1. Check the purse strings. Just as a venue should adequately accommodate all of your wedding guests, so, too, must a site’s cost adhere to your wedding budget. Be sure to discuss every item included in the fee for the space, as well as any items that would incur an additional charge. For instance, if the site offers a package that includes catering, bar service, linens, a florist and a photographer, you may find that to be more affordable than booking a site and each additional service separately. Also check to see if rates are lower for days other than Saturday as well as for less popular months like January.
  1. Do a sound check. No one enjoys a reception where guests must shout at one another to be heard, or the wedding toast is lost in the cavernous space high above the crowd. Therefore, discuss the acoustics with the site staff to determine how your band will sound, where the head table should be located, and if the heating or air system will impact the noise in the space. Don’t be afraid to do your own sound check by walking through the space and testing the acoustics by talking at varying levels.
  1. Light it up. Wedding venues usually are shown during the day and without the addition of specialty lighting that comes with such special events. While this might not be much of a problem if you want a daytime wedding, it still may not reveal the space in its proper light. Ask the site staff to show you the various lighting available such as dimmers, spotlights and even colored lights. If you plan to have a lot of candles, see if the staff can replicate this look in the space or ask if you can visit during an event with similar lighting to what you want.
  1. Headed to park. Although many sites come with ample parking, many more have limited parking facilities, so make sure there is enough for your guests. If the site offers valet-only parking, find out the cost for this service. Of course, even if the venue has plenty of parking, you may still want to offer valet to your guests. Be sure to discuss the cost and possible staff requirements of this service.
  1. Have a backup. If you choose an outdoor venue for your reception, discuss contingency plans with the site staff in the event of inclement weather. This applies, too, for sites that may face possible weather-related damage like flooding or wind damage due to hurricanes. Will your deposit be refunded? Can the staff help you arrange your event at a similar venue? Knowing your options before you have to know your options could go a long way in easing your mind should you have to make alternate plans.
  1. Be prepared to share. Wedding venues often have more than one event planned during the same weekend or even on the same day. Talk with your wedding planner to determine how other events may affect your own. Will there be children hanging out for the bar mitzvah next door? Do you have to be out at a set time to accommodate the next event? Make sure you will have the privacy and seclusion you want for your special day.