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The Hunt For Your Perfect Wedding Reception Venue

Updated on April 1, 2014

The Hunt For Your Perfect Wedding Reception Venue

Places To Have Your Wedding Reception

Before you think about where to have your wedding reception, you should first find a spot to have your wedding ceremony. You might think of having your wedding ceremony in a church, a wedding chapel, a ceremony site venue, an upscale hotel, it could be at a park, or could even be at a home or a backyard. Once you have identified where you are going to be married, you then can begin the search for a reception venue.

Your wedding reception venue, should be not too far from your ceremony site. Ideally, your reception site should be within a fifteen minute drive from your ceremony location, but definitely not more than a thirty minute drive, if has been found if the drive is more than a thirty minute drive you might lose some wedding guests for the event and the long drive can put some guests in a bad mood for the event.

The exception to this rule is if the venue is at an extra-ordinary location, such as the wedding reception taking place at a remote estate mansion, beach resort, upscale hotel, or an exciting casino. If the reception drive is more than 30 minutes, you might think of using a party bus or trolley for the bridal party, and renting a bus for wedding guests.

When you begin your hunt for a wedding reception venue, you should know the date of your wedding, have an idea of what your wedding reception budget will be, usually you can figure it will be near half of your total wedding budget, and you should have an idea of how many wedding guests you plan to have. You also should have a wedding officiant identified and if you plan on user a wedding planner, that person should be involved in the hunt for your wedding reception too.

You want to find a the best wedding reception venue that will work within your budget. You want to find a venue that fits the right size for the amount of wedding guests you plan to invite. You want to find a place that is 10 to 15 square foot per person, you want your wedding space to be comfortably crowded. If the venue, is too crowded, there is no elbow space and the event tends to get noisy with guests bumping in to each other. If the space is too empty, the atmosphere suffers, something feels missing from a special wedding.

Some ceremony sites you might consider might have reception facilities right on their premises. Some churches might have a banquet facility or all purpose room in which to hold a wedding reception. Many ceremony sites have areas to hold a wedding ceremony and wedding reception. Some venues to check out include upscale hotels, resort type properties, country clubs, golf clubs, upscale banquet halls, museums, science complexes, estate homes and mansions, wineries, yacht clubs, yachts, university campuses, learning centers, and a few upscale restaurants have built a wedding ceremony site right on their grounds. Some of the nicer reception facilities, sometimes must be reserved for a wedding reception space two years in advance.

Another option for your wedding reception, is to find a beautiful spot and pitch a wedding tent in which to hold your wedding reception. Some of the more elaborate wedding tents can really be beautifully designed by using updraft flood lights, other decorative lighting, hanging fabrics, and by using color schemed linens, and providing beautiful place settings with decorative centerpieces. Wedding tents have come a long ways in their design over the last two decades, you can start off with a blank canvas and create a space that is breathtakingly beautiful.

There are many other places in which to hold your wedding reception not far from your ceremony site. Reception venues to check out include banquet halls, restaurants, Knight's of Columbus and other similar type halls such as shriner's club, VFW halls, firehouse halls, women's clubs, dance studios, and ballrooms. Other places to investigate for your wedding reception include roof top venues overlooking a city or view, empty office spaces in tall towers, breweries, spaces in warehouses, facilities in learning centers, bar restaurants, zoo's, aquariums, and you can have your wedding reception in a nice estate home or even in your own or relative's home if you use a little ingenuity.

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How Can You Search For Wedding Reception Venues

When you search for a wedding reception location, you should interview with at least 3 to 4 wedding facilities before deciding on which one to go with. You can find wedding reception facilities using wedding planning apps that you can download to your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. You can find wedding planning apps at the Apple Store, Google Store, or iTunes. One company that offers a wedding planning app is called "Wedding Selections". You can find wedding reception venues using wedding directories online. Some of the wedding directories you might investigate include , , , , , , and .

You can also find reception facilities using a search engine on the internet, input your city or town followed by the type of reception venue mentioned in the wording above. Also talk to family, friends, co-worked, and wedding vendors if they know of a venue to recommend. Often wedding caterers and wedding planners know of nice venues that aren't commonly advertised.. You can also look for wedding reception venues using the Yellow Pages.

Your Interview With Wedding Reception Venues

Before you meet with wedding reception venues, you should plan to visit in person rental services stores and party stores in the area. You want to know what supplies the rental store can offer, your venue you interview could be short on supplies, have inferior products, have better pricing on supplies, or not have supplies, linens or decorations in your color scheme.

When you stop in a few rental stores or party stores in your area, walk through the aisles first to see everything the store has to offer. A store manager might lead you to a certain section of the store and you might only see supplies you were directed to. When you talk to rental store managers, don't say the word "wedding", use the word "party" or "event" instead. Some rental stores have two different price lists, one for weddings and one for parties, the wedding price list often shows the same product at a higher price. Ask the manager for a brochure that provides pricing for rental supplies. If there is no brochure, bring a pad and jot down prices of items you might use for a wedding.

Many wedding reception venues have hired a wedding coordinator or venue manager that oversee's that venue's wedding needs. Often these businesses hire experienced wedding planners. Seek this person out, upon meeting, the coordinator can provide you with a brochure of what food and services the venue provides, how the venue operates, what restrictions they have, and what's included in different wedding packages.

When you start an interview meeting with a venue, the first thing you want to ask, is the venue available on the date of our wedding? Other things you want to ask, what size weddings do they handle, and give a range of pricing you have available to spend on your wedding. Provide your wedding reception budget as the high end of your pricing and give your low end somewhere between 10 to 20 percent less, some reception venues might work with your price range and target an amount at your median amount. If the venue satisfies your initial criteria, it's then worthwhile to continue with an in-depth interview.

When it comes to wedding reception venues, often you will find no standard fee structures. If you interview a number of reception facilities all handle fees differently, some might offer wedding package pricing, other venues will show fees broken down by service. Often prices depend on entrees chosen, some will include pricing for cocktail bar and hors d'oeuvres and appetizers to be served. With a wedding reception venue there are many things to cover. After your interview meeting your goal is to come away with an itemized breakdown of what supplies and services are included and what things are not included. You want to be able to be provided with information to compare different wedding reception venues and what venue offers the best option for the money.

Before making a decision, you should also try to set up an appointment with the chef for a food tasting for entrees and hors d'oeuvres. In your appointment with the venue, you need to review food choices, tables chairs, place settings, buffet tables, how the food will be served whether a sit down event, food stations, or buffet. You also need to decide what dishes are needed for the menu, what china is needed, what flatware is needed, what glassware is needed, how to serve coffee, by wait staff or coffee bar and with what cups and saucers, and what linens and napkins the venue has available to use. After discussing the supplies, you should visually inspect all the supplies to verify their condition and if they meet your color scheme, or if rental supplies might be a better alternative. You also might be able to negotiate a better deal if you find rental supplies less expensive or a better product.

In your discussions with the wedding venue, you also want to talk staffing issues. You want to address kitchen help, wait staff help, and bartender help. Does the reception venue and the catering have enough staff to handle the amount of wedding guests you plan for your wedding event. If the venue needs more staff, sometimes you can save a lot of money finding extra staff yourself. Venues charge a lot for extra staff for events and they pay the employees a lot less than they charge. If you bring your extra staff for a reception event, you often pay a lot less. You can find extra catering help from area hotels, restaurants, catering businesses, and bar restaurants. Make sure you interview any staff you hire for your wedding event.

If the venue allows you to order liquor for the event, there is significant cost savings in ordering your own liquor. Order liquor from area upscale liquor stores, wineries, and breweries. Some reception venues may still charge corkage fees for opening wine and alcohol bottles. Don't forget to discuss bar supplies needed with any bartender you hire.

There are many things to cover with the wedding reception venue. How do they cover decorations, does the venue handle decorating? are you allowed to do your own decorating and can you decorate to a color scheme? Does the venue provide wedding musicians or disc jockeys? are you allowed to bring your own wedding musicians or disc jockeys? do wedding musicians and disc jockeys have to be on the venue's preferred list? Does the venue have photographers or videographers? are you allowed to bring your own photographers? do they have to be on a preferred list?

You need to find out if the venue has any type of restrictions, are there decorating restrictions? can you decorate using flowers? can you bring art work? are candles allowed? are there restrictions on lighting? are pyrotechnics allowed or fireworks allowed outside? are there music restrictions? are music groups only allowed to be a certain size? are only certain types of musicians allowed? are there parking restrictions? does the venue have to be closed by a certain time? and does the venue use valet service?

You need to cover how the venue handles wedding cakes, can you bring your own wedding cake? You need to cover any extras, you might have for your wedding, you might have a help your self salad bar and you might include ice sculptures, candy bar, chocolate fountains, and photo booths. You need to cover providing a pre-dinner cocktail hour, use of a couple's slide show, guest book table, entrance way setup, and place card table.

At your interview with the wedding coordinator or venue manager, you should ask if they can show any pictures of other wedding receptions the venue has, to get a vision how a wedding reception would look at the venue and get some ideas. Also you should ask, are there any rooms for the bride and bridal party members to use and freshen up?

You also should get a walk through tour of the entire venue of areas you would control, the date of the wedding reception including the entrance way, reception areas, kitchen, bars, atriums, hallways, rest rooms, dance areas, coat rooms and any private areas, in which wedding guests can escape to talk to old friend and new friends and escape the music and the noise. When you take the walk through, be sure to bring along a camera or video phone to take shots of areas you would control.

Sometimes, reception venues, can provide a seating template program that can help you out with a floor plan and seating guide to help you out with wedding guest placement. Many wedding reception venues offer wedding reception packages, they may be very varied in pricing, some packages might be more elaborate, fancier meals, higher cost alcohol and wines, and fancier decorations and entertainment. Be sure to share any wedding reception ideas with the venue wedding coordinator or venue manager, to see if they can be done and they might give you ideas too!

There is a lot to cover with wedding coordinators, or venue managers about what the venue can offer for your wedding reception, count on appointments lasting at least a couple of hours. Be sure to go through the contact in detail, anything that was said verbally is also included in the contract. You want everything laid out in a price list, so you can comparison shop with other wedding reception venues.

Please note, some reception venues might try to get you to commit on the spot, they may offer you a discount, but the discount is only good for today, many venues try to lock you in so you don't commit with someone else, just to note, this is a sales tactic. If you reconnect with the venue in a week or two, the likelihood the offer would still stand. Remember until you sign the contract you have the upper hand, there are many other reception venues that would love to work your wedding. Try to set up interviews with wedding reception facilities within a week to 10 days of each other. Let the other reception venues know once you have decided on which one to go with, so venues don't lose another wedding keeping your slot open.

Wedding Receptions in Vacant Banquet Halls

Often you can great yourself a great deal by having your wedding reception in a vacant banquet hall, dance studio, empty ballroom, and even an empty warehouse. With furniture, supplies, and decorations you can transform the place into a beautiful reception space, sometimes looking more fabulous than other reception venues. Before you get serious about signing a contract, make sure you have found a rental services company in which to get supplies, tables, chairs, and decorations from and you have found a good mobile caterer.

For any banquet venues, calculate the amount of people it can hold, figure 10 to 15 square foot per person. In your mind's eye you need to envision your wedding space. You need areas in which your wedding guests can eat, drink, talk, and dance. Think of how seats can be arranged using round or rectangle tables and with all wedding guests being seated with a good view of the bridal head table.

To decorate a vacant space, sometimes you will need to match to inherent decorations of the venue architecture, such as rustic wood architecture, or marble. If inherent decorations are not prevalent, you can decorate to a color scheme. If the venue features high ceilings, you can decorate with hanging fabrics, hang crystals or lanterns, use a netting of lights. With a high ceilings, you can decorate using tower vases as centerpieces, inserting flower arrangements, greenery, pin lights, or fill with colored water beads.

You might check out the floor, to see if it's in good condition. You can rent a wedding tent type carpet or use astroturf, or rent heavy duty portable floor tiles. Don't forget to create a dance floor space, the dance floor can be composed of laminate floor tile, parquet floor tiles or a wooden dance floor. Often disc jockeys have access to dance floors.

You have a number of options to decorate blank or ugly walls. You can hang colored drapes and on the back side display pin lights. You can display photos of the couple on the walls, show old photos of wedding guests on the wall, create the new family tree on the wall, hang mirrors, or hang artist's paintings, you can show artwork paintings for sale. You can show home movies or show a slide show of the wedding couple. Also create updraft lighting to a color scheme, for an enchanting effect.

For the tables and chairs in your wedding reception, decorate using linens, napkins, chair covers, ribbons, and balloons to a color scheme. Decorate around the place with pillars, vases, flowers, plants, candles, or use vases and bowls filled with color water beads. Swag linens under tables or use decorate under tables or behind curtains with pin lights.

Make sure there is ample outlets for lighting, musicians and catering needs. Make sure the musicians or disc jockeys have a good location next to the dance floor. Make sure you lay out a good walk through flow, lanes are created for guests to get in and out of their chairs and the floor plan has a good flow for wait staff. Be sure, the wedding cake is away from a high traffic area away from the dance floor, a good location for buffet tables and the wedding gift table.

Stand at the entrance way and make sure the first glimpse of the wedding reception has an impressive beautiful view, strategically place decorations so the entrance way looks stunning. Don't forget to show seating cards somewhere near the entrance, either have seating place cards arranged alphabetically in rows, or in a circle or in rows or on a clothes pin line on the wall.

Don't forget to spiffy up the restrooms. Decorate the sink space either with mini centerpieces, sweet smelling flowers on pillars or vases, provide decorative soaps, scented candles, leave monogrammed hand towels for a nice touch. Also make sure you understand the parking situation and determine if you may need valet service at the venue.

Go through the contract in detail and bring along a relative or friends as a second pair of eyes to review the contact for the vacant banquet hall.

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Wedding Receptions in Your Home or Relative's House

Wedding receptions in one's home or at a relative's house are a common occurrence, with many beautiful homes these days, some couple's love to show off their place, homes are personable, a place to get really comfortable, and is often a cost savings over having wedding receptions at other venues.

A week or two before the wedding, thoroughly clean the home, hire a cleaning service if there are spots that needs deep cleaning and review what needs to have heavy focus with the cleaning company. Also manicure the yard, and mow the lawn about mid week before the wedding.

Determine how you will cater the home wedding reception. You can hire a caterer to do catering in your home, hire a catering company to drop off food, hire a barbecue style caterer, or have family and friends do the catering. Home wedding receptions, often serve food using buffet tables, usually a hot station or cold station. Have a buffet station each for 50 to 60 wedding guests or you may create a long waiting line for food, try to keep the lines short, to insure wedding guests remain happy.

If you have a number of wedding guests, you might want to convert some areas of your home into table reception areas. You might remove living room, family room furniture and put the furniture temporarily into the garage, basement, storage shed, or neighbor's house. Use the space for reception table seating.

If family or friends will cater the home wedding reception, first draw up a menu and foods you will serve for the wedding reception. Identify a listing of foods by category. Categories of foods you might include your meats, dairies, produce, hors d'oeuvres and appetizers, soda and coffee beverages, alcohol, and other. When you create your list, also create a list of vessels to serve the foods in, check which vessels you have available in home and vessels that will need to be purchased.

Create a meal preparation schedule of when foods should be prepared. A recommended schedule is to prepare a menu the week before the wedding, special foods, prepare the foods a few weeks in advance for special ordering. Early, the week of the wedding pick up foods and cooking vessels and preparation tools. Mid week make your dips, sauces, simple hors d'oeuvres, any simple desserts and prepare vegetable dishes. The day or two before the wedding is your meat preparation, the morning of your wedding prepare your delicate items. Lay out a preparation schedule of all the foods to be served for the wedding. Make sure the plan includes where the foods are to be stored. Possibly use a close neighbor for some food storage or rent some type of cooling device to keep the food.

Don't forget to utilize a rental company for tables, chairs, linens, china, silverware, glassware, and pots and pens, serving vessels, and preparation tools. Consider extra extension cords or electrical outlets for caterers, lighting, or music. If you should decide to use plastic plates or glasses instead of serving food on china, use the more upscale plastic plates and drinking glasses that look close to real china. Paper plates and paper cups are too chincey for even a home wedding reception

Consider what drinks to serve for your home wedding reception. You have many more options available than you would have at many other reception venues. If you have a bar you could serve regular alcoholic drinks, you can use a keg of beer, but make sure the beer is kept at the proper temperature. You can serve box canters of wine, or you could serve beer and wine coolers along with soda in ice cold metal barrels. Serve beer in bottles rather than cans for a wedding event. You can serve signature drinks, create a few drinks and serve to a color scheme. Make signature drinks from a few different alcohol bases, such as a rum, vodka, and whiskey, etc. You might provide champagne, create an alcoholic punch, non alcoholic for minors, or offer a champagne fountain.

Decorate your reception tables as you would at a wedding reception venue. Decorate your tables using a color scheme or using a white color, don't go too elaborate for a home wedding reception. Decorate the home using flowers, greenery, colored fabrics, fancy vases, pillars, silk flowers, hurricane and votive candles. For a bare wall cover using a hanging fabric, a family photo, or an art piece.

If you have a nice yard, consider outdoor activities. Consider croquet, badminton, volleyball, basketball, bocce ball, disc golf, or horse shoes. If you have a gaming recreation room, set up a pool table, table tennis, darts, or set up an online gaming system.

You might consider evening entertainment after the formal wedding reception, have a beer tasting, wine and cheese tasting, have a poker night, or casino night. You might hire a disc jockey for dancing or hire a pianist, violinist, guitarist, flutist, or bagpiper for night entertainment. If you have a pool, there are dance floors that fit over pools that you can rent.

For your wedding reception, fancy up your bathrooms. Use decorative soaps, scented candles, fancy hand lotion and monogrammed hand towels. Close doors and mark private for rooms you don't want guests to access. If there are any guests you don't know so well, coming to the reception, you might invest in security cameras to watch over locations in the home.

For a home wedding reception let the neighbors know about the wedding event you are having, so they understand why strange cars are seen or parked in the neighborhood. Invite them to the event for a bit at a specified hour, you want them happy so they don't call a cop to the neighborhood. If needed, hire valets and find a place nearby to park such as schools, churches, or hotels.


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