Your wedding reception venue is one of the first things you want to figure out after selecting your wedding date.But what exactly should you be looking for in selecting a venue? There are actually a lot of factors you can look at, and it all boils down to what you want and envision for your wedding. Here are some things to consider:
1. Indoor or outdoor?
Our area is known for amazing outdoor views and experiences, and we have no shortage of venues that embrace the great outdoors, whether it is a chic barn, or out in the open air under a tent. However, depending on the season and theme of your wedding, perhaps an indoor location might be preferred. Indoor locations tend to have more included, while outdoor locations might require you to bring in rental items. Some venues have the ability to do both and may allow you to choose at the last minute depending on the weather! If you do go with an outdoor venue, make sure you have a backup plan of some sort in case of bad weather.
2. How many guests?
Small intimate wedding, or big blowout bash? The number of guests you have may help you determine what kind of venue you need. Smaller weddings may be able to be held at a quiet, more intimate venue such as a B&B, a park or garden, or even a large restaurant which may save you money in the long run. If you have a gigantic family and tons of friends, you may want to look into a venue that has a large ballroom or space (and a staff) that can handle a large guest list.
3. Ceremony too?
If your ceremony is not at a church, you may want to consider holding your ceremony and reception in the same location. It cuts down on traveling and trying to manage your guests (and other wedding pros) traveling from one venue to another, but ask the potential venue how the space is used for both - are both events held in the same room, or two separate areas? You may also be able to get a discount or some other perk by holding both events in the same place.
Some venues have in-house catering, whether it is a designated banquet staff, or an in-house restaurant. If this is the case, you will probably be required to use their provided food options. In this case, a sit-down dinner is usually easy, and everything from servers, to tables, to clean up is all included. Other venues don't have a full-time kitchen, so you have to bring in your own caterer. This may allow you more flexibility to customize the type and selection of food you have, but depending on the kitchen facilities of the venue (if any), you might be limited by the type of meals that will be possible and you may have to rent some items to make the meal work. In general, venues in a hotel or a banquet hall will probably have in-house catering, while barns, B&Bs, museums, and other non-traditional venues most likely will allow you to bring in your own caterer.
5. Bartending / Alcohol
Similar to catering, many venues that have in-house catering also most likely have in-house bartenders and fully stocked bars. If your venue does not provide a bartender, you will need to purchase your own alcohol and to serve it, it is very strongly recommended that you hire a professional bartender who is certified, licensed, and insured. It may seem very 'fun and laid back' to have beer and wine sitting open and have guests serve themselves, but if (God forbid), anyone at your wedding is drinking and has an accident of any kind after leaving - the bartender would be held responsible for allowing the guest to be over served. No bartender means you, as the host of the party, would assume all legal and financial responsibility for the accident. Be safe, and make sure if there will be drinking involved, you have professionals, whether it is in-house or hired.
You know the phrase "Party's over - you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here"? Well, that may or may not be true depending on your venue. If your venue is attached to a hotel, that could make it easy to simply stumble straight to your room at the end of the night and if the rest of your guests are also staying in the same place, it makes meeting up the next day pretty easy. However, if your wedding will mostly be attended by people who live locally, they will just go home, so you may not need a venue with lodging attached.
Overall, there are a lot of choices for details with reception venues. It all boils down to what kind of feeling, theme, conveniences, and rules you want for your wedding. Not all venues that fall into a certain category are the same. Never be afraid to ask questions about what is available, and trust your gut if you feel comfortable and confident that the venue can handle what you are looking for. Whatever your decision: indoors or out, intimate or big - you can make your venue the setting of your dreams for your big day.
Still looking for your perfect venue? Check out our Reception Facilities, now with easy at-a-glance stats to more easily help find the perfect venue for you.