Although the most important part of a wedding day is obviously the part where the couple exchange their vows, it cannot be denied that such a momentous occasion offers the perfect excuse for a party afterwards. Celebrating your new union with your family and friends completes what should be the perfect day, so finding the perfect place to hold your wedding reception should be a priority when it comes to the planning. Here are some key points to consider.
A major factor to consider is where you want to hold your reception. Will it be at the same place as the ceremony or somewhere different? If the latter, how will your guests get to the reception venue? It’s no good choosing the prettiest, most elegant venue there is, only to have your guests experience huge problems actually getting there. Can they drive and park easily, or is there convenient public transport (bear in mind that people will be dressed in their finery, so won’t want to navigate a complicated journey with multiple bus, train or tube changes). Can you lay on transport from the ceremony venue, or arrange for guests to car share?
Larger wedding reception venues
will have dedicated staff to oversee your reception, and you should feel comfortable with them when you first meet them, and confident that they will deliver what you ask of them. While you don’t want to be a nightmare bride or groom with excessive requests, you should feel able to ask for details that are important to you, such as specific colours or flowers in the room, dietary requirements or options for taking photos on arrival. Your contact should remain in touch with you throughout the planning process, to make sure you have everything you need, and that you are clear about when to pay deposits, confirm final guest numbers etc.
Choose a venue that reflects your own personal style as a couple. Picking an opulent mansion will not work if your tastes are simpler and your style more informal. A church hall or golf club won’t work so well if you see yourself more as ‘the lady of the manor’. You will only know what suits you best by actually visiting a few reception venues and getting a sense of the place and how your reception will fit into it.
This could possibly become a case of ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg?’, as some couples will have their hearts set on a certain venue and so will curtail their guest list accordingly, while others will only go and see places that can cater for their anticipated guest numbers and will refuse to consider anywhere that’s too small. Again, this will be a very personal decision that cannot be made without physically going to the venue and seeing the space that would be allocated to your wedding reception.
Food and drink
Finally, the vast majority of weddings involve feeding the guests, so feeling happy about the food and drink on offer is crucial. Again, numerous options are possible from a full, sit-down ‘silver service’ meal right through to beer and sandwiches prepared by the bride the night before. Discuss with the reception venue what they can offer, and what options they will and will not allow. Some places don’t allow external caterers or suppliers in at all, while others will agree to that, but will charge a corkage fee for any alcohol that is brought in.