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Selecting a Reception Site

There are many different options available for a reception site. Your only limitations will be your budget, the size of your party and planning time! When you are looking for a reception site, think about the major elements that you want and need at the location. No matter what type of reception site you are looking for, start your hunt early. Many locations are booked over a year in advance!

Here are some things you may want to ask about or take note of when you call or visit various reception sites.

Basic Facility Elements
  • Privacy: How many different banquet rooms are at the site? How many events can be held at the site at one time? Does each banquet room have separate entrances, bathrooms and kitchen facilities?
  • Dining Room Capacity: How many people can the facility comfortably seat?
  • Dance Floor: How large is the dance floor? Where is it located within the site? Is there adequate room and electric wiring for a DJ or Band?
  • Air Conditioning/Heat: Does the site have central air for summer weddings? Will there be someone at the location to control the heating/cooling or will you be able to adjust the thermostat yourself?
  • Indoor/Outdoor Areas: Is the site strictly an indoor facility or does it have a patio with a scenic view? Is there a place with easy access for your guests to go outside and get some air?
  • Kitchen/Catering: Does the site have an on-site caterer? If not, is there an adequate kitchen facility on-site available for use by an outside caterer?
  • Bar: Does the site allow alcohol? Is there a bar available for use at the site? Does the site provide beverages or do you supply your own?
  • Wait staff & Bartenders: Is there a wait staff available to serve food, clear tables, cut and serve the cake, etc.? Are there bartenders available? (Be sure to pay all fees and tips of any wait staff or bartenders up front. Don't allow them to accept tips from your guests!)
  • Bathrooms/Coatroom: Are there adequate bathrooms for your number of guests? Where are the bathrooms located at the site? Is there a coatroom? Will there be coatroom or bathroom attendants? (If yes, pay all fees and tips ahead of time. Don't allow them to accept tips from your guests!)
  • Parking: Where do the guests park with respect to the site? Is the parking adequate for your number of guests? Is the parking free? (If not, you should arrange to pay all valet and parking fees ahead of time. You should also tip any parking attendants and tell them not to accept tips from your guests!)
Details, Details, Details
Now that you know the major elements that the site offers be sure to ask about all of the little things, what is included, what can be rented, and what you will have to bring in.
For example...
  • Tables and chairs
  • Table cloths and napkins
  • Dishes, silverware, water goblets and champagne glasses
  • Centerpieces and decorations
A site may seem inexpensive at first, but if you have to rent tables, chairs, dishes, linens, decorations, etc. then these additional costs will quickly jack up the price. Compare the cost and convenience of using an empty banquet hall to a center that supplies everything on site; they may be closer in price than you think after you tally up all the extras.

When renting a site, find out how long the site will be reserved for your reception.
A typical wedding reception lasts anywhere from 4 to 6 hours. Some sites have an hourly rate, but most will have a flat fee to rent the site for the entire night. If you are planning on partying all night long, be sure to ask about closing times.

Note: Many sites may have a restriction on how many hours the bar may be open to comply with their liquor license, so be sure to ask about any time restraints and plan your schedule accordingly.

Find out when you will have access to the site.
Will the site have any events before or after your reception? When can you come to set-up/decorate for the reception, the night before or the morning of the reception? When will your other wedding professionals have access to the site for set-up such as, DJ, caterers, florists, cake deliverers, etc? When will you have to cleanup the site after your reception, the next morning or that night?

Sealing the Deal!!
Once you find the perfect location for your reception, you will need to obtain a written contract specifying all relevant dates, times, and obligations. You should be prepared to put down a deposit to reserve the location. Remember, don't fork over any money until you have a contract!!






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