Groom Duties

Picking the Venue: A Game of 20 Questions

Your primary role in picking the wedding reception venue will be to stay out of the bride’s way. This is her show. If you’ve always had your heart set on a particular venue–coveting this location for years–click here for more info.

See also: Getting Good Reception – Dos and Don’ts

For the sake of argument, however, let’s say that you’re called into duty and charged with helping bridezilla make a decision. (And, let’s not forget, the venue is going to gobble up a huge chunk of the wedding budget. So maybe you shouldn’t ignore the entire thing.)

Here’s a quick lists of questions that you should ask any potential reception venue:

  • Can you bring your own booze? This will cut costs and ensure you have the selection you want.
  • Do you need to use their caterer?
  • If you can bring your own caterer, do you have to choose from a pre-authorized list?
  • Does their kitchen include whatever resources an outside caterer would need?
  • Any restrictions on noise or sound? (Does the DJ have to stop playing at 8pm)
  • Are there any “hidden costs?” (After the fifth hour, do you go into overtime?)
  • Can they kick you any discounts on nearby hotels?
  • What’s the overall capacity? Can it accommodate all the guests on your list–and the band–with enough space for a dance floor?
  • What’s up with parking? Coat check?
  • When you give a headcount, does that include your staffers?  (photographers, DJ, etc.)
  • If it’s outdoors, what are the contingency plans? (i.e. How will they react to wind, rain, heat, darkness, snow, famine, pestilence, or other signs of the apocalypse?)
  • Is there a place for smokers outside?  (Not a deal-breaker, but something to think about.)
  • Any price breaks for kids?
  • Any room for a nursery, in case you want to banish the children?
  • Are they equipped to avoid bottlenecks? In other words, are there enough of the “3 Bs”: Bathrooms, Bars, and Buffet Stations (if applicable)?
  • Is there a decent dance floor? Remember, this is a party. If you only have a few crowded aisles between the chairs, no one will feel comfortable enough to dance.
  • What, exactly, is included in the wedding package? (i.e. cake cutting junk, champagne toasting, etc.) Make sure you get a complete breakdown of the entire service.
  • Does this include gratuity? If not, how much is expected? For which staffers, specifically?
  • When are payments due? What’s the cancellation policy? Are the deposits refundable?
  • What else, if anything, is going on in the building on the wedding night? (i.e. competing Scientology conference.)

Next up? Two words that you might be unfortunate enough to hear: “Bridal Shower.” Here’s how to dodge it.

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