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.