One of the aspects of planning a wedding is locating a good wedding reception location. With a large variety of reception sites to pick from, it can sometimes set your head to spinning. Here are several tips that you can follow to find the best possible wedding reception hall or venue for your celebration.
Start off by choosing at least 3 possible places to hold your reception. Write down the name of the location, address, phone number and directions to the place then call to make an appointment to view each of the venues.When the time comes to visit each location, make sure to bring a digital camera with you so you can take lots of pictures (inside and out) of each venue.
Take pictures of the driveway entrance, the parking areas, and the entrance into the building. Once inside, you'll want pictures of the foyer, coat closet area, bathroom locations, main reception room, door to the kitchen facilities, outside exits, window placements, etc. These photos will be a major help to you later when you're trying to remember "which location had what," as well as with drawing up a floor plan for table seating, etc.
Speaking of floor plans: ask the site manager if they possibly have a copy of the actual floor plan that they could give you. This would certainly help you with your layout (as you'd have the actual room sizes and such). By figuring out the placements of the head table, guest tables, bar, etc. you'll be able to get a better overall view of what the wedding reception location will look like, as well as if it will comfortably accommodate all of your wedding guests.
While at each venue, there are several details that you should pay attention to. Here is a list to take with you so you can make notes as you go along:
1. If you are planning to have the ceremony and reception in one location, will there be enough room to hold all the guests as well as provide room for setting up an area for the actual ceremony?
2. Keeping in-line with a reception/ceremony in one place; is there a separate room where your guests can go after the wedding ceremony to mingle while tables are setup for the dinner and reception?
3. If this is to be just a reception (the ceremony is elsewhere) is there enough space near the entrance for a receiving line to meet and greet the guests?
4. Check to see exactly how many guests the wedding reception location will hold. You should also take into account needed area space for: your head table, guestbook table, gift table, cake table, desert and/or buffet tables, DJ/band setup, and the dance floor. If you're planning on inviting 100 guests and the room only holds 75 comfortably with the furniture included, you should look for a new location.
5. Where is the bar located? Can people easily get to it and move around without crowding nearby dinner tables?
6. Does the venue have adequate cooking faculties to prepare food for the number of guests you are planning to invite?
7. Where are the bathroom facilities located? Are they large enough to hold a few guests at a time or are they single rooms, where only one person can enter at a time? The second option is not a good choice for a large wedding. Can someone with a disability enter them safely?
8. Is there enough parking available at the site itself or will the guests need to park farther down the street? If so, is parking allowed during the time of your reception and will there be enough spaces available? If not, where is the closest available parking located? Do guests have to pay for parking?
9. Does the facility have a cloak room? Will there be enough space for all the coats and jackets? Do they have a person doing a coat check or does each guest need to hang up their own coats? Is the cloak room in a secured, yet viewable area?
10. Does the facility have enough chairs, tables, linens, cutlery, plates, utensils, etc. to accommodate the number of wedding guests?
11. Is there adequate room to set up a head table to accommodate the wedding party?
12. Most importantly, does the wedding reception location you are considering have liability insurance?
Write down the answers to the above questions as you visit each site (remember, you should check out at least 3 venues). Pair up your notes with the digital pictures that you took and then take the time to carefully look everything over. If any further questions come to mind, write them down and give the site a call back. Before booking your final choice, it might be prudent to go back and have a second look around.
Although doing all this may seem like a fair amount of work, it really will help to give you a good perspective on each wedding reception site that you visit. It's better to prepare ahead of time, rather than to arrive and find out that your guests can barely move or that the food service is taking much longer than it should because the kitchen wasn't large enough to properly handle serving the number of people at your reception.
The little bit of extra effort that you put into pre-planning your wedding reception location will result in a much calmer and relaxed reception the day of your wedding.