Wedding Reception Planning Guide
After you choose your wedding reception location, it is easy to visualize your wedding in detail. At that point, all the wedding day details will fall into places, such as color, style, and decor. Aside from just knowing the wedding reception site is right, there are a few things to consider when planning your reception.
Wedding Venue Privacy
It’s YOUR wedding day, and the last thing you want to hear are honking horns, not to mention another bride! Banquet halls and hotels often hold more than one wedding reception at a time. If there are other events going on at the same time in rooms close to yours, you may hear karaoke-loving guests singing their hearts out to the sounds of Madonna through the walls or meet them in the bathroom. If you’re having a daytime event in a public spot, such as a park, beach or botanic garden, be prepared for strangers trek past your party. If privacy is important to you, then a private estate that only serves one wedding party at a time is a good option.
The Right Size Wedding Reception Venue
It sounds obvious (because it is) but be sure the room is large enough to accommodate the number of people on your guest list. Space may look enormous when it’s empty, but wedding essentials — tables, chairs, a buffet, a bar, the band or DJ setup, the dance floor — can take up a lot of space. Not to mention your guests will need some elbow room. Even if you choose an outdoor site, you’ll need ample room on the lawn, in the arboretum, or poolside. The best way to assess the size of a site? Ask to take a peek at the space when another wedding (with an equivalent guest list size) is all set up. Of course, if you decide you must have your wedding at your favorite bar (the one with one bathroom, two booths, and three feet of floor space), you can always work backward and tailor your guest list to match.
Eating, Drinking and Partying Areas
There should be logical places within the space where guests can eat, drink, talk, and dance. Separate areas for dining and reception keeps guests interested as well as provides an opportunity to mingle rather than sitting next to the same five guests all night. When visiting the wedding reception location, try to envision where each activity would happen (especially if your ceremony will be there). If a room is too small to separate into sections accordingly, you will probably feel cramped. If it’s shaped like an S or some other oddball figure, that could compromise your party’s flow, as well.
Wedding Reception Lighting
Light can make — or break — the mood and space. If you’re marrying during the day, make sure your hall has plenty of windows. Who wants to spend six hours in a dark room when the sun is shining? If it’s an evening affair, make sure the room’s not too dim — or that the lighting can be controlled for the big entrance, dinner, and dancing. If you’re marrying outdoors, say, at dusk, will you be able to set up candles if necessary?
Visit the site at the same time of day that you’ve chosen for your wedding. Even if the room looks romantic by candlelight, you may be surprised by the sight of that 20-year-old carpet during the day. You’ll also miss a chance to see how sunlight streams through floor-to-ceiling windows completely transform the room if you only check it out in the evening.
Wedding Reception Venue with a Great View
What will your guests see when they walk into the venue? Whether it’s your city skyline, a stunning vista of rolling green hill beyond the windows, or the crashing sea on the sand behind you, excellent locations with a view are always a plus. If there’s no view per se, look at a place’s decor or architectural details: artwork on the walls, beautiful Persian rugs on the floors, period furniture in the corners, or a fabulous crystal chandelier as the room’s centerpiece all give your reception site that something extra.
The Right Color
If you’re considering a particular theme and color palette for your party — say, a modern lounge-style cocktail party reception done in black and red — those gold cord swag curtains are going to wreck the effect. The site doesn’t have to be done in the exact colors as your planned decorations, but the walls, carpets, chairs, and curtains shouldn’t clash or conflict with your party’s mood or theme. If you want a spring wedding brunch, look for a space that’s done in light (perhaps pastel) colors or florals. For classic elegance, consider a room done in neutrals or black and white.
Be sure to take a thorough cruise around the room to see if it has lots of places to plug things in — especially if you’re partying in a place that’s not a regular spot for hosting weddings. Your main user of outlets will be the entertainment crew. Take note of where the outlets are; if their location will force your DJ to spin records in the bathroom (kidding, but you get the point), make sure she or he has plenty of extension cords.
If the place is too echoey, it could give some weird reverb to the band, and possibly make it difficult for guests to hear one another talking. A tile or wood floor, for example, will amplify sounds, while a thick carpet will tend to muffle them. Check out the room’s sound quality during an event. And tailor your music to the acoustic conditions. A jazz combo will sound better at an intimate art gallery than a 14-piece orchestra would (not to mention the fact that it takes up less floor space).
Plenty of Parking
Make sure the site is near a good parking lot, garage, or big, empty (safe) street where it’s legal to park. If parking is a problem, look for other ways to get everyone to the party. Can a shuttle bus or vans take guests from the ceremony to the reception? Inadequate parking isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but it may mean spending more time and money to figure out a viable vehicular alternative.