Wedding Planning IV: The Reception

The most important and expensive stage of planning a wedding is not ordering the dress, choosing the wedding bands or booking the photographer – it’s selecting the reception venue. When you pick your venue, you’re not only choosing a location, you are choosing the chef/caterer, co-ordinators, and theme that come with the venue. It’s a grand decision, and it’s going to consume the largest portion of your budget.

Seeing as how this is the most important decision to be made regarding the planning of your wedding day, you can expect to be asked more questions about your wedding than you ever have before. The first question you will be asked when viewing a potential reception venue, and a question you must have an answer for is; how many guests will you be inviting? This number will narrow your options of the rooms they have available, depending on the maximum or minimum capacities they have set for each room.

Another number the two of you should have worked out before you sit down with the reception venue co-ordinator is how much money you would like to spend per guest, in total. This number can include the hor d’oeuvres, meal, dessert, drinks – both alcoholic and not and midnight buffet/snack. You will also be asked what kind of bar you want to have. Options range from a fully open or host bar, where you pick up the bill for everyone, to a fully cash bar, where everyone pays for themselves, or any option betwixt. You will be interrogated about your cake. Where it is coming from, when it will be delivered, where you want it placed in the room, how you want it to show in pictures,  how you want it served, when you want it served. These people think ‘wedding’ at least four hours a day, five days a week, for years on end. Cake is serious business.

Cake is serious business
Smiling Cake Dog – Maureen Ravelo/Rex USA

The questions they will be just dying to ask you are; what time will your guests arrive? What time will you and your wedding party arrive? What time do you want drinks to be served? What time do you want the meal to be served? What time do you want to cut the cake? What time do you want the dancing to commence? If you don’t have the answers to these questions, these people are experts and will be able to tell you what time everything should be.

Now comes either the fun part, or the bane of your existence, depending how you feel about wedding décor. I was asked what my colours were and then just let the co-ordinator go to town with his thoughts and ideas. You will be questioned about linens, napkins, backdrops, centrepieces, place cards, bombonieres/favours, seating plans, floor plans, head table arrangements and whether you want wine bottles on the tables. Not all of these questions need to be answered at this phase of planning, but it will certainly help if you have a general idea of what you would like.

Other things you will be asked are; Do you plan to have dancing? Are you having a D.J.? Do you need a podium and microphone for speeches? You will need you discus a rain plan if your venue is outdoors or open to the outdoors in any sort of way.

There are also questions that you should ask if the co-ordinator doesn’t bring them up. These include, parking arrangements, music restrictions, alcohol restrictions, handicap accessibility, payment options, children’s meals, where the washrooms are and for outdoor venues, you should ask about wildlife concerns. For example, it came up while my fiancé and I were viewing our reception venue, that in the past they have had visits from racoons, but that it is nothing to worry about.

Selecting your reception venue is an enormous undertaking, giving you lots to think about in preparation for your first consultation and even more to think about afterwards. Though it can seem stressful and overwhelming to complete, this is when the excitement really starts to climb.