January 13, 2017
Think saying "I do" is going to be the most emotional moment in your wedding? Probably so, but touring venues for wedding receptions and putting down a deposit on your choice could be a close runner-up.
Reception costs consume almost half the budget for the wedding, which these days means you can expect to lay out almost £13,000 possibly more, including food. Venues for wedding receptions can not only limit your choice of caterers or bakers, it's sure to affect how much you spend to "cover up" its weak spots or accent its highlights. Most stressful of all, the popular venues book far in advance, forcing brides to make the big decision almost as soon as they set the date.
For that reason, the savvy venue-hunters wants to know what questions to ask before they walk in the door, much less sign the contract. Here are a few ideas for when you’re shopping venues for wedding receptions:
- Do you have a pre-set list of caterers I can use, or can I choose my own?
Many high-end venues have their own catering staff and exclusive partnerships, some small-town venues with little competition require you to use the in-house caterers or choose from a small list of "approved" vendors. These vendors will usually provide a taste-test so you can select the food of your choice as well as dessert and drink options.
- Are there any restrictions on decorations?
Many venues have them, but rules vary widely from place to place. Common restrictions include: no open flame (or no flame whatsoever), no tape or tacks on the walls, or no confetti. When linens are provided, some venues will prohibit the use of pins. Ask if the venue can provide any decorations themselves, especially around holidays.
- Can we bring our own liquor, is there a "corkage" fee, and do we need a license?
When searching venues for wedding receptions, consider if you want the liquor to flow freely at your wedding. Many venues prohibit bringing in outside liquor, instead the couple buys from them this is usually do to licensing restrictions. However, many luxury venues will allow your special wine choice for you gala evening meal but will charge a nominal "corkage fee" to serve it -- which typically starts £10 per bottle. You'll want to be crystal-clear on the fine print regarding alcohol before you commit to any venue. As for licensing, many places consider wedding receptions to be an "unlicensed social function," meaning you don't need one as long as you're not charging anyone for the alcohol. But be sure to check your local regulations before moving ahead and ask your venue if they know of any licensing requirements.
- Is there a cake-cutting fee?
Some venues limit your choice of bakers, but most don't. A more common charge is the cake-cutting fee which is often at £1 per slice, per industry standard.
When Shopping Venues for Wedding Receptions Do Your Detective Work
These, of course, are only a few of the questions you'll want to ask a prospective venue coordinator. A few more tips while you're checking shopping venues for wedding receptions:
- Bring a tape measure. Get the dimensions of the room, the tables, and the distance between any features that might impact your decor, like windows. How many outlets are there and where are they located? What kind of climate control is available to you?
- Check the kitchen. Does it look clean, roomy and suitable for your catering staff to work from?
- Check the reception space itself. Where will you put the band, the cake table, the coffee service? Are there coat racks for your guests? Is a sound system available?
- Check out the parking. Is it ample? Is it paved, or can it get muddy in the case of rain? Is there handicap access?
One final thing when shopping venues for wedding receptions, be sure to get clear on before you autograph that contract is your venue's cancellation policy! Hopefully, with these questions in hand and helpful tips, you'll have done enough homework to rest easy in your choice and not worry about having to cancel. Now that you've signed, take some time to sit back and relax ... before you tackle the next task in that thick wedding planner guide book!