Tips on Choosing a Reception Site
Questions to Ask
Okay, the ceremony surely is the most important part because it bonds the union of bride and groom forever, however the reception is often the longest part of the day, the part where Dad may say something that will make you cry, champagne will be served in toasts to you and the man you love, and everyone will rejoice in the lifetime decision you've just made! Here are a few things to think about when looking at your reception site.
The All-Important Details
• What dates does this site have available?
• Cost of site? Payment plan? Deposit required? Cost if reception runs later? Are tips extra?
• How many hours does that include? Will there be another event before or after yours that may affect set-up and take-down time frames? What time would vendors or friends be able to get in to decorate/set-up? Does the site provide clean-up or do you have to hire family and friends to do this?
• How much room is there? You may need extra space for the dj/musicians, the bar, the gift table, the head table...
• Does the site cater the meal or would you have to hire a caterer? If they have a suggested list of caterers, do you have to choose from them or can you choose another? If hiring caterers separately, are there kitchens for them to use?
• Does the site provide a bar & bartender or would you have to get your own? If you have to hire your own, see government regulations/licencing requirements.
• Are there any packages that include site rental, servers, food and drinks? What is the cost? Keep in mind, when packages are quoted, you are usually going to need to know the number of guests and the type of food you could see yourself serving for them to quote appropriately. Quotes often come by way of a 'per person' cost: i.e. $30/person x 100 guests = $3000. Does this include server tips? If not, how much extra for tips? What type of food selections are there?
• Are there additional fees for the alcohol? (corking fees, bartender/liquor license fees)
• If you don't want to have a completely open bar because of the cost to the bride and groom, can you allow two drinks to each guest and make the drink tickets yourself? (you want to avoid the carnival style drink tickets!)
• If you have older or wheelchair-bound guests, you will need the site to have easy access bathrooms (no stairs required) with handicapped stalls.
• Check out the bathrooms - are they clean and
welcoming? You, as a bride, will have likely be using this bathroom too. Can you imagine fitting yourself, your pouffy dress and train into one of these stalls?
Specifics for Receptions Held at Hotels
If your reception site is a hotel...
• Will the site give a discount off the honeymoon suite? (some give a discount, some throw it in for free) View the suite!
• Will your honeymoon suite be available during the day for you to go up and take a breather between the ceremony and reception? If not, is there a room where you can rest your feet?
• If you book a block of rooms for out of town guests, is there a group discount? (With out of town guests, it is the responsibility of the bride and groom to have accommodation recommendations and to try to arrange for a discounted price to make it easier for them to attend)
• What is the check-in time required for guests? Check out time? You will need to provide all of this information to any guests possibly using these rooms.
• Does the site include insurance (in case of guest injury) or do you need to get insurance yourself?
• What are the types of tables used? How many seats per table? Do you have control over this? Cutlery and table décor provided? Are table centrepieces included if you wanted to use them?
• Will the Reception Site Wedding Coordinator be available at the time of the wedding? If not, who will be available in case of problems, changing lighting, turning up the a/c, etc.? Meet them!
• Is a coat check available? If not, where do guests hang coats?
• What is the parking situation? Will guests be able to park easily? Will they have to pay?
• When do you need to decide on this site? Is there a risk of losing the site if you don't leave a deposit today?
• If you had to cancel your booking, what policies does the site have? Do you get your deposit and payments made back? Usually, the earlier the cancellation is made, the more of your deposit and payments made you'll get back.
• Finally, make sure to get all quotes WITH details in writing or by way of a contract! This will need to include details and all base charges, extra charges (for coat check, liquor fees, etc.), tips and taxes.
If this is the first site you've looked at but you're sure you've found the perfect one, see at least TWO others!! Impulse-buying for your reception site is not an option! (You may want to put a deposit if you're in a time-crunch though.)
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