Choosing a Wedding Reception Venue

The wedding reception is the first time you formally receive your relatives and friends as a married couple. Properly planned, it becomes one of the most joyous parties you and your groom will ever host.

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It can be as simple and demure as champagne and hors d'oeuvres, or encompass an elegant five-course dinner and dance.

Selecting the reception location really depends on how many guests you are inviting. Your reception can be staged nearly anywhere: a formal reception centre, bowls and other sports clubs, a local hall, a beautiful hotel, a restaurant, etc. If you're being married in a season where the weather is conducive to being outside, there may be a lovely garden or arboretum available. Remember May - October is always a risk in Ballarat for an outside based reception.

Whatever you decide, know that the services of a professional banquet facility or caterer can greatly enhance and expedite the planning of your reception.

Once you've decided the setting you would prefer, the estimated number of guests and your financial resources, you're ready to begin interviewing for reception sites and caterers.

Remember the following:

  • Never pick your location (or Caterer) out by just calling on the phone for information. Most rental sites will tell you what you want to hear.
    You need to see the place for yourself.

  • Never pick you location by price alone. Some locations might seem pricey
    and some might seem cheap.  Most times you get what you pay for. 
    If a location quotes a lower price it might be because it isn't in a good
    location, doesn't have tables, chairs, dance floor, kitchen or ample parking
    or bathrooms.  Maybe the price quoted is only for the room or house and
    doesn't include anything else including the setting up or cleaning up.
  • In many cases, club and hall venues especially, you will have to put in a full days work before and after the wedding to get the place the way it needs to be for the reception. This is where the relations and friends will gladly assist to get the venue the way you like.
  • Most caterers do not bring their own tables for the food and expect the tables they need to be there, setup and ready to go.  They usually give themselves enough time to do what they have been hired to do and have no time to set up 150 chairs and 16 tables for your guest. Check whether they supply the cloths for your rental tables.

Reception Venue Checklist 

1. Does the venue supply tables, linens, chairs, and dance floor?

2. Does the place look great already or do you have to bring in a lot of decorations to make it look the way you want?

3. Do they setup and clean up the area you are renting?

4. Can you bring in your own alcohol or do you have to buy it from them?

5. Can the venue seat the required number of people and still have room to walk, dance or mingle. Consider grouping furniture to stimulate conversation without obstructing traffic flow.

6. How is their kitchen?   Is the kitchen suitably equipped to handle the number of guest?

7.Can you bring in your own caterer?

8. If your reception is outside and it rains or its cold, is there somewhere for the guests to go? Can everyone go to one place and still be together. 

9. When they say they can hold 150 people does that mean inside or does it mean using porches and lawns. 

10. If your planning a bar ask how many bathrooms does it offer. 

11. If you have to use their caterer ask if this firm has references, pictures, insurance, and how long have they been in business. You need to deal with people that have a track record. 

And finally - Reserve your reception facility well in advance and promptly pay any necessary deposit.

Visit the reception site and design a suitable layout. Remember there should always be one table designated for the wedding party and one table for the parents. Seating arrangements at the bride's table are as follows: bridal couple in the center, maid of honor at the groom's left, best man at the bride's right. Seat the other attendants, alternating men and women, as space provides.
This is going to be one of the biggest days in your life and it should also be the most stress free one that you can possibly make it. Make your choices wisely and make your big day fun for everyone.   


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