Wedding Receptions
Emily DBride Online Columnist

Reception Venue FAQs


What does the term “wedding venue” mean? 

The “wedding venue” is the location where the wedding ceremony will be held. If a reception is being planned as well, the term also refers to the place where the reception will be. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of an outdoor wedding? 

Many couples think of outdoor weddings as extremely romantic, celebrating their love and every human’s connection to nature. An outdoor wedding can be every bit of that, but there are pros and cons to consider.

a) A generally less expensive price tag than an indoor wedding venue;
b) Decreased decorating costs due to nature’s lovely backdrop; and
c) The advantages achieved in your wedding photographs through natural light.

a) An outdoor wedding requires extra planning for events beyond the wedding couple’s (or even worse, the wedding planner’s) control such as inclement weather.
b) An outdoor wedding requires extra arrangements to ensure the wedding guests’ comfort. For example, no one is eager to sit through an outdoor afternoon wedding without fans or shade when the temperature is 35° C.

What should I expect from the wedding venue?

At a bare minimum, you should expect the wedding venue to:

1) Reserve facilities for your wedding on the day it is expected to occur;
2) Set up the seating in the venue;
3) Provide your caterer, florist and photographer with the information they need to set up at your wedding;
4) Provide you with adequate time for your wedding rehearsal at the venue as well as for your wedding;
5) Provide you with a written contract setting out the details of your agreement with the venue.

Most wedding venues go far beyond this; the list of services you can purchase from a wedding venue is as varied as the venues themselves. Many venues either offer catering, florists, wedding planners and others services or require you to use their catering, florists, etc.

How far in advance should I select a wedding venue? 

As far in advance as possible. Most wedding planners shudder at the thought of finding a venue with less than six months’ notice; they prefer closer to a year. Extraordinarily popular venues such as the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney may require even more than one year’s notice. But this does depend on your venue, of course- your dream venue is your parent’s living room, for example, very little notice is required.

What is the difference between a “destination wedding” and a “resort wedding”?

In a destination wedding, the entire wedding party and guests travel to an out of town location for the wedding. In addition to this meaning simply holding a wedding in a foreign city or country, away, a ‘destination wedding’ is often understood as a ‘resort wedding’ (as many associate a resort with a non-local holiday). In this case, the resort usually provides the wedding venue and makes all of the arrangements for catering, flowers, seating and staff. While a resort wedding can be easier to arrange than a wedding in your home town, it also creates additional travel costs for you and your guests.

What is a typical payment schedule for a wedding venue? 

You should expect the wedding venue to require a deposit in order to finalize your wedding plans. The deposit can be as low as 20% or as high as 100%. Ask about the venue’s refund policy, if any. After the deposit is paid, the wedding venue will provide you with a timetable for other payments. In most cases, the venue will expect to have the entire bill paid in advance prior to the wedding, with the exception of certain cost overruns, such as fees if the reception lasts longer than expected, or if more food or drink is consumed than expected.

What are some fees I may not think to ask about? 

Parking fees at the wedding venue top the list of fees engaged couples may not remember. Venues may charge a “cake cutting fee” even if you bring your own wedding cakes. Corkage fees can be charged if the couple decides to bring in an outside beverage vendor. The facility may also charge set-up fees and fees for the use of a sound system for the reception and/or wedding.

What is the protocol for accommodating out-of-town guests? 

Negotiate with three hotels at different price points near the wedding venue. Many hotels will provide a discounted rate for your out-of-town guests if enough guests make their reservations in advance.

I want to hold my wedding ceremony in one place, and my reception in another. How do I go about this? 

Choose your wedding venue first and then work on the reception venue. Once you begin looking at reception sites, be sure to tell them where your wedding ceremony will be held, and ask them if they have any experience holding receptions from that ceremony site. It is a good idea to select compatible sites. The ceremony venue and reception venue should be able to host a similar number of people, with similar levels of formality. Consider the distance between the two venues and the ease or difficulty encountered in traveling from one to the other. Consider your guests’ limitations as well. You may need to provide transportation for disabled and elderly guests to the reception site.

What questions do I need to ask at my wedding venue that I might not be aware of? 

1) What are the arrangements for parking at the venue for your guests?

It seems axiomatic that parking should be included as part of the wedding venue package, but often it's not.

2) How many security guards are provided and where will they be stationed?

Ask whether security guards will be provided around parking areas and at the venue itself.

3) What will the venue charge to provide a meal for your vendors?

Don’t forget that your vendors – the DJ, the photographer, the wedding planner and others – need to be fed at your reception. (Trust me – a hungry wedding photographer is not a joy to be around!) Many venues will feed your vendors at a rate lower than your per guest rate.

4) What coat check services are available?

This question is particularly important if you are planning to have a winter wedding. Ask if the venue provides a coat check service or if there is an area you can set one up and have it serviced yourself.

Can someone else handle the finding and booking of the wedding venue besides me or my groom? 

Absolutely! If you don’t have the time or interest, consider hiring a wedding planner. They can be surprisingly cost effective (often it is cheaper overall to have a planner than not), and have the professional experience and eye for detail most of us lack. If you choose to go this route, all you’ll need to do in terms of finding your wedding venue is sign off on completed contracts.

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