Wedding Receptions: Location, Location, Location
Aside from a passion the bride and groom share for each other, often one or the other (or both) will share an occupation or hobby (or even a fantasy) that symbolizes their lifestyle. These have influenced more than one wedding theme or venue.
Regardless, here is where you can have fun letting your imagination run rampant, even if practicality might eventually dictate a slightly more conventional venue.
Leaving aside the obvious “home garden” venue if you have family or friends with a bit of land, here is a list of the traditional, the unusual and the far-out:
• Church or synagogue halls or lawns (it does not have to be the house of worship you belong to)
• Banquet facilities (restaurants, fraternal lodges, country clubs, etc.)
• Hotel ballrooms or penthouse suites
• The grounds of historic or stately homes, mansions or plantations
• Arboretums or botanical parks
• Lakeside pavilions or boathouses
• National or state parks
• Yachts, cruise boats, marinas, historic cruise ships/battleships, wharves or docks
• Observatories, museums, private libraries or galleries
• Country inns or B&Bs
• Condominium party rooms, lobbies of apartment or office buildings
• Discos, night clubs, lofts or warehouses where raves are held
• Orchards, vineyards or wineries
• Sports arenas, football or baseball fields, skating rinks
• Islands or lighthouses
• Airports, airfields, airplane hangars, air and space museums
• Ranches or racetracks
• Mountain or seaside resorts, cable car stations
• Historic taverns or hostelries, village greens
• Memorials or missions
• Yoga retreat centers or health spas
• Aquariums or zoos
• Homes or buildings of architectural significance
• Train stations or transportation museums/displays
• Windmills, water mills
• Houseboats, canal barges
OK, let’s say you’ve narrowed down your choices. How do you go about finding them and checking them out?
If you don’t know the name to look under in the yellow or white pages of the phone book, your local librarian will likely be able to guide you. The chamber of commerce maintains a list of business-oriented firms and organizations likely to rent out their facilities. Your state tourism bureau can advise you of interesting sites and attractions. A web search can direct you to relevant home pages on the Internet.
Like any kind of networking, ask questions of friends and people you meet. Everyone loves to help a bride, and people love to recall their own happy wedding experiences. In particular, ask for suggestions from the vendors you are considering hiring: caterers, florists, photographers, musicians, etc.
If you like researching, check old editions of the newspaper for accounts of weddings that might describe the venue. If you prefer to cut to the chase, call the society editor of the paper and ask for personal recommendations.
Does Something Have to Give?
Remember, there is more to the perfect reception than the ideal venue. All the elements have to mesh together. Ask yourself, and your vendors, the following questions:
• Can this venue accommodate all the invited guests?
• Does the caterer have the facilities needed to serve all the food on the menu?
• Are alcoholic beverages allowed?
• Are there any noise restrictions to contend with?
• Are there curfew hours?
• Are there ample electrical outlets for all who need them? (microphones, musicians, etc.)
• Is there sufficient parking?
• Is there room for dancing (or level ground, if outside)?
• If outside, is there protection from rain/shade from hot sun?
• Is the light OK for the photographer? (Get the photographer’s opinion as well!)
• Are the acoustics right for your music provider(s)?
• Is there enough privacy from outsiders for your affair?
• Are you vulnerable to insects, like mosquitoes?
• Can my florist/photographer have access to the venue before the reception starts?
As with every aspect of your reception, establish your priorities. If an outside venue is your choice, you may have to make adjustments to your menu (hot/cold food) or arrange for live music instead of a DJ. If budgetary considerations are important, make sure not only that your venue is affordable in and of itself, but that it does not drive up any of your vendors’ costs, either.