Learning What to Look For
Make a list of the qualities you're looking for in a reception site and prioritize them. Some are non-negotiable; if a site doesn't have space for all your guests, it won't do.
Some characteristics can be more adaptable. For example, you can make any place more romantic or cheerful with the right decorations.
Time Is Money
The day of the week and time of day you hold your reception directly affects the cost. If you plan your reception for mid-afternoon, guests won't expect a big sit-down meal. Picking up the bar tab can be expensive, but you can save money by offering only certain drinks or having the reception in the morning or early afternoon.
Caterers and reception sites often charge a premium for Saturday night weddings. Scheduling your wedding at any other time can mean big savings for you.
No matter the budget you are using — modest, moderate, or luxurious — you can control spending by giving some thought to timing and scheduling during the early stages of planning.
Look It Over
Visit your prospective reception site and pay attention to the details. Walk through the interior and note the table linens and silverware, watch how the wait staff take care of patrons, and check out the restrooms and other amenities.
Most public places and businesses are in compliance with federal disability guidelines, but if you have anyone in your wedding party who would find it a difficult place to gain access to, you might rethink the site.
The time also sets the mood for your wedding. The expectations guests have for refreshments and entertainment at a Saturday night event are different than that for a Sunday afternoon gathering, when you can offer something simpler and less expensive.
What About Food?
Some reception sites have their own caterers, but other sites require you to find your own. Some places will let you bring in your own caterer, but will charge a fee for not using their services.
You may prefer the convenience of an all-in-one package over the responsibility of locating a reliable caterer. Be sure you get information for a variety of scenarios as you do your research.
The answers to questions about food can significantly affect your decision, and certainly affect your budget. Be mindful of time, money, and energy — and of your priorities — as you make your decision.