Your Options Are Diverse
Your options are defined by two basic factors: the size of your guest list and your budget. Local bridal magazines and wedding Web sites like The Knot carry information on typical reception venues in your area, but they only cover a fraction of what's available.
Sallie chose a civic center whose museum-like gallery was the perfect site for her winter wedding. Sallie and her bridesmaids turned the gallery into a fairy-tale setting of silk ficus topiary trees strung with twinkling lights and wrapped with tulle.
When the lights were dimmed and candles were set in rented candelabra on the tables, the gallery became a truly magical setting. The beautiful artwork on the walls contributed to the elegance of the room, and the nearby kitchen was convenient for the caterer.
The chamber of commerce, private estates, and historical societies often have buildings that are available for weddings or receptions.
Country clubs, marinas, museums, private estates, fellowship halls, and art centers are good reception sites. One couple had their reception in the private lounge of the oceanside restaurant where they'd had their first date. In a lounge just big enough for the family and half a dozen wedding guests, they had a great time.
Consider having a reception at home — your home or someone else's. Perhaps a friend or family member has a house with a lovely garden patio or a pool where a reception could be held.
Be considerate if one of your loved ones agrees to host your reception. Preparations and cleanup for the big day can be disruptive, so make sure the host is truly willing to make this sacrifice.
You might think you know your area, but chances are you may not have heard of a dream reception site right around the corner from your ceremony site. Check with your local chamber of commerce or research local or state Web sites and travel bureaus.
For above-average budgets, Disney offers fairy-tale wedding packages at their resorts and on cruises. Some all-inclusive packages will take care of little details for you. Other theme parks and attractions also host wedding couples.