(9 Months to 24 Months before the Wedding)
As you begin your search for your wedding reception facility, the word that describes what you are looking for is "wow", the moment that when guests arrive on the scene. Your guests know they are at a special event so it's the biggest day of your life, so you need to create a place that will generate an atmosphere of "one enchanted evening". A place that generates warmth and leaves your guests spellbound with an aura in the air. They are witness to something big, the hunt is on for that "magical place".
As you begin your search, you first need a place to get married which is your ceremony site. The wedding reception facility ideally should be within a fifteen minutes drive from the ceremony site, but no more than a thirty minutes drive or you may lose some of your invited guests. The only exception is if your reception is at a remote estate or mansion or at an upscale hotel or resort. If the drive is more than thirty minutes between the ceremony site and reception facility, you may consider leasing a party bus so you are less likely to lose some of your guests on the trip.
Some reception facilities do have ceremony sites on their premises, so you may investigate the possibilities if it's not a church wedding. Many upscale hotels & resorts, golf clubs, country clubs, museums, banquet halls, estates, mansions, yacht clubs, yachts, and even a few restaurants are set up to handle both a wedding ceremony and wedding reception. Keep in mind, the best reception places get taken early, so if you want a wedding at a highly desired locale, you must book the place far in advance. Some of the exceptional places even get booked two years in advance.
Another option for a reception facility is to have the wedding reception in a wedding tent. Wedding tents nowadays can be made to look very elaborate, you feel and think you are inside of some type of building and can be decorated beautifully with a lot of less restrictions as many reception facilities have. A wedding tent starts off with a blank canvass and with adding tables, chairs, serving tables, and adding a colored linen fabric design and by adding matching hanging fabric drapes and adding updraft colored flood lights and Christmas lights you can create a fabulous atmosphere.
As you begin your search for a wedding reception facility, you want to first identify about 3 to 4 wedding facilities to check out. You can find many wedding reception places from your yellow pages and wedding related websites. Even some wedding vendors will recommend places such as musicians will show where they have performed.
Almost every reception facility has a wedding coordinator who handles the wedding coordination of the venue. Seek out this person, there are many questions to ask and a lot of materials to cover. You want to find a wedding reception facility that can comfortably handle your guest list, a place not to big for your guest count and not too small, you want a place that is comfortably crowded.
One thing about wedding reception facilities, there is no standard fee structures. They all handle fee structures differently, you will need to request an itemized listing of fees. You must ask a ton of questions about everything, including the tables and chairs, about the china, flatware, and glassware, about the linens and what colored linens are available, about do they have an in house caterer and what staff comes with the place? You also need to request if they have brochures on the seating arrangement, do they have photographs of the facility from other weddings?
You will need to check out if they have any bartenders or waitress staff, and who handles cleanup. Do they have any rooms available for the bride and bridal party. Is there a place to take photos? Do they provide decorations and do they utilize a preferred list of musicians or disc jockeys? Is there a coat room and where are the bathrooms located? What are the restrictions of the venue? Is there restrictions on decorating? Is there music restrictions? Is there parking restrictions? Does the facility have to be closed at a specific time? Does the hall provide wedding cakes? Is there a table that is away from a wall that can be used for the wedding cake? (Photographers prefer a table away from the wall when the groom and bride cut the cake).
As you continue your interview with the wedding coordinator you want to try to take a tour of the premises and take photographs, you can do this with a camera phone or if you don't have that make sure you have a camera with you. Picture in your minds eye what the reception hall might look like the day of your wedding.
Note, how the entrance is laid out, is there a buffer from the front door to the reception area, is there a place to show seating upon entering for showing names of guests or a place to place an easel with guest names and table numbers.
Many reception places can provide you with a seating guide and floor plans for their venue to make the seating and table layouts easier for you. You might inquire if they have special wedding packages. Some places will present their wedding packages to you while others show their packages only if they are asked. You want to cover everything you can think of, do they have bartenders and a bartender's station, what about the waitress staff. Can you have a photo booth, a chocolate fountain, an ice sculpture, or a candy buffet? Is there valet service? You want to try to understand everything, your goal is to walk away with a price quote showing all expenses?
Make sure all fees are on the price list, there are no hidden charges, no surprises! You want to be sure you get in all the reception facility interviews done and all material reviewed before making your final decision. Many facilities will push you to commit that they will offer you a discount if you book today only. Their purpose is not to let you escape and commit with somebody else. In all likelihood, if you come back a week or two later, they probably still will honor the discount they offered to you. They want your business and there are many other places you can go to. The places you might have to commit are those exceptional places.
When you are seeking out a reception facility, share your ideas with the wedding coordinator of the facility, what things will you like to do and what limitations are there. Can you decorate the hall with your wedding theme and color? Can you pick up colored fabrics from a wedding supply store or does the reception facility only allow there decorations to be used? Can you bring along a photographer and videographer? Can you bring your own wedding cake? Can you bring musicians and disc jockeys? Can the place handle additional electrical needs and what about a dance floor? What about your own bartenders and liquor? What about the table centerpieces? Review the contract in detail and fully read and understand everything! Ask yourself, can you make the facility "awesome" and "that special place" for your wedding day?
That's all you need to do when you interview and book your wedding reception facility! See you on the other side!
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