No two reception locations are exactly alike. They vary in size, formality, and the services provided. At some locations, you rent an empty room and you have to transform it into a beautiful site. Other facilities provide everything that you need for your reception. Most facilities fall somewhere in between.

Before visiting locations, first determine about how many guests you will invite to your wedding, whether you want everything indoors, everything outdoors, or a combination of the two, perhaps an indoor ceremony and an outdoor reception. The following questions will help you to compare reception centers and be certain that you are getting just what you need for your event.

What rooms are available? How big are they, and what is the maximum number of guests each room can accommodate? What is the configuration of the rooms? Generally, a large square or rectangular open room is more useable than an L-shaped one or a room with pillars throughout.
What is the fee to rent the room and how many hours are included?
What is the deposit? Is it refundable if you change your mind? What is the cancellation policy? Is there an additional fee for security or cleaning?
Is overtime use allowed, and if so, what is the charge?
What is included in the room rental, such as tables, chairs, linens, china, glassware, and flatware? Who does the set-up and clean-up, you or the facility?
Are any additional fees charged, such as a fee to cut the wedding cake, for a dance floor, or to use a sound system?
Are there certain days of the week or times of the day when the price is discounted? Many facilities charge less on Sunday, which is usually the slowest day of the week.
Can the site be used for both the ceremony and reception? If so, must both events occur in the same room or can two rooms or an outside area be used?
Will other events be occurring in nearby rooms? If so, will the sound carry from the other room?
Will another event be booked in the room or church before yours or after yours? If so, you may be limited on the amount of time that you have for your ceremony or reception.
Can you use your own caterer or is there an in-house caterer whose services must be used?
Can you bring in your own wedding cake? How about mints, nuts, and similar items.
Are there restrictions on the type of music that can be played, the length of time it may be played, or the volume? How about music played outdoors?
Is there a piano or an organ available for the ceremony? If so, is there a charge to use it? Can you choose the organist or pianist, or must you hire the person recommended by the church or facility?
Are there restrictions on photography or videotaping?
Are dressing rooms available for the bride, groom, and attendants? Is there an additional charge for them? Can they be locked when no one is around?
Does the facility have a liquor permit or a beer and wine permit? Are there restrictions on the type of alcohol that can be served? Do they provide a bartender, and if so, how is he/she paid?
Are beer kegs allowed? Is there a corkage fee for wine or champagne? What is the cost per drink?
Can you provide your own alcohol?
If you are doing your own catering, is an adequate kitchen available? What dishes/pots/pans/cutlery are available for your use? How about coffee pots and punch bowls? Is there an ice machine, and if so, is there a charge for ice?
Is a dance floor available? If so, is there an additional charge to use it?
Are plenty of electrical outlets available? This is particularly important at outdoor locations.
Do they provide a microphone, a cordless mike, or a lapel mike for the ceremony or do you need to rent them?
If the reception will be held outside, is there adequate lighting after dark, if needed?
When is the lawn mowed and watered? Will it be too wet or muddy? Freshly mowed grass can stain the wedding gown and people’s shoes. What about sprinkler systems?
If the event will be held outdoors, ask about bugs. Are they a problem? What kind are they – bees, flies, gnats? What will be done to reduce or eliminate the problem?
Are adequate restroom facilities available? Are handicapped restrooms available?
Is liability insurance, including liquor liability, included in the rental fee or must you, the renter, provide your own policy?
Is there a coat rack available for winter events? Is it located in a secure area? Can a coat rack be placed inside the room that you are renting?
Is adequate on-site parking available? Is there a charge for it?
If the ceremony or reception will be held outdoors, can the area be tented in case of bad weather, including heat? Can stakes be driven into the ground?
If an outdoor location is chosen, is an alternate location available in the event of bad weather, including heat in the summer?
If the reception will be held at a private home or facility, do neighbors, police, or security companies need to be notified?
If the site is associated with a private home, do they have a conditional use permit to operate the facility? (If they are operating without one, they could be out of business before your wedding.)
Is a cleaning deposit charged? If so, what services are taken from it, such as a dishwashing fee? Is any portion of it refundable, and if so, how soon after the event will it be returned?
Who will clean up? Will the facility’s employees do it, or must you do your own cleaning?
Are there restrictions on the type of decorations that can be used and how they can be hung or attached? Many facilities do not allow tape, staples, wire, or tacks to be used.
Are candles allowed? If so, must the flame be covered with glass or is an open flame allowed? What about unity candles?
What other restrictions do I need to know about?

These questions should help you to make an informed decision as you compare ceremony and reception locations. You will probably think of other questions as well. Many of these questions apply to churches as well as to other facilities. By thinking ahead, you shouldn’t be caught by surprise when you visit locations.

Leave Comment