1. The size of the wedding reception venue.
One of the most important things to consider when you’re shopping for reception halls is the size of the venue.
- How many people can it comfortably seat?
- How large is the dance floor?
- Is there enough floor space for the cake table and card or gift table?
- Is there enough room for the DJ to set up?
The reception halls you look at may be able to seat X amount of people, but then how much room does that leave for the dance floor and other accommodations?
If you’re having the reception at the same location as the wedding ceremony, can you set up the seating to allow for a comfortable arrangement for your guests during the ceremony?
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2. Indoor climate control vs. outdoor seasonal weather.
When you’re looking for indoor reception halls, make sure they have proper climate control for the various seasons.
You don’t want your guests being too warm or too chilly or they’ll start getting uncomfortable. So ask about their heating and/or air conditioning and make sure it’s in proper order.
If you’re planning an outdoor wedding reception, keep the weather in mind and make sure to have an alternative, backup plan if Mother Nature decides not to cooperate. Your DJ is not going to want to set up expensive equipment if there’s a possibility of a rain, lightning or wind storm.
3. Location of the hall from the actual wedding ceremony.
This is something that all couples should take into consideration when they’re looking for the ideal place to get married and to have their reception.
Actually, a lot of couples today are saving money by having the ceremony and the reception at the same place. This is easier for your guests too since they’ll only have to drive to one location.
I know it’s pretty traditional to have the ceremony at a church or chapel and then drive to another location, for example a fire company social hall for the reception. And while the guests make their way to the reception hall, the bridal party either stays at the ceremony location or goes to a separate location to get their photographs taken.
It may be tradition, but with so many other traditions being set aside for the modern wedding, this might be a good thing to reconsider too.
If you find some reception halls that have beautiful landscaping, you might consider having the ceremony right there on the grounds. The bridal party can head off in another direction on the grounds with the photographer while the guests make their way to the reception area.
I’ve been to quite a few weddings that were done this way and it’s so much more convenient for everybody.
But if you’ve had your heart set on getting married in your church, chapel or another wedding location and you’re not able to have the reception there too, then keep the driving distance in mind when you’re looking for reception halls for after the ceremony.
Also keep your guests in mind when traveling from the ceremony to the reception venue. You could have the minister or wedding officiate announce where the reception will be or have the address and directions printed in your wedding programs.
Since a lot of people have GPS today, they can just plug the address into their GPS. Groups of people can follow each other from the ceremony to the reception too, which keeps anyone from getting lost.
4. The time between the ceremony and the reception.
Even if you find one of the perfect reception halls and decide to have the ceremony right there on the grounds, you still want to keep the time in mind between the ceremony and the start of the reception.
If you leave your guests to entertain themselves for too long, and you’ve provided a bar, you might find some of your guests have started some hard partying without you.
You want your guests to be on their feet dancing and not get so distracted that they miss you entering the reception area, having your First Dance, cutting the cake, or tossing the bouquet.
You also don’t want to have a couple of hours of photography time after the ceremony to where your guests are going to start leaving before the bridal party arrives.
If you have a really personable DJ though, he can keep the momentum going with a variety of dances and encourage your guests to mingle and get to know each other while they await your arrival.
5. Smoking or non-smoking?
This really isn’t as much of a hot issue as it was a few years ago. Most public facilities and reception halls today are non-smoking, unless the facility makes most of their revenue from beer and liquor sales and not their food.
You probably won’t have much of a problem with this today, but it is something to ask the venue coordinator first. The last thing you need is for someone to light up and catch something on fire.
Most people today are very considerate of their smoking habits, especially where a lot of non-smokers may be gathered in one closed-in area.