Tip# 1 – Costs
When you find the facilities you’re looking for, sit down with the banquet manager or maitre d’ and discuss the cost of your reception. Ask her/ him to explain all of the charges and outline exactly what each charge includes. For example, you might assume that the cost of the meal includes the rental of the room. This isn’t always the case; sometimes there is an additional room charge.
Once you know how much the room itself will cost, you can plan your menu and bar and add these charges to determine your total expense.
Don’t forget to include food and beverage tax and gratuities – these can add an additional 20 – 25% to your cost.
With all the accounting complete you can go on to compare the cost of one reception room against another to make an informed decision about which one will be best for you and your guests.
Tip# 2 – Menu Options
If the room is part of a club, restaurant or hotel, plan to have dinner there first. This way you can find out if the food is to your liking and taste any of the house specialties which you might consider including on your reception menu. Some facilities allow you to bring your own caterers or even use the kitchen with your own chefs.
Most offer excellent packages that are tried and true favorites!
Tip# 3 – Matching Table Settings
Make sure that the tablecloths and napkins available can be coordinated with your colour scheme. Nothing could look worse than orange tablecloths with brown napkins combined with pink table flowers and bridal party outfitted in blue and white!
Don’t underestimate the importance of colour co-ordination. For example, if only white tablecloths are available and the bride plans to wear an off-white gown, she should know that her gown might look dirty against the white cloth.
Tip# 4 – Matching the Decor
Look at the decor critically. It shouldn’t overwhelm any decoration that you want to add, nor should it be bare and drab. Also, many brides have discovered too late that their wedding pictures
were spoiled by a poor background behind the head table. However, some places now have beautifully decorated spots specially designed
for indoor wedding photographs.
Tip# 5 – Planning to Dance?
If you are planning a dance for your reception, then obviously the room should include a dance floor. Make sure there is a stage area equipped with adequate electrical power for your band or disc jockey, and if the room is large, it should also have a PA system that can be used for your speeches and toasts. Many facilities also offer Audio / Visual equipment or can refer you to reputable rental companies.
Tip #6 – The Bar is Open
Look at the bar set up too. There should be a built-in or portable bar available for the reception. An impromptu “bucket with ice” arrangement will hardly lend elegance to the evening. Ask if the “corkage charge” for the bar also includes the fee for the bartender and the mix. If your guest list is small, see if there is a minimum charge for the bar.
You may want to compare the cost of disposable or non-disposable glassware for bar drinks.
Tip #7 – Know the house rules!
You must be aware of and prepared to comply with the rules of the house. If the reception is in a club, will your guests be restricted to one area? If confetti is thrown inside the room, will there be a vacuuming fee and how much will it be? What time must the bar be closed legally, and what time must the room be cleared?
For a winter reception, when there will be fur coats and bulky overcoats, will there be a secure coat check?
Tip# 8 – Do you want to add decorations?
You should explain the decorations you want to the caterer, and see if any decorations are provided, Find out if there is an additional charge for providing candles or flowers and if you are having personalized mementos like engraved match books or napkins, discuss when they should be delivered so they can be set up on the tables.
Tip# 9 – The size of the room
See if the room is appropriate for the size of your group. A room that is either too small or too large will make your guests uncomfortable. Ask about other facilities that come with the room.
For example, if the reception is a long distance from your home you’ll need an additional room where you can change into your “going away” clothes.
Is there a “Bridle Suite” included? Is there an exterior smoking area?
Tip# 10 – Is there enough parking?
Make sure that there is enough parking for all your guests and is there room and cover for your limo to drive up to the entrance door?
Ask how many cars the parking lot can hold, and find out if you have to share the lot with any other large parties that evening. If your reception is to be in the city, find out if there is any other parking in the area. If guests should use parking facilities nearby, indicate the lots on a map with the direction to the reception facilities.