Questions to Ask When Choosing a Wedding Reception Hall

Be sure to ask lots of questions before settling on a wedding reception venue. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Anastasiia P.)

Be sure to ask lots of questions before settling on a wedding reception venue. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Anastasiia P.)

One of the most important tasks in creating your dream wedding is securing the venue. When choosing reception halls, ask the following questions:

Is the venue available?

Once you know a date or approximate dates, make sure any reception hall or other location is available for the time period and date you need. Be clear about what you need to do to reserve the date and location. Find out what happens if you need to cancel, including any fees.

Can the venue accommodate both your wedding and reception?

Having your wedding and reception at the same venue is convenient and practical. Your guests won't have to travel much. Everything is conveniently located just steps away. If you are having the ceremony at a separate place, decide how far you are willing to travel. Keep in mind that it's not advisable to make your guests travel great distances between locations.

What is the reception hall's maximum capacity?

After you have figured out the guest list, you will need to find a location that can fit everyone. Have a general idea of the types of tables that you want. Do you want room for a dance floor? Ask the venue manager about any recommended layouts that have worked well in the past. Request to see these layouts.

CHECK OUT: 12-month Wedding Planning Checklist

What's included in the price?

Some wedding reception halls only provide you with the bare minimum, leaving you with the task of hiring vendors. Get a detailed list of what's included in the cost of rental. For example, does the hall provide tables, chairs and linens? Does it offer catering services too? If so, then how much does it charge per person? What are your menu options? Will the meal be buffet style or will waiters serve you? Can you hire a third-party vendor to come and cater your event? Do you need to bring any special glassware or utensils? Find out if you need to provide any liability insurance. Ask what charges could be added if clean up is not done according to requirements. There could also be added charges if your event extends beyond the agreed ending time.

When can you get into the venue?

It takes time to set up a wedding or reception. It's important that you know when you can access the reception hall to set up. Popular venues may schedule multiple events, leaving you a short window of time to prepare. Also, ask how much time you'll have for cleaning up.

What facilities does the reception hall have?

Depending on what you're planning as far as food and beverage service, be sure the reception hall has the right kind of kitchen facilities. Some locations only have a large sink and refrigerator; others have full kitchens.

Other question to ask:

If you're having bar service, do you have to hire a licensed bartender?

Is there sufficient restroom facilities for your guests?

Is there a place where the wedding party can change into reception clothing?

What's available for a band, music system and dancing? Are there any noise limits in the area?

Is there enough parking?

If other events will be going on at the same time, what kind of privacy can you expect?

MORE: Angie's List Guide to Wedding Planning

Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on Oct. 5, 2012.

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