Your wedding reception is the one party you will remember for a lifetime, and done right it's a party all your guests will remember forever too!
You may have had your heart set on a reception venue since you were 5 years old, but when you go for your first meeting, something just didn't feel right. How do you know if you're choosing the right place for your wedding? We have the inside word from Holly Orsman Smith from Grand Pacific Group who advises you not to book your reception without first asking these 10 simple questions.
1: What is the venue's staff to guest ratio?
Finding out how many wait staff are allocated to each guest gives you an indication as to how well you and your guests will be looked after. The more service staff per person, the more promptly and efficiently you will be served, which ensures each guest receives a truly memorable service experience.
2: Who will be preparing the food? And how?
Food plays a key role in your big day as it is one of the main components of a wedding that guests look forward to. Enquiring about the qualifications of the head chef and kitchen staff, (how long have they been working at the venue? How many weddings have they catered for?) will give you an insight to their capabilities. You might also assume that all venues make their food on premise - whereas there are some that cater off premise and then have the food heated at the venue. The difference in terms of guest experience can be significant, so make sure to ask.
3: Does the venue provide a menu tasting?
What looks great on the menu may not translate onto the plate as you'd hoped, so remember to ask if your venue offers a menu tasting so you can decide which dishes best suit your palette. A tasting session alo gives you an indication as to how the food will be served to you during your reception, and you can talk through any concerns to ensure you are completely satisfied with your selection.
4: How many weddings are conducted in the venue per day?
Most brides envision their wedding to be 'their' day, and do not expect to share it with another bride (or two). Many venues conduct two weddings at different times during the same day, but some venues have the capacity to stage several weddings simultaneously. If the latter isn't your style, ensure exclusivity with your venue.
5: Does the venue price vary at certain times of year, week or day?
Many brides will go through the agony of finding the venue of their dreams, only to discover it isn't in their budget, or dates aren't available. Enquiring about package price flexibility allows you to put all your options on the table. Flexible brides will be thrilled to learn that many premium venues can be hired for competitive prices at certain times of the year or days of the week.
6: Does the venue offer a dedicated wedding coordinator?
To ensure that none of your wedding requirements are lost in translation, ask who will be managing your reception and establish a line of contact with them. It's a relief for most brides to know that they have an experienced hand to guide them through their bridal journey - ensure that yours is included in your wedding venue package.
7: Does the venue have any noise restrictions?
With dancing often a large part of a wedding celebration, no bride wants to be told to pull the plug straight after dessert. Ensure that the venue's legal obligations won't restrict your requirements, and you are free to turn the music up for your special song.
8: How long will the venue be mine?
There are a lot of formalities to take place, and it's important you feel comfortable that you have enough time to include everything you want on your wedding day. Ensure you confirm exact timings with your venue, and find out whether another wedding is scheduled to begin before or after yours so you can plan effectively. As a guide, lunchtime receptions usually take no less than four hours, with evening receptions commonly capped at five or six hours.
9: Do I need to budget for any extra expenses?
Dance floor hire, AV hire and cake table/knife, are some of the things that may incur an additional charge to your food and beverage costs. Most venues will include these services in your package, but it's important to check so you can alter your budget if they are not.
10: What makes this venue so special?
This seems like an obvious question, ask it anyway. Give the venue manager an opportunity to explain why their venue is perfect for your wedding. What sets this venue apart from the others on your shortlist? Even if you're already sold on it, gleaning more information about the venue's history, location and accessibility might help you settle any doubts and seal the deal.
The Grand Pacific Group is a leading Australian Hospitality group which operates four of Sydney's most sought after wedding venues, including The Tea Room QVB, The Tea Room Gunners' Barracks, Sergeants' Mess and Dunbar House.
Thank you so much to Holly for this fantastic advice! Now you should be savvy brides and grooms heading to your reception interviews.
Happy Friday and have a great weekend... looking forward to a whole new week of inspiration next week.