Reception Halls and Venues

Reception hall Rosecliff in Newport Rhode Island

How to choose Reception Halls and Venues

These tips and ideas will guide you in choosing your perfect wedding venue.

Most couples know where they will be having their ceremony, be it at their local church, temple, or mosque before they choose their reception locale.

What should you consider when choosing your reception hall?

Location for your banquet hall

Years ago when families lived close by, choosing a venue was easy.  Since today’s families are spread throughout many cities, states or countries and have already traveled quite a distance, it is important to keep the ceremonial place and reception hall within a 45-minute drive. 

Include directions to the ceremony and hall in your invite. You may also want to consider having a selected person lead a caravan for other guests to follow.  IF you have a large number of out of town guests you may want to consider hiring a bus to transport them back and forth.

Number of Guests

Your budget will determine the number of guests that you can invite to your wedding.  Remember to assume that 15% of your invited guests will not be able to attend your wedding.  They may have other commitments, be on vacation, or become ill.

Additionally, if your guests have a long distance to travel or if your wedding date is during a holiday or the summer, you might have more people declining your invitation.

Be certain that the hall which you have chosen states that a particular room will accommodate the number of guests that you're anticipating will attend your celebration.  You also want to make certain that the room will fit your number of guests comfortably and not be crammed in.

Ask the caterer how many guests you must guarantee and how many days before your wedding you are entitled to make changes.

Time of Ceremony and Reception

Set the time of your ceremony and celebration based on your particular needs i.e., how long will it take your guests to travel from your ceremony to your reception place, how much time will you need to take your pictures (allow more time if you are choosing to take your pictures at a place other than your reception hall).

If there is a long time between the ceremony and celebration you may want to consider asking the hall if they will serve coffee, juice and cookies to your guests so they can mingle while they are waiting for your party to begin.

Reception hall with large chandelier


  • How many affairs does the hall accommodate during each time slot?
  • Does the hall have a separate bridal suite large enough for your bridal party?
  • Can you have your cocktail party in a separate room from your reception?
Reception hall with ice sculpture and raw bar

Food Thoughts for Reception Halls

Fabulous Food Pic
  • What is the cost for the banquet hall, including the cocktail hour (butler service, carving and other stations, or buffet).
  • What types of food will be served?
  • How many and what will the choices of entrees be?
  • Can the caterer accommodate special food requests such as, diabetic, kosher, vegetarian and celiac free meals?


  • Will you have an open bar (does the price include premium brands or house brands, after dinner cordials) or bottles of wine on each table? (I'd like to make a note  - I haven't been to any weddings that have individual bottles of hard liquor on each table. That tradition went out long ago.)
  • Will you serve beer, wine and soft drinks only?
  • Is the champagne toast included in the price?

What do Reception Halls include in the base price?

Reception Cake Picture
  • Does the price include the cost of the wedding cake?
  • Will you be having a Venetian hour?
  • Will you be permitted to sample their cuisine ahead of time?
  • What are the prices for any other options that you would like to have at your party?
  • What is the charge for children
  • Does the price include gratuities and tax?
  • Will there be a discount for "off time" weddings?

Additional Thoughts

  • What time will your reception begin and end? What time will you be permitted to bring in your centerpieces and other decorations and items?
  • Does the hall have sufficient parking and valet service (is there an additional charge for valet service)?
  • Will a photo board or wedding slide show device be provided?
  • Are DJ’s and live bands permitted?
  • Does the hall have a decent size dance floor?
  • Is the hall wheelchair accessible and are the rest rooms ADA compliant?
  • Does the hall have a garden or terrace for picture taking?
  • Does the venue have a web site?
  • Can you bring in your own caterer?
  • What is their policy if you have to cancel or defer your wedding?
  • Would it be possible to have your ceremony at the banquet hall? And what is the price to hold your ceremony at the banquet  hall?
  • Is the hall air conditioned and do they have generators?
  • Is there a coat check and an additional cost for an attendant?
  • What is their policy and contingency plan if there is an unforeseen problem and the hall cannot honor their contract?
  • Are chair covers provided?If so, is there an additional charge?
  • Will you be able to choose the color of your table cloths and napkins? Ask to see their samples.
  • There are many options to consider when choosing your venue. As you go to the different reception halls and interview the directors, take comprehensive notes and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

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    Good luck!

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