How do you pick the right wedding reception venue for you? Put them to the test with our guide.


The meal served at a wedding will add to the experience, so whether you're thinking buffet or banquet, take a good look at the menus on offer before picking your venue. If the meal is especially important to you, ask if a tasting is possible. And if you're choosing a cocktail menu, ask how many pieces of each canapé will be provided for each guest – you don't want people going hungry!

Questions to ask:

  • What sort of cuisine and menu choices are offered by the venue?
  • Can guests choose from the menu, or will it be an alternate service?
  • Are any deviations from the menu permitted?
  • Are vegetarian/dietary options available?
  • Do they offer a tasting of the menu, and is it complimentary or an additional cost?
  • Do you have to use one of their preferred caterers, or can you bring in your own?
  • Is there a special rate for children's and suppliers meals (eg, the band)?
  • Can you substitute their dessert offering with your wedding cake?
  • If the cake is provided as the part of the package, is there a cost if you bring in your own?
  • Will the venue provide printed menus, or will you need to organise these yourself?


The music you choose should help to enhance the atmosphere. You may choose a variety of musicians to suit the different stages of the event – harpist as guests arrive for canapés, followed by a DJ playing subtle ballads during dinner, before upping the vibe for dancing. Ask the venue manager about technical details, like whether there's adequate power.

Questions to ask:

  • Is there room for a band or DJ, plus all their instruments and equipment?
  • What equipment is provided for musicians (eg, power for a DJ's speakers, space for your band to do dance routine as they sing)?
  • Can you play your own music or bring your own entertainment?
  • Are there any restrictions, such as a time when music must be turned off, or the use of smoke machines?
  • Does the venue provide a dance floor, and if so, is this an additional cost?


This aspect is often overlooked, but supportive, professional staff can make all the difference when it comes to making your reception run smoothly. Not only do you want a reliable, organised, experienced wedding coordinator to run the show, but also competent wait staff who are knowledgeable about the food and wine they are serving, and are happy to help your guests with their individual needs.

Questions to ask:

  • Does the venue have an in-house wedding coordinator? (Be sure to meet with them early on.)
  • Will the coordinator be there in person to help run the event?
  • Does the coordinator make you feel completely at ease and confident?
  • Is the coordinator organised and prompt to respond to your emails or phone calls?
  • Is the coordinator open to accommodating your individual needs and requests?
  • What will the ratio be of serving staff to guests on the night?


Another event taking place at the same time as yours (such as in an adjacent room) can impact heavily on your reception. If you're considering a venue with multiple rooms for hire, ask if they are likely to be in use on your wedding night, and whether they are sound-proof. You don't want your wedding to be impacted if the next-door function asks for your music to be turned down during their speeches.

Questions to ask:

  • Will you have exclusive use of the venue or will you be sharing it?
  • Is it possible to hear noise from other events within the venue?
  • By what time do you and your guests have to leave the premises?
  • Are there any noise restrictions in and around the venue?


Remember, the shorter the distance between your ceremony and wedding reception, the cheaper the car hire and the longer time you'll have for photography. You'll also need to consider logistics, such as how easy it will be for your guests to get from location A to B. This can impact on the starting time for your drinks – you don't want half your guests to miss your grand entrance because they're still in transit!

Questions to ask:

  • How far away from the ceremony is the venue?
  • Is the venue difficult for guests to get to?
  • If the venue provides a getaway car as part of the package, how far will it take you?
  • What parking is available at the venue itself, and do guests need to pay for it?
  • If you charter a bus for your guests, is there somewhere for it to park while everyone alights?
  • Will the venue order taxis for departing guests who haven't driven?