Part One of a Two Part Post

Do Your Homework

Where do you picture your wedding? Whether your reception and ceremony site are in the same location, the vast majority of your wedding will be spent at the reception. It is so important to choose a venue that fits your style and tastes as well as your budget and needs. But before your run out to every venue in Virginia, save yourself some time and decide what your ultimate reception site criteria is first!


Before you even think about looking at reception venues, you must have an idea of the following:

  1. Approximate guest count

Looking at venue for 50 people is a completely different ballgame than looking for venues to accommodate 250 guests

  1. Wedding date

Obviously, you will only want to consider venues that are available for your wedding date. If you are deciding between one weekend in April over another, venue availability may help you nail down a date, but at least have some idea.

  1. Your wedding style/colors

Again, it does not have to be exact. However, if you are going for a rustic style, you probably don’t need to look at the fine arts museum

  1. How much of your budget you are willing to spend on a venue?

It may be the best day of your life, but its not worth starting your life together in debt. Stick to your budget!

What Kind of Location?

If you haven’t already, decide on a region. If you live in VA will you stay in your local area? Will your backdrop be ocean waves or rolling hills and mountains? Decide whether your reception will be indoors or outdoors. Are you looking for a ready-made design like a hotel ballroom or a museum? Or are you looking for a blank canvas like a barn or a tent? Think about your desired wedding style and how that will fit with the type of venue you are considering. It is fine if the colors in the reception site do not perfectly match your wedding colors, but they should not detract from your event either. If you are unsure, consider a location with neutral décor.

How Much Space Does the Site Need to Provide?

To determine how much space you will need in your venue, you will need to ask yourself two questions:

First, how many guests will you need to accommodate? Your guests may need more space than you think. As a minimum you will need 13 feet per guest, but the optimum is 15 feet per guest.

Second, what other kinds of spaces will you need? Will you have a ceremony site? If your reception and ceremony will take place at the same venue, you will need dressing rooms or spaces for both the bride and her bridesmaids as well as the groom and his groomsmen to get ready. Is there space for cocktail hour or an after party? You may want to consider space for an outdoor tent if the site allows. Make sure there are locations for both indoor and outdoor photos.

What Will Be Provided?

Venues will vary with what they offer in their rental price. This is something that is good to be aware of and may help you narrow your venue choices. A reception venue that offers everything can be less hassle than having to find all your vendors yourself. A venue that provides all the reception essentials will include tables and chairs, in-house catering and waitstaff, china and tableware, linens, music, and flowers. Some venues will provide waitstaff and catering, along with rentals like linens, chairs, and tableware. Others will offer rentals only, and some only include the space itself. This is ideal if you want a blank canvas to work with, particularly if you plan on hiring an event designer. Use our Wedding Venue Directory to find Venues with the features you are looking for.

Now that you know how to decide on your reception site criteria, be sure to read part two of this article to learn about finding and booking your reception site.

Need help deciding on your bar services? Read our article all about it? Or need reception entertainment ideas? We give you all kinds of ideas in this article. Sweet wedding savings

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