What You Have To Know
1. Scheduling. Find out how many receptions a day your location holds, and whether you will be hurried out after your alotted time is over. You don't want to be hit with exorbitant fees if your reception runs long. Also, don't forget that you'll need a minimum of two hours to set up, so if there's a lunch scheduled before your dinner reception, make sure you have enough time to get everything perfect before your guests arrive.
2. Space. Think about your wedding moments -- the first dance, the cake cutting -- and make sure there is sufficient and appropriate space for them. A room that fits 300 for cocktails will probably not be big enough for a sit-down dinner and dancing.
3. Catering. Most likely, there is an in-house caterer or list of preferred caterers you must use. But double check that the kitchen is equipped to prepare any special items you just can't live without.
4. Parking. Find out if you can pay for valet and tips for your guests ahead of time. And, don't forget to check out the parking situation for your vendors. You might need to pay for a parking lot.
5. Decorating. Some hotels and restaurants have décor restrictions. Make sure you know if you can rearrange furniture to your specifications. And don't forget to ask if they have pictures from previous receptions so you can crib décor ideas.
6. Outside Influences. If there is a special vintage you just HAVE to serve at your reception, or you're desperate for a cake that your location's pastry chef doesn't have experience making, you may be able to bring in outside vendors. Check out your location's policies, and be sure to find out about any corkage or cake cutting fees.
7. Insurance. Accidents at weddings? We know it's unlikely, but we want to make sure you're covered. Check to make sure your location carries insurance. The minimum policy for weddings is usually $1,000,000, which will cost you $500.00. We consider this well worth the piece of mind.
8. Cancellation. Ask what amount you need for a deposit, and whether it will be returned to you in case of cancellation.
9. Music. If you plan to be jumpin' and jivin', you'll need to know the policy on music. Find out about noise ordinances, and double check that the location has sufficient space and electrical outlets for your musicians or DJ.
10. Staff. Find out who will be on hand to supervise your reception, and make sure you have good rapport. Is it the same person that you have been working with all along?
11. Condition. Check to see if the room you're renting is spic and span. Look at the silver to make sure it's polished, and the linens to see if they're freshly starched. You want everything tip top for your day, and if things look shabby on your initial visit, it's not likely that they'll be much better for your reception.
12. References. Ask for a list of references, and check out your location with the Better Business Bureau.
13. Contract. Make sure the WRITTEN proposal you get from your reception location reflects all the items you've discussed.
Ask about wedding packages. Often hotels will have special room rates for you or your guests if you are planning a reception with them. Some even throw in the honeymoon suite -- perfect for those Cinderellas that never want to leave the ball.