Today's Bride

Real Bride Blogger, Denise – Choosing my Reception Venue


Today I’m going to dive into the mother-load of all wedding planning topics: choosing your reception venue! Not that you need any added pressure, but this is not a task that comes lightly. After all, your venue will make (or break) the vibe you’re trying to set. It houses your guests for the best 6-8 hours of their lives!

Reception Venue | Brian Carroll | As seen on
Brian Carroll

Before getting those tours scheduled, there are a couple of things you and your partner will want to figure out, including:

Guest Count

We made up a mock guest list before even considering venues. After all, we didn’t want to fall in love with a venue that wouldn’t be practical. Admittedly, we did consider one venue that held a lower guest count than we had in mind, but we went into that tour knowing that we’d have to make cuts and evaluated that as part of our final decision.


How do you want your wedding to feel? What do you picture when it comes to a theme or decor? For us, I knew I wanted a romantic garden party vibe, so a relaxed venue with outdoor space made sense.


Though glaringly important, this can get overlooked and leave heartbreak in its wake. Start by coming up with an overall number or range you’d like to spend on the reception. Consider what’s included: Do tables and chairs come with it? Does the venue provide catering? If a venue doesn’t have as many amenities in it’s package, you’ll want to reallocate that money toward your rentals and other vendors. If it covers everything you need, you can afford to spend a little more.


What are the things you’re not willing to bend on? Does it have to be in or near a certain city? Chances are, you’ll find that some of the things you thought were non-negotiable actually aren’t and vice-versa. For example, initially I really wanted to be able to select a caterer and fully customize our menu. However, the venue we chose does pre-packaged catering packages. This ended up being negotiable to me because a) the food quality seemed great, b) it was one less thing we needed to worry about, and c) I could add that wow factor elsewhere.

Something that was non-negotiable that I didn’t realize would be? The attendees. Mike and I are actually living in and planning from Chicago. One reason we’re planning to get married in Ohio is because Mike has older grandparents who aren’t able to travel. Having Mike’s grandparents there was a non-negotiable for us.

To me, choosing our venue felt a lot like choosing a college. You do all this research, study all the brochures, but it really all comes down to a gut reaction. How did stepping on-site make you feel? How did the venue staff make you feel? If you find that feeling and the other logistics – guest count, vision, budget, and non-negotiables – add up, why wouldn’t you take the leap?

And if you get lost along the way, Today’s Bride has some stellar venue tips and hundreds of local venues to help point you in the right direction!

‘Til next time,

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