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Anchorage, UT Selecting a Wedding Reception Site, Wedding Reception Planning

Anchorage, UT Wedding Guide

Wedding Reception

Planning the reception is one of the most important decisions of the wedding and will set the tone for other decisions to follow.  This is, by far, the most important party you will ever plan.  Typically, the cost of a reception represents just over half of the overall budget. Therefore, it is imperative that a good deal of thought and effort go into making this decision. 

Despite the magnitude of the decision, it should be a fun process as you plan out and review sites where you and your groom will dance for the first time as man and wife, and where you will celebrate the union with close family and friends.  Do the research so the decision is educated, and take time to enjoy the experience. Use this section to help you make some tough decision and ensure every detail is included and nothing is forgotten.

Wedding Banquet Halls/Reception Facilities; Halls, Auditoriums & Ballrooms; Hotels; Restaurants; Churches; Country Clubs; Museums; Clubs; Theaters, Concert Halls; Resorts; Parks; Historical Landmarks

Where you hold the reception is a personal choice and it should reflect the personality of you and groom.  There are an unending number of locations to choose from to make your day as unique or traditional as you desire.

Maybe you’ve dreamed of a beach wedding, or a hotel ballroom is more your style.  Perhaps you envision the reception at the museums where you first fell in love, or surrounded by the beauty of your grandmother’s backyard.  Wherever the place, it should be a reflection of your style and personality as a couple, while offering a certain charisma, enchantment and beauty of its own.

If you've chosen the ceremony location and are only looking for the reception, consider consolidating planning efforts and find a location that works for both.  As you begin to find the perfect location for the party of a lifetime, consider the following elements. They play a crucial role in determining which location is right for you.

Book It Early:  Many facilities book quickly and popular event locations are booked up to a year in advance.  Therefore, if you have a date you can’t move, secure the location as soon as possible.  If don't yet have a date, choose it before any further planning begins.

-Day of the Week:  If have a general weekend in mind, it may pay off to work with the site to determine the time and date that works for them and you.  Saturday nights tend to book first, leaving Friday and Sunday open.  Choosing the day before or the day after Saturday may do more than ensure the wedding is held at the place of your dreams; it could also save you money.  Facilities often extend discounts to fill open slots and flexibility could really pay off if you are open to an alternative time.  The same is true if you are willing to hold the wedding on a weekday.

-Time of Year:  Seasonality plays a big role in location availability.  Depending on the time of year, facilities can be in high demand.  If planning a wedding in late spring or early summer, you are competing with a number of other brides, as well as prom attendees.  If hoping for a Christmas wedding, finding a location in December may prove difficult as corporations and business hold Christmas parties during the same time.

Just as flexibility in the day of the week can save money, so can flexibility in the time of year.  Scheduling the wedding in January or March aids in availability.  This could be a strong consideration if looking to be the exclusive event at the facility. To avoid competing with other be a little flexible in the date.

Set a Budget:  Knowing the reception budget will help to narrow down options in finding the location.  Most likely, you know how much you can spend on the wedding.  The cost of the reception typically consumes between 50 to 55% of the budget.  While it does take up the lion’s share, leave good consideration for the other 45% as well (wedding attire, flowers, photography, stationery, etc.).  Don’t overspend on the reception early and find there is not enough budget for the other essential elements.

To help determine how much you can spend, download this budget worksheet.

Determining the budget provides a guideline for the type of reception you can plan.

Select a Style:  Most likely, you already have a style that you are looking to achieve.  You may have already determined if your wedding will be more traditional, black tie or if you would like more of a casual, laid back affair.

Where you ultimately fall on the style scale will also be reflected in where you choose to hold your reception.  This is the time to really let your  personality and your creativity shine through.  Guests who leave your party should go home with knowledge of you as a couple, along with your originality and imagination.  Keep this in mind as you scout out the right site for you.  Remember, tradition doesn’t have to dictate where you look.  You don’t have to narrow your list to the traditional country clubs, historical mansions, banquet facilities, hotels, etc. 

Try something unique like a roof garden, a trendy restaurant, a ranch or a baseball field.  Your options are only limited by your imagination.  Then apply your personality on top to decorate the event and make this a true reflection of you as a couple.

The overall style and decoration of the location should also reflect the color scheme and style you have planned for your wedding.  The mood should complement the wedding style and serve as the foundation of your overall look.

Determine a Size:  Before finalizing the location, compare it to the guest list.  You may not have the final count yet but you want to be close.  Overestimate a little just to be safe.  Match the number against the capacity count of the venue to determine if it will work.

Remember, you will also need room for a band or a DJ, a dance floor, a cakes table, and any other special requirements included in the reception.  Make sure everyone has enough elbow room and the environment does not feel cramped.  Don’t try to pack too many people into the location of your dreams.  Consider an alternate location that will accommodate the count, or cut down the size of the list.  Determine which option is more of a priority.

The guest count also have a major impact on the facility fee, as many venues charge by the guest. Therefore, have a good estimate of the number you plan to invite before beginning the location research.

Do Some Homework
As you begin your search, use initial investigation to develop a list of considered locations. This initial list can be longer, which eventually will be whittled down to three to five locations. Starting with the larger list, make phone calls to each facility and confirm they can accommodate the date and head count. If the answer is "no" to either question, don't investigating any further. If the date is flexible, they may remain on the list if you are willing to consider an alternative date. Ask them for their standard wedding fee and determine if it is within the budget.

These answers play a major role in the consideration and wedding planning time is precious. Eliminate any choices that cannot accommodate timeframe, size needs or budget. Ask them how many other events are planned for the same day. You may discover you prefer exclusivity, or you want to keep the number of other events to only one.

You may already have a caterer you want to hire or perhaps a DJ or band. In some cases, the location will require you to use their offerings and you will be locked into their caterer and musicians. If this is a deal breaker, include these questions in the initial research.

Perhaps you are looking for a one stop shop and need them to provide tables, linens, dishware, table settings, chairs, etc. Determine if they can include these items. Time spent on the phone will save you more in the long run rather than finding out the deal breaker at the appointment.

Use recommendations to help develop the initial list., Valley Yellow Pages online directory, is a great resource for helping to find the right reception location in your area. It contains a number of vendors anxious to help plan the party of your dreams. Ask family and friends what facilities they recommend. Talk to former brides for their recommendation and insight they gained from their initial research.

Schedule an Appointment
Once you narrow down the initial list to the top three to five locations, call to schedule an appointment with the location manager to visit and tour the venue. While there, find the answers to a number of questions to develop an apple to apples comparison with each venue.

Look around at the facility to determine its beauty and how it can look on your day. Take pictures to help remind you of the nuances and uniqueness of each site. Once you have completed the tours, review the answers to see which venue holds the greatest value. The degree of research performed will ensure you are making the most optimal choice for your needs.

Wedding Package
Before you begin, ask if the facility offers a wedding package. This can help determine what the site can help provide and how it can save money. Make sure they provide a detailed list of what is offered in each package. Question if you can make revisions to the list and/or add any a la carte items to the package. Depending on the flexibility, this may help save time, or you may be better off on your own.

Answers to Discover
  • What is the cost for renting the facility?
  • What exact rooms are available or included in the rental? Are they the size needed for the guest list? Will it accommodate everything planned for the reception?
  • How many total hours are included in the rental?
  • What is the charge for overtime and when does it go into effect?
  • Can they provide a layout of the facility?
  • How much is the deposit required to secure the facility?
  • Do they provide a refund if another alternative location is later chosen? What is the cancellation policy?
  • Is there a room available for the bride and her party to change? What is the charge for its use?
  • If other events are occurring simultaneously, how much noise will carry from the other event?
  • Do they have any music restrictions in terms of type, length of playing, noise level, etc.?
  • Is there a time when all music will have to stop?
  • Will they require that their own musicians be used?
  • Do they have any requirements or restrictions on photography or video?
  • Will they provide a microphone?
  • Will there be adequate lighting outside if the reception takes place at night?
  • What will be done to keep bugs down?
  • Are there an adequate number of restrooms available? Are they close enough to the reception?
  • Is insurance available to handle any liability? Does it cover alcohol?
  • Who is responsible for clean up? Is it included or is there an additional fee?
  • Do they require a cleaning deposit prior to the reception? Will it be returned if nothing is broken or stained?
  • Do they offer security? Is it included in the fee or is there a separate charge?
  • Will there be a site manager that will be present the full day of the reception?
  • Will they provide additional staff such as bartenders, waiters, etc.?

  • Ceremony
  • Can the ceremony also be held on site? Is there a separate fee?
  • What other rooms are available for a ceremony?
  • Is there an organ or piano that can be used? Is there a fee?
  • Will they require that their own musicians be used? Is there a fee? -Can an outside musician be brought in? Is there a fee?

  • Catering
  • Do they include a caterer in the package? If not, what is the cost to include them?
  • Do they allow for any outside caterer to handle the food? Is there an additional charge?
  • Do they have a kitchen on site?
  • Can the caterer have access to on site dishes, pots, tools, etc.?
  • Can they provide a list of recommended caterers?
  • Do they have an ice machine? Will they charge to use it?
  • Will they allow their staff to still serve for an outside caterer?
  • Will they set up and clean up for an outside caterer?
  • Do they offer a beverage package? Do they provide the bartender? Is their fee included in the package?
  • Is there an existing liquor license for this facility? Are there any restrictions on what type of alcohol can be served?
  • Will they allow for the couple to provide their own alcohol? Will they allow an outside bartender to serve? Can a beer keg be brought in?
  • Do they charge a cork fee?
  • Do they offer cake services?
  • Will they allow for an outside cake decorator to supply the cake?
  • Do they charge a fee for cutting the cake, including a dance floor or including a sound system?

  • Rentals
  • What is included in the rental of the room? Do they supply tables, chairs, linens, dinnerware, silverware, glasses, etc.?
  • Who is required to perform set up and take down?
  • Do they provide tent rentals if the reception is held outdoors?
  • Do they include set up and take down in the fee?
  • Who is responsible for set up and take down?
  • What decorating offerings do they provide? Are there any restrictions regarding decorations?

  • Parking
  • Is there adequate parking at the facility for all guests?
  • Do they provide a valet or parking staff?
  • How close is the facility to the parking lot?
  • Is there a fee for parking or is it included in the rental fee?
  • How safe will the location be for the time of day of the wedding?
  • Do they share the parking lot with any other businesses?
  • Will guests be able to find the facility and park without much trouble?

As you tour the facility, keep an eye out to determine the overall cleanliness. This provides a good indication as to the quality of care and attention you will receive. If they take pride in keeping the facility clean, they will take pride in you. Ask to see the kitchen, bathrooms and any other rooms you will be using. Inspect them for cleanliness to make sure it is up to the standards you are looking for.

Make a Decision
Once the appointments are completed, review the needs and desires against the various questions asked. Provide a ranking and weight to those items that are most important to make your decision a little easier, or perhaps fell in love with the site once you saw it. Either way, don't take too long to make the decision. Make it as soon as possible after the tours while the thoughts and feelings are still fresh in your mind and heart.

Tent Rental; Party Supplies & Rental; Wedding Chair & Table Rental; Wedding Linen Rental

There are some items you may need to rent for the reception.  Perhaps they are not available for rent at the facility or you want to investigate the cost of renting them on your own.  There are a couple of avenues to take when renting for the wedding or reception.

Rental Center
This is a one stop shop for anything rented.  They provide basic rental needs from table, chair, china, glasses, linen, and silverware to decorative items such as gazebos, archways, vases, runners, fountains, etc.

Specialty Rental
This second type of rental business is traditionally a private or home based business specializing in decorations for weddings.  Items include archways, gazebos, silk flower arrangements, etc.  They typically do not provide any linens, china, tables or chairs.  The majority of specialty rental companies provide set up and take down services, whereas a rental center does not. 

If planning an outdoor wedding and want to provide shade for guests or create a private environment, look into renting a tent.  Tent rentals come in a number of sizes to accommodate any quantity of guests.  They turn any outdoor party into a lavish and elegant event.  Heaters and air-conditioners can be rented and included, depending on the time of year, for comfort.

A variety of floor covering options can be included to make it comfortable to walk and ensure tables are level for food and other decorations.  You can rent a dance floor too, making the option of using a tent just as grand as holding the event indoors.  If interested in pursuing this option, check with your local rental center for what is available in your area.

With any vendor, do homework prior to renting anything for the wedding or reception.  Take the time to go down and visit the rental center or specialty rental.  Make sure you see the items you will be renting and confirm they are the exact ones used on your day.  Check to ensure they are clean and in good repair.

Do their linens and decorations come in colors that complement or match your color scheme?  What are their rental fees?  Do they offer set up and take down services?  What fees are required?  This is critical when looking to rent a tent.  Do they have a minimum as to how much will be required to rent?  What fee is charged for damage or wear and tear on the item?  Do they offer delivery services?

Decorating and Creativity
Party Supplies & Rental; Decorating-Party Favors, Supplies & Services

As you contemplate the decoration design to incorporate into the reception, consider a few scenarios.  What do you do if there is something at the location you dislike?  Is it the color of the carpet, the ceiling or it’s just too dark?  How should guests be seated and what can be done to truly make the day unique?  These are good questions that can get lost in the planning and ones to consider as you finalize any planning.

Make It Pretty
There are a number of tricks to employ when the location provides something hideous to deal with.  Perhaps the carpet is an olive green and the wedding palette is light shades of blue.  You loved everything at the location except the carpet.  Work with the decorator to lay another carpet choice.  Look at renting a parquet floor to be placed over the carpet to give it a different look.

Need to hide a wall decoration?  Drape fabric from the ceiling to give the room a splash of color, tack it down on the floor to provide texture as well.  Just because it is in the room to it doesn’t mean it has to stay.  Be creative in working around what you don’t like to make it beautiful.

Mix It Up
Everything at the reception does not have to be uniform.  In lieu of every table looking the same, mix them up to provide three or four different decorating patterns.  If you have a colorful wedding palette, make each table a different color with its own unique centerpiece to match.

If you have a monochromatic look, mix up fabric patterns in that color for different tables.  Some tables have polka-dots, some have stripes and some have checks.  Change up the shape as well.  Employ a combination of round, square and rectangle tables to give it a fresh and unique look.

Develop a Strong Impression
Walk the path guests take from the ceremony to the reception, or the parking lot to the reception, and decorate it.  Place flower wreaths on doors, small bouquets on rod-iron posts, lighting in the trees, lanterns along the walkways, ribbons guiding the path and plants in the hallway leading to the reception.  Create a fairy tale look and establish a strong first impression for guests as they make their way to the reception.

Turn up the Lights

Don’t settle for the lighting that already exists.  Develop a good lighting strategy to establish the right mood and enhance any decorative features.  Consider engaging a lighting specialist.  You may also find that a vendor you already enlisted (floral or decorator) knows a few lighting tricks.  Have them look over the site, especially during the same time of day as the reception, to establish what additional lighting is required.  They may determine that all overhead lighting should be turned off or dimmed and track lighting features should be brought in.

Spotlighting can be placed on key elements such as the cake, the guest books, or table centerpieces to attract the eye and make them stand out.  Your new monogram can shine on the dance floor during your first dance using gobo lights.

Lighting helps to enhance or establish your colors.  Colored lighting can make a room feel like a sunset or an autumn day.  Change the light throughout the reception based on what is happening at that time.  Developing a color strategy helps to create a warm and memorable atmosphere.

Today’s centerpiece plays a big role at receptions.  As guests spend a majority of time seated at their table, they spend a lot of time looking at the centerpiece.  When determining the centerpiece, keep a few things in mind.  Don’t make it so big guests can’t see around it.  Consider the centerpiece in comparison to the size of the room.  If it is a large ballroom, small bowls of fruit may dwarf in comparison.

The same could be true of a large multi-branched centerpiece with large flowers in a small intimate restaurant.  The size of the table can create the same affect and will need to be considered.  Shy away from placing a large centerpiece on a small table and vice versa.

Creativity plays a strong role in determining the right centerpiece and the options are unlimited.  Think about your colors, your theme, the size of the tables and the size of the room as you consider options.  Fruit bowls, topiaries, large single flowers, dating pictures, family heirlooms, and candles are all elements used in a number of centerpieces today.  Select the elements so nothing melts or wilts if planning an outdoor wedding.

Guest Book
Traditionally, the guest book with a feathered pen is provided for guests to sign as they enter the reception.  While there is nothing wrong with this approach and is still preferred by some brides, a number of unique and creative ideas are taking center stage.

Instead of having guests sign a book, take their picture.  Bride and grooms are taking creative advantage of the tried and true photo booth as part of their reception.  Guests enter the booth as they arrive and have their pictures taken.  The pictures are placed on a mood board or within a book for them to sign and write a small message.  This leaves the bride and groom with a visual reminder of those who attended their wedding.

Using an engagement picture as the main visual, place it on a picture mat board for guests to sign.  Guests sign their names and write a message around the picture of the couple. After the wedding, it becomes a wall decoration for their home.  This is a lasting memory the bride and groom can look back on for a long time to come.

Instead of a book, place four bottles of champagne on the table, along with a couple of pens that write on glass.  Each of these bottles represents a year of the marriage.  Label each bottle accordingly and have guests sign and provide wishes. One bottle is opened on an anniversary, allowing the couple to look back and remember the guests who attended the wedding and re-read the notes and advice.

Seating Chart

Depending on the meal served, consider the most appropriate seating chart to match.  Guests like to know where they will be seated and that a place is prepared for them.  As you map out arrangements, consider the feelings of each guest and their relationship to one other.

Guests of the bride do better with each other and the same for the groom.  Be careful not to create unnecessary tension and it may be best to keep adequate spacing between any volatile guests.

Plan Early:  Don’t leave this to the last minute or the day before the wedding.  This is the last thing you want to stress over before walking down the aisle.  There will be changes taking place right up to the final day but try to get it done a couple weeks before the wedding.

Map It Out:  Create a seating chart and place guests where you would like them to sit.  Using a big white board or post-it notes allows for a number of changes before establishing the final chart. Review the final chart with your groom and parents to ensure relationships have been considered and no one will be offended. As this could take some time, leaving this step to the last minute could stir up unwanted drama.

Mix It Up: Traditionally, a head table is set for the bride and groom and the wedding party.  You can continue to use this tradition or choose to mix it up.

Some brides are opting for a sweetheart table for just her and the groom.  This is a small table at the head of the room with the wedding party seated at other tables.

Don’t think you have to follow tradition.  Make the arrangements as creative or traditional as you want.  Opt to have the bride and groom sit with their parents in lieu of the wedding party.  This is a great way to honor the parents for all of their love and support they have shown for the wedding.


Each bride is different; therefore, the same is true for each reception. There is no set, standard reception timeline you need to follow.

If using a coordinator, they can work with you to determine the timeline. As a guideline, review a traditional timeline and shift events to create your desired reception. Taking cues from tradition will ensure nothing is missed.

During the first hour after ceremony– Cocktail Reception: While the bride, groom and wedding party are taking pictures, guests make their way to the cocktail reception. During this time guests mingle, enjoy small appetizers and sip drinks as they wait for the guests of honor to arrive. The start of the cocktail reception is based on the travel time required from the ceremony to the reception, but it should begin the moment the first guests begin to arrive.

Reception Begins – Grand Arrival: This is when the bride and groom make their formal and grand entrance. Guests are typically seated and anticipating the arrival. The wedding party is first announced, followed by the parents and then the bride and groom. A formal announcement of the bride and groom is made and the couple enters the reception.

Because of the drawn attention, you can choose to begin the first dance at this time, or to have dinner first and then start dancing afterward. Be sure to discuss which option you prefer with the master of ceremonies so they adjust accordingly.

Twenty-minutes into reception—Toasts: Before dinner is a good time to begin the formal toasts. Traditionally, the host (the bride’s father) will greet the guests, thank them for coming and offer a blessing (or ask someone to give a blessing). The bride and groom will also greet the guests and thank them for coming, along with the wedding party, if desired.

Thirty-minutes into reception—Meal is Served: Depending on the type of meal served, the meal service begins. The band or DJ plays soft music in the background while guests mingle and enjoy their food. During the meal the formal toasts by the best man and maid of honor take place. The guests are then welcome to join in the toasting as well.

One hour and forty-minutes into reception—Cut a Rug: It is now time for the real party to begin as the bride and groom take the dance floor. This is the invitation for everyone else to follow and join on the floor. Breaks are scheduled to toss the garter and throw the bouquet. This can also be performed later in the evening, or until after the cake is cut.

Three hours into the reception—Cut the Cake: Traditionally, the cake is cut and served about an hour before the end of the reception. The catering staff serves coffee and dessert at this time. The cake cutting is often viewed as the acceptable time that guests can begin leaving once it is done. Therefore, it is best to wait until later in the reception.

Many brides, however, choose to forgo leaving this until the end and opt to serve the cake shortly after the meal to represent dessert.

Three hours and twenty-minutes into the reception—Back to the Dance Floor: The dancing picks up where it left off and guests again take to the dance floor. The music should be upbeat and lively and give the guests a chance to burn off a few calories from the cake.

Three hours and forty-five minutes into the reception—Final Dance: The bride and groom take the lead in this last dance and last chance to leave with a bang. Ask the DJ or band to play something upbeat and energetic. This will leave everyone on a high, wishing the night would never end. However, for the true romantic, end with a slow song.

Four hours into the reception—Grand Exit: After enjoying the party of a lifetime, it is now time to relax. The wedding party or wedding coordinator gathers guests around the exit to join in the big send off. Friends and family shower the newlyweds with rose petals, create a sea of bubbles or light up the night with sparklers as they step into their future and live happily ever after.


Toasts have long been a tradition at weddings and represent an opportunity to express happiness and congratulations to the married couple.

The bride and groom and their parents also use toasts to thank guests who have attended, and show appreciation for their time in sharing the special day.  Toasts to guests typically occur first, shortly after the bride and groom arrive at the reception

Getting It Started:  Owning the duty of toastmaster, the best man is responsible to offer the first toast and set the tone for others to follow.  Consider establishing a predetermined agenda to follow for the wedding party to offer toasts.  The maid of honor typically follows the best man and then others follow suit.  After the wedding party has offered their toasts, guests join in.

If they haven't already done so, the married couple should stand and offer their toast, after the maid of honor.  The parents can then follow, if they did not take the time after they arrived.  The schedule for when toasting starts should be predetermined by the bride and groom.

What to Say:  First and foremost, keep toasts brief.  A few minutes are sufficient to express appreciation and not bore the guests.  It should be a simple expression offered from the heart.  To keep focused and on point, prepare the words in advance.

If you need assistance determining what to say, look to a number of resources for help.  Poems and songs offer key phrases and a number of books and websites available for inspiration. Many online sites will help you prepare it or offer a variety of toasts already written. If using this option, make sure the words you choose represent the real you and your heartfelt feelings. Using someone's words other than your own, could make you appear less sincere.

Try to offer it by memory so it appears sincere and genuine, but keep notes with you to help you remember.  The key is to be real and heartfelt in the delivery.

What Not to Say:  Don’t make this your comedic debut.  Refrain from trying to be too funny, or make it overly entertaining.  Keep toasts simple and avoid inside jokes or embarrassing anyone.

Make the toast one that guests of all ages can relate to.  Toasts should provide wisdom for the couple and convey best wishes for their future.

Look Them in the Eye:  As you deliver the speech, look directly in the eyes of the person you are speaking to.  This is an expression of sincerity and will make the moment memorable.  Call out individuals by name to ensure they feel appreciated.

Do a Dry Run:  Practice the toast before you give it.  Take a few moments beforehand to practice giving the toast in the mirror.  This will not only help keep the words fresh in your mind, but allow you to evaluate the delivery to ensure it is heartfelt and genuine.

Keeping Costs Down
Wedding Banquet Halls/Reception Facilities; Halls, Auditoriums & Ballrooms; Hotels; Restaurants; Churches; Country Clubs; Museums; Clubs; Theaters, Concert Halls; Resorts; Parks; Historical Landmarks

As the reception represents the largest percent of the budget, consider ways to keep costs lower.  Most weddings go over budget so working to shave a few dollars will go a long way in protecting the budget.

All-in-One Location:  Seek out a location that can provide an all-in-one offering.  If they already have tables, china and staff you will not need to outsource rentals or additional vendors.

Create a Custom Package:  Work with the vendor to create a unique package incorporating everything you need and the best of what they offer.  The more services you use from one vendor, the better pricing you can negotiate.

Limit Your Vendors:  Many vendors offer a number of overlapping services you can take advantage of.  Check with the florist to see if they have special lighting capabilities.  Talk to the caterer about offering tables, china, linen, etc., to avoid having to call a rental center.  Having some vendors provide more services can eliminate the need for several vendors saving time and money.

Be Flexible:  Choose a time not sought after by everyone.  Have the wedding in the off-season, during the week or on Friday or Sunday.  This takes advantage of special pricing offered for selecting a less popular time.

Leverage Mother Nature:  Cut down on the amount of decorations and flowers by leveraging what Mother Nature provides.  Find a location that is exquisitely beautiful or highly decorated and work with the existing elements.

Purchase Your Own Alcohol:  Find a location that allows you to bring in the alcohol.  This is a big ticket item with a large mark-up.  Handling the purchase of alcohol can save money and unopened bottles can be returned for a refund.

Offer Signature Drinks: Instead of an open bar, focus the alcohol around one signature drink. This could be champagne or another popular alcoholic beverage.

If the wedding is casual, flavored margaritas could be served or for more formal weddings consider a martini or wine bar.

Alter the Timing:  Move the reception from the evening to the afternoon.  This will save money and eliminate the need for a formal dinner.  Everything can be lighter and scaled back, saving a lot of money.

Get It in Writing

Eliminate any unnecessary or hidden fees by getting everything in writing before you commit.  Now, more than ever, take the time to double and triple check the contract ensuring it includes everything discussed.  Ensure the contract includes:

  • Names dates, times, and contact information.
  • Include the site manager's name and detail specific duties they will handle during the reception.
  • Specify guest head count and the number of tables, chairs, plates, glasses and silverware will be required.
  • Outline set up and take down details.
  • Provide detailed counts for any rental items and specifics on how they must be returned and what penalties are involved is something gets damaged.
  • Identify catering detail, food counts, food items, buffet or banquet specifics, serving staff, beverages served. Make sure quantities are specific and details are included on how to handle leftovers.
  • Detail alcohol specifics. What will be served and who will serve it.
  • Include negotiating pricing, wedding packages and possible overtime charges.
  • Specify parking arrangements and if parking staff will be utilized.
  • Detail the final costs and payment schedule.
  • Identify the cancellation policy and what refund would be available.
  • Make sure it also includes any possible liabilities, security, etc.

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