Work out your budget - this is very important - and make sure you know the number of guests you will invite. Once you know these things you can start calling venues in your chosen location. Check their availability and while on the phone, ask about catering. Do you want to have a sit-down meal or a buffet? You'll need to find out how much they charge or if they allow or expect external catering. Finally, don't forget entertainment. You'll need enough space for a DJ, band, dance floor or whatever you have planned.
The most popular types of reception venues are historic ones such as castles and country houses. These tend to require a larger budget but the receptions you can host at these venues are the stuff that little girl's dreams are made of.Hotels are popular places to hold receptions and have the added bonus of providing accommodation for your guests. A marquee is a great idea for the summer months if you have a large garden or access to outdoor space. They can be surprisingly expensive to hire but you can save money by being in charge of your own catering. There are many sports and social clubs that can be hired out for functions and these tend to be a more affordable option.Restaurants or pubs are usually willing to take on smaller wedding parties and they can work out to be considerably cheaper than some larger venues.
Don't assume you're restricted to certain types of venues. These days you can get married just about anywhere - while skydiving, on a beach, at the top of the London Eye or while scuba diving at the bottom of the sea - and so it follows that you can hold your reception anywhere. Just remember that this is your big day, so pick the venue that is perfect for you.
A quick venue checklist:
- Check if there is a minimum fee
- Find out what is included in the price - bar staff, tables and chairs, linen, waiters
- If you do not have insurance, check if it is included
- Ask how much the deposit is and if it is refundable
- See if it has the facilities you require - parking, toilets, disabled access