Planning, Wedding

How to Plan a Restaurant Wedding Reception

No, we’re not talking about the folks who get married at McDonald’s. More and more couples are foregoing the stuffy banquet halls of the past in favour of cozy, high-end eateries.

Restaurants are a popular choice of venue for couples who want good food and an intimate, laid-back reception. Though there’s usually less space for guests, having a restaurant reception takes a lot of the stress out of planning the event.

There’s minimal set-up, as high-end restaurants are already perfectly polished. You won’t have to worry about hiring a caterer, since the venue comes with a team of experienced servers and chefs. It’s also usually less expensive than booking a larger venue (but don’t forget to add gratuity).

The biggest draw of a restaurant reception is, of course, the food. Caterers can be pretty hit-and-miss. If you’ve attended a few weddings, you can probably think of at least one where the food was forgettable (or memorable for the wrong reasons). With a restaurant, you have plenty of opportunity to sample their wares ahead of time, and lots of feedback available from diners online. Plus, unlike caterers, restaurants care about repeat business – they want your guests to come back for seconds!

Thinking of going the restaurant route? Keep the following in mind:

  • Decide on the number of guests before you choose a venue. Make sure there’s enough space to accommodate them, noting that there may be a few last-minute plus-ones. Ideally, you’ll want to trim the guest list to 100 or fewer people.
  • Make sure there’s enough space. Not only does the venue limit the number of people you can invite, it may also limit what you can have in terms of a DJ, photo booth, and dance floor. Be realistic about what you can fit in the space.
  • Be mindful of kids. If there will be children at the wedding, make sure there’s a kid-friendly menu.
  • Consider the restaurant’s busy season. Spring and summer are prime wedding season, but the restaurant industry usually peaks in November and December. Make sure you account for this as you plan, and try to schedule it six to twelve months in advance.
  • Can you bring what you need? Some restaurants aren’t keen on people bringing in outside decor or food (like a cake), even for weddings. Make your expectations clear when you meet with staff.
  • See what they’ve done for other weddings. If it’s a popular spot, check out professional photos from other events at the restaurant to see if it’s what you envision.