looking for the perfect venue?

Being photographers, we get the opportunity to evaluate many reception facilities while having little or no bias to "sell" one location over another. Here are 5 items that are commonly overlooked by engaged couples when they select their reception hall.

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Distance - If people have to drive a long way to get from the ceremony to the reception, some will get distracted or decide to do something else. Try to keep the reception within a 15 to 30 minute drive of your ceremony. If it is not possible to get a reception hall close to your ceremony, make a convoy. Have your parents lead the car parade, and people can follow them to your reception.


Time is just like the distance issue. If your reception is several hours after the ceremony, people will get busy doing other things and be bored before the reception. Try to start the reception within two hours of the ceremony. If you don't want to start your wedding dance at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, have a Meet and Greet mixer before your reception while you are having your wedding party photos taken. Serve some punch and get people to mingle. This will be one of the few times that both families will be together. Encourage family members to share stories about your childhoods.


People like their personal space, and they have most likely spent an hour sitting close to strangers for your ceremony. If you let them spread out, they will enjoy themselves more. Make sure your reception hall has plenty of room for your guests. The people renting the location might tell you it holds 200 people, but that doesn't necessarily mean it will hold 200 people comfortably! Make sure to ask the venue for pictures of your space set up for the number of guests you are planning to invite.


Having a summer wedding? Is your reception hall air conditioned? If people sweat while just sitting, they won't dance.

On the flip side, if they are cold they won't dance either (who wants to dance in a parka?). Also make sure you know who has control of the thermostat so the temperature can be adjusted if needed.

The best compromise is to accept that venue your reception may be a little warm and stuffy while all the guests are grooving on the dance floor, but as they trickle out during the night the room will begin to cool down.


This is a hot button issue, all venues are non-smoking, with designated outdoor smoking areas, so expect smoker's to leave your reception for 15-30 minutes every hour.

However, if enough of them leave the reception area, you may find a large percentage of your guest just hanging out in the smoking area. This can be a big problem if you have many smokers in your wedding party, particularly when it comes to speeches , dances, and bouquet toss that are set times.

It's also important to check with your venue that there is enough space for guests and wedding party members who have health problems like asthma or allergies to get in and out of the venue without running a gauntlet of smokers, for when they need a breath of fresh air outside, or want evening photos, so ensure that your venue has a smoking area that is not TOO close to the main doors.

Venue coordinators will no doubt bring up several other factors for you to consider when you interview them for your booking, but these are often missed items, so add them to your list of questions when booking.

If you keep the overall picture in mind and work with your wedding party and venue coordinator on the decorating ideas, your photographer and MC on the timeline, you are almost guaranteed to have an awesome and memorable wedding reception that your family and friends will talk about for years to come.