10 tips on how to choose the best restaurant for your wedding
A restaurant is the most practical choice for a smaller wedding ceremony. The atmosphere is more intimate and the staff will give their maximum so you would come back again on other occasion. It’s also very cost-effective because it includes everything you need for a reception such as furniture, food, decorations and, in some cases, even the entertainment.
However, every restaurant is different. That’s why you need to check out each and every place from your list of top choices. It’s a good idea to firstly go there as a regular customer so you can see what’s the service and interior like when they’re not putting up their best show. And when you go there formally and state your business, make sure you cover all the important topics for a reception or dinner.
Here is the list of topics that can help you pick out the best place for the wedding.
1. Guests shouldn’t waste time looking for a parking space
Firstly, always have in mind that, although this is YOUR day, it is necessary that your guests are comfortable and well taken care of, so they can celebrate with you. Check out if the place is convenient to transportation, meaning availability of public transportation, distance from the subway, etc.
Every restaurant has its own parking space, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be big enough for all of your guests, especially if it’s in a crowded area. Don’t let that discourage you; all it takes is a little more planning. Find garages and lots near the venture and, along with the invitations, send separate cards with names and addresses of the garages that also tell the parking attendants that the parking fee has been paid.
2. You need the extra space
The restaurant doesn’t fit your needs if it only provides seats for your guests. There is much more space needed e.g. for the dance floor, a band or the area for the ceremony. It’s possible to rent the entire restaurant, but that will almost never fit your budget. You’d have to pay what the restaurant would earn that day from other customers and that would be especially pricey during the weekend. This limits you to renting a smaller room or a private section, which can still be classy and comfortable. Just make sure the space is available and large enough.
Now ask about the essential space than is needed, but hidden. I mean the extra rooms and toilets. Most restaurants have a wardrobe too. More sophisticated ones even provide a dressing room for the bride, groom and bridal party to get dressed for the wedding.
Don’t forget to check if there are enough toilets. The picture of a huge line in front of the only toilet during reception is not the one you’d like to keep in your album. Of course, they must be available and clean. Take an extra effort and see if they are handicapped accessible, just in case.
3. Agree on the seating arrangement
Be sure to ask the manager how many people the restaurant can really handle. Guests will be there not only to eat, but also to dance and mingle. It’s good to know if there are any other parties on the same day, too. That way you can demand that you are given first priority by the staff.
Still, the seating arrangement is the most important for guests. There are several options so you just have to think carefully what best suits your needs. A restaurant full of banquettes gives you the least flexibility. If the restaurant is made up of a series of smallish rooms, some people may feel isolated during dinner, unable to see the bridal party or other guests.
It’s proven as the most practical to have tables for two and four so that everyone will be sitting in small groups. You may be able to push these tables together, so don’t forget to ask for that too.
4. Good menus make a good reception too
Food is what people pay the most attention to at a wedding, beside music and the bride. Choose a restaurant that offers a wide variety of options, since your taste doesn’t have to fit the guests’ tastes. Some restaurants offer a set menu, while others give your guest a chance to choose what they want. In any case you should ask whether there are any special dishes or if some accommodations can be made for your event. A lot of restaurants will happily work with foodie couples to satisfy their taste. And you can demand to have a tasting session before the wedding.
5. Here comes the cake
This is the specific and tricky part of a restaurant wedding. We already said the best part of this venture is that it has everything you need. That often includes the pastry chef who can make you a beautiful cake for the big day. You can agree on the taste, as well as appearance. The downside is that they will probably not let you bring a cake from your favorite bakery, thus limiting your choice a little bit.
6. Personalizing the space
Every restaurant has its own specific look and that can save money and time spent on decorations. Just be careful that the style and appearance of the place fits in with the overall feel and theme for your wedding. Still, no matter how much you like the space, every bride needs to give it an extra touch. Ask the restaurant owner if you can bring additional decorations such as flowers, table centerpieces or personalized linens.
7. Don’t forget the music
Let there be music – quiet background sounds during dinner or more lively sounds to move your dancing feet to. It’s up to you to pick between a live band and a DJ. Just verify there is enough space for them and that the power source will work. If you don’t want other restaurant customers coming to complain and interrupt your party make sure you know how loud the music is allowed to be.
8. What to do with smokers
Smoking indoors is becoming strictly limited in more and more countries worldwide. Some restaurants will designate a special smoking room, or the restaurant’s main bar area might be available for smoking. Check how they can accommodate your needs.
9. Price seals the deal
We come to the budget limits, where reality hits you. As it’s been said if you want the entire restaurant for yourself you have to compensate the owner for all the business he will be giving up on your account. If it doesn’t exceed your budget, go ahead with it. If it does, don’t worry. There are a few mostly used solutions.
Choosing a place with several dining areas enables you to have your celebration and the owner to keep his main dining room and bar open. Another way to go is to use a restaurant that is closed during the day or on the weekend, so you could host a private brunch or lunch time wedding. Finally, ethnic restaurants are known as a less pricey option.
10. You still don’t have to spend the whole budget
Even when you’re agreed on the overall price, there are still ways to save up a bit more money for your honeymoon. Rather than letting the newlyweds try to put everything together, some restaurants provide whole wedding packages that are very affordable.
Be sure to ask if there is any kind of a discount, e.g. if you pay something in advance. You can also find good restaurant deals online so that can be a place where you should start your search for the perfect wedding place.
By now, the manager should be assured you can’t be fooled and he’s offering you complementary champagne just to persuade you to have your wedding at his restaurant. Just to play it safe, here is one more tip. Book the restaurant you like in advance, as there can be added rush in certain times of the year.