Photo from Jump Restaurant
Next up on our location list are restaurants, which can make for a super cool reception location. They are usually best suited for small – medium sized weddings. By choosing a spot that has great decor and atmosphere, you can save yourself a lot of money on flowers and other decorations. But make sure you’re choosing a location that matches your design aesthetic. If you’re wanting a romantic, classic look, a super sleek and modern lounge is likely not a great pick. Food is the first consideration, of course, but look at the restaurant’s setting. How will it play into your vision? If you must must MUST have the food at the Bombay Palace, you may have to change your original vision of a day in the English countryside. Best advice is to choose for the food and then run with the restaurant’s decor.
Visit the restaurant a few times before the wedding and speak with the owner. If they have fresh flowers, ask if their florist will create arrangements to fit in with your look (be prepared to pay a bit extra but it could save you money overall). If there are fake flowers or any other design element you don’t like, ask if they’ll remove it/them for the wedding (but be reasonable – we had one bride ask if a supporting cement post could be taken away…riiight).
Ask how the tables will be configured and be aware if there are any size/height differences that my be troublesome. If so, you may need to reconfigure your seating chart or rent tables.
If they print up their own menus, see if they’ll do something a bit special for your day. Don’t expect anything elaborate but a nice simple program works just fine and will save you some dough.
A few touches can make your event shine. Consider renting better quality linens that are full-length and linen napkins, as most restaurants use a durable poly-cotton blend meant for everyday use. Linens are an affordable splurge that can make your room look like a million bucks.
Candles are always a great option. Lots of them. See what the restaurant has to offer and you may want to buy or rent some to supplement. You can cut back on florals by using more candles.
Things to be aware of…
Site fees – if you’re taking over the entire restaurant on a Saturday night, be prepared to pay a decent site fee as they’ll be turning away their usual business for the evening
Additional charges – you will almost certainly be charged you if you bring in your alcohol. And some places may charge a plating fee if you bring in a wedding cake so check ahead
Open bar – the last thing you want is a cash bar (tacky tacky tacky) but you don’t want your friends drinking the joint dry. Have the bar put the ‘good stuff’ (the single malts, the cognacs,etc) out of view and only have the brands you’re offering set out. Work with the restaurant on a flat fee for the bar
Book on an off-time – find out when is the busiest time for the restaurant and see if you can negotiate a deal for hosting your event on a down-time for them. For example, if they are usually closed on Sundays or only open for dinner, they may likely welcome the opportunity for the extra business if you host a Sunday wedding or a Friday brunch
And lastly, do NOT book your wedding a restaurant that has yet to open. Rare is the place that opens on the date it’s earmarked for. The last thing you want to deal with is a pushed opening date, leaving you scrambling to find another venue.