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Your Rochester Wedding Reception
Helpful tips for choosing your Rochester, NY wedding reception site.
Your Rochester Wedding Reception
Your reception should be the perfect ending to a perfect day.
It is the time to relax and enjoy the company of the people who are celebrating your new life.
Reception Site Options
Your Rochester area reception site should suit the style of your wedding. If your wedding is very formal, a more formal site would be in order. If your wedding is very relaxed, perhaps a reception at a park would be the right choice for you. Some choices available are Rochester and local area hotels, restaurants, party houses, country clubs, your house of worship, parks or other public outdoor sites, or even private homes, such as your own or your parentâ€™s. Consider how far the site is from your wedding site, and how easy it will be for your guests to find.
When you have decided on the type of site you want, ask among your friends and family for recommendations. Find out where they have been that the food was very good, the site very pretty, etc.
- The most common sites: party houses, hotels, or banquet halls generally provide their own catering. They can also take care of all the other details of the reception, so that you will have less to coordinate.
- If you opt instead for a house of worship, make sure you check if there are any restrictions on alcoholic beverages or music. Ask what the fee for using the facilities will be, and if they will allow you to bring in a caterer. Make sure all equipment and facilities are available, such as a kitchen with refrigerators and stoves, if you need these.
- If you choose a private home, make sure that you have enough room to accommodate all of your guests. You (or your family) can prepare the food, but that might be adding a lot of extra stress and work to an already busy day. You may want to look for a caterer to take care of the menu. Arrange for the rental of any equipment that you will need. Make sure there is adequate parking for your guests. You have to determine if there are adequate rest room facilities available. You must also provide for the chance of bad weather, either by moving the party inside or having a closed tent.
Traditional (On-Site) Rochester Area Reception Locations
These are the sites most traditionally associated with receptions: party houses, restaurants, banquet halls, and country clubs. These sites will have all of the amenities you will require, all equipment and services that you will need. These sites provide you with one-stop shopping and are the most convenient.
How Big A Room Will You Need?
The very first thing you and your fiance need to do is make a list of who you are going to invite, in order to get an approximate number of guests. The total number of guests will determine the amount of room you need. Try to get this count as accurate as possible. You donâ€™t want 200 people crowded into a room that only holds 100, and you donâ€™t want 50 people spread throughout a room that holds 300.
After you have made an initial list, call around to some of the sites you think you may be interested in. Ask for a tentative price range. Then look at your budget. If the banquet hall charges $25 per person, and you have $3,000 budgeted for the reception, then the 100 people on your guest list are well within budget. But, if you have 500 people on your list, then you have to either rethink the size of your reception or take some other cost-cutting measures.
Make An Appointment
After you have made some preliminary decisions, call the sites you have been considering and (if applicable) ask to meet with the banquet manager or catering director. Take a tour of the facilities, and look at the room you are interested in. Bring your list of Questions to Ask to this meeting. Make sure you are fully satisfied before you leave. Ask if this particular person will be on hand at the time of your party, and if not, who will be.
- Make sure you see the actual room. Does it look large enough to comfortably seat all of your guests? If you plan on dancing, is there enough room for that too?
- Is it convenient to the ceremony site?
- How does this room fit into your wedding style? Is it as formal (or informal) as your wedding?
- What is the atmosphere? Welcoming or solemn?
- Will this site require decorations?
- What other events will be occurring at the same time? Will we all be using the same entrance? Will the noise from one event carry over to the other?
- How professional are the offices? The people you deal with?
- How long have they been in business? Do they host many weddings?
- If you are changing before you leave, are there changing rooms available?
Food And Drink
This is where you have the most choices. They type of food you serve will depend upon when and where your reception is to be, the number of people you are having, the formality of your wedding, or your budget. You can be as lavish or as simple as you wish. Your choices are a sit-down meal, a buffet meal, a hors-dâ€™oeuvres reception, or coffee and cake.
- A sit-down dinner is more formal, but doesnâ€™t allow your guests to mingle as much. These also tend to be slightly more expensive than a buffet.
- A buffet is less formal, with the guests serving themselves from food placed on a buffet table. These can be catered or the food made by friends and family.
- At a cocktail reception, guests are served drinks and hors-dâ€™oeuvres.
- If your style is very simple, you may wish to simply serve punch, coffee and cake.
The time of day is another factor to consider. If you will be serving food during normal meal times, your guests may expect a full meal. For example, if your wedding is at 5 p.m. and the reception should continue until 8 p.m., simply serving coffee and cake may leave your guests hungry. The meal is another place you can show your individuality. Are you from a strong ethnic background? Incorporate that into the meal. Are there any foods which have a particular meaning to you? The dinner you had on your first date? Then serve those. If possible, you may be able to incorporate family recipes into the meal. For drinks, you can choose an open bar, a cash bar, or punch and coffee. Another option some sites may consider is for you to pay by the drink, to a set amount, as opposed to a timed open bar. You set the limit, and the bartender lets you know when your guests have reached that amount. You may also have the option of purchasing the liquor by the bottle. There are usually beer and wine options, if you donâ€™t want to supply a full bar. A note on the liquor at your reception. Request that the servers be aware of guests who are drinking too much. Your wedding day is too special to have it ruined by alcohol-induced arguments or other problems, or by guests who drink and drive.
If you decide to hold your reception at a site where the meal isnâ€™t provided, you may want to consult a Rochester area independent caterer. There are two different types of caterers available. One simply prepares and delivers the food, while the other provides all food services, including servers, linens, tableware, etc. You should look for the kind of caterer which will best serve your needs, and the reception site.
- Ask about some sample menus and their prices.
- Request to see photos of past events, and also for references from past customers.
- Ask if you will have an opportunity to taste any sample meals.
- Check their requirements for cooking equipment, electrical outlets, etc.
- You may ask about who will be serving the meal, and the extra charges involved in that, if any.
- Make sure you get in writing exactly what will be provided (food, drink, servers, linens, tableware).
When To Book Your Site
You should plan on between twelve and twenty-four months in advance, especially during the more popular summer months. You should try to book the reception site as soon as possible after you have set a date. You may have to change your wedding date to match the availability of the reception site. Make sure, before you sign any contracts, that the ceremony and reception are compatible times and the same date.
Ask when the deposit is due, and in what manner it must be paid (cash, check, certified check). Also find out when the balance is due, and how that is to be paid.
Ask about the guarantees the site provides. Will you be in the specific room? What happens if there is a problem, and they arenâ€™t able to provide the site to you?
Additional Charges - Service Charges and Sales Tax
When you are quoted a price for your reception, make sure that price includes sales tax and any service fees that might be incurred. You may be charged extra for these, even if you provide the service yourself. There may be cleaning or janitorial fees charged at non-traditional wedding sites.
Ask if there are any overtime charges, if case your party runs later than expected. If you are planning a morning or afternoon reception, you may be required to leave by a certain time.
A Required Open Bar
On the busiest nights, including Friday and Saturday, some sites may require you to purchase an open bar for a certain amount of time. You must purchase the open bar in order to have your reception there.
Non-Traditional (Off-Site Locations)
These are sites which will not provide all of the service you need on your wedding day. For example, there may be kitchen facilities available, but you must provide your own caterer. These kinds of sites can make your wedding unique, but also will require more planning and coordinating than a traditional site. You will probably need to engage the service of an Independent Caterer (see above section), and may need to rent additional equipment.
What Will You Need To Rent?
If you are planning on holding your Rochester area reception off-site, determine the equipment you will need to rent. This should be done three to six months before the event. Go to rental showrooms, and check on the cleanliness and condition of the equipment they rent. Get a contract which states exactly what is to be rented, as well as when and where it is to be delivered.
When determining the number of each item you need, plan on 1.5 place settings per guest for a seated meal, 2 place settings per guest for a buffet, 2 napkins for each guest, 2 glasses per guest depending upon the beverages being served. If you are using place cards, plan on 10% more tables and chairs than guests, and 20% more if you are not using designated seating.
Here are a list of items you want to consider renting.
- Tables and/or chairs
- Serving utensils
- Linens (table cloths, napkins)
- Dance floor
- Serving trays and dishes
- Heating or air conditioning
- Rest room facilities
- Electrical outlets
- Bar equipment
Bridal Shower, Rehearsal Dinner, Bachelor Party
While touring your Rochester area reception site, keep in mind that it may also be a good place to hold any pre-wedding parties. You may want to inquire on the availability of the site for these events as well. The site may provide some extras for booking more than one event at the same place.
- Get many quotes. The more sites you check, the more likely you are to find the highest quality, at the most reasonable cost.
- Ask if having the reception at a different time (afternoon) or a different day of the week (weekday) is less expensive.
- Ask your site contact about recommendations for other services. Sometimes merchants have cooperative discounts available.
- Limit the hours of open bar.
- Ask what decorations may be left by the party before you. You may not need to purchase additional decorations if these are left behind.
- Ask about complimentary deals you quality for, such as free bridal suite for booking at a hotel.
- Do we have the option of having larger (or smaller) tables?
- How are the servers attired?