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8 Things to Consider Before Planning a Restaurant Wedding

If you're a foodie at heart and want your party to be held at your favorite restaurant, this is what you need to know. 

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: Jaka Vinsek

Do you and your future spouse share a love of great food and dining out? Then consider celebrating your marriage at your favorite eatery. A restaurant reception has many perks, including a fun atmosphere, delectable dishes, exceptional service, built-in décor, and plenty of tables and chairs. All of these included perks often mean a restaurant wedding comes with a wallet-friendly price tag, but couples have to consider certain restrictions and logistical details before booking the space. Here are eight things you need to know about having a restaurant wedding.

 

Related: Tips for Throwing a Bridal Shower at a Restaurant

 

Reservations

If you're planning a large reception, you'll need to reserve the entire restaurant for the night. On the other hand, if you're having a smaller wedding, you might rent out a private room or partial dining space instead. A restaurant will typically charge less for a partial reservation since they're still accepting outside business for a profit. Talk to the sales or event manager about the options, and make sure to book the reservation several months in advance to avoid time conflicts. If you're not comfortable with the idea of sharing the space with diners, make sure to confirm that your party will be the only patrons in the restaurant.

 

Pricing

The size of your group isn't the only factor that will affect the cost of your restaurant rental. Other factors, like the date and time, will also contribute to the overall price tag. Restaurants are typically busiest on Friday and Saturday evenings, which are also popular for wedding receptions. Since the eatery will have to shut its doors to patrons to accommodate a weekend wedding, it will likely cost you more than if you booked a mid-week event. Similarly, most restaurants serve more patrons at night, so a dinner reception will be pricier than a brunch or lunch event. In either scenario, the restaurant will charge at least what they typically make in an evening when they're open for business, plus the cost of food and staff. If you're worried about the overall price tag, however, remember that restaurant weddings also save on rentals; since the venue already has chairs, tables, glassware, servers, bartenders, and linens, you won't need hire additional vendors for these items or services.

 

Guest Count

Even if a bride and groom rent out the entire restaurant, space will still be limited—especially if you're having a seated reception instead of a standing one. Ask the manager how many guests can be comfortably accommodated, and make sure the kitchen can prepare enough food for everyone in a timely manner. If you've always dreamed of having a huge wedding with everyone you know in attendance but your favorite restaurant can only fit 50 people, consider seeing if they can cater an event at another space instead.

 

Décor

One major benefit of a restaurant reception: the space comes fully decorated. A few months before the wedding, take some time to scrutinize the restaurant's interior (preferably bringing along the planner and florist). If the restaurant's aesthetic doesn't match your wedding theme, consider looking elsewhere instead. Most restaurants will let you bring in your own floral arrangements, linens, and additional decorations, but you should run your plans with the manager first.

 

Related: 7 Types of Food You Should Never Serve at Your Wedding Reception

 

The Menu

One of the biggest perks of choosing a restaurant as your wedding venue is the delicious food they're able to serve. Ask the manager about different meal options; while some places prefer a fixed or limited menu, others will stick to their normal entrée options. Don't be afraid to get creative; if you both love Italian food and your restaurant venue is known for serving incredible homemade pasta, ask if you can have a family-style reception with multiple pasta dishes at each table. 

 

Guests' Food Preferences or Allergies

If you know a number of your guests have severe food allergies or limiting dietary restrictions, a restaurant's chef is likely in the best position to accommodate these with ease. Alert the chef of any allergies or dietary restrictions in advance, and ask if they can make kid-friendly dishes if you're having a number of children at the party.

 

The Wedding Cake

Dreaming of an elaborate multi-tiered wedding cake? If you recruit a bakery to create the confection, the restaurant might charge a slicing fee. Ask if the restaurant can supply dessert instead, or if they require collaboration with a preferred vendor.

 

Entertainment Options

Just because you're celebrating your nuptials at a restaurant doesn't mean you can't have a dance party, too. Many restaurants allow customers to move the tables and chairs to create a makeshift dance floor, as long as you follow any existing noise restrictions. As a downside, though, you might not be allowed to bring in band or DJ if you only reserved a portion of the restaurant.