What's a Surefire Way to Plan a Wedding at a Restaurant?

Etiquette

So, you're thinking of skipping the ballroom and banquet hall and celebrating your wedding at your favorite restaurant instead. We love it! But if you're worried about how to pull off this type of reception, our wedding etiquette experts are here to answer your questions in our daily post.

We're thinking of having our wedding at our favorite restaurant. How can we pull it off?

Hosting your wedding celebration at a restaurant whose cuisine and ambiance you know and love is such a smart idea. Not only are you guaranteed a delicious meal, but you also won't have to sweat the details since everything—from chairs to chafing dishes to a check room—is already in place. Just be sure to keep a couple of things in mind:

Guest list
Most restaurants are smaller, more intimate spaces, so keep your guest list at about 100 for a cocktail reception and about 60 guests for a more formal sit-down dinner.

Cost
The cost of a restaurant wedding depends in large part on how much of the place you'll be using. If you plan to take over the entire facility, you'll most likely have to compensate the owner for all the business he will be giving up on your account. (Most restaurants "turn tables" two to three times an evening, and also depend on bar tabs.) That can be especially pricey on a Saturday, the most profitable night of the week. Still, it is possible to have a restaurant wedding on a limited budget. The most obvious way is by choosing a spot that has more than one dining area, or private dining facilities, so the proprietor can keep his main dining room and bar open.

Also consider a venue that's normally closed during the day (you could host a brunch or lunch), or closed on the weekend (you could have a Saturday-night wedding at a business-district eatery). Finally, ethnic restaurants can be a less pricey option. A well-regarded neighborhood Mexican restaurant can probably throw a wedding at a fraction of the cost of the chi-chi French place just down the street. And didn't you two meet over margaritas?

Decor
Unlike reception halls with neutral decor designed to be transformed with linens, china, and flowers, most restaurants come with their own distinctive look, which might include unusual art and vivid colors. Presumably, any place you're interested in will have a look you're happy with, since chances are you won't be able to alter the general design. Still, every bride wants to customize her space, so make sure that you're allowed to bring in the flowers and other decorations you want.

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