How to Have a Restaurant Wedding
Eat, drink and be married at your favorite cafe
Food, as every bride knows, is the way to a guest's heart, making the crowd feel warm and welcome. One way to guarantee that your guests have a four-star experience is to book your celebration at a restaurant whose cuisine you know and love. A restaurant wedding is also an easy choice for couples who want the full wedding experience, but who don't want to sweat the details, since everything—from chairs to chafing dishes to a check room—is already in place. Here, the logistics of having a wedding in a setting where the fare is fabulous.
The Food Factor
Naturally, the area in which restaurants really shine is food. Do you want to serve your guests a particular cuisine or dishes that generally aren't considered wedding-menu fare? A pair of sushi lovers, for example, might be happiest having their wedding at their favorite Japanese restaurant (you'll want to balance the raw fish with other Asian fare). And unlike wedding venues where you're a one-time-only client, restaurateurs hope you'll return.
For that reason, they tend to make sure that the food and service are superlative—this is their chance, after all, to strut their stuff in front of a large audience of potential customers. One downside: Unlike many other sites, restaurants are going to be fussy about allowing you to bring in food made by outsiders. If the restaurant has a pastry chef, for example, the manager might not be keen on letting you bring in a cake from your favorite bakery.
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 a so-so Continental place just down the street. And didn't you two meet over frozen margaritas?
Decor du Jour
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.