How to Have a Restaurant Wedding
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Also pay attention to what gives a restaurant its ambience. If it's the evening skyline, schedule cocktails to take advantage of the spectacle. If it's a glass-enclosed patio, have a daytime reception that will show off the surroundings.
It's important to find out up front—before you've put down a deposit—how many people the restaurant can realistically accommodate. A band or DJ, dance floor, and an area for the ceremony all take up room. That's why the number of wedding guests the restaurant can handle is not the same as its maximum diner occupancy. Ask the manager how many people you can invite to eat, drink, and dance in comfort. Is the restaurant made up of a series of smallish rooms? If so, some people may feel isolated during dinner, unable to see the bridal party or other guests.
If the restaurant primarily has tables for two and four, everyone will be sitting in small groups (although you may be able to push tables together). Think twice before booking a restaurant full of banquettes, which will give you even less flexibility. Also check out that there are an adequate number of bathrooms. The last thing you want is for your guests to be standing in a restroom line when you're cutting the cake.
Restaurants that are accustomed to holding weddings often have a separate space or small room that can be used for the ceremony. Before you sign on with a particular restaurant, see if the management has creative ideas for taking advantage of available space throughout the wedding. For example, a terrace that's used for a ceremony might become a lounge area with cocktail tables later on that evening.
Depending on the length of your guest list and the size of the space, you may not have room for a band. If you have your heart set on dancing, make sure that you'll be able to have at least a DJ and a dance floor. Also, since most restaurants are designed for quiet background music, they might not have appropriate soundproofing to keep neighbors or diners in adjoining rooms from complaining. Ask the manager how loud your music is allowed to be. A jazz combo may be fine, but if you're thinking about hiring something more lively, like a zydeco band, you could be out of luck.
If the restaurant you're booking is in a crowded urban area, it's not likely to have a lot of parking space. If so, check out lots and garages near your chosen site. When you send out the wedding invitations, include on a separate card the names and addresses of the garages. As an alternative to parking that your guests will pay for, find out if a nearby church, office building, or even another restaurant might sell you space in its lot at a reasonable rate. Include a card with the invitation that guests can leave on their dashboard, showing the parking attendants that the garage fee has been paid.