Does the venue offer enough space for your guests to wine and dine and move around comfortably? The size of the space is an obvious deal breaker that will depend on the number of guests you expect to have at your wedding reception. Prioritise your guest list during the early stages of planning so that you have more of a workable gauge of the space size you are looking for. Ask the venue manager for a floor plan of the space so that you can begin to understand the how the room will look and feel based on various table placements and layouts. The spacial dimensions will significantly influence the social dynamic – how your guests will interact with one another and the space itself.
Are there designated areas or just a single open space? Having areas of distinction can help to frame the space and establish atmosphere. Supplying a photo booth or backdrop indicates and area of fun and laughter whilst a grazing station offers a place for guests to eat and chat in a more casual setting. It may be a good idea to consider a place for children to hub together and play if you are expecting little ones to attend the reception. Outdoor celebrations lend themselves to a much more relaxed social dynamic where guests can wander about comfortably and even take up a spot on the rug with pillows and bean bags. A marquee or tent provides offers a sense of structure and shelter for an outdoor celebration whilst taking advantage of a magical sunset or starry night. If you’re having your reception in a room or indoor venue, consider the space between tables and chairs to ensure that your guests have enough breathing room to get up and make their way over to their friends and relatives on the other end of the table. Avoid rooms that are overly cramped – ample space helps to create a relaxed and comfortable environment, encouraging people to get up and engage in conversation as they make their way across the room. In the same way, environments with excessive space can have an adverse effect on the dynamic. For large open spaces, ensure that you have clearly defined areas and places for your guests to gather together and experience the intimacy of the occasion despite the vast setting.
While the physical parameters of the space has an impact on the social dynamic, it also has a huge bearing on the atmosphere that’s created. As mentioned, outdoor weddings tend to have a more fluid structure, meaning that the atmosphere becomes naturally more relaxed. Indoor venues can channel a similar relaxed vibe through design elements like furniture and decor. The use of household items as styling features – think pillows, rugs, armchairs and couches – helps to create an immediate sense of familiarity and relaxation, ideal for bohemian weddings and intimate gatherings. Rooms with plenty of natural light have an airy quality that can be complemented through the use of neutral or lightly-coloured tables and chairs. Transparent seating is another way to create an ethereal and fresh atmosphere and take full advantage of the stunning effects of the natural light. In darker rooms, consider the lighting available at the venue or any other additional lighting that you may require. As charming as they are functional, candles are an ambient lighting option that can be used to liven the space whilst maintaining the intimate atmosphere of a dimly lit room. When viewing the space, have an attention to detail and consider the textures, colours and features that are present. This should inform your stylistic choices and allow you to devise a cohesive vision for the decoration of the space. Also take note of any logistical aspects that may be helpful to pass on to your florist, stylist and other vendors – Are you able to hang anything from the walls or the roof? Are there any doorways or thoroughfares that must be left uninterrupted? Where will the band be positioned and what are the connection capabilities? These details will allow you to understand what is achievable in the space as you begin to plan your ideal celebration.
This may not be at the top of your checklist but nonetheless it is important to consider the options available to your guests in getting to and from the venue. Is the reception a fair distance from the ceremony location? If so, ensure that you allocate an adequate amount of time for your guests to journey from one destination to the other. Is the reception space easily accessible? While getting lost can be fun and memorable for the spontaneous type, others may find it stressful if the venue is remote or difficult to find. If this is the case, be sure to provide information on the wedding invitation detailing the whereabouts of the reception location. Or have the MC give a friendly prompt at the conclusion of the wedding ceremony. Where there’s a phone, there’s UBER. However for those who are travelling by car, there will need to be suitable parking provisions. If the venue does not have a parking facility, gauge the street parking or nearby parking bays that might be available. This is a particular consideration for urban weddings in city spaces where parking may be limited or time restricted.