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Restaurant Wedding Receptions: Everything You Need To Know

Wedding receptions held in traditional venues can be a pricey affair, with expenses such as rental fees, and catering minimums to worry about, to name just a few.

Restaurant Wedding Receptions Everything You Need to Know

If the thought of this is enough to put you off getting married altogether, then have no fear as there are other, much more affordable and simple options available!

One particularly noteworthy way of holding a simple yet effective wedding reception on a budget is to book a restaurant and hold your reception there.

The space is limited, so you only need to invite a few people, there are fewer extra incentives to think about, and not as many vendors or rentals to book out. 

There is a lot to love about a restaurant wedding reception and in this article, we are going to be looking at everything you need to know about this kind of reception so that if it is something you might be interested in for your wedding, you can start planning today! Let’s get started. 

Organizing A Restaurant Wedding Reception

Organizing a restaurant wedding reception involves many of the same steps as organizing a regular wedding reception, but with a few additional considerations, such as:

  • Choosing a restaurant: Select a restaurant that has the capacity, atmosphere, and menu options that you desire.
  • Booking the venue: Contact the restaurant to reserve a space for the reception and agree on the terms, including the date, time, and number of guests.
  • Planning the menu: Work with the restaurant to choose a menu that fits your taste and budget. Consider offering a choice of entrées or accommodating any special dietary needs.
  • Decorating the venue: Ask the restaurant if they offer any decoration services or if you are allowed to bring your own decorations.
  • Choosing the entertainment: If desired, select entertainment, such as a DJ or live music, that will fit the venue and add to the atmosphere of the reception.
  • Confirm the details: Work with the restaurant to finalize the details of the reception, including the menu, decorations, and entertainment.
  • Send out invitations: Notify your guests of the date, time, and location of the reception.

Let’s now look at each of these points in a little more detail.

Choosing A Restaurant 

Choosing a restaurant for a wedding reception can be a big decision, but here are some steps to help you make the best choice:

  • Determine your budget: Knowing your budget will help you narrow down your options and avoid overspending.
  • Look for recommendations: Ask friends, family, or wedding vendors for recommendations on restaurants they have used or are familiar with.
  • Consider the location: Look for a restaurant that is conveniently located for your guests and easy to access.
  • Check the capacity: Make sure the restaurant has enough space to accommodate your guest count.
  • Look at the menu: Choose a restaurant that offers a menu that fits your taste and dietary restrictions.
  • Evaluate the atmosphere: Choose a restaurant with a style and atmosphere that fits your wedding theme and personal preferences.
  • Book a tasting: If possible, schedule a tasting of the restaurant’s food to get a sense of the quality and taste of the menu options.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to what the best kind of restaurant is for a wedding reception, as it depends on individual preferences and needs.

However, some popular options include:

  • Fine Dining Restaurants: If you’re looking for an elegant and upscale atmosphere, a fine dining restaurant with a focus on gourmet cuisine and impeccable service may be the right choice.
  • Rustic/Barn Venues: For a more relaxed, country-style wedding, a restaurant with a rustic or barn setting can provide a warm and charming atmosphere.
  • Garden/Outdoor Venues: If you’re hoping for a more natural, outdoor setting, a restaurant with a beautiful garden or outdoor space may be the ideal option.
  • Historic or Unique Venues: For a space with character and history, a historic building or unique venue, such as a museum or art gallery, can provide a one-of-a-kind backdrop for your wedding reception.

Ultimately, the best kind of restaurant for your wedding reception is one that meets your specific needs and preferences and provides the ambiance and atmosphere you desire.

Book The Venue

So you have chosen the restaurant where you want to hold your wedding reception, but how do you go about booking the venue?

Let’s take a closer look at this crucial step. 

  • Contact the restaurant: Reach out to the restaurant to inquire about availability for your desired date and time.
  • Confirm the details: Discuss the details of the event with the restaurant, including the estimated number of guests, menu options, and any special requirements.
  • Review the contract: Carefully review the contract to understand what is included in the rental fee and what additional costs, such as taxes and gratuities, may apply.
  • Secure the date: Once you have reviewed and agreed to the terms of the contract, make a deposit or full payment to secure the date and time for your event.
  • Finalize the details: Work with the restaurant to finalize the details of the event, including the menu, decorations, and any additional services.
  • Keep records: Keep copies of the contract, receipts, and other important documents in a safe place for future reference.

Plan The Menu

You are all booked in for your restaurant wedding reception, so now it’s time to plan the menu!

Planning the menu for your wedding reception is an important step in ensuring that your guests have a great time, as the food has to be impressive whilst also catering to various tastes and dietary requirements of the guests.

Here are some steps to help you:

  • Determine your budget: Knowing your budget will help you decide on the type of menu you can afford.
  • Consider dietary restrictions: Make sure to accommodate any guests with dietary restrictions, such as food allergies, vegetarian or vegan preferences, or religious restrictions.
  • Choose the cuisine: Decide on the type of cuisine you want to serve, such as Italian, Chinese, or American, based on your personal preferences and those of your guests.
  • Work with the restaurant: Work with the restaurant to create a menu that fits your taste, budget, and special requirements.
  • Review the menu options: Review the menu options, including entrées, sides, and desserts, to make sure they meet your expectations.
  • Consider serving stations: Consider offering serving stations, such as a pasta bar or carving station, to add variety to the menu and keep guests engaged.
  • Make sure there is enough food: Make sure that there is enough food to feed all of your guests and that the portions are large enough to satisfy everyone.

Decorate The Restaurant

Decorating the restaurant for your wedding reception can help create a special and memorable atmosphere for you and your guests.

Let’s look at some key points when it comes to doing so: 

  • Consider the restaurant’s existing decor: Take into account the restaurant’s existing decor and work with it to create a cohesive look.
  • Choose a color scheme: Decide on a color scheme that complements the restaurant’s decor and fits your personal style.
  • Select decor elements: Choose decor elements, such as floral arrangements, candles, and linens, that fit your color scheme and theme.
  • Utilize lighting: Use lighting to enhance the mood and atmosphere, such as uplighting, spotlighting, or string lights.
  • Decorate the tables: Decorate the tables with centerpieces, place settings, and table numbers.
  • Add personal touches: Incorporate personal touches, such as photos, special keepsakes, or monograms, to make the restaurant feel like your own.
  • Coordinate with the restaurant: Work with the restaurant to ensure that your decorations do not interfere with the restaurant’s existing decor or operations.

Choose The Entertainment

You might think that your choices are slim when it comes to entertainment at a restaurant wedding reception, but this is far from the case!

Restaurant Wedding Receptions Everything You Need to Know (1)

Here are some points to consider when choosing your entertainment. 

  • Determine your budget: Knowing your budget will help you determine what type of entertainment you can afford.
  • Consider your guests: Think about the ages and interests of your guests and choose entertainment that will appeal to them.
  • Choose a type of entertainment: Decide on a type of entertainment, such as a DJ, live band, or karaoke, based on your personal preferences and those of your guests.
  • Research options: Research and compare different entertainment options to find the best fit for your event.
  • Check references: Check references and reviews of the entertainment options you are considering to make sure they are reputable and have a track record of providing high-quality services.
  • Negotiate the contract: Work with the entertainment provider to negotiate the contract, including the cost, timing, and special requirements.
  • Finalize the details: Finalize the details of the entertainment, including the music selection, lighting, and sound equipment.

Confirm The Details

With all the stress of wedding planning in general, it can be easy to forget to confirm all of the details for your wedding reception.

Make sure you note everything you need to confirm beforehand, so you don’t end up in an awkward situation later down the road.

Here are some of the factors of the reception that you will need to ensure are entirely confirmed: 

  • Reviewing the contract: Carefully review the contract with the restaurant to ensure that all the details of your event are included and accurate.
  • Finalizing the menu: Finalize the menu with the restaurant and ensure that any dietary restrictions are accommodated.
  • Seating arrangements: Confirm the seating arrangements with the restaurant to ensure that the tables and chairs are set up as desired.
  • Decorations: Finalize the details of the decorations with the restaurant, including any special requests or setup needs.
  • Audiovisual setup: Confirm the audiovisual setup with the restaurant, including any necessary equipment or special requests.
  • Staffing: Confirm the staffing levels with the restaurant, including the number of servers, bartenders, and other necessary personnel.
  • Licenses and permits: Ensure that all necessary licenses and permits are in place and that the restaurant has confirmed their availability.
  • Insurance: Confirm that any necessary event insurance is in place.
  • Payment: Confirm the payment arrangements with the restaurant, including any deposit requirements and final payment deadlines.
  • Timeline: Confirm the timeline for the event with the restaurant to ensure that all activities are scheduled as desired.

Sending Out The Invitations

Once you are sure everything is in place, you can then start to think about sending out invitations to your restaurant wedding reception.

Let’s look at some tips on how to do so: 

  • Guest list: Create a comprehensive guest list and ensure that all of the necessary information, such as addresses, is up-to-date.
  • Design: Choose an invitation design that fits the theme and style of your wedding reception.
  • Wording: Decide on the wording for the invitation, making sure to include all necessary details such as the date, time, location, dress code, and RSVP information.
  • Printing: Print the invitations and include any necessary enclosures, such as maps or directions to the restaurant.
  • Addressing: Address the invitations to each guest and make sure to include postage for each.
  • Mailing: Mail the invitations several weeks in advance of the event to allow your guests enough time to plan accordingly.
  • RSVP tracking: Set up a system for tracking RSVPs and follow up with guests who have not responded.
  • Reminders: Consider sending reminders to guests closer to the event date to ensure that everyone is aware of the details.

The Pros And Cons Of A Restaurant Wedding Reception

Now that we have looked at the ins and outs of how to go about planning a restaurant wedding reception, let’s have a look at some pros and cons so that you can decide if this is something that would suit your personal needs and preferences when it comes to your wedding. 


  • Convenience: Most restaurants have the necessary facilities and staff to handle a wedding reception, saving time and effort in finding and setting up a separate venue.
  • Food: Restaurants offer a variety of menu options and cuisines, allowing couples to choose a menu that fits their taste and budget.
  • Decoration: Some restaurants may have pre-existing decor that can enhance the atmosphere of the reception, eliminating the need for additional decorating expenses.
  • Professional Staff: Restaurants have experienced staff that can handle the logistics and service of a wedding reception, freeing up time for the couple and their families to enjoy the event.
  • Cost-effective: Restaurants can often provide wedding reception services at a lower cost than booking a separate venue.


  • Space Limitations: Restaurants may have limited space for larger weddings, leading to cramped conditions and a lack of privacy.
  • Menu Limitations: Restaurants may have a limited menu and may not be able to accommodate special dietary needs or requests.
  • Noise: Restaurants can be noisy, making it difficult to hear speeches, toasts, and other important moments during the reception.
  • Scheduling Conflicts: Restaurants may have scheduling conflicts or be closed during the desired date and time of the wedding reception.
  • Loss of Personalization: Holding a wedding reception in a restaurant may limit the ability to personalize the event and create a unique atmosphere.
  • Decoration Restrictions: Restaurants may have restrictions on the decoration, lighting, or music that can be used, which can limit the couple’s creative vision for their reception.

Final Thoughts

Holding a wedding reception in a restaurant can offer several benefits such as convenience, a variety of menu options, and professional staff.

However, it is important to consider the potential limitations such as space constraints, noise, and scheduling conflicts, as well as restrictions on personalization and decoration.

It is also important to consider the type of atmosphere and experience the couple wants for their wedding reception as well.

Restaurants can offer a more formal, structured environment, while private event spaces or outdoor venues may provide a more relaxed and customizable atmosphere.

Additionally, some restaurants may have a set menu and limited time for the reception, while private venues may offer more flexibility in terms of food and beverage options and duration.

The budget is also an important factor to consider, as having a wedding reception in a restaurant can be more cost-effective than booking a separate venue, but may still require additional expenses for decorations, music, and other wedding-related services.

Ultimately, a restaurant wedding reception may be a great option for couples who are looking for a convenient, budget-friendly option with professional staff, but it is important to evaluate the pros and cons, thoroughly research the points that we mentioned above and compare different options to find the best fit for your specific needs and vision for your wedding day.

Anna Ingham
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