Guide to Planning a Wedding Reception on Long Island

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"May your love be like the misty rain, gentle coming in but flooding the river." -Traditional African

Wedding receptions… finally it's time to sit back, kick your shoes off, let down your hair and enjoy the celebration. Whether you're part of the newly married couple, or just a guest, wedding receptions undeniably create some of the best memories from a wedding. It may also create the most stress for the wedding reception party planner. As the party planner, you should find a wedding reception hall that not only fulfills the minimal requirement of capacity, but one that adds creativity and uniqueness to the overall wedding experience. You need to find that perfect location that leaves a hard impression on all of the wedding guests, but most importantly on the wedding couple. Don't worry, we can help. Just follow our guide below to find the most ideal wedding reception location:

  • Is there a specific geographic area you would like to restrict your search to?
  • Knowing what region you do or don't want your wedding reception to be located in can easily help rule out several hundred catering halls. Of course the more specific your desired geographic area, the fewer options you have to work with. This fact may be very welcome to some overwhelmed party planners, but may seem frustrating to others who look forward to being given a variety of catering hall options. A good compromise is to first limit your geographic area to a very specific area. If you are not pleased with the choices of catering halls in that region, then slowly expand your search to the surrounding areas until you are happy with the number of choices being offered, as well as with the distance. Of course, if it is of utmost importance to the couple to have the wedding reception at a specific location (i.e. close to the wedding ceremony site, the bride's home, etc.), then your question is automatically answered.

  • Is there a specific type of catering hall (i.e. hotel, vineyard, restaurant, etc.) you would like to restrict your search to?
  • Limiting your catering hall search to the type of catering hall is another way to quickly narrow down your top choices. Knowing exactly the type of catering hall you would like to use can help organize your event quickly and efficiently. However, being flexible with the type of catering hall you choose can often result in a unique event that impresses all of your guests, including yourself! You may want to consider the personality, likes and dislikes of the couple. Perhaps the couple got officially engaged on the beach. Then perhaps a beach house location would be ideal. You may also want to consider the number of people you anticipate attending the wedding reception. If it's a large number, then you may need to focus your catering halls solely on hotel ballrooms or something of the sort. Again, if the wedding ceremony took place at a space that is also suitable for a wedding reception, then perhaps this is the best idea. Having the wedding ceremony and reception at the same location may also make it easier for you, your guests and the wedding couple.

  • What is the date of your wedding reception?
  • This may be an obvious "to do", but it is nevertheless an important factor in selecting the perfect catering hall for your wedding reception. Just like selecting airline tickets, the more flexible you are the more likely it is to get better rates, options and availability. If the wedding ceremony date has already been determined, and if you definitely want the reception to be held on the same day, then your choices of wedding reception dates are automatically restricted. However, some cultures choose to have their wedding reception at a later date, or may choose to have more than one reception. This is especially true in cases where the wedding ceremony took place at a location where most guests could not attend. Asking your anticipated guests to "save the date" is an excellent idea to ensure that most of your guest list can attend the wedding reception. Further, because it may be more difficult to find an ideal wedding reception location rather than a wedding ceremony location, many people choose to focus the date of their wedding ceremony based on when the wedding reception location is available.

  • How formal an affair do you want your wedding reception to be?
  • The level of formality of your wedding reception doesn't necessarily equate to the level of pricing of the catering hall. Instead, it can help you to select an appropriate type of hall if given the choice. The level of formality of the wedding reception should reflect the actual couple. If the couple's personality is less formal, then perhaps a very formal affair is not the ideal choice. Perhaps a wedding reception at a restaurant, winery or an outdoor space would be more ideal. The level of formality may also be determined by the couple's culture, family, or the amount of guests. Usually when there is a larger guest list, the event in turn becomes more formal.

  • Is there a specific theme you would like to portray?
  • Selecting a theme for your wedding reception could really enhance the overall experience for the guests of honor as well as for everyone else. Say the wedding ceremony took place on the beach, then the wedding reception could take place at a nearby beach house, hotel or sea-based restaurant.

  • How many people will you be hosting at the wedding reception?
  • The number of anticipated guests will undoubtedly help limit your catering hall choices, especially if it's a large number. This is true in terms of amount of space and the pricing per plate of food. Depending on your budget, this could be the determining factor of where your event should be located at. If you are expecting a large number of people, then you may need to focus your catering halls solely on hotel ballrooms or other larger capacity catering halls. Depending on the weather, you could also host large functions outdoors.

  • Will you be requiring onsite food catering?
  • Most of the catering halls we showcase on our website include food catering. However, some do not and will require additional cost and planning in order to provide quality food for your guests. Additionally, if the catering hall of your wishes allows onsite food catering, but not the type of food that you wish to feature, then you may be able to work out a deal with the catering hall's management in order to bring in your choice of food. This could hold especially true for wedding receptions hoping to feature the foods of their specific ethnicity and/or culture.

  • How much do you expect to spend per plate?
  • As mentioned earlier, where your wedding reception is located will largely - if not completely - depend upon how much you are able and/or willing to spend per plate. If you are especially interested in a specific catering hall, but the cost per plate is higher than you were expecting, you may need to either rethink the catering hall or the number of people you invite to the wedding reception. One way to cut down on the cost per plate is to offer buffet services rather than table service. You may also wish to consider offering drinks and hors d'oeuvres exclusively - depending on the timing of your wedding reception and the level of formality.

  • Will you be requiring a Kosher, Vegetarian or Vegan menus?
  • Many catering halls do offer Kosher, Vegetarian or Vegan menus. If this is a must for your event, make sure your catering hall choice has this option.

  • Will you be requiring a full service bar or food stations/carving stations for a cocktail hour?
  • Most catering halls (especially hotels and large halls) will offer this service in a customized party package. If the catering hall of your choice does not offer this service in a package be sure to inquire about the additional costs and how it may or may not affect the overall scheduling of your event. If a large number of minors will be attending your wedding reception, then be sure to inquire about non-alcoholic beverages and how I.D. verification will take place. It might also be a fun idea to have a special drink named after the couple, or to feature drinks from the couple's honeymoon location.

  • Will you be requiring a catering hall that provides party favors?
  • Perhaps not surprisingly, these days many catering halls automatically offer you a selection of wedding related party favors to choose from in order to streamline your party planning. If you are not happy with the selection of party favors that are offered, or if you would like to present your guests with additional favors, check to see if the catering hall of your choice has any suggestions. Also keep in mind how you would like to disseminate the party favors at your wedding reception. Would you like the favors arranged as part of each person's place setting (if applicable), or would you rather offer them the favors upon their arrival or departure? This can largely affect the flow of the event, and even the overall presentation of the reunion.

  • Would you prefer a location with attached or nearby accommodations for out of town guests?
  • If your answer to this question is yes, then you should highly consider hotels as your choice of catering hall. However, pay special attention to non hotel catering halls that are in close proximity to other hotel accommodations. Most halls should have this information ready at hand. Another option you may want to consider is hiring services that can help transport family members or close friends from wherever they are staying to your desired wedding reception site.

  • Will you be requiring a party planner?
  • If you book your party at a catering hall, chances are you will be provided with an in-house party planner that can help ensure that your event goes smoothly. If you are not provided with one, but you are still interested in having a party planner, keep in mind that Long Island party planners have a wide range of rates, involvement and expertise - including weddings. The catering hall of your choice could also assist you in finding a party planner who has been involved with past events at that location.

  • Would simultaneous events at your location be acceptable?
  • This is an important, yet often overlooked, factor to keep in mind when booking your wedding reception. Neighboring events could distract from a calm celebration or compete with a high energy celebration. It could also affect the feeling of exclusivity that some wedding couples expect. On the other hand, catering halls that offer simultaneous events could help keep your costs low and could even fuel the party spirit. In any case, as the party planner, you should be aware as to what types of events may be going on simultaneously to ensure that your wedding reception guests are comfortable and safe.

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