8 Things You Didn’t Know About Wedding Reception Venues

8 Things You Didn’t Know About Wedding Reception Venues

Couples dream of planning their big day. They meticulously plan the clothes they’ll wear, the food they’ll eat and, of course, the venue where it will all take place. To help you avoid any unpleasant surprises, here are eight things to bear in mind regarding wedding receptions, some of which you might not have considered beforehand.


Many venues only allow you to use their own decorations. This can prove disappointing when planning weddings, as Ottawa-area couples want to meet their exact specifications. We know firsthand that the right decorations will play a major role in setting the mood for your reception. Although it is nice to have your choice of linens, you want to know that the reception hall you choose will help create the beautiful backdrop you want for your once-in-a-lifetime event. Have a good general idea of what you want your wedding to look like before you start viewing any venues. If you have a list of must-haves, it will be easier to narrow down the list of ideal candidates.

Bar and Wine Service

Not all receptions have the same bar and wine service. Be certain you understand what your price includes. A cash bar means your guests will have to pay for their drinks. However, there are other options, such as an open bar, that provide all drinks throughout the evening. Or, perhaps you’re considering a host bar that serves drinks for an allotted period of time. This is usually charged with a certain amount per guest but allows them to consume unlimited drinks during the time allotted.


Be very careful about what your venue will provide regarding set-up. You do not want any misunderstandings on your wedding day. Define what will be set up and by whom. Make sure you coordinate with florists and any other vendors you hire in hand with your venue. Have it in writing what they will be doing, and what they expect your other suppliers to do themselves. This is very important if you want to avoid disappointment, stress, or scrambling to do it yourself.


Do not proceed with a wedding reception venue until you understand how the room will be laid out. You do not want to end up without enough space for a dance floor, a head table no one can see, or tables so close together people can not get in and out of their seats comfortably.

Special Meal Requests

You might not know all the special diet requests for all of your guests when looking at venues, but always ensure you ask how their needs are accommodated. With so many people with varying dietary restrictions, some of the potential health and safety risks if not adhered to, you want to make sure everyone can be given meals that are both safe and diet appropriate.

Policies and Restrictions

If you dream about having fireworks go off at your wedding, you may want to check in with your desired venue before you book. For safety reasons, many venues have limitations on certain activities that include fire or pyrotechnics, animals, and otherwise. You want to know what your venue does and does not allow, plus what consequences you can expect for going against these policies. In addition, your venue may have a curfew in place depending on where it’s located. This can be a good thing for the bride and groom if you’re expected to stay until the last guest leaves. However, if the plan is to make the night last as long as possible, then you may want to look for a place without a curfew, or with a later one. 


Perhaps you’ve been agonizing over your guest list. You may only have twenty people you actually want there, but you feel like you can’t invite that one cousin you adore without inviting all of your cousins, or perhaps your parents have friends they feel should be a part of this special occasion. Before you get stressed over who you’ll have to say no to and how many plates you’ll have to pay for, talk to your venue about their capacity. Venues often have limited capacities for safety and security reasons. Choose your venue based on how many people there are going to be. The larger the wedding, the more space you’ll need, and vice versa. Make sure that you’ve decided on and booked the venue before you send out save the dates so that you don’t have to start uninviting people later. And, above all else, never forget that this is your special day; it’s okay to turn down a few requests!

Additional Fees

Make sure you find out if there are any additional fees such as a cake serving fee, extra decor costs or, more importantly, a cancellation penalty if something unexpected were to happen. If you’ve only put aside enough money for what you think the wedding will cost, your ballpark figure is probably on the low side. Without proper budgeting for those ‘ands’ and ‘ifs’, the wedding venue you have your eye on may quickly become out of reach. 

Ottawa couples will feel more comfortable knowing their wedding dreams will go smoother by knowing these important facts and planning proactively. If you’re looking for a great venue for your wedding, consider the St. Elias Centre. We work closely with our customers to ensure their vision for the big day comes to life. Contact us today for more information about our services and pricing.