Peppers Craigieburn

There’s a ring on your finger, a wedding date has been set and that long ‘to do list’ for your wedding day is staring at you, daring you to choose just one task to attempt to tick off. One of said tasks that needs attention early on in the planning process is the reception venue. If not the most crucial, then usually the most expensive element of your wedding day, the reception venue selection is a task that requires a fair few weekends of your time before you get it right.

Although it’s far too easy to get lost in the ‘do’s and dont’s’ of planning a wedding, selecting your reception venue shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Here are a few tips which will hopefully help to make this process easier and much less daunting.

Choosing The Venue

First and foremost, don’t fall in love with just the view. Yes, the view may be fabulous but is the food and service also just as fabulous? That amazing view will make your guests feel so spoilt however if the food is sub standard and the service worse than a busy high school tuckshop, that fabulous view quickly becomes a forgettable attraction.

The average couple spends more than $10,000 on their reception alone, so loving every aspect of your reception venue of choice is a relatively costly decision. To avoid disappointment make sure you spend a little time at the venues before you sign on the dotted line, ask questions, enjoy the dining experience and try the menu.

You’ll soon know if it’s the right place for you.

On the other hand, what if the food is amazing and the service outstanding, but the venue resembles a beige doctor’s waiting room? Do you have the budget to turn it into something special? Can the room evolve into that garden theme or coastal style wedding you’re dreaming of?

Just as important as making sure the food is great, so is working with what you have. Does the venue you like have a red and yellow room with blue lounges but you’re dreaming of a romantic French provincial style affair? How much money will you have to spend and how far will you have to go to make that happen?

Photo by Matt & Katie Photographers


The food is considered by most to be a fundamental part of a good celebration (that and a good wine!) so it’s important to get it right. When choosing a caterer, referrals are worth their weight in gold. Once you’ve narrowed down your list though, trust your instincts. Take a break from the email and have a chat with your potential caterer. These days free tastings aren’t usually offered, so getting a feel of who the catering team are and why they are proud of their work is paramount. It’s important to not only find a caterer who can deliver on your menu expectations but they must also understand the level of fabulous you expect from them.

Photo by Viera Photographics Food by Kristin Harrison Catering

Marquee Versus Function Room

Contrary to popular belief, having a grand marquee on a beautiful patch of grass doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to save on your budget. There are many different elements to consider when deciding to host your reception on private property in a marquee.

Firstly, it’s true you will most likely save on the beverage account, however floor and lighting installation will chomp up much of that saving. The marquee location will undoubtedly be more intimate, private, personal and most importantly all yours for a short period of time, however there a few dirty little details that you don’t have to deal with when using an established venue … the toilets, the rubbish removal and the ice, you just won’t believe how much ice you will need!

Most of the time the final costs end up the same, with the dollars just dispersed in different directions to make the wedding reception a success.

If you do choose a marquee for your wedding reception you’d be just about mad to not have a professional wedding planner there on the day ensuring it all comes together. If your budget allows, have one from the start. The information they have, can not only save you money, so you can buy those Jimmy Choo’s you’ve been eyeing off, but their expert knowledge and supplier contacts will make all the planning a breeze. However, don’t fret if you can’t afford to have a wedding planner from the start, many good planners offer an “On The Day” service so you can be assured all your planning is executed and managed to perfection.

Photos by Corey E Sleap

Finally, your wedding day should be a reflection of who you are, it’s a day to celebrate your union with those who are important to you. If you’re dinner party type folk who have a heavy knowledge of good wine and love your food then a country fair with a hot dog stand by the side of a barn isn’t your thing. Just like with anything wedding related, choosing your reception venue requires a little perspective. Don’t jump in too fast, remember to stay true to what’s important to you and your partner and choose a venue that suits your style and your budget.

Enjoy the process, make a date night out of it, blame it on research and eat out every weekend till you find THE ONE.

Just remember, you only get one day to blow that much money on your friends and family so make sure you love it!

Natasja Kremers Photography

Photo by Natasja Kremers

Ms Gingham says: “Here on Polka Dot Bride we see examples of family and friends getting together over food and drink to witness the union of two much loved people. We see this happening not only in more traditional formal reception venues but also on beaches, in gardens and even in a shed! Each and every wedding reflects the personality of those in love which is paramount. Thanks so much to Carly from CL Weddings and Events for these Words Of Wisdom!”