Just as with selecting wedding invitations and bridesmaid's dresses, when choosing a reception site, there are several things to consider. For example: How many guests can the site hold? What kind of liquor options are there? It is wise to keep in mind that a full, open bar will increase your reception costs, and be prepared to encounter some hidden costs for set-up fees, corkage fees and gratuities for your wedding bartenders. Also, since the bar will probably be the liveliest spot of your reception, you may want to invest in some colorful rented bar glasses or opulent decorations that reflect the theme of your wedding.
Some reception sites and caterers charge an extra fee for bartending and for setting up the bar.
Many reception sites and caterers make money by marking up the food and alcohol they sell. You may wish to provide your own alcohol for several reasons. First, it is more cost effective. Second, you may want to serve an exotic wine or champagne that the reception site or caterer does not offer. In either case, and if your reception site or caterer allows it, be prepared to pay a corkage fee. This is the fee for each bottle brought into the reception and opened by a member of their staff.
You need to consider whether the expenses saved after paying the corkage fee justify the hassle and liability of bringing in your own alcohol.
In addition to the corkage and cake-cutting fees, some facilities also charge extra to pour coffee with the wedding cake.
Again, when comparing the cost of various reception sites, don't forget to add up all the extra miscellaneous costs, such as the fee for pouring coffee.
It is considered a courtesy to feed your photographer, videographer, and any other "service provider" at the reception. Check options and prices with your caterer or reception site manager. Make sure you allocate a place for your service providers to eat. You may want them to eat with your guests, or you may prefer setting a place outside the main room for them to eat. Your service providers may be more comfortable with the latter.
It is customary to pay a gratuity fee to your caterer. The average gratuity is 15% to 18% of your food and beverage bill.