Reception Planning

Skip The Traditional Reception Venue And Rent A Restuarant

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Close up shot of a dinner menu on a table

Image: Alexandru Nika/Shutterstock

To say it’s difficult to make your wedding truly unique is wholly inadequate. Thanks to Pinterest, brides are constantly stealing ideas and copying each other all the time, which is perfectly fine and to be expected. But one area where you can go a different route is by renting out a restaurant for your reception and skipping the typical venues.

There are myriad benefits to this, most of which will be more a matter of personal taste that may not work for all brides, so scroll through our favorite reasons for skipping the norm and choosing a more private and intimate venue.

It Makes Planning Easy

Restaurants come with their own glassware, plateware, cutlery, kitchen and bar. You won’t need to hire caterers, pick out your plateware and silverware, table linens and all the other things that can quickly become a chore. Now, you can bring your own table linens, decor and silverware, but for the casual bride who wants her wedding day to be as easy and enjoyable as possibly, not having to fuss about those details can be a major boon.

No Catering Hassles

Hiring a caterer is always a dicey proposition. The food and presentation are always perfect when you go in for a tasting, but often that quality you sample isn’t what is delivered on your wedding day. Whether it’s food that was prepared hours before and transported to your reception venue, or the kitchen at the venue isn’t able to meet the caterer’s needs, they are at a distinct disadvantage over a restaurant hosting your wedding.

Many restaurants will offer a special menu for large events, while others will just adapt their existing menu for your wedding. They are also perfectly equipped to handle all the variables that will inevitably be introduced on the big day, like previously unknown dietary restrictions for your gluten-free, vegan friend who only eats raw fruits and vegetables grown between the 40th and 45th parallels north . Plus, the food you sample during a dinner there will be the same food you get on your big day. No surprises needed, thank you very much.

Well Stocked Bars

Not every bride has a cocktail hour at her wedding, but those that do will appreciate the efficiency and variety that restaurant bars offer. No need to pay a bartender to make drinks; it’s included in the service, and you can easily negotiate special pricing for your event. With guaranteed business, most restaurants are perfectly happy to offer a discount on cocktails and wine, knowing that they’ll make up the lost profit by the volume sold.

No DJ Needed

Some eateries are equipped with the space for a live band or DJ, but those that aren’t allow you to skip this expense and put the money towards other things. Dancing at weddings is very much going by the wayside, and spending thousands of dollars for a DJ or band simply doesn’t make financial sense when only a handful of guests actually end up dancing.

There are some downsides to this, however. Chief among them is realizing that you might have to give up your father-daughter dance and your first dance as a married couple. For some brides (and grooms), saying goodbye to these traditions is a welcomed relief, but others might not be able to forgive themselves if they don’t get those photos and experiences.

Tips For Choosing A Restaurant

  • Inquire about availability early in the process. The sooner you get the restaurant reserved, the better.
  • Do the restaurant a favor, and limit the meal selections for your guest to make service easy.
  • To save money, plan to have your “reception” when the restaurant isn’t normally open. This means you won’t have to rent the space when diners might be stopping by for a meal & the restaurant doesn’t lose normal business, reducing the cost for you. (Restaurants never want to lose normal business)
  • Pick a place you’d eat at normally, and don’t expect to rewrite the menu. If you love the food you’d get for dinner, why would you want to change it much anyway? Small changes can be made, but don’t expect a completely original menu.


Preston fancies himself somewhat intelligent and a very poor joke teller. He enjoys writing about food, pets, politics and the occasional bit of social commentary. He has four dogs, a cat, and a pretty awesome husband.