How to Choose Your Wedding Reception Venue

How to quickly and easily find the best reception venues in Brisbane for your perfect wedding…

Just engaged and wondering how on earth you go about finding the perfect wedding venue for you?

It certainly is one of the biggest decisions you will make for your wedding and the pressure to get it right can sometimes be a bit overwhelming.

The ultimate goal is to narrow down your search to 3 to 5 favourite venues which you will go and inspect in person. But how do you discover the hundreds of local venue options out there and create your shortlist?

The first step...

is to think about what type of wedding you would like as well as your deal-breakers, would-be-nice features and theming/styling ideas you love.

That way when you start your search you will be able to sort and filter according to your personal list of needs, wants and love.

This makes the whole process much simpler and quicker and a whole lot more enjoyable for you and your partner. Actually, especially for your partner – they will love you even more for involving them in the final selection from your top 5 venues, rather than dragging them to every single venue in town only to discover they just aren’t right for you.


So what are these main questions we are suggesting you look at?

  • 1. How many guests would you like to have?

    The size of your wedding will dictate which function spaces are available within each venue. The Venue’s Wedding Coordinators will work with you in ensuring that you can find a space which best matches the size of your wedding to help them optimise the use of their available space but more importantly, so you have the right ambience for your wedding.

    Larger weddings would lend themselves to ballrooms in hotels, large dedicated function venues or even marquees. Mid-sized weddings of about 80 to 120 guests give you the biggest scope of choice, with most venues having a space that would accommodate this size wedding. Smaller more intimate weddings suit restaurants, bars, private clubs and some boutique function venues.

    2. What is your overall wedding budget?

    We’d all love to have an unlimited budget to do everything we’d ever wished for with our wedding. Unfortunately the reality for 99% of us is that our wedding budget will likely underlie most of our choices. The good news is that creativity goes a long way and with so many great tools available to you today, you can have the wedding of your dreams.

    The two biggest factors dictating your wedding reception budget are number of guests and price per head of the wedding packages on offer. For any given budget, it makes sense that the less guests you have, the more you can spend on food, drinks and cool stuff for your guests. If having a big wedding is important to you, then maybe consider some of the cocktail packages or venues that offer BYO alcohol or catering to keep the budget in check.

    At the end of the day it’s you and your partner’s choice. We recommend though keeping an open mind during the discovery stage of looking for venues, so you can consider options from all the venues and packages available which suit your ballpark requirements. You can then compare options and find that optimum balance between guest numbers and package (price per head) for your wedding.

    3. Considerations around location?

    Location is so important as it sets the scene for your whole wedding. But often choice of location can be as much to do with your guests as it is for you. You want to make sure your wedding reception venue is accessible to as many guests as possible by looking at parking, public transport, travel distance, and nearby facilities and accommodation.

    Destinations weddings overseas are popular but you may likely need to compromise on how many guests are able to attend. Having your wedding reception outside of Brisbane, at local destinations like the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast or around Maleny, is no problem. It just means giving some extra thought into local accommodation options for guests or even hiring a bus or two to take guests back to the city or nearest town at the end of the night.

    4. When would you like to get married?

    It goes without saying that Saturday evening wedding receptions are by far the most popular. However, with venues promoting some great savings for off-peak weddings, these are definitely worth considering. Sunday brunch weddings can be a lovely alternative for relaxed, garden weddings. Or why not consider a Thursday or Friday night wedding and use the thousands of dollars you might save on upgrading your honeymoon?

    In Australia, Spring and Autumn weddings are the most sought after. A lot of the popular reception venues book out 18months to 2 years in advance for these peak seasons. By considering a Winter or Summer wedding, not only might you save a bunch of money but you can get very creative with season related theming. And you’d be less likely to have a clash with other weddings within your guest network.

    Talk to venues about what specials they offer for some of these off-peak times. It might be a discounted price per head on their packages or maybe the inclusion of additional services like a bar tab, complimentary ceremony or wedding night accommodation.

    5. How ‘hands-on’ do you want to be in your wedding planning?

    Are you the type of bride who prefers to manage every detail of your wedding or would you be much happier entrusting the organisation of your day to a wedding coordinator/planner? This question is intricately linked to budget also.

    Most of the venues who do lots of weddings, and to a lesser extent venues such as restaurants, will provide you with your own Wedding Coordinator. Having someone on your side like this who can make sure everything runs smoothly can take a lot of the pressure of you. They are often very good at providing great ideas on styling, other recommended vendors and a timing schedule for your day – taking it to a new level. This is a great option for time-poor brides or those who want a stress-free (well, reduced stress) and relaxed wedding planning journey.

    If you are a terrific organiser and would prefer to look after the details yourself, a DIY style wedding might be a good fit. You can hire a blank-canvas venue, where you pay just for the venue hire, and then coordinate all the styling, catering, staff and run-sheet for the day yourself.

    Before you make a final decision, make sure you are comparing apples with apples in terms of what is included in both options, as the overall cost to DIY can sometimes be just as much as going with an all-inclusive package.

    6. What is your overall wedding vision?

    How do you want your wedding to feel for you and your guests? Romantic, glam, fun, spectacular, relaxed, intimate? The type of wedding venue you chose will contribute a lot to the overall feel for your wedding. At the end of the day, with the right styling you can transform most venues into your dream vision. To help get you started, here’s a list we’ve pulled together on pros and cons for some of the most popular venue styles.


From nearly 30,000 internet searches, the following six topics have been identified as being the most YOU

  • Cheap and affordable DIY venues

    Suggested Venue Types: Sporting clubs, your/friends house, marquee on friends property/public space, community halls, barns, any venue with DIY catering or alcohol


    • Can be a cheaper option. DIY saves on all-inclusive package prices and less ‘glamorous’ venues will have lower operating costs which they can pass on to you in their pricing

    • Divert more of your budget to cool wedding extras

    • More control over every detail from dates to décor, and you call the shots on things like start and finish times

    • Stamp your personal style and make your wedding more personable


    • DIY options are much more consuming of your time and mental energy

    • No wedding planning expert on your team (unless you pay for them seperately)

    • If DIY means a marquee or outdoor location, beware of weather implications. Having a solid indoor backup plan can add unexpected cost

    • Unlike packages with hotels, DIY venues or marquee hire can often have hidden costs. For example, make dance floor hire, flooring, a wedding coordinator to coordinate proceedings on the day, catering staff, etc.


    Search budget venues

  • Outdoor venues

    Suggested Venue Types: Marquees, decks, beach venues, gardens, hinterland or mountain retreats, parklands


    • If you love the serene beauty of the outdoors, this may be the obvious or only choice for you from the outset anyway

    • The beauty and splendor of nature, creates instant ambience for your wedding, potentially saving you money on syling and décor

    • If you’re planning a big wedding, an outdoor location can give you a lot more leeway with capacity to fit extra guests

    • Whatever the actual location style, outdoor weddings provide terrific backgrounds for photo opportunities

    • Most of us can’t help but feel a little more relaxed at an outdoor wedding, creating a calm wedding vibe


    • No-one can predict the weather. All you can do is prepare and make sure you have a solid indoor/undercover option organised.

    • Uninvited guests, namely flies and mosquitos, are a definite negative. Be prepared for this by keeping repellants at hand (citronella candles or mozzie spray).

    • The nature of outdoor spaces can mean you don’t have them all to yourself. Be prepared to share your wedding with curious onlookers (which may even be a positive for some).

    • Be cautious of budget with outdoor venues as there can be many hidden costs associated with marquee hire fees, staffing, styling, catering, site hire fees and so on.


    Search outdoor venues

  • Small and intimate venues

    Suggested Venue Types: Restaurants, bars, private members clubs, retreats, small boutique hotels


    • Romantic and personal – a true reflection of your style as a couple

    • Smaller weddings often mean we invite only our dearest and dearest, which means they can be quite a social affair. And you’ll both have time to mingle with and enjoy the company of all your guests.

    • Less guests equals lower cost

    • With the smaller venue you can afford to be more extravagant or luxurious with your styling and guest inclusions


    • DIY options are much more consuming of your time and mental energy

    • No wedding planning expert on your team

    • Your guest list naturally includes fewer people, which can cause friction and drama for those not invited

    • If you aren’t the jealous type then wedding envy won’t be an issue. Just be conscious of any potential regrets of going ‘too small’; particularly if other friends are planning more elaborate weddings with an extended guest list

    • Fewer guess means fewer wedding gifts, which may be important for you if you want to recoup some of your wedding expenses through cash-based gifts like a wishing well


    Search small and intimate venues

  • Unusual and unique venues

    Suggested Venue Types: Theme parks, boats, museums, warehouses, heritage venues


    • We all want our wedding to be memorable and unique venues give us a great start in achieving this

    • Option to add your own styling and personal touches

    • No need to worry about creating activities for guests between your ceremony and reception – the location itself will often take care of that

    • Great backdrop for wedding photos

    • Many of these venues can often go under the radar as they don’t actively promote themselves as a wedding venue. Getting availability on your preferred dates may be easier than the bigger wedding venues.


    • May not have in-house Wedding Coordinators so coordination could be hit and miss

    • Packages may not be all-inclusive, so be mindful of extra costs

    • Museums and heritage style venues can often require a large security deposit

    • Will rarely have on-site accommodation for you or your guests

    • May not have an on-site ceremony venue


    Search for unique venues now

  • Specialty wedding venues

    Suggested Venue Types: Golf clubs, dedicated function venues, wineries


    • Most have a dedicated wedding coordinator who you can be confident will look after your best interests

    • Depending on the venue, specialty boutique venues can often have a bit more flexibility with their packages and wedding day details than big chain hotels

    • Weddings are a huge focus for these venues and so they take a lot of time to make sure they create the best possible wedding experience for you

    • Typically a one-stop shop for the wedding itself - offering ceremony space, pre-dinner drinks and reception space

    • Good with having alternate indoor spaces for wet weather (ceremony and receptions)


    • As one of the most popular venue styles, finding available dates can be tricky

    • Most don’t provide onsite accommodation

    • If the reception space is a regular indoor function room, you might need to spend extra on styling upgrades or hiring a stylist to give your wedding the wow factor

    • Their popularity as well as their focus on delivering exceptional weddings, means these venues don’t usually come cheap. This can be tempered a bit though by choosing a cocktail style package or one with less inclusions.


    Search specialty wedding venues

  • Hotels and resorts

    Suggested Venue Types: Hotels, resorts, retreats, estates


    • Weddings are big for these venues and so typically they do them very well. If classical elegance and/or glamour are your style, then hotels or resorts might be a great option for you.

    • Often a one-stop shop, offering ceremony space, pre-dinner drinks, reception space and accommodation all in one venue. And so a great option for guests coming from interstate or overseas.

    • Provide an onsite wedding coordinator for both wedding preparations and to be onsite to ensure everything runs smoothly on your wedding day

    • Onsite wedding night accommodation for you and your guests

    • Their brand is very important to them and so is delivering on your wedding dream


    • Standardised packages can sometimes mean less flexibility around price, inclusions and details like package duration, finish time, etc.

    • Hotel function rooms can be a bit bland, so be sure to discuss styling options or consider hiring a stylist to give your wedding the wow factor

    • May get less personal attention than some of the more boutique venues (although this isn’t usually the case)

    • Delivering a 4 or 5 star service isn’t cheap and so often hotel and resort venues are at the higher end of the budget


    Search hotel and resort venues

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