Tips for Choosing a Long Island Wedding Reception Venue and Making it Yours

Bride and Groom
Bride and Groom photographed by Cecilia Boschelli, Long Island Wedding Photographer

These are all great tips when considering a Long Island wedding venue.

Your wedding reception venue is where you’ll eat, drink, possibly get married and definitely dance the night away after saying “I do.” In most cases, the venue staff will be responsible for one of the most important parts of your big day (the food), and you’ll speak with the on-site coordinator almost as much as your future spouse during planning. In other words, choosing a wedding reception venue is — no pressure — one of the biggest decisions you’ll make other than the one to walk down the aisle in the first place.

Bourne Mansion, a member of The Knot Best of Weddings Hall of Fame and Wedding Wire 2019 Couples Choice recipient, is one known for its glitz, glamour and impeccable service. Miriam Aronson, who oversees weddings at Bourne, offered tips to not only finding the perfect Long Island wedding venue but how each couple can work with the staff to make it uniquely theirs.

Do Your Homework (And Keep an Open Mind)

Couples are getting savvier these days. By the time they reach out to Aronson, they’ve honed in on a look, feel and theme for their wedding and have fallen head-over-heels for the Gatsby glow of Bourne Mansion. Knowing what you want can help save time in your venue search. The Knot and Wedding Wire are full of venue ideas, reviews and pictures of other weddings. Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook are also worth checking out. Aronson returns the favor by sending pricing, reviews and photos close to the couple’s dream date. “That way, when they come to me, they have a lot of information,” she said. Often, couples can negotiate some rates, but if a venue is more than $200 per person and your budget is $75 per person, it may simply be best to focus your time on other spots. A caring salesperson will understand — it’s why the best are honest up front!

One & Only or Twice in a Daytime?

One wedding at a time is often ideal. “You’re getting a fresh chef, fresh wait staff,” Aronson said. “At Bourne, the staff is there 10’s a lot and you want everyone on the top of their game,” Aronson said. If your dream venue puts on two weddings a day, communication is key, especially if you are the second couple. “You need to know you’ll be coming in and they’ll be turning over a room,” she advised. “The staff is going to be busy and the room won’t be set up.” Be prepared, and you’ll likely need to research and choose another spot to take photos beforehand so as not to step on the other bride’s perfectly manicured toes.

Love The Staff

You’re going to be working closely with the venue manager for several months to more than a year. From coordinating little details (and then changing said details last-minute because you develop “bride brain”) to trusting the person to carry out the day of your dreams, there’s a ton of teamwork involved and you’re going to want to enjoy the journey. Bourne does hundreds of weddings a year, but Aronson prides herself on treating each one as if it’s the only ones, spending two hours per night after work answering emails and then even longer coming up with unique ideas to help each couple’s visions come to life. “I love a beautiful memorial table with a bunch of tea roses and maybe the etched out candles for those who are not there,” she said. “I love passed miniature things — the surprises like you’re dancing and someone taps you on the shoulder and has a tray of grilled cheeses.”

Let the Venue Shine

If you have chosen a beautiful venue, such as Bourne Mansion, feel free to let it speak for itself. That doesn’t mean forego flowers or romantic candlelight, but you don’t necessarily need to bring every little thing that reminds you of Gatsby into the venue. Likewise, if you’re getting married in a vineyard, you don’t need to rent a bunch of barrels as they likely have those in-house (and if not, the vines out back will say it all). The space does that work for you — consider putting that money towards an exit station (or your honeymoon!) instead.

As Long Island wedding photographers, we also advise brides to consider how well a venue photographs. Having worked with hundreds of couples and venues, there are some venues that photograph better than others. This is just something to keep in mind.

Food: Think About Your Guests

It’s your day, and it should be your way, but when it comes to food remember that variety is key. Definitely put a bunch of items you loved from your tasting and some standards everyone usually enjoys (sliders and shrimp cocktails are usually winners). But add on some items you think your grandma, cousins or foodie Brooklyn-ite friends might enjoy. “Just because you don’t like mushrooms doesn’t mean your guests wouldn’t like our yummy stuffed mushrooms,” Aronson said. “It’s your whole wedding, and you want to be different.”

A Toast-Worthy Signature Cocktail

Most venues offer at least one signature cocktail, and it can be a fun way to play into the theme or season of your wedding. At Bourne, Aronson loves to add Bourbon-infused cherries to Manhattans and Old-Fashioneds and serving apple cider mimosas in the fall. Another fun twist: rimming glasses with edible gold glitter. “Pick what you love,” she said.

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