Weddings are about two things: Bringing people together to participate in and celebrate the union of two people, and those two people offering hospitality to those participants. In this and columns before and after we’re looking at the many and varied ways that you can make your guests feel welcome and appreciated.

Let’s talk venue selection and its relationship to loving your guests.

There are lots of things to think about in choosing your wedding venue, including offering your guests the best hospitality possible while getting exactly the venue that’s right for you and your sweetheart. Here’s a few tips:

Get the right size. A venue should fit like your favorite frock, not too big and not too small. I heard a story recently about a wedding at a venue in which the guests were split into two rooms. The guests in the second room couldn’t see anything that was happening in the “main” room. For all practical purposes, they were second-class wedding guests. The DJ took the opportunity to point this out, loudly and brashly. Whatever humor might have been intended was lost to the all-too-apparent reality of the situation. The family was mortified. You can bet that things didn’t go well after that! The moral of the story: choose a venue that will comfortably fit all of your guests where they can see, hear, and participate in all of the action!

Speaking of comfortable fit, I’m sorry to report that not every venue is completely honest about their guest capacity. One of the things that I care about when my ballroom is being set up by a caterer is the spacing between tables. There has to be enough room for guests and servers to walk through the room comfortably without bumping butts with the back of a seated guest’s head. That walk space is impossible to create if the venue overstates their capacity when they book the client. It’s important to ask how many guests can be comfortably seated in the space without being jammed in tight. If the venue has photographs available to show you how that looks, so much the better.

Making guests comfortable at their tables is a thing, too. Lots of weddings use 60-inch and 72-inch round tables for dinner service. The number of guests that comfortably fit at each table is a function of the size of the table and how each place is set. For example, more guests fit when you’re doing buffet service, with essentially no tableware preset on the table, than when you’re serving each guest at their table and have each place set with two or three forks and spoons, a wine glass or two, a water glass, and so forth. All of those things add width and decrease the number of guests that can fit at the table.

So, a 60-inch round table comfortably seats eight to ten guests, and a 72-inch round table comfortably seats ten to 12 guests, all depending on how each place is set.

I’m a big fan of 48-inch round tables, which seat six to eight guests (although I think eight is bit tight). They’re often used for the seating part of cocktail-style receptions, which are other side stand-up affairs. I like them because you can carry on a conversations with everyone at the table, which you can’t do with either the 60-inch or 72-inch tables once the music starts.

Back to the venue itself. Just like in real estate, location matters: both in the larger sense, for example Baltimore vs. San Francisco (or Mexico, for that matter), and in the more local sense of city, neighborhood, suburban, or rural. While you can’t expect to accommodate everyone in terms of convenience, you want to give some thought to your guests’ ability to get where you’re going, and the associated costs.

There are lots of other things you can do to provide great hospitality for your guests. More on that next time!

David L. Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a wedding and event venue in downtown Baltimore. Visit Chasecourt.com, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook.

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David Egan
David Egan
David L. Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a wedding and event venue in downtown Baltimore. Visit Chasecourt.com, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook.