How to Plan the Perfect Wedding Reception in London


Here at Bateaux London, we’ve seen our fair share of wedding receptions take place on board our boats. 

For loved-up couples tying the knot, planning a wedding is very exciting and a time that will be remembered forever. However, planning your big day can also be stressful. There’s so much to consider, it’s hard to know where to start. 

For many couples, choosing a wedding reception venue is the biggest challenge. It’s the point when decisions are difficult because there is so much to think about. How many guests will be attending? What type and size of wedding reception venue will your budget allow for? How are you going to cater to all of your guests? What colour scheme do you both like? 

Our wedding coordinators at Bateaux London have put a step-by-step guide to help you through the basic challenges that could arise when choosing a London wedding reception venue. 


Planning your wedding  Pros and cons of different wedding reception venues

Planning your wedding

Let’s start with the basic steps that you need to do before you start making any big decisions. 

Set a flexible date and budget for your London wedding 

If you can, don’t set your heart on a particular date. Decide what time of year you want to get hitched, but don’t tie yourself down too much. Why? Well, the price of a wedding reception venue can vary depending on the day of the week and time of the year. For example, a Saturday wedding is usually much more expensive than a weekday one. Being flexible with dates and days will open up the type of venues that fit your budget. 

While being flexible with timings is a positive approach, being too flexible with a budget can be problematic. It’s best to realistically discuss how much money you can afford to spend on your wedding reception. It’s all too easy for finances to spiral out of control, which can lead to a stressful start to married life. 

How many people will be attending your wedding reception in London? 

At this stage, nailing down the final guest list isn’t necessary. However, before you start to travel around London looking at potential venues, it’s best to consider numbers. It’s a good idea to make two potential lists here. The first is an all-inclusive list; the most you could possibly invite. Think about who you’re obliged to invite, who you want to invite and the additional requests that family members might make. The second list is more conservative. It includes close family members and friends. 

This will give you more flexibility when it comes to venue choices and budgets. For example, if you find a fantastic venue in London that is well within your budget, you’ll be able to invite more guests. On the other hand, if you fall head over heels with a reception venue that is on the expensive side, you may choose to reduce the guest list so that you can have your special day just as you want it. 

Think about the type of London wedding reception you want

There are plenty of unique venues in and around the City of London. But in order to find the perfect setting, you need to consider a few things: 

  • Are you looking for a small wedding venue to host a select number of people? 
  • Are you looking for a bigger event space to host a large number of wedding guests? 
  • Do you want to marry outdoors or indoors? 
  • Do you want a simple affair or a lavish occasion? 

Thinking about this type of thing will help you to decide what kind of venue might be suitable.

Planning your wedding reception

Pros and cons of different wedding reception venues

To help you choose your perfect London wedding venue, we’ve created a list of pros and cons for different venue types. 

An outdoor wedding in London

From Kew Gardens to Chelsea Physic Garden, there are some great places to hold an outdoor wedding reception in London. 


  • An outdoor wedding reception usually has a relaxed feel about it
  • A wedding reception outdoors really is a blank canvas in terms of decor 
  • A beautiful garden or colourful outdoor space really doesn’t need that much decorating anyway, so you’ll save yourself some money 
  • An outdoor space is suitable for larger guest lists


  • Rain, wind and cold temperatures can easily spoil an outdoor wedding reception 
  • Rental costs can be sizeable as you might need to rent chairs, tables and portable toilets 

Outdoor wedding reception

A London restaurant wedding reception 

All year round, Bateaux London hosts impressive wedding receptions! There are lots of advantages to having a restaurant wedding reception.  


  • The food will taste fantastic. Well, you’d expect a restaurant to serve food of superb quality
  • It’s a great option for small to medium sized wedding parties
  • Many places offer private dining rooms away from other paying guests
  • It a great choice if you’re looking to maximise budgets as generally speaking, restaurant wedding receptions are more affordable    


  • Depending on the restaurant, there might be limited space for a band or dancefloor
  • There won’t be as much scope for decor and putting your own stamp on things
  • Your guests will have to find suitable accommodation 

Restaurant wedding reception

A hotel wedding reception in London

Whether you’re hosting a big or small wedding reception in London, a hotel venue can cater for you. There’s plenty of choices when it comes to hotel wedding venues.


  • Hotel wedding receptions are often a convenient choice, especially if you want to have your civil ceremony and reception in the same place 
  • Accommodation options are available to attending guests
  • In many cases, a wedding coordinator is included in the price. A great bonus if you need a hand with planning


  • Wedding receptions are usually hosted in function rooms which means the rest of the hotel is open to paying guests 
  • There can often be a lack of flexibility when it comes to layout, decoration and personalisation
  • Some hotels work with a restricted number of vendors which means you can shop around for the best prices
  • In some cases, you will find hidden rental costs

Plan a hotel wedding reception

A marquee reception 

A marquee wedding reception is a great option if you really want to put your own personal touches into it. It may be harder to find places in London to host this type of reception, however, many hotels or stately homes allow marquees in their grounds. 


  • Marquees come in all shapes and sizes, which means that you can host your ideal guest list
  • A marquee is a blank canvas which means that there are no limitations when it comes to decoration and layout
  • Holding your wedding reception in a marquee gives you total control of the catering, as you won’t be limited to a venue’s menu options  


  • Marquees can be restrictive when it comes to the weather, especially in London! This means that there is high demand for bookings during the summer months
  • There is the extra cost associated with hiring tables, chairs, dance floor, lights and toilet facilities
  • You will be required to organise and set-up the marquee and decor before the wedding reception 

Plan a marquee reception

If a restaurant wedding reception feels like it might be a potential option, don’t hesitate to get in touch about Bateaux London’s wedding packages! We’d love to be part of your special day.