How to Have a Restaurant Wedding & The 9 Best Venues for One

Great food and a great atmosphere make a restaurant an ideal location for a memorable wedding.
Sarah Title - Bridal Fashion & Shopping Expert.
Sarah Title
Sarah Title - Bridal Fashion & Shopping Expert.
Sarah Title
Bridal Fashion & Shopping Expert
  • Sarah writes a variety of content for The Knot and WeddingWire, including bridal fashion advice and product recommendations.
  • Sarah’s work has also been featured in Brides, Nicki Swift, Betches and Style Me Pretty.
  • Sarah lives in Alexandria, VA with her (new) husband and golden retriever named Brady.
Updated Jun 06, 2021

Do you and your partner have a favorite restaurant? Or is there a special place you always go to on anniversaries and birthdays? Did you get engaged or exchange "I love you's" for the first time at a specific eatery? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, a restaurant wedding might be the perfect place to tie the knot. Even if the answers to these questions aren't "yes" there are still plenty of reasons why a restaurant wedding is a great wedding ceremony and/or reception location. Whether you and your partner are foodies or you both just love good food, there are plenty of reasons that make a restaurant a great spot to celebrate. For the pros and cons of a restaurant wedding, how to choose the right venue and a few recommendations, read ahead before you start planning.

Pros and Cons of a Restaurant Wedding

Pro: The food will be the main attraction

Delicious food is pretty much a guarantee when you have your wedding at a restaurant. Not only will you get the benefit of food that's piping hot and fresh, the smells of the chefs whipping up your entree will fill the ceremony and reception space. Plus, you're guaranteed to love it, especially if you're having it at one of your favorite places.

Con: You may have to cut your guest list.

Depending on the size of the restaurant and what they can offer in terms of private rooms or if they allow you to rent out the whole place, couples may find themselves having to make cuts to their guest list. It also might be hard to find enough space to host both a ceremony and reception at the same venue. This varies from restaurant to restaurant, but since they aren't necessarily wedding venues at their core, there could be some space issues.

Pro: Your wedding reception will feel like an intimate dinner party.

Instead of spreading out in a massive banquet hall or ballroom, a restaurant aesthetic promotes intimacy and coziness. Whether you're all at one long table or just a few feet away from other guests, it's easy to mingle and talk to everyone in attendance. A restaurant wedding will feel more like a Thanksgiving dinner with extended family versus a big bash with too many people.

Con: There may not be a dance floor.

This isn't necessarily going to be true for every restaurant venue, but if you're opting for a cozy bistro or an elegant steakhouse, chances are there won't be a dance floor in the dining area. This doesn't mean you can't bring in your own music, like a band or DJ to play your favorite music, but most restaurants don't come with a wedding-ready dance floor. And for you and your partner, that might be totally fine.

Pro: You won't need to spend a ton on decor.

Unlike lofts and other unadorned banquet spaces, most restaurants come with decor already intact so you won't have to go over-the-top in terms of florals and decorations. With the exception of centerpieces and some floral adornments, you'll likely end up saving on your decor budget.

How to Choose a Restaurant Wedding Venue

Like planning any other style of wedding, it's hard to know where to begin. First you'll want to think about what size wedding you want to have? If you're hoping for a big guest list - this will likely eliminate some smaller restaurant wedding venues if they can't accommodate all of your guests. Once you determine a general size of your guest list, you can begin thinking about what restaurant you want to host the event. Is there a special restaurant you both love to eat at on special occasions? Is there an amazing eatery you've always wanted to try but never have? Did you get engaged at a specific restaurant? Finding some kind of connection between you and your partner and the venue might help you narrow down the selection. Another thing you'll want to ask yourself is how fancy or casual you want your celebration to be. Some restaurants are on the more casual side, while others lean more elegant.

Once you've narrowed down your choices and you start looking around, there are a few questions you'll want to ask the restaurant wedding venue. Can they offer you a private room or can you rent out the whole restaurant for the event? Can you pick your own music? Some restaurant venues want to have control over the soundtrack to match the overall atmosphere. If you want to do traditional reception activities like a first dance or cutting the wedding cake, is there space for that? Is there a food/beverage minimum to spend and if so, how much is it? Can you and your partner create a menu with the restaurant or do they have a set menu for private events? Is it OK to bring in outside vendors to decorate or do you have to stick exclusively with them? These are just a few questions that might help you narrow down your venue.

9 Restaurant Wedding Venues to Consider

Bryant Park Grill in New York City, New York

Sitting right behind the iconic New York Public Library nestled in Bryant Park surrounded by London Planetrees, this classic Manhattan restaurant offers three areas for couples to take advantage of. The Rooftop Terrace is a versatile event space and can accommodate 220 guests for the ceremony, 200 guests for a cocktail reception and 150 for a buffet reception. The South Garden is another option for the wedding ceremony or cocktail hour, and lastly, the Grill Room seats up to 220 guests for dinner and dancing. A variety of all-inclusive packages are offered, which include tables, chairs, glassware and linens. Wedding package add-ons include a dance floor, tent and other wedding decor. Work with the chefs on-site to craft a wedding day menu that meets your needs. The Bryant Park Grill's dedicated team of event planners is ready to make your big day extra special.

Madera Kitchen in Los Angeles, California

This hip restaurant in the heart of Los Angeles has a modern and eclectic atmosphere adorned with greenery, wooden beams in an indoor/outdoor setting, making it a great restaurant wedding venue for couples looking for something off the beaten path. There are four event spaces, including a greenhouse-style patio that can be covered during the winter months. Fit up to 200 guests seated or 400 cocktail style. The event space comes with gourmet in-house catering and wedding planning. The wine room is perfect for an intimate celebration or a rehearsal dinner and is chock full of rustic charm. The wine barrels, wooden beams and farm table that seats up to 20 people is yet another reason why Madera Kitchen is an ideal spot for the perfect wedding.

Osteria via Stato in Chicago, Illinois

Lovers of Italian food should look no further than this local restaurant in downtown Chicago. The warm, rustic aesthetic creates a cozy atmosphere which is perfectly complemented by the comfort of an authentic Italian meal. Rustic stone walls, the glow of candlelight, transports guests right to the Italian countryside. Seasonal and locally sourced ingredients will keep your guests mouths watering long after your big day is over. The restaurant has a team of special event staff that will help your special day go off without a hitch. From menu planning, seating charts and day-of coordinating, no detail is overlooked. Every wedding package comes with ivory votive candles, custom printed dinner menus, hand-painted table numbers, valet parking, linens, final menu tasting and Italian cookie favors. A wedding at Osteria via Stato will leave your hearts and stomachs full and happy.

Listening Room Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee

If live music is a passion you and your partner share, consider this live music and event venue in Nashville's south of Broadway neighborhood. This cafe is in located inside a historic warehouse building and the vibe of the space reflects that, like the old boiler that remains in the Boiler Room at the restaurant. If you're having a live band, this is the place to have one, as the event space features a stage and flexible table layouts to make room for a dance floor. A full buyout of the space is an option, allowing for 650 guests. Catering is done on site by the resident chef and the wedding venue offers various packages for every style and price point including a buffet-style, stations, plated service, or brunch if you want to do something super unique. The Listening Room Cafe is an out-of-the-box restaurant venue to consider for couples who were born to stand out.

Butcher & the Boar in Charleston, South Carolina

If you want a wedding experience with a heavy focus on family-style food, this top Charleston restaurant is a can't-miss venue. It's been recognized as one of the top 100 steakhouses and bourbon bars in America. And if that's not enough of a reason to check it out, it has two very different experiences in one restaurant. Whether you want an upscale, intimate wedding inside the modern steakhouse, or a fun and lively gathering, this restaurant wedding venue has it all. From award-winning chefs to charcuterie experts, nobody will go home hungry. There are three event spaces to choose from at Butcher & the Boar. The Boar Room is ideal for an intimate wedding as it seats up to 48 people. The Garden Room also sits roughly that number and includes a private patio. Lastly, there is the lounge, which is a semi-private room if you'd like to mingle with others.

Jacoby's Restaurant and Mercantile in Austin, Texas

This uniquely charming, family-owned and operated restaurant is tucked away on the Colorado River which can be seen from the outdoor patio. The restaurant boasts a brick interior on one of the walls, rustic wooden tables and industrial-inspired chairs. The restaurant's cuisine is simple, southern, rustic ranch-to-table fare. Locally sourced produce and prepared from scratch, this is comfort food to the core, especially when it's served with a healthy helping of excellent southern hospitality and service. If you want to kick back, lean into your Southern roots and celebrate your marriage with good food and drinks, Jacoby's Restaurant and Mercantile is just the place to do it.

Cafe & Bar Lurcat in Minneapolis, Minnesota

This historic cafe and bar is a modern wedding venue featuring checkered tile floors, crystal chandeliers, and floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook Loring Park. The all-white linens and chairs give the venue a voguish style and a bright and upbeat vibe fit for a celebration. This restaurant wedding venue seats up to 180 guests and can fit 200 for a cocktail-style reception. They also offer a private dining room which includes a picturesque back patio for a more intimate wedding ceremony or reception. Innovative American food is the name of the game at Cafe & Bar Lurcat, and they also offer 200+ wines, 30 of which can be served by the glass. There are multiple wedding packages for couples to choose from based on their preferences.

Dockside Restaurant on York Harbor in York, Maine

This family-owned restaurant offers the perfect combination of breathtaking waterfront views and authentic East Coast fare. This restaurant wedding venue offers a full buyout of the property for the weekend to host everything from the rehearsal dinner to the waterside ceremony and reception. You'll have exclusive access to the grounds, make your wedding day a secluded getaway weekend for family and friends. Exchange "I do's" on the lawn facing the Atlantic Ocean and follow that which a reception in the dining room which overlooks York Harbor and boasts a big dance floor and lodging so your guests don't have to travel far to hit the hay. The on-site chef works with you to create a custom menu based on your preferences. Dockside Restaurant on York Harbor comes with an event planner so everything will be handled while you and your partner enjoy your wedding weekend.

Rusty Pelican in Key Biscayne, Florida

Celebrate your marriage with the Miami skyline as your backdrop as your dine on delicious eclectic and contemporary American food alongside your closest family members and friends. This restaurant wedding venue seems to have it all, breathtaking waterfront views, glamorous decor, the energy of Miami and top-notch service which will leave your guests in awe. With 8 different wedding ceremony and reception event spaces to choose from, including a grand ballroom, an oceanfront patio, and a terrace, you'll find something that suits your fancy, no matter the kind of wedding you're having. The team at the Rusty Pelicancan handle everything from custom menus to production planning.

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