So I got a note from a reader who will be coming to Orlando in May, visiting from Jersey — not the land of Snooki, the one in the Channel Islands. Liz Hobden and her fiance, Joe Lee, decided that while they are here they would like to go ahead and get married. No big to-do, in fact it would just be a wedding party of three: the couple and their officiant. A restaurant would be ideal, they thought. They could stand up and make their vows then sit down to dinner. But they’re running into trouble finding a restaurant.
Oh, there are plenty of restaurants that allow guests to have a ceremony and a reception, but they charge for the privilege. A fee of $250 just to stand, say, lakeside or under a leafy arbor seemed like a lot to the couple, who are already paying out $400 for the officiant. (The hotel they’re staying at, one near the attractions with a lovely swan-filled pond, wanted $500.)
So Hobden turned to me for recommendations. One that I told her about quoted the $250 fee even though it would be just the three people. “We have to charge or people would be coming here for free weddings all the time,” was the response from the restaurant’s manager, Hobden said. I can understand that reasoning, but wouldn’t the restaurant also like to make the money that would be spent on the celebratory meal following the ceremony (which, let’s face it, pretty much has zero cost for the restaurant associated with it)? That revenue is now lost for that business, as Hobden and Lee look elsewhere.
That’s why I’m turning to you. I’d like to hear from some of you restaurant owners and managers. What are your policies for this type of reservation, whether it be a party of three or a party of 300? Do you charge a separate fee, or expect to recoup it in food and beverage sales?
And, more important, would you like to host this couple’s brief wedding? The date is May 4 and the time is 6 p.m. (they’re even be done before your heavy traffic time, for crying out loud).
Leave your thoughts in the comments below. At the very least, I’ll be able to give a better answer to any other dearly betrothed who turn to me in the future.