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Ideas for Small/Medium Sized Restaurant Wedding Reception

Hi everyone,

I am looking for suggestions for a restaurant or comparable venue to hold a wedding reception next May or June.

Here's what I'm looking for:
1. Space for 80 - 100 guests
2. Relatively inexpensive ($5,000 - $7,000 total cost for food & drink - tell me if this is not reasonable)
3. Something with natural light - lots of windows and/or light from outside would be really great
4. I'd prefer something that has some outdoor space like a terrace
5. A place where I can bring in a DJ for music/dancing

I'm leaning towards a restaurant because it seems to me like it would require less money and/or effort for decorations & set-up compared to some sort of banquet hall.

I'm very flexible on location - anywhere around the twin cities, whether downtown or in the burbs could work well.

Any ideas or suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated!!

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  1. U of M Campus Club has indoor/outdoor type space. You may be able to do it all for that price - here's the link:

    1. We had our reception on the deck of the Walker (this is pre-renovation, but I know the deck is still there). Great view, we had live music (more a combo than a proper *band*), etc. I don't know if they do this anymore, or what the catering is like, but we loved it as a venue and the price was not outrageous.

      1. old arizona, south nicollet. private, with pretty patio outside, good dj venue/dancing inside

        1. You Should Totally Check Out the Whitney Bistro In West Bloomington! It holds up to 120 guests. Half of the space is an English Conservatory (Walls and ceiling are all glass), so that would definitely take care of your natural light, and "outdoor space" requirements. There are also giant fireplaces, a waterfall, 3 large crystal chandeliers, onyx stone ceilings, woodwork from the old Whitney Hotel, and a cute bar. Part of the space can be transformed into a dance floor once guests are done eating. Its also connected to a hotel, so your out of town guests could be close by. Most importantly, your entire evening can probably be done at the lower end of your budget!

          Hope that Helps...and Congratulations!


          ps... Go heavy on appetizers. The chef makes some amazingly tasty little bites!

          Whitney Bistro
          5120 American Blvd West, Bloomington, MN 55437

          3 Replies
          1. re: kopp0108

            Three District Park (Elm Creek, etc) might work. Lots of windows and light ...outdoorsy, etc.

            Kozlaks...has a patio, reasonably priced. Good food. Been around a long time. Supper clubbish.

            Degidios. Not stellar food but extremely reasonably priced. My GF had a wedding there and it was nice. The window/light thing not as much-but affordability is a definite.

            Chateau lamothe - in Burnsville. I haven't actually been here nor do I know the cost, but in helping friends get ideas, I've thrown this one out. Restaurant, decent capacity, etc.


            1. re: kopp0108

              Wow, the Whitney Bistro looks really cool!

              On their website, it says you can rent out the conservatory for 75 ppl or the entire restaurant for 125. Do you know if "the entire restaurant" includes the conservatory, or if it's completely separate?

              Thanks for all the other great suggestions! Keep em coming!

              One other thing I forgot to mention - ability to serve hard liquor is a must, so that eliminates places like the park district which I believe don't allow it.

              Whitney Bistro
              5120 American Blvd West, Bloomington, MN 55437

              1. re: UrbelT

                If you do an entire restaurant buy-out (which can easily be done with your budget), it will include all three areas of the restaurant... the Conservatory, a smaller bistro area, and the bar. There are large glass doors that open up between the areas so they flow together quite nicely. Also, If you have children in your group, I recommend making the bistro room a kid haven. Throw some fun games, coloring books, etc.. in the bistro, and you wont have to worry about a kid crying during a speech.

            2. Was at a reception at Kozlaks Royal Oak this past weekend. It was a great space and seems to have everything you asked for. the food and staff were top notch.

              1. Check out the b-dale club. A local non profit that has a hall. They have a villa park right next to it. We had our wedding there and loved it. I know you mentioned a resterant. but what you save in hall can be spent on food and other tiems.


                1. Does anyone have any experience with weddings at Vic's on the River? Thoughts?

                  1. We had our wedding and reception a few months ago at Black Dog Cafe and Wine Bar, near the St. Paul Farmer's Market. It was a lot of fun and our family and friends are still talking about it!

                    How it worked for us:
                    - There is a room-rental charge, but food and drink (coffee/beer/wine) you buy from BD counts toward it. We had 100+ people and an open bar, so, in the end, the room was close to "free". They did keep track of the tab to make sure charges didn't get out of hand (they didn't).
                    - They have a catering menu with all kinds of dishes not on the regular cafe menu. We had an "open house" with hors d'oeuvres rather than a sit-down dinner and had BD serve roasted vegetables, a pesto cheesecake, and a couple of other dishes as well as some food our friends prepared for us (see the next item).
                    - BD was OK with us bringing a few bottles of wine we'd collected in our travels (nothing great, but it had sentimental value to us) and even some family favorite foods. There is a corkage fee, and, of course, there are laws for serving liquor and food, but many places won't even consider your bringing in anything. Andy (the manager we worked with) was *really* accommodating.
                    - The room has tall windows on two sides and a patio (with tables) which runs alongside the long edge -- a nice getaway for some cooler air and quieter conversations.
                    - The room is handicapped-accessible and so are their own bathrooms (important for us).
                    - The dance floor (OK, dance "area") is small, but they have a sound system (our DJ had his own) you can use.
                    - There's a parking lot about a block from the cafe; we cut a deal with the owners of the lot to let our guests park free.

                    BD is in the same building as an artist's cooperative, so there is contemporary art and sculpture around a room that has a fair amount of, umm, patina. That vibe was what we wanted, so no issue there. Much of the art changes almost monthly; there were some pictures on the wall when we first started speaking with BD which would have been candidates for a "tulle makeover", if you know what I mean, so keep that in mind if you look.

                    The staff was excellent! They worked hard keeping serving dishes full, utensils within reach, used dishes cleared, and drinks flowing. Never once did I see an employee with a "I-can't-wait-till-this-is-over" look on their face. In fact, they told us they had fun watching *us* have fun.

                    I know our total tab (counting wine and food we brought) came to less than your budgeted figure. It would run higher if you bought everything from them, but not much -- and much of that depends on what you choose to serve. And did I mention we had fun?

                    Usual disclaimers about not getting anything out of referrals, etc. We just happened to chance upon them as we were looking for a venue and feel we really lucked out. They deserve the good press.

                    Congratulations -- and enjoy your wedding!

                    Black Dog Restaurant
                    308 Prince St Ste 100, Saint Paul, MN 55101

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: steve_in_stpaul

                      I would HIGHLY suggest the Woman's Club in Mpls. I had mine there and it was gorgeous. The website starts with a picture of the 'living room'. It was classy and intimate and that is what I was looking for.


                      That being said, your budget does seem way low for a dinner. Apps and a limited bar might be do-able in that price range.

                      Good Luck and Congrats!!

                    2. We had ours at Nye's Polonaise. It fits several of your criteria but not all. The reception room in the basement holds about 100-115 people, we paid for food and beer and kept it in the $3-$4k range, and they could support music. However, there is no natural light or outdoor space and the dancing would have to happen upstairs. However, that was the beauty of the space to us was the flexibility. The reception was downstairs and so was the food, but we encouraged guests to sing karaoke at the piano and dance polkas to the Ruth Adam's band.

                      The basement room wasn't ideal and Nye's underestimate the proper amount of food, the overall experience far outweighed the negatives. We still have people coming up and telling us how much fun they had at our wedding. To us, having fun was more important than the perfect linens or the perfect what-ever.

                      Nye's Polonaise
                      112 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414