How many guests will there be at the ceremony? Most hotel chapels seat between 50 and 100 people. If only four people are attending then the chapel will look a bit bare and a smaller restaurant or 'house' might be better. If you have more people than the seating capacity, some will have to stand. This is not usually a problem since the ceremony only lasts 15 to 20 minutes. Another point is that hotels make no profit from the ceremony; they depend on the wedding party in their dining room. You will probably be made more welcome by a restaurant or 'house' if you only have a few guests.
You might think that restaurant weddings should be cheaper because the restaurant company doesn't have the same huge overheads that hotels must support. But the larger hotels often have a dozen or more weddings per day, which allows them to operate more cheaply than smaller restaurants.
Usually the family is seated first; friends and work colleagues sit or stand at the back. Traditionally, the groom's guests sit on the right-hand side (as you face the front of the chapel), and the bride's on the left. But where one group significantly outnumbers the other, balancing both sides equally looks best.
One legend says that in olden days, the groom would stand to the right of his bride during the wedding ceremony, so that his sword arm was free to fight off any bothersome competitors or objectors. His family and friends would sit behind him on the right, and the bride's group on the left. If there had been any feuding or squabbling between the clans, this segregation discouraged any fisticuffs in the church.
One has to wonder how frequently this happened, for the positioning to become a tradition.
Some couples favour the slightly less formal atmosphere of a restaurant, other couples feel that a restaurant is not 'special' enough and see a white wedding dress and veil as slightly out of place if it's not in a purpose built chapel.
Changing your mind:
Having decided on your location, book it. If you find a better place later you can cancel.
Check the company's cancellation policy before you commit yourself and see what insurance
is available to cover cancellations due to accident or illness.
Bear in mind access for any guests using a wheelchair. If any guest has a baby or small child, is there a 'cry-room' at hand? Or does the mother have to stand out in the rain, wearing her best frock, holding a screaming baby?
Whether you choose a hotel, restaurant or 'house', your first thoughts will be to ensure that both the chapel and the party room are suitable; suitable in size, style and price.
But don't forget the other facilities. There should be somewhere appropriate for group photographs; either an on-site studio, or in the case of a small restaurant, a facility to quickly re-arrange the furniture without disrupting the party. Consider also the changing-room facilities. Some hotels offer showers and massage rooms adjacent to the couple's changing-rooms. What about access and parking. What is the walk like from the car park or station, to the venue? Is there a shuttle bus? Most guests will arrive dressed in their best bib and tucker. You don't want them having to walk through places that are too crowded.
Are there other facilities in the area that your guests may need? If they arrive early, they would probably appreciate a decent coffee lounge rather than a McDonalds or tachi-gui.