Sorry for being missing in action. sad We were busy planning for our banquet which will happen next year June. We were in a mad rush cos we only have like less than 9 months to prepare. I’ve heard of couples planning 2 years ahead lol. For the past 2 months, we went to book our hotel venue, bridal studio and pre-wedding photoshoot.
The banquet venue is considered as the most important in a wedding. You might be asking: “Where should we hold our wedding? What are the perks for us? Where is the perfect venue?” There is no perfect venue but there are ways to negotiate for better perks to make your wedding an enjoyable one.
Before confirming the venue
Finalize the number of guests that you will be inviting
There is a minimum commitment for all venues, so be very sure about the number of guests that you will be inviting before signing on the dotted line. Always keep in mind to factor in another 1 or 2 tables for last minute requests. Yes, that may happen. However, not all guests may turn up, so avoid inviting everyone and anyone. Think through and decide who will most likely attend your wedding before searching for the right venue.
Work out your budget
Of course, money matters. Don’t spend more than what you can afford to. With the total number of tables, work out the full sum of the banquet and potential losses or money that you may not recover back (Eg. bridal boutiques, pre-wedding photoshoot, photographers, etc.)
Always soft book your preferred dates
Some venues allow you to soft book your preferred wedding date for a period of let’s say, 1-2 weeks in order for you to have ample time to decide. Have a backup date just in case the first priority date is not available to avoid disappointment.
Do your research online
Read up the reviews online as they are real life testimonials. Don’t waste your time if the reviews given are not up to your expectation.
Correspond with potential venues via email
Email various venues’ sales managers to get their packages for comparison. Sometimes, they will share 360 degree images of the ballroom or even invite you to their wedding shows.
Accessibility of the banquet venue
I have heard of guests complaining about venues which are hard to find. Look for a venue that is easily accessible by public transport or provides shuttle bus services.
During discussion and negotiation
Visit the actual ballroom
Make an appointment with the sales manager to have an on-site walk through of the venue. These are what you should lookout for:
- Size of the ballroom – find out the minimum and maximum capacity.
- Age of the ballroom – find out to see if there are any recent renovations or upgrading going on.
- Pillars – not critical but good to go pillarless as it provides unblocked view for your guests.
- Ceiling height – not critical but good to have as it gives the perception of spaciousness.
- Equipment provided – things like projector screens for your guests to view your videos or live feed of the wedding if the ballroom is huge; sound system, music list, mics, speakers, etc. Additional mics may cost you money, be sure to ask.
- March-in route – check where do you start marching in and the route which can either be straight, L-shaped, U-shaped, etc. And whether any special effects are provided, for instance – dry ice/smoke effect, bubbles, confetti, etc.
- Stage – what is the size and height of the stage? how many people can it accommodate at one time, etc.
- Themes – types of themes and decor for the wedding.
- Structure – useful if you were to do your own decoration. Check with the hotel on the limitations for decorating the venue. Permanent decors and those that will damage their property are usually not allowed.
The Sales Manager matters
Service to me, is very important. I realized that sales and banquet managers change pretty frequently. Our hotel’s sales manager resigned 2 weeks later after we signed the package with him. Ensure that the next sales manager understands the terms and conditions of your contract plus the perks and negotiations remain as it is.
Find out the ratio of waiter to table. The more tables 1 waiter is assigned to, the slower the service might turn out to be. Also check whether individual portions are given to all tables or only the VIP tables.
Price of the banquet
Confirm the price per table, ensure that the service charge and GST are clearly stated. Find out the prices for halal and vegetarian menus as they are usually slightly higher.
Exclusivity of the ballroom
The block out times are usually 12pm-4pm for lunch and 7pm-11pm for dinner. Do also check with them the earliest timing you can use the ballroom for decoration and setup.
Solemnisation venues are usually separated from the ballroom. Check the location and request for an alternate venue in the event of wet weather.
Find out the number of carpark lots and negotiate for at least 30% free carpark coupons for your guests.
Number of tables policies
- Closed table policy – the minimum number of tables that you wish to guarantee during contract signing. Bear in mind that once this is fixed, you won’t be able to decrease the number of tables.
- Open table policy – the last day that you can increase the number of tables
- Deposit to secure the venue – usually $5,000
- Pre-banquet payment schedule – usually 50% based on guaranteed tables and 3 months before the actual day
- Post-banquet payment schedule – usually paid on the actual day
Postponement or cancellation policy
Find out the penalties in the event of postponement or cancellation. It can be more than 91 days (25% of total), less than 90 days (50% of total) or within 30 days (75% of total).
Florist they partner with
Ask for the name of the florist and selection of the flowers, where are the flowers decoration at, types of decor on the VIP tables, etc. They will most likely tell you that you can discuss it with the florist closer to date.
Invitation cards and wedding favors
Usually only 70% of the invitation cards are given, excluding printing of the inserts. Find out the cost of the printing for comparison. For wedding favors, ask for the catalogue and number of choices that you may choose from. Other freebies may include guestbook, wedding angbao boxes, etc.
Find out the colour of the cake. I still remember that BFF had a near horrendous experience of a brown cake for her wedding. A brown cake for a wedding? No way man!
Make your guests’ tummies happy
Banquet food menu
Look through the menu to ensure that the food is to your guests’ liking. The package usually comes with 7 or 8 courses for Chinese banquet and 3 or 4 courses for Western banquet. Ask for the rate of additional dishes like seafood, usually at the price of $80++ per table.
If you have limited alcohol to serve, inform the banquet manager not to serve alcohol during the cocktail session. The snacks given are usually nuts and house wine/beer. Some hotels may serve cocktails/mocktails and popcorn.
Free food tasting
Usually available for 10 people and during weekday nights only. They may also give you the option not to go for the tasting and 1 table’s price will be deducted from your total bill. During the tasting, request to try out their house wine and beer that will be served during your banquet.
Provision of alcohol
Most hotels provide 1 barrel of beer (up to approx. 50 glasses) and 1 bottle of wine per table. Try to negotiate for free flow beer and wine, if possible. Ask for waiver of corkage fee for wine and hard liquor, which only duty-paid and sealed liquor are allowed. We tried to negotiate for non-duty paid liquor but the sales manager refused to budge. Well, at least we tried. I know some hotels will close one eye, no harm asking. Additionally, find out the cost for beer and wine in case your guests do not have enough to drink. Also, inform the banquet manager to give you a cue on the actual day if the alcohol is running low so that you may decide whether to order additional alcohol.
Compliments for the couple
Bridal suite/Helpers room
Request for the bridal suite if possible, as well as access to the club lounge if available. Usually 1 night will be provided in the package, do ask for an additional night of stay or anniversary stay. A helpers room may also be provided by the hotel for the sisters and brothers to use.
This is given to the couple as they may not have time to eat during the banquet. The credit given is usually between $80-$100.
VIP makeup room/Tea ceremony
More often than not, hotels are also willing to provide a VIP room for the bride to change and do her makeup, or a special room for tea ceremony to be held at no extra costs. For the tea ceremony, free red date tea and tea set are also provided by the hotel. A hotel staff will also be deployed to help out.
Hope the above tips are useful! Counting down to 17.06.17 where we will be hosting our wedding lunch. heart If you are keen to collaborate, do drop me a note here. smile
Check out my other posts on Ben & Jace Wedding:
heart The Day He Popped The Question
heart Life Without a Wedding Planner: Carnival Theme
heart Ben + Jace 12.12.12
heart Two Weeks to the Solemnization
heart Mr and Mrs Ong
heart Ben + Jace 12.12.12 – DIY Items
heart Ben + Jace 12.12.12 – Wanderlust Hotel
heart B&J Wedding: Selecting a Banquet Venue
heart B&J Wedding: The Planning