Selecting Your Wedding Ballroom! (Checklist on How/What to Bargain)

Every couple always ask the same question when they are booking their wedding banquet venue.
"Which is the best place to hold my wedding venue?"
"How do I bargain for the best perks / deals?"

We are no exception. Mr OOPS and I overcame this bargaining hurdle after consulting various friends, reading up multiple reviews, attending many wedding showcases and talking to various sales co-ordinators and discussing together. Gosh, looking back, it's such hard work!

Therefore, to make sure all our efforts can also benefit other couples in need, I decided to share the Ultimate checklist which Mr OOPS and I bring along to every single showcase. *Always Be Prepared!*

Selecting Your Ideal Wedding Ballroom! (Or Venue, whichever is applicable)

  1. Availability of Ballroom
    • Have in mind a few other dates to prevent disappointment
    • I recommend emailing the sales co-ordinator to your potential sites prior to make sure it's not a wasted trip.
  2. Exclusivity of Ballroom
    • Will you be sharing the same reception area with other ballrooms? It's best if you have your own reception area.
    • If no, you may need to keep note of strategic places to place signage so that your guests do not enter the wrong ballroom
  3. Payment And Cancellation Policies
    • Prices of the banquet as per your potential wedding dates
      • Price for different diets (Vegeterian / Halal)
      • You may see yourself getting good overall discounts or a one lump sum discount during wedding showcases.
    • Minimum guaranteed number of tables in order to secure the venue
      • Minimum and Maximum capacity of the ballroom
    • Payment schedule of the hotel (Deposit amount, Pre-banquet payment and Post-banquet payment)
    • Possibilities of installment payment? (So you can tap on that for credit card promotions that offer you the best rebates and points)
    • Cancellation policy (penalties in case of any cancellation, any refunds if cancelled within certain time frame)
    • Is the banquet transferable?
    • What is the hotel's policy for last minute changes of dates? (Possible reason: death of immediate family members)
    • Open table policies. When is the last date to increase number of tables?
    • Close table policies.This is often something which we missed out on! After RSVP, your total number of required tables is less than the total guaranteed number of tables which you commit. What are the given options? Being aware of the hotel's policies can help your helpers later on to make wise decisions on the actual day.
      • Change it to food vouchers whereby you can go back to the hotel on a separate day within a period of time to host the remaining number of tables. (Not a very common option offered by many hotels from my experience)
      • Change it to food credits which could be used to top up your existing menu (Quite popular option but you would usually need to confirm the menu and table numbers with the hotel much earlier). These food credits could also be used to pay for alcoholic drinks on the day itself.
      • Takeaway the untouched food which was cooked for the empty tables
  4. Logistics Of The Ballroom
    • How "old" is the ballroom? (When was it last renovated? It would give us a sensing on the kind of sound equipments and wiring of the whole venue.)
    • Banquet Hall - Themes and Colours - If you are at a wedding showcase, the hotels will usually display their themes for you to have an idea
    • Pillarless is optimal. But if not, try moving around the ballroom, standing at various locations to have an idea what your guests will be seeing from their seats.
    • What are the different choices for stage set up and march in route?
    • If you are considering to hire a wedding band for some live music, it's important to check if the ballroom have such space. Can the hotel's sound system support live music or is it just ceiling speakers?
    • Does the venue provide their own sound equipment? (Basic things to look out for are microphones, speakers and at least 2 projectors)
    • Enough restroom facilities? (Recommended numbers online are 1 cubicle per 50 guests)
    • Site handicap or wheelchair friendly?
    • Limitations in decorating the venue?
    • Hotel provides any special effects during march in? (Bubble machine, party poppers, confetti gun, dry ice, smoke effect) 
    • Flower petals provided at the tables?
    • Where is the VIP carpark lot?
    • Percentage of free parking for total guests (Try to bargain for 30% of total guests number. However as some places share their parking spaces with shopping centres, they may only give 15%-20%. But just keep trying) If there is intention to buy extra carpark coupons for your guests, also check on the rates.
    • Earliest time for set up? (Or do the hotel allow you to store your items the day before?)
    • What's the timings of the banquet?
    • Availabilty of solemnization venue (if solemnization held before the banquet) - Any costs in doing so. 
      • Usually hotels will provide a smaller function room for free
      • If you prefer a more unique solemnization venue, be prepared to pay more. However, do still try and ask for a discount, especially if you are having your banquet at the same venue.
    • Invitation cards provided? Printing inclusive?
    • Wedding favors inclusive? If you do not need the wedding favors, request to have it removed and bargain for something else.
  5. Food and Drinks Served
    • Alcohol policy 
      • Corkage fees for wine and hard liquor - It's quite common to get it all waived now. In that way, you can choose not to take up the hotel's alcohol and opt to bring in your own wine through consignments. More cost effective. However do note that the alcohol which you want to drink for the banquet are duty paid and sealed. (Meaning those that are bought at duty free shops (DFS) will not be allowed to serve) During wedding lunches, your guests usually drink lesser than dinners. Thus, it may be better to get it through consignment.
      • Number of wine bottles - Commonly seen in most packages is one free wine bottle per guaranteed table with the hotel. It is good for couples who just need some wine at the banquet and are lazy to shop for wine on their own. Try to bargain for additional bottles on top of the guaranteed bottles, if possible.
      • Barrels of beer - One barrel usually costs a few hundreds. Hotels usually provide 1 barrel. Try to bargain for free flow beer throughout event OR at least 2 barrels of beer per event. If your guests are mostly drinkers, it's good to secure free flow beer.
    • Food tasting - Request to also taste the house wine served during your banquet (red and white)
    • Cocktail reception - It's probably nuts and free flow non alcoholic drinks. If you have limited alcohol, remember to set instructions not to start serving the alcohol during cocktail reception.
    • Food Menu - It is usually possible to change the cooking style of the food items in the menu. However if you are requesting for a more premium ingredient, expect yourself to top up more. This is usually discussed further nearing the banquet date.
    • Additional costs for special requests? Some guests do request for some staples such as rice or drinks such as coffee.
  6. Quality of Service
    • Presence of same banquet manager on the actual day? 
    • Personally I would prefer the same person to be around. This is because I can clarify immediately in case of any hiccups by the hotel during actual day.
    • Waiter to table ratio (Examples: 1 waiter to 1 table, 1 waiter to 2 tables or 2 waiters to 3 tables) Anything that's like 1 waiter to 3 tables, you can expect service to be slow and inefficient.
  7. Accomodation at the venue
    • Bridal suite 
      • Request to view the bridal suite when visiting the hotel/during wedding showcase
      • Check if you are allowed to access the hotel's club lounge
      • Request for early check in if you are doing a wedding lunch
      • Usually 1 night will be given. Request for an additional night stay / anniversary stay if possible. However do note that if its an anniversary stay, it's most probably a deluxe room.
      • Enquire on where are possible places to do your make up
    • Helper's room
      • Most hotels offer a day room for your helpers to use.
      • Try to bargain for at least 1 overnight stay for 1 deluxe room. Best if its 2!
      • It's usually more difficult to secure an overnight stay at boutique hotels or during hotel's peak period due to their limited rooms.
    • Discounts for bookings of additional room
      • Hotels usually provide cheaper rates for guests under the wedding list.
      • Check on the maximum number of discounted rooms you can secure, in case of relatives or friends who may fancy a staycation.

And that's it!
Your ultimate checklist! 

Gosh, that took me a total of 5 hours to get this typed up nicely. I hope I didn't miss out on anything and I really hope this is helpful for all couples who are securing their banquet venues.

One last note: It's always great to keep things amicable with your banquet sales co-ordinator. During the bargaining, some of them may not be so open towards your requests. If they refused to budge in after you asked 3 times, then you roughly know that this is going nowhere. My take is... forget about it. There's always something better out there! :)

Update: Our eventual choice is Intercontinental Singapore.

Image by Intercontinental Singapore

Image By H&V Photography

Do let me know if you found this list helpful by leaving a comment! Or kindly also correct me if I got any information wrong! =)

Happy Planning, 
Mrs To-Be OOPS

Comments

  1. It's great post! Thanks for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! Do pass this helpful info on! :D

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  2. Perhaps you are curious about the type of band you should hire as well as the type of music they can play. Good bands can play all sorts of music; www.souldesire.co.uk

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  3. Beautiful ballrooms in Houston! I admire this blog and really seem interesting one. Look absolutely stunning! It was amazing! Everyone had a blast with it! Wedding is the day when each and every thing dress or flower or photograph ...everything is important. For more see here.

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