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How to Choose a Banquet Hall

Ravi S. Event Planning

Whether you’re looking for a banquet hall that will host your dream wedding or you’re sending off a parent into their retirement in style, our list of tips can help you stay on track and find just the right location for your important event.

Capacity is key

You might fall in love with a venue but can it hold all of the guests that you’re hoping will attend?  A room that can’t comfortably hold your reception is going to quickly turn sour (not to mention hot with too many bodies crammed into space!).  Don’t just think about the standing room; if your guests are being served dinner, you’ll need enough room for tables and chairs as well.  On the flipside, the venue might be beautiful, but is it intimate enough for the limited guests that will be celebrating?  There is such a thing as too much space as well, to ensure that the room size fits your guest list.  Often a banquet hall can offer different rooms depending on the size of your party, so if the first room you look at won’t suit, don’t despair; chat with the coordinator about any other possible options.

The season

You may have looked at pictures or visited your banquet hall during one season, but what time of year will your celebration be held in?  Does the banquet hall offer something special for all seasons if you’re going to take outdoor pictures?  Is there a particular month in which the venue shines?

Parking spaces and transportation options

If your guests are arriving in their own vehicles, is parking going to be an issue?  If the banquet hall doesn’t have a big enough parking lot on its own, is there other parking available nearby?  You could also check out the local bus system and whether or not taxis are reliably available in the area for guests that don’t want to take their own vehicles.  Is the banquet hall in a location that will be easy for drivers to locate and access?

Guest accommodations

Are overnight accommodations available for guests that prefer to stay the night?  Depending on the location and how far it is from homes of the people attending, you will want to determine how many rooms you’ll need for those that opt to stay.  If the hall can’t accommodate overnight guests, are there other places nearby that can?

Decorative details

Does the hall provide any of the decors and do they provide seating or tables?  Some banquet halls can offer chair and tables with linen and possibly even an arch (if the occasion is a wedding or a vow renewal) but most of the time much of the decor is up to the renter.  If they do offer decor, what are your options and will they work with the image you have in your mind?

The sound system

Even if there isn’t a dance afterwards, you’ll likely want some sort of sound system for speeches during your festivities.  Does the hall provide you with speakers and a microphone along with some instructions for its use?  If you are planning on having music, can you use your iPod or laptop to set up your own playlist or does the hall provide a DJ?

Dancing Shoes

Are you planning on a full-blown dance party after the ceremony or dinner?  If so, can the banquet hall accommodate your dancers?  Will it be in a separate room or will you be able to easily move tables and chairs aside?

Designated operating hours

Will you have the freedom to dance the night away or does the hall limit the use when it comes to evenings?  Depending on your occasion and what you plan for the festivities, it can be important to know how late you can stay. You’ll also want to know what time you can start to set up during the day.

Your catering needs

If you’re planning on providing dinner or a meal of some sort, it’s important to know what the hall can offer in the way of catering.  You might be able to find a hall that has in-house catering, but if not, find out what your outside caterers will be able to make use of in the banquet hall’s kitchen facilities.

The overall cost

Make sure that you get a total cost with all of your options included so that there are no surprises in the end.   Does your hall offer packages that make the whole process easy?  Do they anticipate a cost minimum?  You’ll also want to find out what the price is per head, so if your guest list changes then you’ll be prepared.

Liquor

If you plan on serving alcohol, you’ll want to ensure that this is something your banquet hall allows.  They may limit the number of bottles or the type of alcohol being served, so you’ll want to know this ahead of time in case changes need to be made.

Cleaning up

Does the hall handle the clean up afterwards or is that something that you’ll have to plan for the next day?  Will you have to hire an outside organization to come in and handle that aspect of your rental?  Find out what the banquet hall deems “normal” mess that they can clean up and what would be considered a mess outside the normal confines of your rental contract.

Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure that you visit the banquet hall of your choice more than once to check out the details.  You’ll want to locate the entrances and exits, the fire extinguishers and safety plan, along with muster points in the event of an emergency.  You’ll also want to touch base to make sure that all of the details you’ve discussed have been ironed out and understood.  Once all of your considerations have been addressed, a banquet hall can be the best setting for an evening that you and your guests won’t soon forget.