Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Banquet Halls - Apples to Apples Part Two

Last week I talked about the advantages and disadvantages of renting a bare-bones venue for your wedding reception. This week, let's talk about the other end of the spectrum: all-inclusive venues.

All-inclusive venues include every thing you need (and some things you don't): everything from your tables, chairs, place settings, catering, servers, the bar, and sometimes even the photographer, DJ, and florist, will all be provided by your venue, along with lots of "extras" such as ice sculptures. Country clubs, resorts, and high-end hotels are usually all-inclusive. If you want a fancy, elegant wedding with all the frills, it is most definitely less expensive to go to an all-inclusive venue than to bring all the bells and whistles to another location.

The Upsides to an all-inclusive location:

  • It's easy. You don't have to go out and find a florist or a caterer because your venue already provides one. Good for brides pressed for time or trying to plan an out-of-state wedding.
  • By getting everything from the same place, you get your money's worth. However, be careful: if a lot of the "extras" are things you don't want or need, you aren't saving money.

The downside:

  • It's expensive. Expect to drop at least $10,000 on an all-inclusive venue.
  • Your choices will be limited. If you are set on a unique look for your wedding, they might not have what you need to pull it off, and may charge extra for bringing in other vendors.
  • The vendors "included" with the venue might not be to your liking. I used to favor all-inclusive venues because they made my job easier, but my brides and I kept getting saddled with the obnoxious DJs, lousy caterers, and incompetent photographers included with the hall.
  • Your contract will be long and confusing due to the sheer amount of goods and services provided. Read the contract carefully so there are no surprises. One venue I scouted boasted that they included a photographer free of charge. However, when I checked over the contract I saw that the photographer would only be there for one hour.
  • Many all-inclusive venues double or even triple book (meaning they have two or three weddings on the same day), so you may only have an hour or so the day of to decorate.

Remember: if you have a big budget, an all-inclusive place may be for you, but it isn't worth the money unless you are happy with everything the space includes. Otherwise, go with a place that allows you to decorate as you choose and bring in outside vendors. Deejay's banquet halls in East Raleigh is the only venue I've come across that has in-house catering and allows outside catering. Some halls allow any vendor you like and some have a list of approved vendors.

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