Keep in that some banquet halls are all-inclusive. This means that everything is included in a bundled price per person. You won't be able to negotiate much on price besides changing the date and day/time.
Choosing a banquet hall is likely the most expensive part of your event. Unless you know someone with a large space to spare (and they're willing to share it for free 😃), you're going to spend a large part of your budget on the hall. But don't worry! With proper planning and research, you can find a great and affordable banquet hall for your event.
5 Things to Consider
Prioritization is key when it comes to event planning and especially when finding a banquet space. As with many things in life, you can't always have it all. Here are five things you should consider before researching and booking a banquet hall (we'll go into more detail for each one along with some tips later in the article):
Did you know the average cost of a wedding venue in 2019 is around $13,000! If that seems intimidating, don't worry--you can find more affordable banquet halls in your area, especially if you're willing to book your occasion during a non-peak day or time or further from a major city. Read more on peak seasons below.
It also comes down to the incidentals. The $13,000 average price includes everything: food, drinks, tables, chairs, and linens (tablecloths and napkins). During your research, check the venues features to know what's available and be sure to ask the catering sales manager at the hall to itemize all incidentals and extras in your price quote so you can better negotiate your final price.
Peak Season vs. Off-peak Season
When it comes to banquet halls, it's all about the season--peak season that is. Although directly related to cost, seasonal pricing is so important that it's requires separate discussion.
The peak season for most weddings runs from May through September (late spring and through early fall). If you're booking an outdoor event in the Northeast, Northwest, Midwest or any colder region, you're most likely considering dates within the peak season. Even if you're not planning a wedding, if your banquet hall is popular for wedding receptions, you'll be competing for preferred dates and your price quotes will reflect the peak season rates.
Maybe you're asking yourself, "Can I book a banquet hall during the peak season and not pay higher prices?" It depends 😉. If you're ok with an indoor event you can almost certainly get a better deal during the off-peak cooler months (October through April). If you're not planning a wedding (e.g. birthday, anniversary, sweet 16, retirement party, etc.) and peak season is a must, consider avoiding wedding-oriented venues. Many smaller venues, including restaurants, bars and clubs are less likely to follow strict seasonal pricing and you can get a great deal as long you're comfortable with the venue style.
Peak Days and Times
In addition to peak seasons, the day and time of your event also impacts the banquet hall price. Some general rules of thumb are:
Monday through Thursday are the least expensive days to book a banquet hall.
Saturday is generally the most expensive day of the week.
Saturday evening is the most expensive day/time to book a banquet hall.
Friday evening is generally more expensive than Sunday evening.
If you're unsure about the best day/time to book your event, try asking your guests with a simple email poll. Your guests might be fine with the slight inconvenience of a weekday evening event and you can save money to put towards other parts of your event.
You've probably heard the phrase "location, location, location" with regards to real estate prices. Well the same holds true for banquet halls. The venue location has a direct impact on cost. Typically, the closer you are to major city or urban center, the higher the price. For a small gathering, you can probably find an affordable venue in the city, but consider expanding the range of your search for larger occasions.
If your event is on the weekend your guests might not mind a short commute. Don't be afraid to look for venues within a 40 mile-range (or within 45 min to 1 hour of travel). However, if your event is on a weeknight, you might be more limited reception halls closer to home.
Banquet Halls come in all shapes and sizes: Barns, Mansions, Castles, Restaurants, Clubs, Bars, etc. Whether you've already envisioned that dream barn wedding or just considering a small gathering at a local restaurant, the style of the venue is going to influence your event. Almost all banquet hall directories and wedding websites offer the ability to filter by venue style, so be sure to take advantage of that feature.
Not sure about the style you want? If style is not a top priority for you or you're just not sure at this point, you can start by simply browsing our local banquet hall directory focusing on the price and location and looking through the photos. Bookmark and share the halls you like and you will probably find a common venue style.
It's hard to imagine a wedding, party, or gathering without food. The definition of the word banquet even revolves around food. You typically have three options for food at your event (also referred to at catering or cuisine options):
- In-House Catering: The banquet hall prepares all of the food on-site and offer a selection of tiered packages (appetizers, cocktails, main course), styles/themes (Italian, American, Chinese, Vegetarian, Mediterranean, etc.) and presentation options (multi-course sit-down meal, buffet). Most high-end, large venues require this option.
- Bring Your Own Caterer (BYO): The venue allows you to bring your own food or use an outside caterer. This is a great way to save money, since you can shop around for caterers or even cook yourself (nothing like home cooking ... don't forget to make your famous marinara sauce ..😃).
- Preferred Caterers: The venue doesn't prepare meals on-site, but only allows you to choose from a select list of caterers. This option is usually cheaper than solely in-house catering, but you should meet with each preferred caterer to taste samples and get pricing quotes.
If you decide on in-house catering, be sure to ask for a tasting. This is when you the venue will provide you with a sample of the different main course options and desserts. Sounds like fun!! If you go the BYO route, make sure your caterer is reliable with deliveries and comfortable with your schedule--nothing worse than a large group of hungry guests. If you're cooking yourself, be sure to factor in the cost of heating trays, utensils, serving spoons, plates, napkins, etc.
👏 You're ready to start your banquet hall search. Good luck!