If you missed reading about how I found my engagement venues, yes venues! You can read it here and here. What worked in my case was that even after I had 2 locations for my engagement, I ended up making use of each one of them in the best way possible.
Location 1: Temple – was an intimate family affair, with close family & selected friends. The leverage this gave me and my Mr.to-be was that we could spend good amount of time with each other’s family without being pounced upon by all our other guests.
It was all the more important for us coz we met our new families all under one roof for the very FIRST time.
Location 2: Banquet Hall inside IIT Campus – was a full dhamaal event with all my close friends, family, to some extent colleagues all coming in to wish the newly engaged me and my hubby-to-be. While my Temple event went as per schedule from 9:30am to 11:30am, my banquet hall lunch event went on from 12:00pm to almost 7:00pm !! No kidding really…By the time we were home it was almost dinner time.
Keeping all this in mind, I am sharing with you a watch-out list of kinds before you decide and finalize your perfect and not to forget Budget Engagement Venue.
1. Be sure of what you want from your event
Do you want a private, big affair, hassle-free event or a ‘different’ kind of event. Make a note of the number of guests you want to include, do you want it to be a family affair? List down your priorities. Drill down your options from there.
Answer these questions to get started with the planning:
- What sort of view are you looking for in your venue? – open air, lawn, banquet or something else?
- What kind of food do you want served? – A full fledged 5 star food, local caterer, cuisine/s?
- Is view more important to you than food? or vice versa?
- How many guests are you inviting?
- What is the time of the event?
- How long do you think will be the duration of the event?
- Do you want to spend on additional fun elements?
With answers to these questions, try to work out a rough budget. From my experience, in Mumbai a good venue can cost anywhere above 500+ per person and your venue cost may or may not be inclusive of this package. [By venue I mean banquet halls in hotels or otherwise]. If you feel that this cost is a bit (too) much to spend on your engagement, don’t fret. Read on to find out what can be done…
2. Go for a ‘hatke’ option. It’s OK. Nobody will kill you!
Don’t shy away from choosing a club house, amphi-theatre in your premises or the garden near your building pool house. If you have a huge building terrace, go for it. Remember, everything can be worked out if you put some thought into it.
You can add a whole lot of creativity from decorating, lighting to say a few. It can really spruce up any place + it gives you that extra money to spend on more fun stuff like Photo Booth, DIY Projects etc. It will be magical, I assure you. Most important, lighter on the pocket (of your parents that is)
What’s great about an engagement is that it is NOT your wedding. One can still get away with the lesser opted choices. If you ask me, one should always find a way to cut down on venue cost and use that saved money for other interesting things or splurge on your self.
Majorly your venue cost is going to eat away close to 1/3rd of your entire budget cost. In US, you will see that lots of couples going for public places which are practically free of cost. Here, we don’t quite have that option but there are lots of alternatives. Read on…
3. Don’t just cut down on guests because things aren’t working out, there are ALWAYS alternatives
If the ‘hatke’ options are not to your sensibilities, and you still want to go for a regular fancy banquet hall, there is still a way. You would think that reducing guests is the only way to bring down the per plate costs. But it’s not.
4. Find out about Clubs (e.g. Sports Clubs) in your city
Check with your connections if anyone is a member. All these clubs have the best of the amenities and are more so situated in the best of the locations. Some clubs are rigid about members only, but there are quite a few in the city who take reservations basis members-guests to others who also give out to non-members as well.
- Goregaon Sports Club
- Khar Gymkhana
- Navi Mumbai Sports Association
- Acres Club, Chembur
- Celebration Sports Club, Juhu
- Bombay Presidency Golf Club, Chembur
The big advantage here is that the hall and catering will most definitely not be as pricey as a 5 star banquet and you still end up getting a gorgeous (big) venue for your event. A place like Mumbai is so space crunched, that finding a venue with ample space is like a treasure hunt.
I know for a fact that there are a lot of other places as well. These are a few that I have listed out based on the inquiries that I had made for my Engagement. If you know anybody in your family or extended family who is part of any govt. services then places like US (Navy) Club, BARC, IIT Bombay are also excellent locations. These are definitely the more difficult ones of the lot to crack, but if you do manage to get through, you will have one hell of a place to throw your party. So, its totally worthwhile to give it a try.
5. As I always say, try and find something which is PERSONAL to you. No amount can match that!
I know this is tricky. But it doesn’t have to be. It could be as simple as you and your significant other spending a lot of time in a particular area or location some place you feel comfortable and connected to. Believe me, you will have far better memories when you look back at your pictures years later.
Take my case. The steps we are sitting on in this pic is the same place where I grew up playing all my childhood. No fancy five star can give me that connection. It may not feel as significantly important now, but wait till you grow up and show your children both your engagement pic vs. your childhood pic from the same place. Priceless !
6. Pay it all in CASH
An all cash payment can help you to bring down the costs by almost 20%. Given the huge amounts, this really can be a make or break deal! A good thing is that most venues understand this and accept cash in totality. It may not be 100% but you should negotiate a fixed amount to be taxed and not a % amount. It always works better that way.
7. Negotiate to your cheapest level best
This is the golden rule. There is no shame in starting with rock bottom quotation from your end. DO NOT ever start with the final price that you have in mind. Salesman will always take it as the starting price and make you increase the budget by 20-30% depending on your negotiation skills.
Always remember that you are paying for their service. They want your business. If their dates are not booked, then you are currently their ONLY potential customer who they don’t want to refuse. So you will always have the upper hand. Keep reciting this in your head and start with rock bottom negotiation. It doesn’t matter if the venue salesman tries to make you feel bad about your “low” budget. Stick to a figure in mind and work towards getting to that price.
In most of the cases, it always works out. Depending on the venue, you must do some preliminary research to find out about the rates. You can also visit websites like Urban Restro which help you in understanding different venue costs while also giving some idea about their hidden break-even prices.
8. Try to get a venue-food inclusive package
This helps in multiple levels. a) You don’t have to deal with multiple vendors and negotiate separately. b) A combo deal is always cheaper than À la carte deal. Sometimes a banquet itself might cost 30-40k rent and you will have food and decor on top of it. You may think at first that you have got yourself a good deal, but when you add it all up it would be way higher than what you must have initially expected.
Most of the banquet halls nowadays have the option of an all inclusive package deal excluding décor.
9. Negotiate Décor cost before booking
A lot of times you might get a venue of your choice and when you ask about decorations, the costs are way too high. Exotic or traditional flowers, stage and other décor items really have no fixed costs. It changes from decorator to decorator. Its always better to know upfront what the normal decor charges are like in that particular venue before making that booking. Once you have booked the place, there will be no scope for any negotiation. So remember to work out costs with the decorator first before finalizing any venue.
I hope my post helps some of you to make that important decision a tad bit easier. Do share if you plan to do anything ‘hatke’ for your event…would love to hear from you all…