So you’ve each decided to commit for life; besides organising the ceremony, it’s time to plan for the party. What should you consider when choosing a venue to have your wedding reception at?
Most Bangkok receptions are held in hotels, says Dalin Snidvongs, director of catering at the Regent. "All the guests will know where the hotel is, parking is easy, and it’s usually cheaper than elsewhere – choosing a venue where you need to provide your own caterers is going to be more expensive."
Sumalee Panumphan, catering sales manager at the Marriott Royal Garden, notes that most hotels offer very similar types of packages: invitation cards, food for the reception, a guest book, garlands for the bride and groom, ice carvings, a wedding cake, flower decorations and accommodation for the bride and groom – give or take a VIP room for the wedding party, and a first anniversary dinner.
So what else is crucial in helping to make that final decision?
Dalin advises that the most important thing to consider as soon as possible is setting a date. "You should book a venue four to six months in advance. November is the most auspicious month, so you need to get in early if you’d like to book then."
If you leave things too late, the date you’ve set can determine where you’re able to have your reception. Plus, some areas are only by hotels during particular seasons of the year. The Regent, for instance, only uses its terrace area after the rainy season has ended.
Sumalee says that the Marriott organised over 200 weddings throughout 2000. "The most auspicious dates were September 8 and November 4. If you choose a popular date, you have to get in early."
The next question is what kind of food you’d like served, and whether the venue you’ve selected can provide this. "There are three standard types of receptions: cocktails, Chinese and buffet," says Rakklaw Thankunpanit, the Regent’s dedicated wedding consultant. Sit down meals with set menus can also be provided at some venues, but standard prices aren’t usually quoted. "If there are elderly people attending, you might prefer a buffet, but even with cocktail receptions some chairs are provided."
Most venues will offer these choices, but you might wish to choose somewhere with a menu that particularly appeals.
The Guest List
Hotels may require a minimum number of guests for some rooms or areas to be used for a reception. "You don’t need to confirm numbers until three or four weeks before the reception," says Dalin. "And sometimes the numbers can change a lot between then and the day." But a ballpark figure to work with at the start is a good idea.
"People usually don’t want to tell us their budget – they prefer to tell us the number of people they’d like to have, and see what the price will be," says Rakklaw. "However, it is better if you let us know your budget, then we can let you know what we can do for that price."
She also notes that hotels in a particular bracket will usually offer packages that differ only very slightly in price. "Most people will have three hotels or so in mind, and it won’t come down to the price. It will come down to first impressions about the hotel."
Sumalee says that most clients spend around Bt200,000 on their receptions; Rakklaw and Dalin estimate that 180,000 to 250,000 is the norm.
Can the venue hold the type of musicians you’d like to have at your reception? "Trios, quartets or quintets are the most popular," says Dalin. "Some people like to arrange to have a normal band, or a jazz band instead."
Sumalee says that one of the most enjoyable weddings she has attended was one where there was an ocean theme. "All the guests wore Hawaiian shirts, the women wore Hawaiian skirts. The venue decorations were blue and white, and there were flowers set up in the sand next to the pool. The bride and groom also wore Hawaiian-style clothes," she says. Another one she attended featured fireworks on the river. So if you have a theme in mind, or something special you’d like to happen at your reception, you’ll need to consider this as well when choosing a venue.
It may seem a little daunting at first, but sitting down and thinking about how you’d like to organise your reception should save you a lot of trouble later on. "Make a timeline," advises Dalin. "List what you would like to have, and by what date it should be completed."