Post # 1
So I am looking at venues in Boston and I’m trying to break everything down to compare apples to apples when looking at venues.
For example, one venue’s package includes 1 hour complimentary piano player at the cocktail hour, but another (cheaper) venue doesn’t. What I am trying to do is determine if the extra price per person of the piano venue is worth how much it would cost me to rent my own piano player at the cheaper venue. This is just an example, of course. The real thing is much more sticky and complicated because it’s never just one variable.
What is your experience with going with a wedding package? Do you think the extra pricee was worth the piece of mind to not have to rent everything a la carte? I of course am willing to find a rental place to get china, linens, chairs, etc…but I don’t really know if that is going to end up cheaper and be worth the stress involved of picking each detail.
The other thing I’m noticing as I am calling around is that there are all sorts of fees and taxes and gratuties that aren’t immediately apparent but that I should be taking into consideration. Example here, I got a brochure from the Four Seasons in Boston even though I knew it was WAYY out of the budget (but I just wanted to see). The brochure quotes dinners start at $115 pp for poultry (which is doable for me). So when I e-mailed them back about what is included in the package he says that packages start at $245pp. Where on earth is that $135pp extra coming from?! Am I going to find that everywhere and I just won’t realize it until I’ve signed the contract?!
I plan to be very very frank when looking at the venues in person so I am certain I know what my final number will be.
Please, any advice on what you were suprised to be charged for at your venue that maybe I am not thinking of, or if anyone else is a Boston Bride but is not on a Four Seasons, State Room budget I would love to hear where you ended up holding your reception.
Post # 2
I would definitely take the time to price everything out and make the venues tell you what the bottom line is, including EVERYTHING. I was stressed out about finding a venue for a June Saturday wedding and felt a huge rush, and we somehow convinced ourselves that the a la carte venue we chose (where we bring in our own caterer, etc) was going to be equal or maybe even cheaper than the all-inclusives. But now that we’re committed, we’re realizing that it will definitely be more! We love our venue, but I wish I would have taken a little more time to price everything out in advance. Good luck!
Post # 3
Once more thing – some of the things that can add to your costs aren’t even things the venue can necessarily tell you about. For instance, we have $2K in the budget for shuttles to our venue that we wouldn’t have needed if we got married in a hotel or somewhere within walking distance to a hotel. So don’t forget about that stuff too!
Post # 4
Venue shopping was by far the hardest part of wedding planning for me. Just like you mentioned, one venue may include catering in their package but a cheaper venue may not, so I was left researching costs of catering companies including taxes and whatever fees to see if it was worth it. This drove me nuts!
In the end, we picked a venue that was the most convenient for everyone and it just so happened that they offered a really nice package. Like goblueca mentioned, we went with a hotel venue since we have a lot of out of town guests and we didn’t want to pay for transportation. Plus, the hotel has a bunch of shops and restaurants within walking distance so guests won’t have to worry about being couped up in the hotel or renting a car.
State tax, gratuities, beverage taxes, etc can all be expected to be in added to your final price but these should be outlined in your contract before you sign it. We put down a a 20% deposit based off our estimated number of guests, so we won’t know our actual total amount due until our final numbers come in.
Post # 5
- Wedding: May 2015 - The Fairmont, SF
My only advice on this is that it’s really best to sit down and calculate everything out, i.e., what’s included in the package vs what everything will cost individually. For instance, we decided to go with a $160pp fish/chicken package that offers:
– 1 hour champagne and open bar cocktail hour with 4 types of hors d’oeuvres
– 3 course dinner + cake and open “wine bar” for 2 hours
– other stuff I can’t remember but not alcohol
Fiance and I agreed that we’d have an open bar after dinner and budgeted to include about 4.5 hours. On the package information guide, we saw that there was another upgraded option for $245ishpp. The upgraded option included all of the above but had 5 hours of an open bar included, another dessert course, and a late night snack.
I thought that was a great deal until we did the math and realized the second package came out to around $30 MORE pp than adding all three features (open bar included!) a la carte. The packages are sneaky because they look great on paper and if you don’t take the time to carefully evaluate each part of it, you might end up getting a bad deal. Oh, another pair of add-ons to our package are upgraded chairs and linens. We’ve decided to accept the $12/chair (!!?!) fee but we will be bringing in our own linens and charger plates as we don’t love the ones provided. I guess it’s a little bit of balance of what’s worth the effort/ease.
Also, I feel you on hidden taxes/gratuities. There is a 14% tax on my reception space, 22% service charge, and an 8.75% state tax. D:
Post # 6
Yea, you really have to be diligent.
My advice is to first ask yourself which venues you liked the most and then assess if it’s in budget and good relative value. You can only analyze so much, unfortunately, and need to make a style decision first and foremost.
I’m all for all-inclusive venues. The Four Seasons, for example, is giving you the catering (possibly including cake), all rentals with setup/breakdown, and an in-house event coordinator. Don’t forget that the venue has its own character, i.e. minimal decorations required vs. an outdoor or blank space venue. And, you have a single point of contact, which will make your life so much easier. The venue is also going to give you recommendations for other vendors that already know the space and that the Four Seasons is vouching for and for whom they will already have their insurance on file. All of this will make your life so much easier and is of great value to you.
Post # 7
the venue might offer an included piano player but it is really something you would want if it weren’t included?
you really need to look at the whole package and compare the bottom line. narrow down to your top 3-5 choices and ask for a bottom line for the number of guests you estimate will come. then you can compare apples to apples. you can’t compare each line because some venues willl have certain options while others won’t.
Post # 8
Venue shopping… Oh how I don’t miss those days. I finally got to the point where I was just asking them what their absolute bottom line was for the type of wedding that I want. For example with my wedding, I just emailed them for a total price of what just a basic ceremony with a cake and punch reception to follow cost. I liked having it in email and in writing from them.