Wedding 101 : How to choose the right hotel venue?

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These days, more and more couples are opting out and prefer to hold their wedding at a cozy cafe offering a beautiful ambience. Likewise, initially we had qualms on holding at a hotel too but after some consideration, we decided to just go ahead with the usual practice.

We scouted and sourced for several hotels for our wedding banquet, and shortlisted a handful. Also, we attended about 2 wedding fairs before shortlisting them. One must note that although the perks offered at wedding fairs can sometimes be quite attractive, it may not make much sense to commit within such a short period of time. This is especially so if you have yet to read any constructive reviews of the hotels and their coordinators. What is even more important, and in my opinion, the most important, is that you will need to drop by the hotel itself to view the hotel lobby, hotel room, reception area and of course, the ballrooms. Thus, it is best to arrange with the coordinator for such viewing so that they will take you for a tour to those necessary areas as well as attend to your queries which you may have.

So what should you do if you are reaaalllllyy attracted by the perks offered at a wedding fair?

My advice would be to take note of the name of staff who attended to you, ask if the perks can be extended to say about a week later (some of them may actually be kind to agree on the spot or they may need to check w their management first) and then request to soft block the date which you have in mind. This means that you will need to have a few preferred dates on hand first. I have blogged about selecting your wedding date previously in this blog post which you may find useful! 🙂

For those who have no inkling of what soft blocking means, it simply refers to having your preferred date(s) temporarily blocked for a short period of time, say about 1 to 2 weeks or until you decide to let it go on your own accord before the deadline is up. This is quite important especially for those popular wedding dates.

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Also, although I know how perks can be really attractive, it is always prudent to conduct a thorough homework before committing and paying a S$5k non-refundable deposit! It is essential that you view the ballrooms first and good to always have a draft guest list prepared beforehand in order to decide if you are able to take on the bigger ballrooms. Most of the times, bigger ballrooms are preferred over smaller ones as they usually appear to look more beautiful and grander than smaller ones which have lower ceilings.

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Initially, we were kind of torn between getting a smaller and bigger ballroom as we were afraid that we may not be able to meet the minimum number of tables for the big ballrooms. However, thankfully, after a revision of our draft guest list, we realised that we have missed out some groups of people such our parents’ friends and those relatives which you have to invite out of courtesy and due to your parents’ requests. I know this may be frustrating as these are not your intended guests, but as they say, marriage is a matter involving 2 families, it’s true! But out of respect for your parents, I think a compromisation can always be reached amicably.

Anyhoo, the list below may not be exhaustive but just thought that sharing what we and other couples tend to look out for when choosing a suitable hotel venue and hopefully this may help u in one way or another! 🙂

I have separated the list into 2 so that it is easier to take note of those pretty standard stuffs and perks which you may try to negotiate on.

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Things to take note :

1. Package price – How much per table ? Don’t forget to add the GST and service charge – 17%. Also, as different hotels charge differently for weekends (Fri, Sat and Sun), Eves of PHs and PHs, you may need to take note of this as well.

Some hotels charge a higher price for Saturdays compared to Fridays and Sundays.

2. Size of the ballroom – As mentioned, big ballrooms have higher ceiling which will appear to look grander and more majestic, but it is crucial to take note of the minimum. no. of tables as they differ for big and small ballrooms.

3. Venue usage – Most of the time, for both lunch and dinner, you will be allowed to use the venue for 4 hrs (12pm to 4pm for lunch and 7pm to 11pm for dinner). You may need to check on any additional charges if you exceed the usage allowance time.

4. Food – How many course meal? What is the additional cost for vegetarian and halal food?

5. Layout of March-in – Usually there are 3 types of layouts for march-in – U, straight, L shape. You can discuss and inform your coordinator of your preferred shape and they will check if the arrangement of the tables can be adjusted to suit your preference, if space permits,

6. Wedding themes – This will change usually after 6 to 1 yr, so it is best to check with your coordinator on this. They will also advise on the decoration such as fresh floral for VIP tables and reception tables. Lastly, most hotels will also provide the bubbles and/or smoke effect during march-ins.

7. Song list –  Hotels may have a list of songs which you may consider and these are the songs which you need not pay extra for copy rights licence issues. If there is nothing which caught your eye or if you have some other songs in mind (especially those which mean something to the both of you), please check with your coordinator if you will need to pay any copy rights licence fees for them.

8. Guestbook – Most hotels will include this in their wedding package. You may want to take a look on the design of the guestbook provided by them, if not, you may also bring in your own guest book.

9. Size of the stage – This is fairly important for couples who intend to engage live bands or for those who wish to hold their solemnisation ceremony on stage for all guests to witness.

10. Valet service – If you know some of your guests are drinkers, do advise them against driving. Otherwise, do check if your hotel provides such valet service.

11. Wedding favours – Most hotels will include this in their wedding package, but for preference sake, do request to view the designs. If they are not suitable to your liking, you can actually request to arrange and provide your own wedding favours.

12. LCD screen n AV equipment – The usage of these equipment is usually provided free of charge. You will need to check if there are any AV crew to help maneuver and provide technical assistance during the event.

Things you may want to consider to negotiate :

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Before we start, I would like to emphasize that this is by all means NOT a confirmed guaranteed chopped items which all hotels and coordinators will accede to your request. You will need to note that they are subject to agreement and approval of the hotel management and coordinator.


1. Drinks, especially Alcohols – Depending on your guests, which you would have a better idea on whether they are a bunch of hard-core drinkers, you may need to take note of the limit of alcohols offered in the wedding package. If your guests love drinking, then it may be wiser for you to opt or look out for hotels which offer free flow of beer / white wine, red wine.

However, if they are unable to offer such perk, you may need to check if each table will be entitled to 1 free bottle of wine and also, to check if they offer 1 barrel of how many litres of bee, the additional costs for how many litres of barrel of beer and also and how much is charged for a bottle of red wine. Some hotels also offer corkage waiver for sealed and duty paid hard liquor and wine.

One useful tip which I was told was that it will only be worthwhile if you have contacts for consignment of wines if you were to bring in your own. It may be cheaper than what the hotels are pricing theirs at and also, I have seen many brides to be overestimating the number of bottles and selling them off to others who may need them. Of course, no issue if you plan to use it for your own use though.

Apart from customising this perk to suit the needs of your guests, another point to consider whether or not to opt for unlimited free flow alcohols depends on whether you are doing lunch or dinner.

For lunch, usually guests will go easy on their alcohol intake compared to dinner. So if you are holding a wedding lunch, free flow alcohol may not be necessary. Also, during lunch, guests are more inclined to have wine over beer.

I think by far this may be the most important perk you may need to negotiate or look out for when choosing a suitable hotel venue for your wedding as the costs for these alcohols can be quite pricey if you exceed the free volume.

Lastly, most hotels will also offer free flow of soft drinks and chinese tea so not much of an issue.

2. Car park coupons – Most hotels will offer a complimentary 20-25% of the confirmed attendance. You can try to negotiate for more but usually they are quite rigid and 25% seems like to max they can go. You may also need to check on a VIP car park slot for bridal car and request for one should they not have a designated one.

3. Wedding cards – You will need to check how many wedding cards will be provided. Usually it is 70% based on the confirmed attendance but you may try to negotiate for more. Most hotels have contacts with external printers as they do not provide in-house printing. However, if  you are able to snag a better deal elsewhere, then by all means go ahead. Please note that the hotel will also exclude printing of inserts and accessories.

4. Hotel stay – There are 2 groups of people which you may want to consider when negotiating for hotel stays. Firstly, you will need a night stay for your partner and yourself but you can try to request for an additional night stay which totals up to 2 night stays. Also, usually hotels will provide breakfast for 2 for the next morning. If you are lucky, the hotel may also provide a night stay for your helpers which you can allow your wedding helpers to stay or for your parents. However, some hotels only provide hotel room usage for a certain period of time.

Another perk which you may consider factoring in is the 1st year anniversary hotel stay for the bridal couple. You can try to get your coordinator to throw this perk in for you.

Should you expect overseas guests, they may also require a night stay at the hotel after the event is over, especially if you are throwing a wedding dinner. Do check if they are entitled to special hotel room rates.

5. Check in and out timings – This is very important if you are planning to hold a wedding lunch which will start from 12pm and end at 4pm. It will not make much sense if you were to check-in at only 2pm. I have inquired with some hotels before (when we initially wanted to have a wedding lunch instead of dinner), and was told that checking in at 10am is possible. However, even so, the time line is gonna be very tight due to the fetch-the-bride sessions, tea ceremony, solemnisation, changing to ROM dress, retouching of make up and hair do, taking wedding photos with your partner and helpers etc. You will need to schedule carefully so that there is sufficient time for everyone to take a breather. But yes, holding a wedding lunch will definitely be more hectic compared to having a wedding dinner.

Also, for those entitled to a night stay at the hotel, check and negotiate to see if checking out timing can be delayed after 12pm at no additional costs. Because I was thinking for those having wedding dinners, should you have any post-wedding dinner celebration on your own with your friends, or if one of you is gonna be dead drunk, getting up early the next day for breakfast and checking out at 12pm may pose a problem.

6. Food vouchers at their cafeteria – Some hotels will throw in food vouchers which you can dine during its validity period or only during your wedding day, especially since you and your helpers may not get to eat a lot on that day/night.

7. Red packet box – Most hotels will provide only 1 red packet box but I think for ease of clarity, it may be better to have 2 boxes, 1 each for the bridal couple so that it is easier to identify and sort out the red packets thereafter, especially since some givers may not jot down their names on the red packet.

8. Cocktails and canapes – Some guests who arrive early may look forward to filling their tummies with some drinks and snacks prior to the lunch/dinner. This is also important for those deciding whether to opt for a dessert candy bar. If the hotel already provides for cocktails and canapes, you may not need a dessert candy bar or you may want to cater for lesser pax instead. You will also need to check on any additional cost to top up for canapes and can try to negotiate on the price.

9. Cake for cake cutting – Cake cutting is usually a replica cake and is inedible. However, some hotels do provide real wedding cake after the event for the bridal couple to take home.

10. Food tasting – Most hotels cater free food tasting for 10 pax only on weekdays but this does not mean you are unable to request to slot in more pax, say about 2 more?

Phew, I hope this list will provide you greater insights as to what areas to look out for as well as perks which you can actually negotiate with your coordinator. Don’t feel awkward in trying to negotiate for better perks because every penny counts and wedding costs can scale mountain high. If you have additional pointers to add, do leave a comment and I will include them in too! 🙂

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