Eric and I had it pretty easy when it came to finding our reception hall. Having our wedding in a small town meant that there was limited selection. After going around and seeing a few places the one that fit our theme of “fall-rustic-wood-lodge-lumber-jack-wedding” was actually the nicest and cheapest (jackpot!). The place we picked is a mill from 1870 that has been completely redone and turned into an inn and restaurant. Each room is made from a different type of wood (a lumberjack’s dream, no?), there’s a gorgeous sunroom, pond, forest, etc. Exactly what we had pictured! They provide the catering so we wouldn’t have to find someone ourselves. This is going to be easy!
We met with them a second time to finalize details and go over costs (scary!). We have a very specific budget and are trying very hard not to go over so we knew we would have to be good negotiators. The thing with negotiating prices is you can’t be ridiculous or you won’t be taken seriously, but you also don’t want to be a mouse or you could be taken advantage of.* Before going into the meeting we knew the venue was going to be $100 to rent and the catering was $24 a plate (they only offer buffet style, but we have no problem with that especially because the price per plate would probably be astronomical if there were waiters). After attending a few friends weddings one thing we found ridiculous was that there was always a desert and a wedding cake that NO ONE ends up eating! We decided to ask if the desert could be cut in order to make the price per plate cheaper, which, we thought, was a pretty fair negotiation. We thought they would take off maybe $2 per plate, but decided not to suggest that and see what they come up with if they would even cut the desert (you never know if they would offer more so wait to see what they say). We were in luck! They were fine with cutting the desert and they even took $4 off a plate! We felt very satisfied with our negotiating skills!
The hidden costs. Ok, they weren’t actually hidden, just things we didn’t think of or that were addressed in our first run through of the place. Linens, bar tender, wine for dinner all cost money (who would think!). There was no negotiating these as the cheapest bottle of wine is the cheapest and their liquor license only allows for them to serve (so we can’t bring our own bottles and pay a corking fee. Something for you to think about though as many reception halls are licensed for this. Our venue isn’t because they’re more a restaurant with a private room so they never thought of a corking license). The bar tender is also a set fee ($20 an hr), but where we saved was choosing the cash bar option rather than the open bar (we definitely can’t afford a $3000 bar tab at the end of the night. Eek!). Lastly, the linens. It was kind of a disappointment to find out we have to pay for linens, because they changed this rule between our first and second meeting. In their defence their linens are extremely old (and they only have one set) so they’re not in very good shape. Because of this they decided to hire an outside company which we rent from and it’s not all that expensive (around a $1 a table cloth) and you can choose from a hundred colours where their linens were only white. I am definitely happier with clean $1 cloths than dirty ones for free.
*Speaking of being taken advantage of a friend of mine works at a bakery and a basic vanilla cake for a party starts at $200 and for a wedding starts at $400. Just shows you how inflated the wedding industry is!