What to say When calling a hotel:

Hi, I wanted to speak with someone in Sales and Catering about hosting a potential wedding at your property.  
Typically you are then transferred to the receptionist and they will want to take down some information – so get used to giving out your name, email and phone number and tentative date of wedding. 
When you talk to the Catering Manager the following questions will come in handy.  
Start by asking them if the date you are looking for is available.  IF it is, then proceed forward…

What to Say When calling a stand alone venue:

Hi, I wanted to speak to someone about hosting a potential wedding at your property.  
Typically they will ask you for some initial info: your name, email and phone number and tentative date of wedding. 
Start by asking them if the date you are looking for is available.  IF it is, then proceed forward…

Questions for Hindu weddings

1. What is the capacity of your ballroom?
– Let them know you will need a 32’X16’ stage for the mandap – how many chairs can you fit theater style with a 10’ aisle? 
– For the reception, remind them you will want a dance floor and stage (if you want the stage), space for screens and projectors (if applicable).  
 
2. Hotel: What is the minimum on the ballroom? 
    Venue: What is the rental cost for the space. 
 
2a. What items to do you include with that charge? Take a tour before you book – side note: there is a great hotel in town that has these super comfortable chairs that have a little give when you lean back in them and they have these arms that make sitting in them very comfortable.  HOWEVER, have you ever tried to put a chair cover on chairs with arms?? I went on the tour when they initially opened the property and then I learned that these were the only chairs they had on site. After that, I learned whenever I used that venue I had to add chair rentals to the decor budget because their chairs didn’t always go with the decorative theme.
 
2b. Do note that “off-season” and Friday/Sundays are usually better priced.  Off-season is really city dependent – like in NY – who wants to get married in the dead of winter OR in Texas – who wants to get married in the middle of the summer? You’ll find they’ll be more willing to negotiate during the off-season.
 
2c. Are there any other ancillary fees for the space? Hotels have anywhere from 20%-28% service charge fees/admin fees/etc. and plus sales tax added on top of that – that’s nearly 30% or more added to your final cost.  Be aware of that number before signing on the dotted line. 
 
3. What is your average time to flip a room?
– As you’ve learned a flip is when you re-purpose a room, or convert it from the ceremony to reception style for example.  It’s important to know this time limitation so that your decorator cam allocate time and staff to setup the decor.
 
4. Do you have any restrictions regarding the ceremonial fire? 
– Some places require that you get a permit to bypass the fire alarm or require that you someone posted to do the fire watch which will all add costs to your budget
 
5. Do you charge for parking?
– My advice on this is if they charge for parking, try to negotiate valet parking down to close to the same cost as self-pay, and pay for it yourselves!! If valet is much more expensive and not in the budget, then at least pay for the self-parking!! It leaves such a terrible taste in your guests mouths as this will be the last thing they do as they leave your wedding.  Definitely negotiate for in and out privileges if you are having the ceremony in the morning with the reception in the evening.  
 
6. Do we have to go with your Audio Visual team?
Desi DJs have all the equipment you need and likely better priced. Find out how flexible the venue is about outside A/V equipment. Sometimes there’s a nominal fee to bring in your own Audio Visual team.

“Hotels have anywhere from 20%-28% service charge fees/admin fees/etc. and plus sales tax added on top of that – that’s nearly 30% or more added to your final cost.”

7. Do you allow for outside catering?
7a. Most people already know to ask this question, however, as more and more venues are seeing how lucrative Indian weddings are, they are also hiring part-time (or full-time) chefs who will cook desi food.  So don’t assume that they allow you to bring in the food.

7b. What do you charge for bringing in outside catering?
7c. What items to do you include with that charge? 
7d. Do you typically put the buffets inside the ballroom or in the foyer? 
 
8.  Ask about the liquor at the bar – know what brands they serve and the cost.  
– Desi guests LOVE a good scotch/whiskey, vodka and rum, so make sure they are good quality – everything else is nice to have gin, tequila, etc, so if you can negotiate in the liquors you need to have – give it a shot (no pun intended)!  My suggestion is if you’re tight on budget, remove high dollar items like cognacs and martinis from the bar.  
– Ask if they have a corkage fee option (some venues will allow you to bring in the alcohol and charge you a corkage fee.)
 
9. Do you have other events booked at the venue on the same day that might conflict with ours?
– We have had events at large hotels where we are given half the ballroom and another party is in the other half. Logistically we have had to plan how the space is going to be setup so that music from the other party doesn’t interfere, or that we don’t have guests lost or worse have their guests partaking in our bar or food! Sometimes it can’t be avoided, however, be prepared for possible situations.  
 
10.  Is there a cake cutting fee? 
– Negotiation tip…get it waived!!
11. Do we have to get event insurance?
– Some venues now require that you have insurance, it mitigates their responsibility to a large degree.  It’s not terribly expensive, however, great to know on the front end because it will be a line item on your budget.  
 
12. Do you have preferred vendors that we must use or can we select our own team?  (Usually more commonly seen at venues than at hotels) 
 
13. Sleeping/Guest Rooms
Hotels: Do you have discounted rates if I book hotel rooms for the weekend? 
Venues: Do you have partnerships with local hotels to give us discounted room rates for the wedding weekend?

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