Our hunt for banquet venues!

So here comes the wedding planning!

Well technically, there isn't a real perfect wedding venue  but we try our best! 

It is not easy to hunt for the best venue when you are also looking for a new abode concurrently. Throw in budget considerations, table count requirements, unavailability of dates in shortlisted venues, I can assure you that the adventure of scouting for the ideal wedding venue can be both fun and frustrating! Hahaha. 

After the proposal on 30th September 2016, we decided that we needed to nail down some dates first. We made an appointment with Master Long before the proposal (funny I know hahaha) and our appointment with him was 2 days after the proposal. Pretty good timing I say! Hahaha. 

We were given 3 years worth of dates (2017 to 2019) and they were applicable for ROM, banquet, moving into the house, An Chuang, Guo Da Li et cetera. VERY USEFUL STUFF. Especially when it comes to checking out availability of certain popular wedding venues. 

Our initial hunt for wedding venues wasn't exactly fruitful because we weren't clear what we were looking for  We made appointments with banquet coordinators and some of them kind of headed nowhere because we didn't know what we needed, what was important to us that we wanted to negotiate for. 

So word of advice: Do try to shop around different venues and get a feel of the pricing of the market. If you already have a budget and know you will not deviate from it, it's much much easier. If you have a rubber budget (i.e a range) like us, it would be better to go online to search first before meeting the coordinators. 

We decided to go back to the drawing board once more and also clarify with parents on both sides on what is important. Once we settled a rough table count and budget, we (or rather, I) got down to some serious online shopping for rates and offer. We came to a few key things that are considered important to us:

• Within Budget - This is evidently very important. I don't wish to fork out additional money for a one-day event; 
Accessible - most of our relatives don't drive so a venue that is easily accessible by MRT is very much preferred;
Min. table count of 20 and below - We are looking to have 20-22 tables max so that eliminated quite a number of options for us. Most venues are either too big (25 or 35 minimum) or too small like YAN at National Gallery and the Straits Room at Fullerton Hotel (max 12 to 15 tables);
High Ceiling - Though I wouldn't call this a deal-breaker but it would be nice to have!; and
Natural Light - This is more like my criteria because we plan to do lunch and it would be nice to have natural light! 

1. Grand Hyatt Singapore

I was so convinced this is THE hotel. It is an absolutely stunning hotel and I've read so many glowing reviews about the food here. Because of our table count, we were offered the option of The Gallery or the Grand Residence. 

The Gallery stole my heart. Really. The area is very exclusive with only one escalator leading up to it. You can have the whole area to yourself, which includes a pre-function area, a bridal room for ease of change and touch up, the solemnization room and also the main banquet dining area: 

Image credit to honeybrides

The package listed online is fairly straightforward but it also meant they were a little rigid with their perks - which was affirmed when we went down for an appointment. Despite that, because I was so sold by the space (le sigh), we almost signed with them. Of course, they also had the date we want available in late 2017. However, when we changed our minds to have ROM in 2017 and our banquet in 2018 instead (as we still have potential house renovation to consider in 2017), we were given quite an unfavourable offer - We had to top up $100 more per table if we wanted to secure the date in 2018. And if they do come up with a better package for 2018 with no change in prices, we will have to stick with our old package at a higher price. It was quite a deal-breaker for us so we walked away from it. 

You can read some articles on this beautiful space here, here and here.  

Personal Pros & Cons:
 Good location, walkable from Orchard MRT
 Beautiful space and all activities can be contained into one area
 Rave reviews about food
 Upfront perks are decent
 Rigid with perks
 No natural daylight and ceiling is quite low for The Gallery. Grand Residence has a much higher ceiling but it has a huge pillar in the middle of the ballroom which may block the view of some tables when there are activites on stage. 

If we were doing our banquet in 2017, I would seriously consider it!

2. Hilton Singapore

We chanced upon this hotel because they were running a bridal show somewhere in October 2016 - though we didn't make it for both wedding shows as we were out of town both times. So we made an appointment with them separately as their package was extremely competitive. 

The hotel isn't at the most accessible location in Orchard and the photos online didn't encourage us much. Nonetheless, we still headed down to see it for ourselves. Due to our table count, we were given the option of Vista Room on the second floor (next to the largest ballroom) and the Panorama Room on 23rd floor. 

Both Vista Room and the Grand Ballroom were recently renovated and are very new and pretty. Unfortunately, I didn't like the Vista Room as much as I expected to. The deco and lighting are nice but I didn't like that the pre-function area was so close to that of the Grand Ballroom's. The boy liked the Panorama Room as it's on a higher floor next to the pool (which means poolside solemization - but not that we need it haha) and has full glass panels which meant natural daylight. However, I didn't like that it was L shaped and that 2 to 3 tables won't be able to see the march in until the couple reaches the stage. 

The coordinator was very friendly and professional, she was also very generous and flexible with the perks. I found it so hard to turn it down thereafter! But a venue that we both like is important for us - so this became a no go.

If you have larger table count than I do to qualify for the main ballroom, this is a good option. The coordinator is also very friendly and prompt - which is pretty important!

Personal Pros & Cons:
 Newly renovated main ballroom and Vista room
 Flexible perks 
 Extremely friendly and prompt coordinator (important as I've noted some coordinators needed multiple follow-up emails which is quite the red flag)
 New themes - they are launching new themes to match the newly renovated ballrooms!
 Pre function area for Vista Room is right next to the main ballroom - no exclusivity
 Panorama Room is L shape and some tables will not see the march in. Some tables are blocked from the LCD screens too

3. PARKROYAL on Pickering

Banquet venue hunting can be quite tiring - especially if you are as clueless as us haha. We don't really have a theme in mind yet though I'm more steered towards a garden theme (which only came along the way while venue hunting hahahaha) But given Singapore's weather, I wasn't that keen to take the event outdoor (either you melt or you get drenched ). So towards the last leg of venue hunting, we decided to give PARKROYAL on Pickering a try. 

Prior to the meetup, I emailed the coordinator multiple times for different queries and it was always promptly replied within 24 hours (except over weekends or when she's out of office). That gave me a pretty good impression already.

They only have one main ballroom in the hotel which takes 20 - 30 tables - perfect for us. Our tiny table count for other hotels meant we could take the main ballroom for this one! 

Image credit to PARKROYAL on Pickering

I love that it has natural light and it's almost like getting married in a garden but not quite. 

Personal Pros & Cons:
 Accessible location as it is walkable from Chinatown MRT - the boy remarked that he likes the convenience as it is near his workplace and he can pop over anytime to run errands if required;
 Within budget! 
 Accepts our 20-22 table count and qualifies us for the main ballroom;
 Friendly coordinator who's prompt with her replies;
 High ceiling at 6m
 Natural daylight and could definitely fit my garden theme (that is if I don't change my mind half way hahahaha)
 Limited reviews online about this venue (they are quite a hot choice for weddings - previously when we enquired for late 2017, they only had 31 Dec 2017 left! - which left me thinking why there are limited reviews online but if they are so popular...  should be okay!)
 Mixed and limited review about their food.

We are still in the midst of finalizing the perks and the chances of signing with this property is pretty high! I did raise the concern of food quality to the boy as our main focus was to also ensure our guests have a delicious meal while celebrating our matrimony. He countered it by citing we can opt to upgrade the menu if we wish to as he likes this venue the most out of the few we went (including those unfruitful ones earlier haha)

Shall see!  

UPDATE: We signed with PARKROYAL on Pickering! One big ticket item off the list 

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