Months of preparation, calls with your planner and possible bridezilla moments have come down to this day – the wedding reception. The age-old tradition would be to hold it at a hotel banquet, complete with reception and cocktails. It’s a foolproof idea after all. We have grown up attending fancy hotel dinners with a baby photo collage playing in the background, and we never thought about it being anything else. However, as we enter a new decade, increasingly more couples are looking for unconventional alternative wedding venues.

Other than hotels, there’s a spike in demand for restaurants and outdoor garden spaces to host this special occasion. This could be down to different tastes, price range or just wanting to push the envelope of how their wedding can be. If you are having trouble figuring out whether to stick to the old-reliable hotel wedding packages or switch it up for something more modern, look no further. Take these factors into consideration before selecting your venue to ensure all your needs are met.

1. Capacity

Hotel banquet packages often have a certain minimum number of tables to fill up. More often than not, you end up inviting distant relatives or awkward acquaintances to make up for the lost space. Where’s the sincerity in that? If you know that you want a more intimate affair, perhaps a smaller venue would better accommodate your wishes. Some people prefer to have a grand spectacle with hundreds to entertain. Others rather spend it with their nearest and dearest. Both options are perfectly reasonable and it is ultimately how you want your night to play out.

2. Food

This is a no-brainer if you are going to hold your banquet at a hotel. You will get the standard menu, a 10-course Chinese cuisine. Yet with alternative wedding venues, you are not confined to that! You can have a buffet-style dinner instead of a normal sit-down one or choose between different cuisines and cater to your palette. Prefer Italian dishes? Choose between a multitude of restaurants and caterers that accommodates to your dietary requirements.

3. Planning Effort

Most hotels have wedding packages and this makes it easy for the bride and groom as it is a tried and tested route. It makes the night less stressful as everything will be settled by the hotel staff who have seen one too many weddings to know what to do. Be prepared that if you choose an alternative wedding venue, you will need to do the planning for everything, settling the venue, food, favours, guest list, decor, the list goes on. Everything needs to be decided by you, and it will take more coordination on the day itself as compared to a hotel packaged one. If you have more time on your hands, want a more customised wedding and do not mind the extra hubbub, swap out the packaged banquets for your unique wedding.

4. Affordability

More often than not, hotels tend to charge pricier packages for weddings, as everything comes with it and also for the use of the venue space. Hence, restaurants and other alternative spaces seem like a more money-saving option. However, more of these wedding venues are starting to realise that there is a shift in what the millennials want for weddings. Hence, they may mark up their prices, making it on par with a packaged hotel banquet (but with fewer perks). If you are truly trying to cut costs, go for more affordable restaurants and locations. A Gordon Ramsay restaurant might cost more than a 4-star hotel banquet if you do the math correctly.

5. Personality

We could argue about which location is the best, but ultimately it all boils down to what your preference is. In an Asian context, our parent’s opinions matter to a substantial extent. More so if they are the traditional kind. Filial piety is important so hearing their opinions and keeping them in consideration is great, but this is your day! If there are clashing views, have a sit down with them and explain your rationale clearly. Or better yet, bring them for a recce of the venue itself to materialise your words into reality. Everyone wants their children to be happy, so they might relent after some persuasion.


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