I have to be honest with you bridey. When you call a hotel that provides their own food and beverage and ask to see their “hall”, the lovely sales manager on the other end of the phone instantly knows that you can’t afford to have your wedding at their property. You see there is a huge difference between a hall and hotel, and nothing screams “low budget” louder than asking to see “the hall” instead of the ballroom. This is actually a widespread “epidemic”. It doesn’t matter if you are calling the Four Seasons, The Marriott, Hampton Inn or the Best Western. If you want to bring in your own food and beverage to save money, then a hotel is not an option for you.
I know… I am the bitch for stating the painful, yet brutally honest truth and I’m sure that I will receive plenty of hate emails, but before you begin typing please note that I am not suggesting that those of you hosting your wedding at a hall lessens your day. Instead, I am trying to educate you with the hopes of saving you time and energy so that when you begin searching for your venue, you can automatically eliminate the spaces you can’t afford. And this education comes from my many years in the hotel industry, combined with recent conversations with wedding planners who are paid by the hotel to plan weddings. So, if you want to save some time and aggravation then check out BB’s two-cent tour outlining the difference between a hall and a hotel.
Here are the basics… Let’s start with the hotels:
*A hotel will not allow you to bring in your own food. And by food, I’m NOT referring to an outside catering company (because some hotels do work closely with catering companies, but you will literally pay double (or more) for such an allowance). I am referring to your friend who’s a great cook, preparing the food and setting it up on the buffet. That’s a no-no. I mean, you wouldn't go into a restaurant with your own food... Well, the same rules apply at a hotel.
*A hotel will not allow you to bring in your own booze. They have a liquor license, and liquor providers. Period.
*A hotel is responsible for providing you and your guests with the best possible experience. So, oftentimes they charge a pretty hefty room rental fee and food and beverage minimum so that they can pay their staff and still make a profit. There is room to negotiate here, but not by much.
*A hotel will make all vendors liable for their equipment and any damage to hotel property. So if your friend is a DJ, then he/she needs to understand the responsibility that comes with the job.
Moving on… Let’s talk about the halls:
*A hall allows you bring in your own food. That said they assume no responsibility for it (or other items brought into the building for that matter). Usually you are not restricted to using a catering company, so if your friend the cook wants to make the food, then so be it. However the hall is not responsible should any guest become sick due to foodborne illness.
*A hall allows you to bring in your own booze. So if you have a friend at the “packey”, then knock yourself out!
*A hall will provide you with the very basics. The room. The tables. The chairs. You are on your own for anything additional, and sometimes that means the service. So you best gather a group of friends to help set-up the space!
*A hall will be a hell of a lot cheaper than pretty much ANY hotel (luxury or otherwise) because you are not responsibly for minimums, gratuities, etc.
Brideys, I really hope this helps discern the difference between a hotel and a hall. In the long run, I promise that understanding these differences between the two will make planning the details of your wedding much simpler starting with your first phone call. Got it?