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5. The Venue

When it comes to choosing a venue for your ball, there’s plenty of options available. If you’re based in a city it’s likely that you have a number of Football Grounds, Cricket Grounds, Hotels and Function Rooms at your disposal, you might even be able to use a grand hall at the university! If you’re not based in a city your options may be limited to town & village halls, so it’s worth having a look what your nearest urban area has to offer.

What to look out for

There are a number of things you should look out for & ask about when considering venues.

  • What Is the price? Does it include VAT?
  • What’s included in the price? (food, security, staff etc.)
  • Can the venue fee be waived if enough people are attending?
  • Does the venue require a deposit? If so, Is a separate breakage deposit needed?
  • When does the deposit / full amount need settling?
  • What’s the cancellation period?
  • What are the access times?

Most importantly, get a written quotation and if you’re happy, be sure to sign the contract in good time.

Transport

How do you intend on people getting to and from the Ball? There are plenty of options; you just have to make people aware of what’s happening.

If you’re going to bus people from a pickup point to the venue you’ll need to let people know where &amp when and if you’re going to bus them home too. If this is something you decide on doing, be sure to budget for it.

If instead you decide that it would be simpler to have everyone make their own way there, chances are most people will need to book taxis. You should let your guests know in advance – you may even be able to negotiate a discount with a local taxi firm if you ask nicely!
It’s also important to check whether the venue is easy to find and easy to leave – if people plan on coming in limos then somewhere down narrow lanes might not be best, and country lanes are not the best choice for a ball in the winter where they might become icy or snowy.

If you’re bringing your guests by coach, make sure there’s sufficient turning space and a drop-off location that will be dry and near the main entrance. It’s also usual to arrange refreshments for the driver if they are to stay until the end of the evening.

Available Space

Some venues will exaggerate the space they have available. Ask to see the room and have them show you a tableplan with enough seating for everyone and decide if the room is big enough. Remember to allocate space for the DJ & dance-floor, Photographers and other entertainment.
If you’re not planning on having a sit-down meal you may not need as much space.

Other things to consider:

  • Is there a separate place for drinks reception?
  • Are there sufficient toilets?
  • Are there restrictions on stiletto heels due to wooden floors?
  • Is there wheelchair access?
  • Don’t underestimate how long decorating can take. Get as many people as possible to help!

Cheaper Options

It might be worth looking around for cheaper options when deciding on a venue, this will give you more money for inclusions and entertainment. Lots of schools have their prom in the school gym; with a little imagination and a lot of decorating supplies you can turn even the dullest space into an enchanting room.

It might also be worth considering hiring a marquee if your event is large enough. As the expensive part is the set-up and tear-down, why not see if it’s possible to share the cost with another group and each have your events on separate nights, eg. another society at the university or another school. If you’re coming from a university with a bar you could invite them along – if they have the correct equipment and licences it might be a good way to get cheaper drinks. One of the best things about marquees is that you’ve got an outside space that’s ideal for fireworks, fairground rides and sideshows, though of course these aren’t quite so much fun in the bitter winter months.

Get it Booked

Whatever you choose, remember to talk to the venues on your shortlist as soon as possible. Desirable venues can become booked as much as 12-24 months in advance at peak times of the year.

Be There

If you’re really taking the organisation seriously then it’s advisable to arrive at the venue on the morning of the event to check everything is going to plan and to welcome all of the suppliers & entertainers. If you’re holding the event at a hotel then it might be worth getting a room for the day, they should offer you a discounted rate.

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This guide is provided by the lovely ball photographers at Peasy Photos.


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