You’ve spent the last few years working hard and making friends but now it’s coming to an end, so what better way to celebrate then to gather all your classmates and let your hair down.
So if you’re reading this you have most likely been thrown into the deep end and have the responsibility of organising what will likely be the most memorable night of the year, no pressure!
So here are our tips on choosing the perfect venue for your Graduation Ball.
Agree a budget
This will determine the venues available to you. When you start looking you will need to have a clear idea of what your fellow classmates can afford to pay for a ticket and make sure you’re only seeing venues which fit into this budget. Remember you’ll have food and beverage to think about, room hire costs from the venue, entertainment costs and any decoration required as well. Some other things to think about; do the prices include VAT? What’s included in the price? (food, security, staff etc.) 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? Most importantly, get written quotations from the venues, it’ll make it easier when you start to narrow down your selection.
Discuss your preferred location with your committee. Do you want it near to your university or in a central location? Maybe you want it somewhere further afield? Will many students be travelling? Would you have to arrange transport for them and if so is it within your budget? Or would it 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!
Is the venue accessible? If some students wanted to take limos then choosing 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’ve decided to arrange a coach, you’ll need to make sure there’s sufficient turning space and a drop-off location that will ideally be dry and near the main entrance. You’ll also need to check if the driver requires any refreshments if they are staying until the end of the evening.
Space for dancing the night away
It’s so important to go and see the venues and space they are offering. Sometimes the maximum number of guests a venue can take is not the comfortable maximum number. Ask to see the room and if possible a floorplan. You’ll need to have enough space for the sit down meal, DJ & dance-floor, photographers and any other entertainment you’re planning. If you’re thinking of a buffet instead you may not need as much room but speak to the venue and ask their expert opinions, they will know what works and what doesn’t in their space. You don’t want to be turning classmates away so make sure the venue can take your maximum numbers.
Decisions Decisions & Ticking the boxes
Once you’ve seen the venues and you’ve made a short list it’s important to make the decision as a committee. Do you all like it and can you see your Ball happening there. Does it tick all your boxes? Create a list of questions that are important to you all and ask the venues co-ordinator. Is there a separate place for drinks reception? What are the access times? Can you get in early to decorate? Are there sufficient toilets? Are there restrictions on stiletto heels due to wooden floors or candles due to fire hazards? Is there wheelchair access? What time does the licence end? Do they have bedrooms and would they offer reduced rates? All of these will help narrow down your choice and make sure you end up with the perfect venue for you. 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 so making provisional bookings are a good idea.
Once you have chosen your venue and agreed on the date you will normally need to pay a deposit to confirm the booking. Ask to see the venues terms and conditions before doing this and check to see if the deposit will be transferable and refundable if the date becomes unsuitable at any point. Most venues will state that the deposit is non-refundable if the date was to be cancelled but you may find that some will allow you to transfer the booking to an alternative date if it ends up being a problem.
Once you have paid the deposit the venue should send you a contract. It will have their pre-agreed terms and conditions on it and the other details for your Ball which are still to be confirmed. Make sure you sign a copy and send it to them and also ask for a signed copy from them. If you have agreed items like corkage or a reduced room hire make sure this is on the contract. The venue isn’t out to trick you at all but it makes things easier for both parties to have information such as this in writing.
Now you have your venue the hard work really begins, but just remember what a special evening it will be and make sure you have a Ball!