The important thing to consider when booking a venue is the different styles of function venues available for events. Some venues can exist exclusively for private functions, which means they are designed to deliver good quality food and beverage packages. They will most likely have a good P.A system, DJ equipment and a screen for presentations. An exclusive function room will have a private entrance and private toilets and some kind of dance area. Not all function rooms are the same. Some are attached to clubs bars or pubs, some are simply exclusive function venues built to accommodate special events such as wedding receptions. Hiring an exclusive function room is a great option when planning a special event. You will have some control over the planning with the added assistance of an event coordinator who is experienced in managing a range of functions. Most function rooms supply security and will require a door list for guest entry so there will be no unwelcome guests at your event. You can provide finger food and sometimes meal options through a function venue as well as a great range of beverage packages. The venue will usually provide a microphone for speeches and sometimes offer theming options. You can show your photos or videos on an LCD screen or video projector. Most function spaces provide these amenities and will also supply someone to operate them as well. You have the choice of having your own DJ, to play your own IPOD or CD’s or you can rely on the venue for music options. Most event coordinators can assist you to source cake suppliers, decorators and entertainment and some will even do this on your behalf. This offers you the luxury of taking a step back to relax at your own party while someone else worries about the details. The second main advantage is that you will have this room booked exclusively. You have the ability to personalize the room with decorations and hire specialized entertainment. Function venues can be a little more formal than bars or clubs, which means they are a little more family friendly, offering comfortable seating and an environment that won’t intimidate older guests. Depending on the style of function room there is generally a lot of comfortable lounge seating and/or tables and chairs for a more formal dining experience. The disadvantage of hiring a function room is that they don’t always provide the same atmosphere as a function space within a club or bar. You generally need to provide your own music and create your own atmosphere, which includes filling the room with guests. If you don’t have a lot of guests then your room could look large and empty. Many function rooms can only be hired for a maximum of 6 hours and traditionally closing time is 1am. These types of venues can be a little stricter when it comes to procedures and you will generally need to pay a room hire as well as food and beverage packages. Function rooms don’t generally provide smoking areas unless they have a balcony.
When organizing a function at a bar, the options can be quite varied. Some bars offer sections exclusively for a period of time. This usually constitutes a cordoned off area or allocated seating. This means that you will be able to share the venue with the public but the public cannot share your private area, until a certain time. Bars can provide a lot of atmosphere and there are some very unique bar venues around, especially in the Melbourne CBD. Bars can be a ‘cool’ choice if you’re looking for something a bit different and will provide you with a ready made party atmosphere. Bars usually have a large variety of drink options and depending on where you go, a comprehensive wine list. If you wanted a function that wasn’t too formal, more trendy and relaxed, a bar function is a great choice. Finger food menus may be slightly limited but again, this will depend on the venue. You generally won’t have to pay a room hire unless it’s a private room within the venue but you will nearly always be required to spend a minimum on the bar with a bar tab or order from a drinks package. This will, in most cases, still cost you less than if you were hiring an exclusive function room. Hiring a section at a bar saves you the trouble of having to arrange music as you can share the venues sound system and if you have a small number of guests it won’t feel empty either. You can sometimes order substantial food through a bar but in most cases they will offer finger food or grazing menus. You will generally have the choice of paying for drinks on consumption or a drinks package but this will vary from bar to bar. I would be reluctant to hire a section of a bar for a special function such as 21st or an engagement as you won’t have much control over the room and you probably won’t have the service of an experienced function coordinator. Bars can get very busy and messy and you may still have to share toilets and the dance floor with the general public. Not having the exclusivity of a function room will also give you no control over decorating, music or speeches.
Some clubs also offer private rooms within their venue, but keep in mind that these rooms generally won’t be run as formally as function rooms in up-market bars and pubs. They generally use the same staff for the club as the functions which means you may not get staff experienced in proper food handling, however the advantage to these rooms is that they can sometimes operate with a 3am license and some may even allow your guests free entry to the club after your function. Clubs can also offer private sections within the main club, which don’t require a room-hire but will require a tab on the bar with a minimum spend. These sections can allow your guests free reign of the clubs amenities while at the same time allow some exclusivity and seating. Food is not always available through clubs and if it is, it won’t be the quality of a function centre so if its just drinks, nibbles and a good time you’re after then a section at a club could be a fun experience. Clubs usually have late closing times so you can party until dawn in these environments. You may save your guests the expense of a door entry as well if it’s a pre booked function with a guest list. Keep in mind; Clubs can sometimes attract unpredictable people so if safety is an issue for your guests then it’s probably not a good choice. The staff at clubs will most likely be less experienced in food handling and the level of service over all may be of a lower standard to function rooms or pubs.
Pubs are no longer the informal venue they used to be. Many pubs can offer the classy atmosphere that function rooms can, as well as excellent food and beverage menus. Some pubs can only offer you a private section and some can offer you an exclusive room. The great advantage of hiring a private room within a pub is that they will generally have a big kitchen that will offer extensive menu options. Staff will be trained in both food handling and serving a range of drink options. Depending on the style of pub, the venue will generally include a P.A system for music and an LCD screen for video or photo presentations. Pub staff are commonly experienced in dealing with a wide range of people and well trained in food and beverage service so your function will probably be well organized. Many pubs can offer you a sit down meal service, whereas some function centre’s and bars may not. This offers your guests the best of both worlds in that you can have a sit down meal early, followed by drinking and dancing afterwards. Some pubs offer a later license than with a function centre and will generally have some kind of smoking section for guests. The disadvantages of having a pub may be that it is not formal enough. You may not be able to decorate the room or section you are hiring and you may not have the advantage of a professional event coordinator to look after your function. Some pubs may only offer you a private section for some of the evening, depending on how popular it is as a public venue. After a certain time, the public will have access to your private area. Hiring a private room however, there is not much chance that you will need to share the space. Private rooms in pubs are generally considered as a function space only. Pubs will mostly offer microphones for your speeches or LCD screens for presentations but dance floors in pubs are not common. Pub rooms are generally not huge either so you if you have a large guest list you may be restricted by size. Keep in mind; there are always exceptions to these rules. As more and more people choose different venues to celebrate their special events, more and more venues are changing to accommodate these events.
Halls are another option when deciding on a venue. This would be a good choice is you were prepared to do all the work yourself or hire everything, including; an event manager, caterer, security and entertainment. A reason for choosing a hall might be that you have a great many guests who could not possibly fit inside a function venue. You may enjoy doing all the work yourself and you may enjoy having complete control over the planning. Having a big empty space can give you a lot of freedom when organizing your function, but consider your expenses. Hiring halls is often the more expensive option. If you have your parents supplying the catering and a friend’s band playing for free, then maybe it will be a cheaper option but the effort in organizing such an event will still be exhausting. Halls will always have conditions, just like venues. You will be expected to pay for any damage to the venue and hire your own security if you have entertainment or alcohol on the premises. You will need to staff the event yourself and supply all amenities for guests with the exception of toilets. A hall may not have very sophisticated sound and lighting equipment therefore you may have to hire this as well. Some halls do have kitchens installed and some just have toilets. If your hall has no kitchen, then you’re catering may be restricted to a finger food menu. Halls can also have a time limit for functions so 1am may still be your finishing time and halls can often be big cavernous spaces so you really need to consider how to transform the space and give it atmosphere. When considering a hall, you must factor in that you will need to cost out your security, food and beverages, kitchen/cooking amenities, plates, glasses and cutlery, entertainment and possibly A.V equipment, staff, decorations, additional seating, heating, microphones, screens, projectors or any other special equipment. These things combined could add up to be very costly and when you consider that a venue supplies all of these things at a package price. Even with your own catering, you may still find venues to be the cheaper and more comfortable option. Another consideration when hiring a hall is safety. There will be more chance of having gatecrashers or unwelcome guests at a hall even if you do have security guards. Without venue policies, familiarity of the venue and extra security backup, you put your guests and your cash security deposit at risk.
Hiring a restaurant for your event will give you more options in terms of menus but not necessarily a larger choice of beverages. Some restaurants allow you to bring your own beverages but they will usually charge you corkage. A restaurant will allow a low-key event that focuses on conversation and quality food. Other than this, it offers you very little in the way of a party atmosphere. Some restaurants will have a bar or lounge area but you will have to share this with the other patrons unless you hire the restaurant exclusively. To hire a restaurant exclusively could be a very expensive exercise, as they will need to charge you a fee that matches what they would loose in normal trading. A restaurant will provide you with a comfortable atmosphere but unless its exclusive there will be no say over anything else other than you’re chosen menu. Restaurants generally close early and don’t offer the option to drink or dance afterwards. Often guests cannot mingle properly as seating arrangements at tables restrict conversation so seating arrangements will have to be considered carefully. Cakes can usually be arranged at restaurants but speeches will need to be performed in pubic unless you have a private room. Unless the restaurant has been hired exclusively, the music will be low and there will be no option for decorating. A restaurant could be a good option if you have a small, informal function planned and if the restaurant is close to other nightlife or bars that your guests can access afterwards.