Wedding Planning Chapter 5 – Banquet Venue Selection Part 1

Like what I mentioned previously, I had always thought that confirming my banquet venue would be my third chapter of wedding planning. This is because I had read and heard actual accounts of how wedding couples would book their banquet venues more than one year in advance! With a limited number of banquet tables and an even limited budget for banquet, I had been researching about suitable venues even before we chose our wedding date, in August! (The actual research actually starts much later, when we had confirmed our wedding date in end September).

All along, Sunshine preferred not to have any banquet while I preferred to have a small banquet lunch at a Chinese restaurant, celebrating our wedding. This is because a wedding lunch would be much cheaper than a dinner and I believe, holding it at a Chinese restaurant would be economically friendly with better food, in terms of quality, portion and taste. Hence, I had been researching on wedding banquet packages at a Chinese restaurant. Read on my post to know more about the research I had done!

I had shortlised Qian Xi long long time ago when I saw their packages listed on their website. I was attracted to their package at their Farrer Park branch which was $728 nett. I liked Farrer Park because unlike the rest of its locations, it is centralised. It would be more convenient for my guests to travel there for my banquet. Also, it is not only a Chinese Restaurant, but a Chinese Restaurant in a club! This branch is located within the Civil Service Club at Tessensohn Rd. At this price, I would have suckling pig (my must-have), red garoupa (expensive fish!), duck (more expensive than chicken) and abalone. You can also choose to change your dishes according to your own preference and you would either get a small amount back if the dish is cheaper than your package, or just top-up the difference. You would also get free flow of alcohol if you have 25 tables and above and complimentary invitation card printing! Hence, I had been looking out for Qian Xi at any wedding shows I came across to see if I could bargain for more things during the wedding show. (I only have less than 20 tables but I still hoped that I could bargin for at least one bottle of red wine for each guaranteed table and a 30-litre barrel of beer). To me, Qian Xi was almost everything I was looking for in a banquet venue: cheap, good food, centralised location, classy (in a club mah)!

Therefore, when I learnt that Qian Xi would be participating in the recently-concluded Blissful Outdoor Wedding Show (BOWS), I was thrilled! There was just one last thing I needed to do before I sign on the dot. I quickly contacted Suzanna and arranged to view the ballroom at Farrer Park just before we went down to BOWS. The day before we went down, I was still worried that if Suzanna’s service is too good, I would feel bad for not wanting to sign with her on the spot but wanting to sign at BOWS itself for the lucky draw, promotions and more perks. My father said I should give Suzanna her due credit if I was really impressed with her service and let her earn the commission instead of wasting her time to entertain us and then for me to sign with someone else at BOWS. Hence, I decided that I would tell her honestly about my desire to sign at BOWS if we liked what we see at Farrer Park.

Ballroom. Photo taken from Qian Xi

On that day, Sunshine and I made our way to Qian Xi at Farrer Park. We noted that it was a two-way street, single lane. It might not be very accessible? (I am not sure why but I do not really like the layout of the roads outside. Haha). Additionally, I realised that I do not really like the exterior of the club. It gives me the feeling of a Community Club (CC), one which looks older than the CC nearest my place, as opposed to a club which it is housed at. Omg! However, I told myself that the exterior does not really matter since my guests would only pass through it before and after the banquet. We met with the banquet manager who brought us to the ballroom suitable for the number of tables we have. We were first brought to a partioned room. Sunshine and I do not like the fact that the room was small and just directly behind their main ballroom. We could see the guests in the main ballroom from where we were standing and vice versa. It would be so awkward if there was another wedding or event there on the same day in the main ballroom if we were to take this partioned room la! We then went up to the second storey where a ballroom stood exclusively on its own. The reception area was open and big. The banquet manager told us that we would be able to decorate the area to our liking on that day. He also showed us the ballroom. However, perhaps because it was bare and not decorated for any wedding that day, both Sunshine and myself did not like it. Firstly, the ballroom looks old and small. Secondly, the march-in would be for a very short distance only. The changing room beside was also bare and looks pathetic (I can bear with this since we would not be there for long). I had great aspirations for this venue so much that I totally did not bother researching for another venue once I saw this. In my day dreaming, I was already bargaining for some more freebies, looking for wedding favours (Qian Xi does not provide) and placing a deposit for it already! Hence, I was very disappointed when I saw the ballroom. Oh man! It totally did not look as pretty as the picture shown above. Perhaps, this photo was taken a long time ago? Sunshine also agreed with me that the ballroom looks small and cramped. He also did not really like the exterior of the club and was worried that my parents may find it a bit too shabby. He kept emphasizing that if I did not mind and still wanted to sign with Qian Xi, I should bring my parents here first to see the location. Though the banquet manager said that the club would be undergoing a facelift to its front this year and would definitely be ready by next year before our wedding, I did not really want to risk taking this venue just for its exterior to look like a newly renovated CC next year. Nevertheless, Sunshine and I still went to BOWS, hoping that the benefits of this place really outweigh its cons.

We met Suzanna at BOWS. She was very cool and straight-to-the point, 爽快, when I asked her if she would be able to provide some free alcohol for us. She asked us how many tables we were looking at and when I said 14, immediately cancelled the “Minimum 25 tables” for the freeflow alcohol and changed it to 14! This meant that we would be able to get freeflow hard liquor, red wine, beer, stout, Chinese tea and soft drinks! Wow! I was stunned momentarily as I totally did not expect this. However, surprisingly, I still was not attracted and did not have the “Ok! This is it! Must sign!” feeling. Suzanna was very relaxed about it and she did not even try to sell her packages at all. She just asked us to look through and take our time. Sunshine and I looked through the list of other venues Qian Xi had and I thought the one along Carpenter Street looked promising. We told her about it and she said she would make arrangements for someone to receive us and show us around when we reached the place later. Woah! Such good service sey.

Once again, when we reached Qian Xi’s Carpenter branch, we were not really impressed with its exterior. It is located along a one-way street and we thought that dropping off and parking might be inconvenient for our guests. However, this was not our main concern. The Carpenter branch had three floors with the first floor dedicated for walk-ins and the other two floors for banquet events. We were lucky that they had an event there that evening and hence, we were able to see the layout of the banquet hall full with tables and decorations. Both the layouts of the two floors were elongated, which were not to our liking. This was because we both felt that the halls were too long, too asymmetrical. We could not see the stage well when we stood at the end of the hall where some of the tables were. Moreover, there was no changing room, but a small, cramped utility room where extra chairs were stacked together. It could only fit one person! We then left the place dejected.

Carpenter's elongated ballroom. Photo taken from Qian Xi
Carpenter’s elongated ballroom. Photo taken from Qian Xi

Qian Xi’s other branches did not appeal to us too: Bliss Garden (Expo) is too much to the East of Singapore and rather inaccessible; Summer Garden (Safra@Mt Faber) would also be quite inaccessible for our guests; Qian Xi Paya Lebar’s and Bountiful Restaurant’s locations seemed weird for a wedding banquet venue; Blossom Garden (HomeNS@Bukit Batok), Hilltop Garden (Civil Service Club at Bukit Batok) and Joy Garden (Safra@Jurong) were on the opposite side of Singapore for us. I guess, Qian Xi was just not meant to be for us…

Note to all readers:
Please do not dismiss Qian Xi as your potential banquet venue because of this. I still would love to hold my banquet at Qian Xi but I really did not have the “feel” for their locations. I did not like the banquet halls they have. Even Sunshine, who is generally easy-going and does not have a preference for most things, agreed with me. I have heard excellent reviews about their food, both in taste and portions, the person in-charge was flexible and very generous in giving in to your requests even if you do not meet the minimum number of tables required and they are very very affordable! At a maximum of $1088nett per table, you would be able to get lobster, a whole suckling pig, abalone and bird nest served! Do pay them a visit to determine if you like what they have to offer. Many brides (including some bloggers) have held their banquet with Qian Xi too!

Yes: Everything except cons
No: Not-so-pretty ballrooms, no room for solemnisation (I think)

Read Wedding Planning Chapter 4 – “Meet-the-Parents’ Session” here.
Read on for my second part of banquet venue selection, Wedding Planning Chapter 5 – Banquet Venue Selection Part 2 here.

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A novice baker =)

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