Are you a student on a prom committee helping select a venue for your big night? Or an adult adviser tasked with choosing the “where” for the party, guided by your school’s regulations and a strict budget?
Choosing a venue for a large event like a prom for the first time can be an intimidating assignment. You have to take so many considerations into account, including school rules, district policies, transportation and parking requirements, student preference, theme and venue security. In order to make a wise decision, we’ve assembled some of the most important questions to ask that will help you narrow down your choice and choose the perfect hot spot for your big dance. It’s a lot harder than simply choosing the right prom dress!
Before you contact anyone, you need to put a list together of the possible properties you might consider booking. Think beyond hotel ballrooms. Other options might include museums, historic properties, community centers, conference centers, and even theme parks. Stay open-minded. Choosing an alternative venue could save your school a lot of money, and allow you to focus on other important prom expenses. Remember that sometimes it is tempting to choose a prom venue that is farther away because of budget or because it is unique and exciting – but factor in the cost of safe transportation when you consider this. Teens driving long distances late at night can be a recipe for disaster. If you can stick close to home, do.
When you make first contact with a venue, you’ll need to ask the very basics:
- Do you have our date(s) available?
- What is the capacity of the available space or spaces at the venue?
- How much will it cost to rent the available space? Make sure you full understand the rental fees as well as any “minimums” required, such as a minimum food expense or beverage requirement.
If the property is available, and is willing and able to handle your event, you are ready for the next level of questions. Next, ask:
- What kind of food service does the venue provide, or will they let you bring in a caterer if needed?
- What is the parking situation? Is there motor coach parking if that is necessary, or is there enough parking if students will drive?
- How much does it cost to park individual vehicles at your site?
- What is included in the rental fee? You don’t want to find out later that you needed to rent chairs or other equipment. Many venues will include a variety of table shapes and sizes, but most need to be covered in at least basic white linen if not something fancier. Who will provide those standard linens?
Visiting your venue in person before committing a deposit is also an important action. You need to know that everything that you are booking exists in the shape that the site claims. Go to the property. Check out all the little details – the condition of the bathrooms, the size of the spaces where the party will happen, the equipment that is included in your rental.
If you like what you see, ask for a contract! Make sure that all necessary parties at your district level sign off. Once they do, congratulations! You have a prom venue! Now the planning can begin.