Singaporebrides | Fine Dining

July 2015

8 Tips on Choosing An Alternative Wedding Venue

While alternative wedding venues such as Alkaff Mansion Ristorante, The White Rabbit and Nosh are quickly soaring in popularity among couples, not everyone is familiar with what to consider when selecting these venues for an amazing once-in-a-lifetime celebration. In this article, we’ll share with you 8 tips you should consider when choosing an alternative wedding venue.

The Basics: Wedding Date and Number of Guests

Whether you are tying the knot in a hotel ballroom or at an alternative venue with a more intimate setting, the basics of choosing a wedding venue remains. That means, deciding on a wedding date, having an estimated number of guests and researching on the available venues such as cafes, restaurants or outdoor venues like Hort Park that cater to wedding celebrations and shortlisting the ones that fit your needs.

For venues, your wedding date and estimated number of guests are their priority concerns, especially for smaller venues like cafes or restaurants. Checking for availability is important because these venues tend to feature cosier spaces that allow for only one wedding or event booking at a time. Sharing your estimated number of wedding guests will also help you determine if the venue is suitable for your wedding or not.


8 Tips on Choosing An Alternative Venue - Cost Coral and Mint Retro Garden Wedding in Alkaff Mansion by Bryan Jean Photography

The biggest misconception about weddings at alternative venues is that it is cheaper than a hotel wedding. The truth is, it may or may not be cheaper. Why? Hotels offer complete wedding packages that includes food and drinks, and decoration for the entire ballroom. Alternative wedding venues operate on an ala carte basis. Restaurants and cafes charge on a per-head basis and require you to hit a minimum spend for the venue to be exclusive to your celebration, while getting married at other venues like Hort Park means you’ll have to source for food and drinks, and tables and chairs yourself. Decoration, wedding stationery and favours are not inclusive.

The great thing about that is that you have the freedom to work with a stylist of your choice to bring your wedding vision to life, or you may choose to work with the venues’ list of preferred stylists or their own in-house decorators. However, you may be tempted to go all out on decorations, which may set you back quite a bit, especially if you’re asking for very elaborate set-ups filled with flowers. Catering food and furniture will also add to your wedding cost. To avoid over-spending, you should prioritise your wants and see what areas you absolutely can’t do without, and what you can leave out.


So, when deciding on your wedding budget, do keep in mind of the additional costs required for a wedding at these venues. For a better gauge, come up with a budget that has a lower and upper limit. Most couples who’ve been through setting a fixed amount for their budget will tell you that they end up exceeding it at the end of the day, although there are a handful of them who actually stuck to their budget or over-spent (kudos to you!). So, avoid sticker shock by setting a range for your budget, with the lower limit as the amount you hope to spend and the upper limit as a representation of how much more you’re willing and able to spend on your wedding.


8 Tips on Choosing An Alternative Venue - Capacity Kylie and Patrick’s Intimate Wedding at Skyve Wine Bistro by Pixioo Photography

Because of their cosy setting, alternative wedding venues make for a beautiful intimate wedding celebration. Most of these venues typically seat up to a maximum of 180 guests for a sit-down or buffet wedding reception or dinner. Because these venues seat a lot lesser as compared to a ballroom wedding, having an estimated number of guests will help you decide if it’s feasible to have your wedding there. Do check with the venues if they are able to take in more than their maximum capacity, within reason of course, or if they are able to offer you an alternative solution to make the space work for your numbers.


Opting to wed at an alternative wedding venue almost guarantees an outdoor reception, although not always, since some venues have indoor seating areas as well. If you utilising the venue’s outdoor area, ensure that you have a wet and dry weather plan in place. For most parts of the year, we enjoy relatively dry and sunny weather. But sometimes, it can get too dry and hot, especially if your wedding takes place in the day on the hottest months of the year. Keep your guests comfortable and the occasion enjoyable for them by providing ice cold refreshments and cooling ventilation to cool them down.

An outdoor wedding is also possible during the wetter months of the year, which typically falls at the beginning and the end of the year, coinciding with the more popular months for weddings. Just make sure the venue has a wet weather plan as a back-up in case the weather doesn’t hold up.


Alternative Wedding Venue; Nosh When Rustic Charm Meets Vintage Chic by A Little Moment Photography

The beauty of alternative wedding venues lies in the different ambience each space exudes, and knowing what look you want for your wedding will help zoom in on one. Venues like Masons at Gilman Barracks and Alkaff Mansion Ristorante introduces a colonial charm indoors and an English garden wedding outdoors, while spaces like The White Rabbit and Nosh have an old-world, rustic and bohemian vibe. Bring the party to the sea for a nautical wedding at Sabio by the Sea or go back in time with the retro-chic interiors of Skyve Wine Bistro and Spruce.

Once you have shortlisted a handful of venues, make a trip down to the venue personally to check out the vibe of the space on-site before you decide on one. Sometimes, photos of the place may not be an accurate representation of the actual space. Visiting the space yourself before making a decision will allow you to view the space in its entirety, the beautiful and not-so-beautiful spots and all. At the same time, have a meal there to sample their dishes and have a chat with the person-in-charge to find out what it’ll cost to hold a wedding there.


Unlike hotels, these venues are unlikely to serve the traditional Chinese dishes seen at a ballroom wedding, although some venues like Alkaff Mansion do offer a Chinese banquet menu alongside their signature Italian cuisine. Most of these places serve either European, American, or International cuisine in 3 or 4 course sets. Since most of the older generation might be unfamiliar with these cuisines, you might want to ensure that the dishes served will be recognisable to them, such as chicken or fish, or make sure you seat someone who can explain the dish to them in a relatable manner during dinner.


Alternative Wedding Venue; Marmalade Pantry at The Stables An Intimate Wedding at The Marmalade Pantry by Framewerks

Some alternative wedding venues are quietly tucked away from the hustle and bustle of our busy city life for maximum privacy, so they may not be as easily accessible or visible as other venues. Making a trip down to the place will give you an idea of how convenient it is to travel there by public transport and to spot it. If you find it difficult to find the place, chances are, so will your guests, especially if it’s their first time there. In that case, provide your guests with a detailed map to the venue and set up clear signage along the way to guide them to the space. You might also want to consider renting a mini bus to ferry your guests to and fro the nearest MRT station so they don’t have to worry about getting to the place or how to get home.

There, with these 7 handy tips on hand, choosing an alternative wedding venue will be a walk in the park. For brides who prefer a grander celebration, pick up tips from the experts at Peony Jade at Clarke Quay, Peony Jade at Keppel Club, Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa, Singapore and Regent Singapore on what to take note of when selecting a wedding banquet venue and choosing a banquet package.

Credits: Feature Image from The Greatest Adventure of John and Sher by Jonathan Ong // Visual Storytelling