Having a 250-person Dry, Indian Wedding and Having a Hard Time Meeting the Venue’s F&B Minimum? Things You Can Do.

Not every Indian or South Asian wedding has 350+ guests and an open bar. South Asian weddings are immersed in religious ceremonies. As such some weddings and pretty much all Muslim wedding receptions in particular, are dry, meaning there is no alcohol. And in such cases, meeting a venue’s food and beverage minimum can be challenging. This article is for the couples that are having a 250-person dry, Indian wedding and things you can do to meet the venue’s food and beverage minimum.

As a rule, the nicer or more expensive the venue, the more expensive the higher their food and beverage minimum. And the higher a venue’s food and beverage minimum is the harder it will be to meet it without alcohol.

{What Is a Venue’s Food and Beverage Minimum?}

A food and beverage minimum is simply the minimum revenue that a venue expects to earn in one night for their function space. So no matter what, you’re going to pay at least that amount. The minimum is set by the venue. Each venue determines the value of their function space and what they are going to charge for it.

If you haven’t read our guide on Food and Beverage Minimums or Indian Weddings.

{Food and Beverage Minimums Vary}

The minimum varies from ballroom-to-ballroom as well as by day of the week. Larger, nicer ballrooms with taller ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, nice views, fancier chandeliers, nicer carpet, advanced sound proofing and other features will have higher minimums compared to others that don’t have these features.

The minimum on Friday and Sunday (as well as other days of the week) is lower than Saturday because Saturdays have the highest demand.

How much lower? It varies but usually not drastically. In other words it wouldn’t be 50% lower, more like a few thousand dollars lower. How much are food and beverage minimums? Venues such as the Hyatt Regency Long Beach, Hilton Beachfront Resort in Santa Barbara, and Marriott Newport Beach are in the $17,000 to $27,000 range. And venues like The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel are in the $60,000+ range. On the budget side, venues such as the Delta Marriott Anaheim, are in the $10,000 to $14,000.

Venues such as banquet halls, don’t have a minimum. They charge a flat fee. And Indian restaurant banquet halls prepare the food as well.

Remember, these are the venue’s minimums. They don’t include food, beverages, decor, clothes, photography, videography, mehndi etc.

Lower Prices on Fridays + Sundays vs. Saturdays. Venues do charge less on Fridays and Sundays vs. Saturdays. At most venues it’s $5 less per person for each event – so an outside catered lunch or dinner event, is $5 less on Friday or Sunday vs. Saturday. You could try to negotiate to get it reduced more. For a venue that charges $40 per person, at 250 guests on a Sunday the total is $8,750 and on a Saturday it’s $10,000 — difference of $1,250.

{South Asian Weddings Where It’s Difficult To Meet The Minimum}

There are two scenarios with Indian or any South Asian wedding where it becomes difficult to meet the minimum:

  1. Small number of guests i.e. 200-250
  2. Dry weddings

Small Number of Guests: in this case it becomes difficult to meet the minimum because the per person plating fees don’t add up to enough to meet the minimum on their own and you need the bar to makeup for the rest.

Dry Weddings: in this case there is no alcohol beverage consumption to contribute to the minimum.

Both: And weddings with 200-250 guests and dry it’s even more difficult to meet the minimum.

{Example Of Not Meeting The F&B Minimum}

Let’s look at an example with the following parameters:

  • Number of wedding guests: 250
  • Per person place setting fee for the reception: $75
  • Food and beverage minimum: $45,000

250 guests*$75 per person = $18,750

That means the per person fees contribute $18,750 towards the $45,000 minimum.
And now you have to buy $26,250 ($45,000 minus $18,750) worth of food and drink at the cocktail hour and reception to meet the minimum. That’s a lot of money!

For weddings where alcohol will be served based on a consumption bar, you can estimate about $6000 for that. That takes us up to $24,750 ($18,750+$6000) contributed towards the minimum. That still leaves $20,250 ($45,000-$24,750) worth of food and beverages to buy.

For weddings where there won’t be any alcohol it’s even harder to meet the minimum because sodas cost less than alcoholic beverages.

And with regards to the other options such as buying a dessert bar and appetizers etc., sure you can buy them, but not $20,000 worth!

And remember this is all just to meet the Food and Beverage Minimum. It’s not like you’re paying above and beyond. You’re just trying to meet the minimum.

Hopefully you are starting to see the dilemma of how hard it would be, in this case, to meet the minimum. So for these weddings couples would probably be better off with venues with lower minimums, in the $25-$30,000.

Venues in that range are not going to be as nice as the venues with the higher minimums but that doesn’t mean they aren’t nice venues, they’re just not as luxurious as the others.

{Example of Meeting The F&B Minimum}

Last year we worked with a couple that had a dry celebration but they had 450 guests at their reception. The venue’s outside catering place setting fee for the reception was $45 per person including service charge and tax. And the food and beverage minimum was $30,000.

With the per person fees they were already pretty much at the minimum. By the time they paid for sodas and juices and ordered a few catered dishes from the venue they met the minimum, no worries. The key was that they had so many guests.

{What Can Couples Do To Meet The Minimum?}

Buy food and beverage services from the venue. You can buy:

  • appetizers
  • snacks
  • food stations
  • desserts
  • signature cocktails
  • tea/coffee

As stated above whether or not you buy these items through the venue, you’re going to pay the venue the minimum so then you might as well get them.

Note: the F&B minimum only applies to cocktail hour and the reception. Not the wedding and not lunch. And it only applies to items you can eat or drink at the cocktail hour and reception. So, the ceremony fee, the hospitality room, and the per person place setting fee for lunch DO NOT contribute to the minimum. Neither do parking and hotel rooms.

Unfortunately most venues also don’t contribute the cake towards the minimum either, even if you bought a wedding cake from the venue.

{Another Solution to Meet The Minimum: Up Your Guest Count}

The other way to try to meet the minimum is to increase your guest count. If you increased the guest count by 100 to 250 guests, then with just per person fees $26,250 goes towards the minimum. Add in a $7500 bar and you’re at $33,750. And now you’ve $11,250 to play with to add extras to meet the minimum.

The downsides of this option are that your catering costs will increase and if you’re serving lunch, then you’ve got higher per person place setting fees with the venue, in addition to more cars to pay for hosted parking.

{Summary and Take Aways}

The right venue for you varies based on a few variables such as guest count, day of the week, and whether or not alcohol will be served. Meeting a venue’s food and beverage minimum can be tough in some cases, but this article presented a few different ways you can meet the minimum by ordering food and beverage through the venue and/or increasing your guest count.

As a rule of thumb, the nicer the venue the higher the food and beverage minimum. Minimums vary ballroom-to-ballroom and by day of the week. Saturday nights are the most expensive.

Understanding these principles can save you much time in your venue search. You can search for venues based on per person price in our venue marketplace.

Cover Photo: Geeta Randery Photography

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