Most couples who are getting married abroad, aim to offer their guests a multiple-day experience. This makes a destination wedding the ideal occasion to create precious memories for life.
From a low-key gathering on the beach, to a wine tasting, workshop, sailing trip or an informal dinner, lunch or brunch. There are plenty of options, but the question is what will fit to your ideas, budget ánd expectations. In this blog we will share all you need to know about organising group activities, where to pay attention to and what a proper organisation of a pre- or post wedding event requires.
What is a group?
Let's start by defining what is considered ´a group´. There are no standards, as each restaurant, workshop space or experience provider will have its own definition of what they call ´a group reservation´. In most of the cases, from 10 to 12 guests onwards group conditions will be applied.
Are group conditions less or more advantageous?
Of course, you are a good potential customer when you reach out to any kind of service provider for booking an activity for 15, 25 or even 50 people at a time. It is no surprise to us that most couples think mainly of the advantages of group bookings.
Although a reservation for a larger group definitely means ´good business´, it also implicates a bigger risk for the service provider.
Don't be surprised that a deposit will be kindly requested for something that you usually wouldn't make any payment upfront (a random restaurant reservation usually doesn't require a downpayment). The thing is that if you will end up with half of the estimated number of guests - or worse - won't manage to make it in time to the activity, the vendor will not only loose your deal. He/she might have turned down other inquiries because of your booking, or they will not be able to fill in the gap with this last minute change. Therefore a first deposit is often non-refundable.
Even if you haven't asked for exclusivity, restaurants may close the restaurant for other clients - especially when you are with a considerable number of people. That means that the restaurant will be exclusively available for your group - even if you don't occupy all the tables. Larger groups tend to be little noisier, so it won't be convenient neither for you or other clients to mix the two.
Cancellation policies may be applied, where a final headcount is often requested between 7-14 days prior to the event. For the same reason as mentioned above, there is a huge difference of impact between four people not showing up for a sail trip, or 25 people that won't be able to make it.
The final amount to be paid will be based on the final headcount. This means that if 5 guests will not be able to join you last minute, you will be charged for those five guests no matter what.
Besides a deposit, the payment conditions for group reservations often include a full payment in advance. So with the first deposit upon the confirmation of your reservation and a second deposit 14 days prior to the event. Furthermore, the conditions may also include a payment from one account only. Remember that most service providers are small local businesses who usually only have one payment terminal or ATM. Imagine 40 people wanting to pay all at the same time.
Pre or Post Wedding dinner, brunch, lunch or cocktail
If the pre- or post wedding event includes a restaurant reservation, apart from the above mentioned group conditions, the following should be taken in consideration:
Most restaurants provide the option to have an á lá carte dinner, if you are with less than 12-15 people (adults):
From 12 to 15 guests, a special menu will be compiled. The menu may include one or two options for one or more courses. But don't expect to have a á lá carte dinner with your guests in this case. For most people it is difficult to understand why restaurants don't provide this option for their group, especially when the restaurant´s capacity exceeds the number of guests for the pre/post wedding event. "What is the difference of 40 guests going to the restaurant and all eat á lá carte´, or our group of 40 persons? Why we are limited to a pre-set menu?" are frequent asked questions. We totally get that and that is exactly the reason we are sharing this kind of content in our blogs, as we find it important that couples are well informed, so that they can align their expectations within the possibilities.
Usually, a restaurant doesn't see its seats being filled up all at the same time. Clients will arrive at different hours, thus different small groups of clients will order from the menu also at different timings. Two or three orders may arrive at the same time to the kitchen.
Imagine now a group of 30 or 40 guests arriving to the restaurant at the same time. They will order á lá carte, which means that the kitchen will receive all orders at the same time. This will undeniably result in a huge delay in delivering all those different courses at the same time and with the same quality as if it were an ´individual table reservation for four guests only.
The reason why a restaurant will present a pre-set menu for your group, is to avoid too much time you and your group will need to wait between the courses and to secure the utmost quality of both the courses and the service.
Individual payments are usually not accepted by restaurants, for the same reason as mentioned above. With one payment terminal, it will take up too much time to handle all payments individually. Besides, it will give guests the feeling that there is space for ordering drinks that are not being included in the menu, which requires almost an extra staff member to keep up the administration of all that:
About fourteen days prior to the event, you will need to confirm the final headcount, together with the dietary requirements. Usually the final payment has to be made at the same time.
Other than a wedding day, the pre & post wedding events are having a far less formal character and therefore couples often think that the organisation of those events also require far less formalities. But even a low-key picnic on the beach requires a decent organisation. As long as you are aware of the formalities and standards, it will be easier to make your inquiry and to be prepared for the proposals that you will receive from the vendors you have contacted. Have you hired an experienced wedding planner? Than she/he will be more than capable to help you organising your pre or post wedding activity in Portugal.