Top 10 tips for corporate event planners before booking a venue for 2016

The summer wedding summer has just fizzled out and event planners are busily planning for 2016. When you’re looking for the best venue for your clients, it is important to be prepared and know what to look out for.

Before your first ‘Google’ search or calling to speak with hotel/banquet managers…here are some major questions to ask to help you determine if the venue is a fit for your needs:

1. Availability for the dates and do you have some backup options?

If you are planning for a ‘hot’ time of year, your dates may get beat out by other planners who book earlier. It is vital to have a plan b, so that you can give your clients some immediate alternative options.

2. Is the location central?

Whether you’re travelling there by plane, train or automobile, how will your attendees arrive at the venue? Do they offer shuttle service from the airport? Is public transit, a subway or sky train accessible? Is there a lot of free parking or will guests have to pay to park?

3. Can your guests ‘sleep it off’ at the venue?

As an event planner you need to think about everything. Can the guests get a safe/sober ride home OR can they stay the night at the venue? if there are no hotel rooms offered then you need to think of a way to get your guests home safely.

4. Does the venue set the mood?

A budget is always important…but does the venue have the atmosphere to carry an event of your client’s magnitude?

5. Do you have room to wiggle?

The last thing guests want is to feel like sardines squished in a can. You need to ensure there is plentiful room at the venue for guests to move around and feel comfortable.

6. Does the space have the right stuff?

There are a variety of details you need to look at including: tech requirements, projectors, number of screens, AV equipment, computers, wireless internet auditorium setting versus theatre setting, breakout rooms or even a lounge for unwinding/relaxation.

7. Location! Location! Loaction!

Will the location provide a memorable experience for the event goers? If this is a one or two day conference, may sure you plan for a location that is close to…shopping, dining or tourist activities. Sometimes it isn’t always what you do at the conference that makes the event, it is what comes after the conference.

8. Does the venue cater to individuals dietary needs?

You may have guests with medical conditions, religious beliefs or even vegans…make sure you can cater to their needs.

9. Everyone loves freebies?

Whether it is free shuttles to the airport, complimentary wifi, free coffee, notepad paper or even pens. Make sure you ask, you will be surprise at what you can receive.

10. The buck stops here?

Always read the fine print. Make sure you note anything that might throw your event off. For example, confirm the deposit fees, final payment due dates, and if there is interest on a late payment…it all must be accounted for in your budget.

If you require an event venue for 2016, Riverside Banquet Halls has 5 banquet rooms (4 Richmond locations, 1 Surrey location) that are available for early bookings.

Give us a call at (604) 244-7755 and speak to one of our highly experienced planners!

Beginner’s guide to help clueless men buy an engagement ring

So you’re planning to propose, but a complete newbie when it comes to engagement rings – this post to the rescue!

Don’t worry, all guys are clueless at one point so you’re not alone. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the different styles, variations, and prices in the market.

Below is a fantastic infographic from QC Event School that provides a simple and informative guide to help first time ring shoppers like yourself.

Infographic courtesy of


Now that you have better knowledge about diamond engagement rings, it’s time to go find that perfect ring!

A good place to start is asking family and friends if they know of any diamond wholesalers as jewelry retailers tend to have much higher markups.

If you don’t like what you see in store, try looking at online jewelry shops where you have more comparison and customization options.

Sites such as James Allen, Blue Nile, or Brilliant Earth have filtering options to create a ring based on your specific criteria.

Once she says “YES” and the ring goes on her finger, your wedding planning journey begins!

Don’t wait too long to start securing a wedding venue. Speak to one of our veteran wedding planners and consider hosting your wedding at one of Riverside Banquet Halls five distinguished ballroom. We offer end-to-end services packaged all under one roof (decor, catering, bar service, dj, and more) Get in touch with us at 604-244-7755

Download these wedding planning apps before you say “i do”

Palms are sweaty, the wedding ring box is bulging out of your pocket, you wait for the right moment and ask: “Will you marry me beautiful?”

She says…Yes!

After the euphoric rush of the big news and looking forward to a life together…

Oh yeah, we need to plan the wedding now.

Decades ago, a future bride might break out the wedding binder with all her hopes of dreams of what the big day would be like.


You look online and there are so many ideas, inspiration, and advice littered throughout wedding blogs and social media.

We’re moving towards a paperless world and your wedding planning should follow suit. Simply click away on your phone and you have everything organized for the biggest day of your lives.

After you get to ‘yes,’ you start planning the wedding and there will be tons of questions throughout the entire process.

Do we want a small or big wedding?

Do we have room to splurge on that Ferrari rental in our budget?

What’s the easiest way to share photos with our guests?

When should we get our bridesmaids and groomsmen outfitted?

Which wedding venues can accommodate 500 guests?

Don’t get overwhelmed by the questions that come up during planning. Step up to the challenge and get organized! Don’t give in and become a Bridezilla or Groomzilla…it’s time to get digital!

Wedding planning is one of the first pre-marriage challenges you will face, but don’t get drowned by the details. Keep it simple and organized. Ease your mind and download some of these incredible wedding planning tools now to help you.

Are you an ‘Appy Couple’?


Available Platforms: iOS and Android

You are FINALLY engaged…spread the news to all your loved ones! Are you going to send out a mass text or call folks to control the news from spreading like a wild fire? Well, why not be an ‘Appy Couple’ and bring your happy news to everyone online.

The ‘Appy Couple’ app allows you to design a website to share your love story with family and friends, as well as keep your VIP’s updated as you begin to plan for the happiest day in your life.

Share photos and socialize with your extra close bridal party, it lets guests RSVP and make travel arrangements as required.

Are you ‘WeddingHappy’?

Price: FREE
Available Platforms: iOS

This wedding planner fits in your pocket! Download this and be amazed at one of the best organizational wedding apps on the market.

Simply enter in your big day and you will automatically see a countdown display. (Guys – this is the countdown to you freedom ending!) ????

This app will signal you when it’s time to plan a particular part of your wedding such as the videographer or when you should book a specific vendor, ie. The florist.

Are you a fan of ‘to do’ lists? This app will show you how many tasks you have completed and how many you still have to do.

If this weren’t enough, you can also check on your progression via a pie chart! This app is really handy as it guides you to your next task and allows you to add notes about each vendor you are in contact with.

Photo and video sharing with ‘WedPics’

Price: FREE
Available Platforms: iOS and Android

Leave no memorable moment behind! An exciting new way for wedding guests to capture and share your most treasured moments of your wedding day…all collected into your own personalized photo album!

Invite your wedding guests to download the app (using your unique wedding ID) to instantly upload photo and videos into your collection.

There’s a great user review on Wedding Wire that describes her positive experience with WedPics:

“I used WedPics at my wedding three weeks ago. A friend who got married in September used it and loved it, so she told me about it. I was very skeptical – I didn’t think people would really use it. Boy, was I surprised. I put cards at every reception table explaining that people could download the app or just take photos and upload to the website. A ton of people uploaded not only pics but videos, and I have some really great photos on there that the photographer never would have captured. My best friend is now using it for her wedding, as well. It is super easy to set up, super easy to share (by email, text or Facebook), super easy for guests to use, super easy to upload photos with, and then you can download the photos or share them to Facebook or even get prints through WedPics. The groom went on and on about it – I think one of his favorite things about the whole day was watching to see which photos people uploaded. Highly recommend.”

Don’t break the bank, use a ‘Wedding Budget Calculator’

Price: $2.99
Available Platforms: iOS

You’ve imagined your big day since you were a child, don’t turn your dream day into a nightmare once you realize how much it actually costs you. A wedding can range in costs from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Know your budget and manage it with downloading the Wedding Budget Calculator app

A wedding can range in costs from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Know your budget and prevent overspending by using the Wedding Budget Calculator app.

This app costs $2.99, but gives you peace of mind of listing over 50 wedding expenses to keep top of mind. This app allows you to monitor what you have deposited to vendors and what is remaining.

Love to shop? Voila here’s ‘Zola’

zola app

Price: FREE
Available Platforms: iOS

Who doesn’t love to shop? What is more fun than walking around a department store with a bar code zapper and shoot away at beautiful presents that you and your beloved will enjoy.

Step away from the old way and put a twist on the traditional wedding registry. Zola allows you to scan barcodes from your phone and turn on group gifting to let guests share costs.

Your friends and loved ones can purchase both of you experiences and services, rather than a steak knife set or plush comforter that you may never use.

Its already tied: ‘The Knot Wedding Planner’


Price: FREE
Available Platforms: iOS and Android

Looking for some creative ideas? This app will supply you inspiration from flowers, dresses, videographers, venues and décor.

This app will also keep you up to speed with a countdown clock, a to-do checklist, and tools to manage your budget.

Sync up your app to account, so you can have all your wedding notes in one spot and gain access to them anytime.

Get the ideas flowing with PINTEREST

Price: FREE
Available Platforms: iOS and Android

The most popular online scrapbook for wedding ideas, Pinterest has a plethora of content displaying the latest trends from all types of weddings.

Since Pinterest’s user demographic is 80% women, there’s no shortage of finding unique DIY ideas, wedding dresses, decor colour schemes, to hidden honeymoon destinations.

Create your own Pinterest board called “Modern Wedding dresses”, and start pinning images of all the wedding dresses you like. Share your board with family and friends and get their comments!

Stamp it with DIY “Etsy”

Available Platforms: iOS and Android

Etsy is full of boutique designers that can craft one-of-a-kind wedding items to help add a personal touch to your wedding.

How about a personalized ring pillow? Or a custom wedding cake topper?

Based on your saved items and shops, the app can send you personalized recommendations tailored to your tastes.

You are truly limited to your imagination and creativity! Have fun browsing!

Small wedding vs large wedding. which to choose?

Should you have a smaller, intimate wedding or a big wedding?

Well, a lot of depends on your personality, your network, family and at the end of the day…your wallet size!

If you are a bride and groom that shines in front of large crowds and want the spotlight to focus just on you…then you’d be happy to take on a larger guest list. However, if you are the type of bride that wants to keep it low key and invite a select few; then you might opt for more of an intimate ceremony and reception. Let’s take a look at the advantages of both, tiny weddings versus ‘go big or go home’ weddings.


1) People who love you – You get to be around the select few in this world that absolutely love you and want the best for you. After prioritizing your list down to the most important VIPs in your life; you truly send a message of ‘you matter to me’ and I value your presence at my wedding.

Your guests will feel special and this will give you more quality time to spend with each person. There’s a great comment on one of threads in The Knot’s wedding forum:

Think of this- average reception lasts 4 hours. 240 minutes. Divide that time between 180 guests, and you can spend about 1 and a third minutes with each guest. Which means hardly any time to even say hello. What’s the point of having guests you can barely manage to socialize with? 

Not only will you get to spend more time with your guests, but this provides an opportunity for your guests to get to know one another; just like a big, happy family.

2) Don’t worry, be happy – A sense of calm on your wedding day is something you cannot put a price on. You will feel more at ease during the most important day of your life with an inner circle of family and close friends versus a massive gathering.

3) Your bank account will thank you – Put your money towards your future, budgeting for your big day and saving money can mean a potential down payment on a place to live, that vehicle you have been admiring or an extended honeymoon vacation to celebrate with your significant other.

To ensure that you’re keeping tabs on your spending and overall budget, download the extremely useful planner WeddingHappy app onto your phone.

They recently announced an update on their blog that includes payment tracking as well!

4) Make it a day/night to remember – Inviting a smaller crowd doesn’t mean you can’t pull out all the stops to make your day extra special. Go ahead and book that pricier band, buy that dress with more bling, acquire pricier liqueurs for the bar, get the most outstanding photographer or arrive at your events in class with out of this world luxury vehicles.

5) Location! Location! Location! – By having a smaller guest list, you now have the power of choosing from a variety of locations that will fit the bill. Step outside of the box and choose a creative location: on a beach, a beautiful park, on a beautiful patio, destination bed and breakfasts, on a boat or your favourite restaurant.

If you’re looking to find some hidden gems around Vancouver where you can rent open spaces, Airwaves Music has some great suggestions.

6) Make it about you – With a smaller wedding you can stamp your signature on the big day with your own tweaks. Get your creative brains together and think about how you can make the big day a reflection of who you are and what you’re all about.

You can be hands on with DIY invitations, favours, etc. Or you can also head over to the Etsy wedding section and have some custom designers create something special for your big day like a custom ring pillow or wedding cake figurines!

Make it a wedding to remember for those who are lucky enough to attend your wedding and for you. You will have more special moments and memories to share with your close, tight-knit group.


1) Everyone you love, work with, and grew up in one place! – Welcome to my big fat _______ wedding!

Invite everyone you can think of that is important to you and feel good about having them on your big day. Come one, come all…people you grew up with, your family and extended relatives, classmates, co-workers and contacts. The biggest advantage of having a large wedding – you don’t have to cut as many people off your list. Everyone is going to join in on the big party!

Here’s a pretty helpful infographic to help you determine if that person made the cut ????

2) Big party = big venue – Hold your festivities in an out of this world wedding venue with multiple celebrations taking place in: an outdoor wedding venue, a beautifully decorated banquet hall, a rehearsal dinner at a large restaurant, a space for your cocktail party, pre-party celebrations and why not an after-party space?

3) Grander decor – You now have an opportunity to showcase large décor themes with a venue that offers high ceilings, beautiful architectural designs, create a dream wedding scene or feature extraordinary center pieces at all your tables for guests to admire.

Check out the Riverside Banquet Halls gallery for decor themes from our previous wedding receptions to get some inspirational ideas.

4) Variety is King! – Larger crowd = more options for catering, cocktail party stations, signature drinks and a variety of appetizers, entrees and dessert options which is sure to keep your guests happy.

5) The spotlight shines bright on you! – Get ready for amazing photography and videography as you will need to challenge your vendors to capture each and every moment your heart desires. More people = more memories on your big day.

Take a look at the list of this year’s award winning wedding photographers/videographers at the Professional BC Wedding Awards.

6) Keeping tradition alive – Common with many cultures, whether it be Italian, Greek, Indian, or Chinese, a wedding is to be celebrated by all. The grander the wedding encompassing more guests the better. Keep your family’s traditions close to heart and show your extended family that you respect your cultural heritage.

Whether you choose to have a private gathering or bigger celebration…your wedding should be about how the bride and groom envisions it. Wedding planning can be a challenge, but there are always resources and help available to guide you.

The event management team at Riverside Banquet Halls have planned weddings with a guest list as small as 40 and as large as 800. Contact us today for your free consultation!

How to choose the best corporate catering service for your event

Food and drinks are an important aspect of any event and choosing the right catering company is crucial. How do you determine which caterer to use?

Google or yelp reviews?

Word of mouth?

Experience is essential.

From how fresh the morning coffee is to what snacks are served at break time; even how quickly lunch is served during that crucial hour…experience makes all the difference. Business catering must stick to the agenda.

Forget heavy lunches that will induce the need for a mid-day nap, you need to keep lunches light that are easy to eat instead of complex plates that have high calorie/fat counts.


1) Cost Effective Pricing – Whether your budget is small or big, caterers should have flexible menu options that can be easily customized to your event. Select elements that would maximize value and remember to stick to the budget.

2) Flavourful Food – The ingredients are always prepared fresh. The last thing you want is having the event turn ‘sour’ if the food isn’t up to par.

3) Be On Time – You have a strict schedule to follow and no room for scheduling errors. Depending on the scale of your event, make sure to have your caterer arrive early prior to when you need them so that you have some wiggle room.

4) Professionalism – Your whole meeting shouldn’t be interupted when the caterer is setting up or cleaning up. You need to have the caterer that camouflages in to the background and operates with the flow of the event.


1) References?  Call a few of their clients and find out about their experiences. Do they have a proven track record of being on-time and on-schedule?

2) Services? Is there wait staff provided? Bartenders for evening functions?

3) Flexible menu? Variety of options? Are there cold and hot options? Also, be sure to ask about gluten free and vegan options depending on the dietary needs of your group.

4) How much will it cost me? Are there a variety of options of high quality that need your needs?

5) Food tasting? Are you able to sample the food before you commit? Many caterers offer sampling nights where you can try a variety of international and local cuisine.

If you’d like to know more about local catering options and recommendations, look no further than Riverside Banquet Halls.

Riverside has been serving the Lower Mainland for over 20 years. We’ve hosted countless business events and have worked closely with very reputable local caterers.

Contact us at (604) 244-7755 and we’ll help find the most suitable catering company for your needs!

Top 7 Profitable Fundraising Event Ideas for Non-profit Organizations

Sometimes it is hard to get away from the same old, boring fundraising ideas. If you choose the right fundraising tactics for your campaign, it can be huge boost for your organization in terms of collecting maximum donations and retaining donors for future events.

Remember, make it fun!  

When participants are having fun, they are more likely to freely open their wallets and give.  With creativity, you can make your event unique and stand out from other non-profits.  You need to motivate participants to make it go viral and encourage communities to participate on mass.

Time to brainstorm!

Looking at the resources on your team and your outreach in the community, what strategies would be most successful?

Have a look at the top 7 profitable fundraising event strategies that work:

1. Children are key

Who can say no to a child?

If you can motivate a child, then that child can motivate their parents to give. 

Children should not be ignored. Although they may not be the decision makers in the family, they do hold influence.  Having kids participate in an event or show and you will have their family there to support them.

 2. Hold a family carnival!

Queue up the band, pump up the bouncing castle and take it to the streets!  Allow participants to play fun games for a small donation fee. Open up the carnival to vendors from your community and collect a percentage of the proceeds for additional cash flow.

Just last week BCSPCA’s Paws for a Cause in Kelowna exceeded it’s campaign goal by $25k with it’s community driven approach.

3. Text up the cash!

Aside from receiving cash donations, you can get people to open their digital wallets! Get participants to text to donate a small amount through mobile giving (, which will be added onto their monthly phone bill.

It’s a great benefit for organizers as they have a secondary revenue stream. They don’t have to worry about handling physical money and provides a safer route for larger donation amounts.

Red Cross uses this kind of campaign very successfully.

 4. Organize a competition

Get those competitive juices going!  You can have a competition in a variety of ways: eating contests, sports races or in arts & crafts.  Attendees can donate to the participant they are rooting for and the winners will get to donate the funds to the charity of their choosing.

Just remember safety first, some competitions can get very intense!

Photo by: Compassion over killing

5. Up to old tricks – Raffle tickets

Sell raffle tickets for surprise prizes. Everybody wants to be a winner and this will create a positive vibe that will appeal to donors. The most popular is 50-50 drawing (make sure to have a license for this depending on the legal regulations in your area), where the winner receives 50% of the money raised through the raffle.

You can also add in prizes that are donated by sponsors, whether it be a gift basket, spa package, or event tickets to increase an incentive to give.

Photo by: Alyson Hurt

6. Hidden gems!  Turn old into GOLD!

Put a call out for donations of gently used items for charity.  Items can range from electronic equipment, clothes, antiques, appliances, etc… Once you have collected the items, research appropriate pricing and market the sale…it’s time for an auction! 

This is a great way to get donors that may not want to donate cash, but are comfortable with giving away something of value that they don’t use anymore.

Photo by: Meathead Movers

7. Online crowdfunding – Engaging stories

Aside from holding physical events, online fundraisers are a great way to raise donations. All of us have heard the amazing stories when someone in need turns to social media and the news goes viral in an instant. Their stories create a lot of buzz and have an ability to reach a wider audience of donors.

Crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe or Indiegogo have gotten ever more popular as a fundraising source. Giveffect is a new Canadian based crowdfunding platform aimed specifically at non-profits. 

Photo by: Rocio Lara

Here is an insightful video from Giveffect on how to leverage crowdfunding to better engage donors.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank