There seems to be an assumption that if a hall is in Brooklyn then it falls in the "very cheap" category, and if a hall is used by chassidim it definitely falls in that category. Time to take the blinkers off. A very popular Williamsburg hall that has the reputation for "being cheap" is sure not cheap. Let's call it "BB" (close enough in the alphabet). The charge for the hall comes out to $120 per couple, with a 400 and something minimum for the number of people. Say what? And then there is that hall in the Flatbush area, the one that sounds like chink or hink. Their charge, including the service fee, is $77 per couple, but there is a 520 person minimum.
The charges above are for the hall, service fee and a set menu meal alone. They do not include anything else. Liquor is a separate charge. Forget about photographers, flowers and bands and the rest. In the first hall the charge to walk in is approximately $24,600. In the second hall the charge to walk in is $20,020. And keep in mind the person minimum. You don't have to have that many people at your wedding but you'll pay that minimum regardless of how few people you have. If you "only" invite 400 people to the second hall you are still paying the $20,020 but your actual cost per couple to you is now $100 per couple.
Compare this to a more expensive hall whose minimum is 100 people. At $150 per couple, 320 people will "only" cost you $24,000, around the same price as the first cheaper hall above.
The cousin who shared the figures that were quoted to her said that you might as well invite the 520 people, since you were paying for them anyway. Youch. Makes me wonder if the halls are not in collusion with the other wedding service suppliers. Go from 400 to 520 people and you are adding 12 more floral centerpieces, 120 more bentchers, at least 60 more invitations plus their postage etc. The devil is in the details.
Anyone rob a good bank lately? I've been calling all year for a change in the way that weddings are made in the frum community. Given the figures above--and these are supposed to be cheap halls--I'd say that we have passed beyond the point of just talking about the high cost of a chasuneh and have reached the point of actually doing something about it.