You have the date, your kid has their Torah portion, and now it’s time to find the venue. From your synagogue to a hotel, from a funky event space to an indoor trampoline park, the sky’s the limit for finding a bar or bat mitzvah venue that fits your budget, tastes and event size.
Any parent planning a bar or bat mitzvah knows that finding the right venue requires research, planning and at times negotiating with child, spouse or wallet.
“Communication is key,” said Matt Cabaniss, marketing manager at the Southern Management Corporation, which runs The Hotel at Arundel Preserve and The Hotel at the University of Maryland. “Talk it over with your spouse and child to ensure everyone is on the same page about the vision for the event. It is also important to consider your comprehensive budget (inclusive of music, tchotchkes, flowers and other decor, etc.) so you have a well- conceived game plan before initiating your search.”
Of course, bar and bat mitzvahs are still commonly hosted at synagogues, too — that will never go out of style.
“I believe that a synagogue is also a home,” said Rabbi Joshua Gruenberg of Chizuk Amuno Congregation. “When you are celebrating life’s most intimate moments, a home is the best and most haimish place to gather. It would be impossible for most of these celebrations to take place in people’s primary homes. Celebrating at Chizuk Amuno allows you to celebrate at your second home.”
For families who host both their service and party at the synagogue, the setting provides spiritual connection and a strong sense of community. An added bonus is the logistical ease of having the service and party in the same place.
“Families who are members of Beth Tfiloh feel a sense of family and community here, and therefore choose to share their simcha with this family and this community,” said Eve Kresin Steinberg, executive director of Beth Tfiloh Congregation.
Steinberg’s advice? “Look for a setting where you feel comfortable and confident that your needs will be met.”
Some bar and bat mitzvah families decide to celebrate with somersaults — literally. At Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Timonium, the bar or bat mitzvah child can celebrate with friends on a warrior course, through dodgeball and by jumping on massive trampolines. This can be a great option for a more active, casual, kid-oriented party.
“Sky Zone is different than what most other teens and families are doing,” said Melissa Zaba, Sky Zone’s community outreach manager. “Most have a fancy affair where this can be laid-back, and the price point is cheaper than a traditional party. Families look for a place they can customize where children can have fun. We are flexible and allow people to bring in their own catering company and decorations.”
An important consideration is how many outside vendors you’ll have to arrange vs. what the venue provides.
“Most parents don’t want to do all the coordinating with various vendors for food, entertainment, decorations, etc.,” said Cabaniss. “As independently branded hotels, The Hotel at the University of Maryland and The Hotel at Arundel Preserve both provide unique, upscale venues with all the products and services needed for a great event. Not only do our hotels provide exceptional, high-quality catered events, but our event teams guide and coordinate to ensure the planning process is smooth and effortless.”
Hotels can also offer flexibility and ease for out-of-town guests. At Delta Hotels Baltimore Hunt Valley, there are 16 event rooms with 27,037 square feet of total event space, with many options for how to arrange the spaces to fit events. The hotel offers discounted rates when booking a room block for your reception or banquet.
Liz Glass of Annapolis recently went through the venue search for her daughter, Maya, who is becoming a bat mitzvah next month. Maya’s service will be at Temple Beth Shalom in Arnold and her party will be at the Powerhouse at the Hotel Annapolis.
“Our party is during the day so I really didn’t want to be in a closed-in ballroom,” said Glass. “I wanted to find a more unique venue. The walls are exposed brick with floor-to-ceiling windows and it’s really pretty as is.”
Glass found out about the Powerhouse through a friend’s recommendation. “I wouldn’t have known this place existed if I hadn’t asked around,” she said.
The event will have around 160 guests: half kids and half adults. There will be two separate parties, with the kids on one floor and adults on the other. The adults will join the kids for the Hora, candle-lighting and a montage, with the option for the adults to stay on the kid’s floor for more dancing.
Through all of the planning, Glass hasn’t lost sight of the reason for the day.
“These kids work really hard preparing,” said Glass. “I feel happy we can give her a big party because a bat mitzvah is a huge accomplishment and it should be celebrated.”
Anna Lippe is a Washington D.C.-based freelance writer.