The average cost of a wedding in the United States is well over $20,000. But if you’re planning your big day, don’t let that number scare you! There are plenty of creative methods to implement budget wedding ideas without sacrificing what matters most to you.
One of the best ways to save is with your wedding venue. A wedding venue could be many things, but for most weddings, it means a place for the ceremony and a place for the reception. Planning the wedding venue is really the first step in planning a wedding – everything else hinges on the location.
So start off your wedding planning right by making the most cost-effective decision. Here are 16 ways to do just that.
Wedding Venues on a Budget
1. Don’t Get Married on a Saturday
You are probably not surprised that Saturday is the most common day to get married. It’s convenient, it’s traditional, and it’s what most people are used to. And because it’s the most common day, it’s also the most expensive. Many venues will charge up to 50% less if you book their location for a Sunday or Friday. Why? Because they typically don’t get weddings for those days, it’s like extra income for them and everybody wins.
2. Focus on Priorities
What is the main thing that you want out of your wedding venues? Is it a really great view, with less emphasis placed on the food? Or do you want a 5-star sprawl of gourmet delights, without regard to whether or not the location is in the center of a bustling city? Figure out what’s most important to you and splurge a little on that one thing (e.g. a well-known chef or a picturesque setting) and save on your budget with the stuff that doesn’t matter as much.
3. Consider Non-Traditional Venues
Get creative. Consider a bed & breakfast, a public park, or an art gallery for your reception. Places that don’t typically host weddings may not have the same exorbitant prices as those that are well-known for being wedding venues.
4. Go Small Town Instead of Big City
Prices are usually higher in big cities so go outside the city limits to get better deals. I had a friend who lived in Atlanta, and chose to get married in Newnan, a suburb about 45 minutes outside of Atlanta. She saved about $10,000 compared to the price quotes she was getting in the city.
5. Choose One Venue Instead of Two
Many locations have the ability to be both a ceremony and reception venue, which means you don’t have to pay two separate location fees. For example, many churches have a hall that is available for such occasions. A few years ago, I went to a beautiful wedding at a retreat house in the mountains that served as both a ceremony and reception site. Tip: Guests love when they do not have to drive from the ceremony to get to the reception!
6. Have a Morning Wedding
Although it may be tricky for a bride to get herself ready bright and early, having a morning wedding can save a lot of money. Serving brunch or lunch at the reception is much cheaper than serving a dinner. Plus, you will have more time to spend with your new spouse on your actual wedding day.
7. Use Your Negotiation Skills
Try to get offers from many different locations and use that information to your advantage. Also, make sure you don’t mention that you want the venue for a wedding until after you get quoted a price for the party. Some locations will jack up the price when they hear the word “wedding.”
8. Ask to Pay in Full for a Discount
Typically, you are required to provide a down payment when you book a venue for a wedding and then pay the rest later. Ask if you can get a discount if you pay in full when you book (but make sure you get a contract with a reimbursement plan to protect yourself in the event that something goes wrong).
9. Get Married Off-Season
Summer is wedding season. Although it may be more convenient for families with children to attend the wedding during the summer when the weather is nice and sunny, consider an off-season month, such as November or January, to cut your costs. This will also save you money when you book your honeymoon.
10. Have a Small Reception and a Party Later
If you keep your wedding and reception to about 50 people or less, you can save a lot of money. Invite close friends and family and then when you get back from your honeymoon, throw a casual (and inexpensive) party to celebrate with the rest of your friends.
11. Get an All-Inclusive Package
While my husband and I did opt for a traditional ceremony in a church, I got an all-inclusive package at my wedding reception site. They took care of everything, including the decorations, food, and cake. This saved us a ton because the venue made deals with various services and then passed the savings on to us.
12. Get Married in Your Backyard
There are definite pros and cons to this option. If you’re up for something casual for your reception, like a backyard BBQ, this is a great option. If you want a more formal affair, you will probably end up spending more money, because you have to rent everything (i.e. tables, flatware, servers, etc.). Do some research to see if this is a money-saving option for you.
13. Shorten the Reception
Some venues will charge you by the hour. To shave off some cost, consider shortening the reception by one hour. Many guests won’t even notice since they leave receptions early. This will also save you money in other areas, such as with the photographer, videographer, DJ, or band.
14. Don’t Over-rent Space
Make sure that the space you rent is appropriate for the number of guests that you will have. Do not even look at venues that accommodate 300 guests when you will only expect 100.
15. Find Somewhere New
Another one of my tactics in saving money on my own wedding was to use a newly-opened venue. New venues might offer lower prices as they are attempting to build up a good reputation and gain some new business.
If you’re serving alcohol at your wedding, choose a place that allows you to bring in your own liquor, wine, and beer. This is where most venues really jack up the prices to make money off of receptions. You can save hundreds of dollars by bringing your own spirits for the party.
When planning a wedding, start early, and remember to watch out for unexpected wedding costs. Also take time to prepare for your marriage in addition to your wedding because that is what your wedding is all about. Consider using the money you save on your wedding to go towards a romantic wedding anniversary later in your marriage.