Photo: Aesthetic Life Studio
Venue shopping is one of our favorite parts of wedding planning, and perhaps one of the most important aspects of your planning. The site of your ceremony and reception sets the overall tone of the reception and the overall tone of your budget! Luckily, there are plenty of affordable venue options to be had! Keep reading for some general tips for finding that affordable venue or click here for some of our favorite budget-friendly locations.
1. Go for the off-seasons. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times, wedding venues (and many vendors for that matter) will offer high discounts during the wedding off season (usually winter and early spring). With fewer weddings during this period, you have the benefit of special offers, low rates, and more undivided attention during this time. Still, we totally get it if you can’t give up that summer wedding you’ve always dreamed of. There are still plenty of ways to save.
2. Opt for a different day of the week: Saturday is the most popular and the most expensive day to host an event. Any other day of the week should be cheaper- even switching to Sunday will give you a significant discount! If you don’t have your heart set on the weekend, think about a weekday wedding. Why not, for example, have your wedding on a Friday evening? It is still the start to the weekend, and it will save you tons of money! And it will give you a jump start on your honeymoon!
3. Consider the package. Like all things wedding, make sure your venue package meets your needs. Need coffee and tea service but don’t want a soup and salad? Want too add an extra hour on your package but nix the bridal champagne toast? Talk to the event manager at your venue to work out the best package to meet your needs and your budget. Plus, this is a good way to see how willing the venue and/or catering company is willing to work with you before you sign that contract.
4. Think about the décor- venues like gardens, parks, wineries, etc. often already have so much natural beauty that they require less decorations, meaning you will save money on flowers and décor. Make sure to consider this when calculating those final numbers!
5. Negotiate. Many hotels are much more open to negotiating rates right now, so you may just be able to score a deal! (Remember—even if it seems that rental fees, additional costs and fees, meal selections, bar prices and package details are final- they are not! Most venues are willing to work with you and discuss options to suit your needs, and even if they are not willing to budge on a certain point, it is worth asking. You’ll know you tried, and that will help you make your final decisions.
6. Look for those hidden fees. In our opinion, no one should have to pay a $2 per person cake cutting fee. Ridiculous! Make sure you know these kinds of fees beforehand, and work with your venue/caterers to reduce or eliminate them. Knowing all of these fees upfront will help you to make your final venue selection, and will give you comparable prices when you add everything in. Extra fees to look out for: cake cutting fee, outside food fee (if you bring in a cake or other food that is not made by the caterers), corkage fees, and linen fees.
7. Make sure to price everything out. Before making your final selection, be sure to write down all associate costs with each venue so you can have accurate price comparisons. Include all room, rental fees, any extra charges and fees, all food and drink costs, gratuity, and any rental costs for tents, chairs, tables, linens, or china. This will give you accurate price comparisons, and may surprise you. That affordable park may not be such a great deal if you are forced to work with an expensive caterer or rental company, or that museum may look more attractive since they include tables and chair with the low rental fee. With everything priced out in this manner, you’ll be able to make an informed decision based on total costs and, of course, your favorite locations.
8. Expand your search to more non-traditional venue options. While hotels, conference centers, gardens and inns can certainly have affordable options, consider thinking outside the box when looking at places to have your ceremony or reception. These different locations may be more budget-friendly. Read about some of our favorites here.
9. Get out of town? Look at venues in neighboring areas. Depending on where you live, going just 30 minutes out of town may have a big impact on the prices of venues! You'll still be in the general vicinity of your preferred location, and you'll stay within your budget.