US STANDARD COST: $1,993 (see proof)
SUGGESTED BUDGET: $500
YOUR SAVINGS: $1,493
Venue rental is one of the largest costs to a cheap wedding budget. While an average venue cost is $1,993 many brides pay between $5,000 – $10,000 for their venue hire. For the bride with a cheap wedding budget this is not an option. There are a number of elements to bare in mind when looking for a cheap wedding venue.
For a cheap wedding it’s ideal to have the wedding ceremony in the same location as the venue. This ensures that you aren’t paying two rental fees. A separate church rental fee can easily cost upwards of $500, unless you are a member, in which case sometimes the rental fee is entirely waived. The church will probably also mandate that you use their officiant, which will likely cost you several hundred dollars more. Having your wedding ceremony and reception in one venue saves money both on rental fees and ancillary expenses such as the officiant.
To keep your costs down you will need to have a simple desert reception (to read more about this skip ahead to Step 14: Food). For this reason the room or location can quickly be repurposed through the repositioning of chairs and quick placement of desert tables.
To stay on track with your budget you need a cheap wedding venue that will allow you to bring in your own catering and drinks (to read more about this skip ahead to Step 15: Drinks). This is the first qualifier for any venue if you want to remain within a small budget. Unfortunately it means that many venues, such as most hotels, are not an option.
However there are still plenty of great options. The key is to be willing to put some time into finding a cheap wedding venue that will fit your criteria.
Cheap wedding venue options that you may get for free (or for a very low cost) are:
• An outdoor location. This could be a field, a backyard, a beach, a park, a hill or a mountaintop. If a friend has a great property, ask them whether they’d be willing to consider having you hold your event there.
• A barn. If you live in a rural area you may know someone who has a barn that could be repurposed into a great rustic wedding venue.
• A church hall. Many churches have a communal area that can be rented for events at a low cost. Many churches will allow you to have the hall a couple of days before so you can really take your time transforming it into the cheap wedding venue of your dreams. In some cases, if you are a member of the church they may even give you a deep discount, or even let you have it for free.
If you decide that you want to negotiate with a typically more expensive venue, such as a hotel or an events space, there are some keys to getting a reasonable price:
• Get married on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. The most demand for wedding venues is on the weekend, and if you’re looking for a good deal you have to be willing to hold your event on a day when there isn’t much demand. It may be unconventional, it may not be what you ideally want, but if you are serious about doing your wedding on a budget then some compromises are going to have to be made. Your cheap wedding isn’t going to be any less beautiful just because it’s on a week day, and as budget dictates an evening wedding anyway this shouldn’t pose an issue to your local guests. It may be a little more difficult for your out-of-town guests, but really you’ll have to carefully weigh up the costs of spending potentially hundreds of dollars more for a venue just so that a couple of people don’t have to take a day’s vacation.
• Get married off-season. There are peak times of the year for weddings and events. Wedding season is typically May through to September, with December being heavily booked due to festive events. If you want to get the best rate, and possibly be able to book a venue that would otherwise be out of your price range, you will need to have your wedding in January, February, March, April, October or November. The good news is that your guests will be more likely to be available for your cheap wedding due to the lack of competing weddings at that time, and your preferred vendors will be more likely to be available too.
• Be flexible about the date. Ask the venue what their availability is. If you’re willing to fit into a time when they don’t have a lot of bookings, rather than trying to impose a certain date on them, they may be more favorable to you with rates. Venue managers would rather have a lower revenue booking than an empty room, so be open with them about your flexibility when negotiating.
When looking at a cheap wedding venue make sure you bring a camera with you, and take plenty of photos. In the moment there are all kinds of things that you may not notice, but which you will see when you look at the photos later. Also, photos can serve as a great planning tool for decorating your cheap wedding venue.
The basic questions that you will need to have answered ‘yes’ if you want to have a decent chance of staying within your budget for a cheap wedding venue are:
• Can we hold the ceremony here too?
• Can we bring in our own food and drink?
This needs to be the very first thing that you ask any prospective cheap wedding venue. If the answer to either of these questions is ‘no’ you will most likely find that the venue does not fit your budget because of all the associated costs of working with their preferred vendors.
Here are some key questions to ask prospective cheap wedding venues:
• How many people can this venue accommodate?
• What is included in the rental fee?
• How much is the deposit, when is it due, and is it refundable? What is the payment plan for the rest of the bill?
• What is the cancellation policy?
• How many hours can the event go on for? Is there an overtime fee if we stay longer?
• Can I decorate the venue as I wish? Can I use real candles? How much time will I have before the event to set up my décor?
• Are tables, chairs, plates, silverware and glassware provided or do I need to rent them myself?
• Are there restrictions on what kind of music I can play?
• Is there parking on site? If so, is there a charge?
• Will I need to place signs to direct my guests to the event?
Here are some additional cheap wedding venue specific questions:
• (For outdoor spaces) What is your weather contingency plan?
• (For hotels) Is there a coat check service?
• (For hotels) What overnight accommodation do you provide?
Make sure that once you’ve chosen a cheap wedding venue you get everything in writing. Read the fine print and make sure that the contract contains all the details you’ve asked for. Keep a record of all ongoing conversations with the cheap wedding venue manager by email, recapping in writing to them anything that may have been said or promised in a conversation.