How much money are you willing to put into your offbeat-ness?

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Directional sign - the other sideI've just started looking around at venue options, and I'm realizing that my dream venue (funky and yes, offbeat) is potentially going to cost us TWICE as much as this more traditional, kinda-boring venue that offers wedding packages.

Thinking about this reminded me again that offbeat does NOT necessarily mean less expensive! Then it made me wonder how much other Offbeat Bride readers are willing to spend to pursue their nontraditional visions — versus going lower-budget for a more packaged wedding.

Given that many corners of the wedding industry are set up with packages, how do you decide between an easy/low-budget package vs. a more expensive but more authentic offbeat vision? -WW

We're going to open this one up to you all: how did you navigate your budget priorities between “low budget” and “offbeat”?

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Comments on How much money are you willing to put into your offbeat-ness?

  1. For us, the venue was non-negotiable. Cost didn’t come into play until afterwards and then we decided to just have the wedding on a Monday so it would be less expensive. Don’t regret it for a moment.

  2. Our offbeat wedding is actually saving us money because we opted to choose a venue that didn’t have a package and is VERY bare bones inside. We are creating exactly what we want, and funneling each cent into what our priorities are, not having to adhere to what a package dictates. We have had to be creative in sourcing the right vendors to participate (but really our only vendor is the caterer-we’re having tacos). We have 2 days to set up what will hopefully be more like an art installation than a wedding reception and have had a small army of help offered from excited and loving friends and family.
    For us, creating the space into a kind of magical experience for people (and ourselves) is the most important thing (although our $6000 budget is also a frontrunner of importance). Somehow, in life too, these 2 things seem to naturally go hand in hand. I don’t think we’d be as creative and innovative if we had money to throw at situations.
    So I guess to answer the question, we didn’t have to decide between easy/low budget and more expensive/more authentic, we took what was low budget, and we’re turning it into something authentic for us!

    • Emily, I couldn’t agree more with your idea of making the venue magical. Budgeting really does depend on your priorities. If I may suggest two things: first, one of the most inexpensive ways to highlight all the details you’re putting into your wedding space is through lighting (uplighting / ambient room lighting). The cheapest way to do that, if you’re really limited on funds, is certainly using “uplighting”. Some DJs include that in a “lighting package” (note: packages usually suck, but on a tight budget, it makes sense). If you opt out of a DJ, then a more pricey alternative is going through a local event lighting company.

      Here is my sage piece of advice #2. A reception is “a celebration” rather than a “food-based event”, and really a wedding is kind of like your first huge party for friends and family as a married couple. If you want your guests to stay all night, keep them from getting bored by entertaining them somehow. They’ll quickly forget the origami centerpieces and the cool stationary, but instead remember how much fun they had in the years after your wedding. Seriously the best investment you can make in wedding entertainment is with a kick-ass DJ (has to be a GREAT ONE who cares about your vision and musical tastes vs. a company’s “available DJ of the night”, plus 20 other factors). A band is usually $2,500-10,000+. A GREAT DJ can be had for a bit over $1,000, depending on where you live. In San Diego, for instance, a great DJ is usually between $1,500-2,000. That’s a lot of money, but if they’re really good, they’ll keep people dancing all night, play most of the songs you asked for, and coordinate with the other vendors to keep your reception flowing on-time and smoothly. In any case, it’s up to you to determine what is important.

      I wrote a crazy-long blog on wedding lighting AND another blog on budgeting for wedding DJs. You can certainly Dr. Google what I’m explaining here. 🙂 All the best!

      – Drew

  3. Cost is too critical for us. We’re not using credit or gifts from family members, so we’re cutting those corners as much as possible. And that’s just how we prioritize things. A place is mainly intended to be a rain shelter and meeting ground for our guests. We never had a vision or idea of the “where.” We’re more worried about low cost to our guests, easy access, and good food. However, some people (like you!) might prefer to put venue up higher on the chain of priorities.

    I’d ask myself this; does the venue offer something that can be recreated by you or your group? Is it the food, the lighting, the decor, or staff that appeals to you? Many of these things are wonderful, yet not always unique to that place. Sometimes better deals or arrangements can be had. Other venues and vendors could be flexible and open-minded enough to try out the offbeat ideas your dream venue has. On the other hand, if it’s ease of location, then I’d personally be more willing to pay. Same if the venue has an emotional tie to the couple or their families.

    edit: If the offbeat qualities can’t be easily separated from the venue (mini-golf, launch pad, museums, etc.) I can see that being an added value as well, too.

  4. We have a very limited budget, plus some of the vendor and guest constraints (No smoking anywhere on the property- including outside? Seriously?!) Didn’t allow for me to book in the Orangarium, or the Waterworks museum, or the Museum of Science, or that old drafty castle. When I was giving the figures for some of these places, he was like 10 grand is our entire budget, this is barely under it. Why can’t we just rent a Sons of Italy and be done with it. With a stunned look of horror and visions of wood paneling and no windows flashing through my mind, I stammered “But I don’t want to get married in a parking lot!” Determined, I scoured the internet for something, anything that was a function all but not ugly. (You want a knights of Columbus? I got your knights of Columbus!) It ended up paying off HUGE in the end. I stumbled upon the Elks on Bass Rocks in Gloucester, Ma. Now I grew up in a tourist trap of a beach community and believe me, the last thing I wanted was a “Cape Cod” wedding. This venue is GORGEOUS. Instead of a beach, it faces Cape Ann sound, which is all huge rocks with the surf crashing on them. In the middle of the sound is Thatcher’s Island, and it has twin working lighthouses on it! The venue it’s self has NO wood paneling, just wall to wall windows with that killer view. The cost? Just over $3,000, because we are electing to get hitched on their front lawn. It also comes with an Event Director for the entire event, and they only do one event a day! (

  5. I’m fighting with this right now. We have a very affordable sleepover camp that we would have to get a tent for and it’s far away from the cultural catering options we want (Russian) or a Russian banquet hall in the middle of a parking lot. As long as our guests don’t feel trapped by the space I think we’re going to end up going banquet hall. At first this felt like a blow, not the relaxed atmosphere of a camp, no way our broke friends could stay over for cheap, but now I’m taking it as a challenge. How can I make our wedding representative (and therefore offbeat) in a totally WIC space?

  6. I have an army of family who are do-it-yourselfers and are very hands on with everything family. I plan on footing the bill for most things and when it comes to the venue, we are willing to pay for what we want. Almost everything will be handmade and we are saving a lot of money. We are also going with nontraditional attendant attire, bridal attire, doing a taco bar instead of plated (very expensive) dinners and almost no fresh flowers. This allows us to splurge on the site, a great DJ and one of my great friends who is also a wonderful professional photographer. I think offbeat can be extremely expensive or quite the opposite depending on the amount of premade you are planning on buying or doing the DIY…also some of the packaged places can be reasonably priced OR very expensive. It all boils down to time and research!

  7. We went for what we wanted. In this stress-y out phase that I’m currently in, I say it’s not worth it. Stay in budget and talk with people before making big money decisions. We thought that more people would be interested in staying overnight, but it seems like the majority of folks just want a day thing. That would have been a heck of a lot cheaper.

  8. Our venue that has wedding packages is actually quite spend when you look at just the numbers. But it’s offbeat in a sense that it’s castle-ey looking and we can set up the inside however we want (it doesn’t need much, its very pretty) and its got a Shakespeare theme (we’ll be getting married user a mural of Romeo and Juliet, a play we were both in when we started dating). However, it comes with nearly all but the food and clothing, so we dont have to go rent stuff. If the high price of your venue comes with the benefits of extra stuff, go for it. Also remember packages dont necessarily mean you can’t customize your wedding

  9. So far we are staying really low budget (for Chicago). Our aim is not to be offbeat, so much as it is to be as personal to us as possible. As a result every corner of our wedding is being fulfilled by close friends. Our chef friend is catering, and we needed a really high grade onsite kitchen at our venue for him to use. This really limited our options and thank goodness there was a loft space that was actually really reasonable in price to accommodate that. But our venue choice was as much about functionality as it was “vibe”

    Our Photographer and Videographer are friends of ours. The pastry chef from the same restaurant as our friend will do our cake. Our good friends are going to officiate, and we will build the ceremony with them from scratch. We will pick songs that mean something to us that probably most people won’t know. My dad and I are playing a duet on guitar together rather than a father daughter dance.

    Where things get tricky are the decorations, but I’m using a lot of what I have. I have a huge container full of wine corks. Tons of left over beer bottles etc. I am designing our invitations on our computer to reflect our day and venue…

    I guess the point is that our goal is not to be offbeat, but to be personal, even if the personality is what makes it offbeat, or at times traditional. But when you’re focused on the personal touches, most of those things don’t have to cost a ton of money. (IE preforming a duet with my dad, possibly wearing my grandmothers wedding dress, brewing our own beer for the reception)

    Where I draw the line is cost per benefit. I guess I’m not really committed to a hard theme that makes me feel pressured to provide all these reminders of it. I think that would get expensive. I’d have to have all this custom made stuff. At times that’s very alluring, it would be great to pull the stops out for something elaborate and unique, but I just remind myself the most important elements of the day will be free (the vows, the family together, the speeches etc.) And really I don’t want to drown that out with a million beautiful distractions, unless I get handed them for close to free.

  10. I think it’s ok to have one thing cost a lot if you skimp on other things. We were very specific about the kind of food we wanted and our vendor is going to cost us more than half of our budget! So we made up for it. We found a cheap venue and opted to decorate it ourselves. Me and my friends are making all of the decorations and the cupcakes, and we shrunk our guest list a bit. That way, we were able to focus a good bit of money on the aspect of the wedding that was most important to us.

  11. When I was looking for venues I definitely felt that it would be cheaper to get a package from somewhere and trying to price everything we wanted was like herding cats. I was overwhelmed by choices and just how much things cost and it’s took calming down from that and a lot of time and research to get anything like an accurate picture of the whole cost of what we were going for and what was possible and what had to go.

    What you have now as your rough plan and that you are comparing to a package, can and WILL change, this is good, not doing a package gives you options to keep changing as things evolve which is great if you find a cheaper way to do something. It’s only really at the end of the non-package route that you can compare it to package options, so it’s a bit of a leap of faith!

    That kind of choice and decision making can be very stressful and in that way the safe limitation of packages can be great, especially if it’s just a reasonably flexible spring board to the fabulous touches you bring to personalise it, two people can get the same package wedding and it’s different every time.

    Go with your comfort level every time, whatever you do it will be unique to you and your partner.

  12. Our offbeatness is manifested in “easiness.” We looked at one venue, booked it. We talked to one photographer, booked her. We’ll probably use our family’s restaurant for catering. They’re not always strictly budget-based or offbeat-based decisions, but they’re the easiest, and that’s why we made them. The goal is no stress.

    I’m a firm believer in the paradox of “too much choice.” If you limit your available choices, it is much easier to make the final decision. In a universe of all things are possible, how could anyone find the best option? But in a universe of three good things, you can pick one and be confident.

  13. I think a big part of deciding what to spend can also come with how much else comes with the venue. Our venue is a little over half the budget (yikes!) but we also get more then just a few hours in a pretty place. The package includes the space for a whole weekend (7am Friday to 7 pm Sunday!), exclusive suits for the wedding party and bride and groom, set up and take down for the rehearsal, ceremony, and reception, all tables/chair, and a ridiculous amounts of beautiful decor and character, and even free WiFi so we can stream the whole thing live! Having all those “extras” taken care of is so very worth it to help keep our sanity, plus it allows us to focus on all the fun bits that make it more unique to us as a couple.

  14. My offbeatness is more a result of what I like and not as much a conscious decision to be non-WIC. Our venue has been used for weddings, but it’s also done birthdays, graduations etc. The same goes for our caterer and our photographer. I’m finding that vendors who do a variety of events are the most cost- efficient compared to those that either specialize in weddings or those that almost never do weddings.

  15. We completely abandoned our first idea (turning a disused warehouse into a pop-up wedding venue) because the cost would have been prohibitive. Hopefully we’ll have another party somewhere down the line where we get to do that! On the other hand I was adamant I wouldn’t get married in a run of the mill convention space, even though we could have got an incredible deal on the local Ukranian Club as my husband’s uncle runs it. I couldn’t bear the thought of those panelled ceilings and stuffy curtains in my photos. We ended up in an art gallery, with floor to ceiling windows looking our over the countryside. It was still at the upper limit of our budget, and though it might not have been our first choice, it was perfect. And at no point did we have to rent a generator. I think, like with every wedding related decision, it’s a matter of priorities – a disused warehouse wasn’t important enough to go into debt for, but a beautiful space was worth just using a local taxi company instead of hiring a nice car.

  16. We had this exact problem and we went with the cool venue. We just had the wedding last weekend and it was completely worth it. But we did fall into a few traps that you may want to consider.

    Our completely awesome venue had a list of approved caterers. They were all VERY expensive, something we didn’t realize until after we’d booked. So make sure to check this out. The food was awesome, and we were able to save a bit by bringing in our own liquor, but the reality is that as much attention as it gets, the amount spent on liquor is quite small compared to the amount spent on food and staff etc.

    There will probably be hidden fees. For us, there was a kitchen rental fee and a garbage disposal fee and a fee to have a tech on call. Although they were small compared to the rental, they were kind of annoying.

    If your venue is not normally a wedding venue, you may have to bring in a lot of rentals. We had to rent everything from plates and cutlery to chairs and linens and a PA system for the ceremony. They had tables, luckily, but there was a lot to rent. We also (on the insistence of my mom) did some draping to close off the room a bit, which was surprisingly expensive.

    I will say this though – even though our budget grew by a lot, I totally don’t regret going with that venue – it was perfect.

  17. The venue I wanted wasn’t available because the owners were all, “No, this cemetery is ancient and sacred. NO ONE MUST ENTER!” Husband wanted to hop the fence, but I decided that “illegal” was a bit too offbeat.

    So we got married in a tiny room off the dining room of our B&B. It wasn’t ideal by any stretch of the imagination, but it was included in our package and it was cute. We were happy with it.

  18. I spent over half the budget on a location which was $3600. All the venues want to kick you out at 9 or 10 pm, so we rented a 10 acre property for 4 days. I feel like the place has a very good vibe to it and we get to stay their too. I don’t really care about much else and don’t need much decor because the location has natural beauty being outside Zion National Park. Location was very important; decor, dress, food and other things not so much.

  19. Cost mattered most to us, we also had issues of size (at the time we were thinking between 50-20 guests, ended up doing 20) and location (most of our guests were flying in, and I didn’t want to add car rental to people’s costs).

    All the off-beat venues we looked at were too big (100+ person min.) or too expensive ($5k for just the ceremony, no thank you) or had weird restrictions (can’t have ceremony in front of cool art, must have it in boring conference room) or major downers (aquariums that smell like rotting fish are not places I want to eat in).

    The only offbeat location I really liked that worked for us was Grounds for Sculpture in NJ but that would mean everyone would be traveling from NYC there, the surrounding area isn’t so great so nothing for anyone to do (and there food reviews for the restaurant weren’t good). So we ended up getting married in a restaurant in the city. The wine room was pretty enough and we have really cool photos at Highline Park and on the streets. Having the extra money meant we could do things that would matter more to our guests (like a good open bar) rather then having time to prance around a sculpture garden. Sure I don’t have wedding photos with my favorite piece of art of all time but convenience and cost for everybody involved won out.

  20. I definitely gave up my offbeat venue choices in the name of cost. I loved some of the ones I found soooooo much… but in the end, it wasn’t worth the a) expense and b) arguments with my parents to okay it (they were paying for that part). I figured we could be almost-as-offbeat in a more regular venue, which was true, and I still found what I think was the coolest banquet hall possible (it was circular, and had an amazing ceiling!)

    Two years later, there are a few things I still regret about my wedding planning process, but choosing the less-offbeat venue isn’t one of them. It really comes down to priorities. Venue was on my nice-to-have, but not on the MUST list. It’s the things I caved on the MUST list that I regret. So if venue is a MUST for you — splurge, if you can! If it’s not, and budget is higher priority, it might take more work, but you can totally still make your wedding as offbeat as you want in a less-than-offbeat venue.

  21. I really, really wanted to get married in a gorgeous old movie theater or a science museum, but both would have eaten up our budget. I decided there were more important things, and that getting caught up in “it has to match my dream” wouldn’t lead anywhere good. Instead, I’m looking at a winery lined with cool old barrels that will allow us to bring decorations. I have faith that I can make it elegant and subtly spooky for a decent price!

  22. I wouldn’t for a second say that I was actively trying to be ‘offbeat’ when we opted to get married in what had been a fly-in fishing lodge on a lake, but that was where we wanted to get married and it didn’t matter to me 1) what it cost 2) if our guests thought our venue choice was strange. I have been to weddings in fancy ballrooms and art galleries that sucked, just as I have been to weddings in campgrounds and VFW clubs that were completely awesome. I do think that if you are actively trying to be ‘offbeat,’ you’re getting into poseur-land… You need to do what feels authentic to you and your partner and who you are as a couple, and what you like as a couple…

  23. Our budget is average, but low for the NYC area. Our “offbeatness” comes in taking a mainstream, wedding-package venue and having a Sunday brunch reception, which is significantly cheaper than Saturday dinner. In addition, our vintage hockey theme comes pretty cheap: old hockey trading cards and memorabilia (that isn’t autographed) is inexpensive, and I’ll be making centerpieces with hockey-related books that I mostly already own. More books and paperie = less flowers = cheaper!

  24. I am the last of pretty much all of my long-time girlfriends to get married (and of all my friends, ALL the guys got married WAAAAAY before the ladies did), and if I’ve learned anything from their experiences, it’s that weddings aren’t cheap, there really isn’t any way around that, and ultimately, you’ve got to pick and chose your priorities and battles.

    There are budget wedding halls in our area that offer standard packages with hors d’ouevres and carving stations and ivory linens and in-house DJ and engraved champagne flutes for the bride and groom, and we could save thousands upon thousands of dollars by having our wedding there.

    But I would rather elope than get married in a plain white box.

    We could get married in the park like some of my friends did, and have a backyard crawfish boil afterward, or a bar crawl like other friends did. We could simply buy out a restaurant for an evening and have a simple foodie wedding that way, and ALL OF THESE THINGS would be cheaper than what we’re doing.

    Granted, we’re still coming in below WIC-standard budgets, but we’re shelling out a lot of dough, even with all the DIY projects we’re undertaking (I’ll make the cake, our friends will DJ and officiate, we’re doing DIY non-floral decor, our invitations are being designed and printed by a friend….). I had to come to a place where I was OK with all of that.

    Some people aren’t comfortable spending a lot of money on a wedding, and some are. That has nothing to do with whether or not one can afford to spend a lot of money on a wedding either- it just comes down to personal priorities.

    For us, a wedding that’s a solemn ceremony followed by a big party is a big deal for us. It’s worth a lot of money. We’ve made sacrifices- guys, we moved out to the *suburbs* to be able to afford our wedding- but in the end, it’s something we want to do, and we want to do it our way, and we feel very fortunate to have the funds at our disposal to be able to make that happen.

    But everyone is different. It’s important to be really honest and know yourself well enough to decide if you are or are not the kind of person for whom spending money on a wedding is something you’re comfortable with. Once you arrive at this discovery, the rest of the decisions will be easier to arrive at. It’s the marriage at the end of the wedding that’s more important than the day itself, anyway. You can always have a crazy offbeat house/ family/ life, even if your wedding took place in a generic ivory box with an in-house DJ.

  25. We found a very blank slate venue but by the water, which is what we wanted. Yes we have to put some work into making it work for us, but with DIY we can keep it cheap!

  26. Honestly, doing an almost pro/con style list of priorities might help you. Is venue a big deal to you? Awesome. Next step might be to list some of the other “big” priorities for you. Would you have to sacrifice 2 others for the venue expense? That might be ok, but maybe not if it were 3-4 of them. Obviously expenses will end up changing, but even using estimates to see what you’d give up (or not) for the venue could help. Even a packaged place you can do custom decor, write your own ceremony, etc. if that is the decision you make. Your attitude about it makes the difference a “vanilla” event hall can be made amazing.

    One of the biggest things I learned in this paying-for-our-own-wedding process – or anyone working with a fairly fixed amount – is that I’m getting married in my own life. I’m not living in a fantasy, even if I have some fantasy visions of my perfect customized to my own personality wedding. Your wedding, like your marriage, is part of the world you live in. For some people, your world includes having saved up for a massive expensive party. Or your world includes a best friend who is a caterer, letterpress artist, photographer, and baker. For us, our world was a low-budget for the Bay Area but more than I’ve ever thought of spending on a 1-day event (with some anicillary items of course).

    I did not get married in my “dream” venue. But there are other things we DID get to do that would not have happened anywhere other than where we ended up. Since venue is often one of the first big decisions you make about the wedding, it picks the branch of the choose-your-own adventure where you start. But the other branch isn’t necessarily worse, it’s just different.

    We got married in a park, which ended up leading us to perfect-for-us BBQ catering and self-serve beer taps of our favorite microbrews. That would not have been allowed at our “dream” venue. Just one example, but whichever way you end up going, the wedding can be just as offbeat and personal as you want it to be – that just might be reflected in different ways.

  27. Our venue was our only priority and it determined the rest of the budget. Since it’s not a typical wedding space (American Visionary Art Museum, the only outsider art museum in the US) we have to rent everything but I found a caterer with good food that can handle all of the rentals for a good price. I find that if you can find a space that allows you to bring in your own caterer or better yet, self cater, and bring your own booze, then you have a lot of flexibility. We can have an open bar for a few hundred bucks! And be careful of the fine print too. I read fine print for a living so I’m pretty good with it but a lot of people can be taken unawares if they have no experience with contracts.

    I found that most of the hotel & hall packages had a lot of “padding” for things that I ultimately thought were extraneous. A truly beautiful space doesn’t need a lot of decoration and since we’ve cut many costs with DIY and help from friends, we can have all of our priorities (venue, live music for ceremony & reception, open bar, at night) while sacrificing those things we don’t think are as important (flowers, “wedding” dress, fancy cake, nonfriendor photographer). It’s all about priorities and honing those spreadsheeting skills.

  28. First of all, I have to ask: what constitutes an “authentic offbeat vision”? Is that even a thing? To me, being offbeat is such a broad spectrum that it can’t be lumped in to one category.

    Comparatively speaking, our budget was a fair size to begin with, and we split the costs between us and both sets of parents. We wanted a photographer who wouldn’t crank out standard wedding photos, and were willing to pay big bucks for it. (It was worth every penny, by the way. Our photos are gorgeous!) Also, with both of us having a huge appreciation for food and several foodie family members, catering was a huge thing, and that ended up being about 1/3 of what we spent on the shore affair.

    We did save money by going DIY for the desserts for the candy buffet, table markers/escort cards, programs and the action card Eco for our kissing game, but if there was something we really wanted, like custom manga shoes, we went for it. We are only having one wedding and it was important to us to do it right.

    Everyone needs to do what makes them comfortable. I you don’t think you can make a standard hotel ballroom feel offbeat enough, keep digging until you find something great that won’t break the bank. I never thought renting an entire aviation museum would be as cost effective as it was, but if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

  29. For me, the cost is part of my offbeat-ness.

    Not spending a lot of money (as well as representing all my interests and not being super wasteful) is key in my wedding. I try to live as inexpensively as possible, and that’s playing a big role in the kind of wedding I plan to have. So, for me, I would sacrifice a lot of nerdiness and such to have a lower price tag.

  30. Great to point out that “offbeat” doesn’t necessarily mean cheap. It’s all about priorities.

    My husband and I didn’t want a “wedding factory” stranded in an island of blacktop, but we also did not have the time, patience or desire to handle the million-and-one logistical details of a bare bones or non-traditional wedding venue.

    We found a great compromise in a 1920’s building that once housed a bank, (bonus – the old vault was the coat room!), brewery and is now an event space. It was not a ballroom or hall but came with the package deals more traditional venues offer – catering, decorating, staff, etc all wrapped in to one price, while being a place that didn’t scream “wedding” to us.

    To afford the space, we chose a Friday night, before the height of wedding season, and let the awesome art deco style of the building be the foundation of our decorations (another bonus – few DIY projects and less stress for this bride!)

  31. Our venue is a MUST and is going to cost us about 3k. If we wanted to book, say, the Sons of Norway hall, we could have a venue for under 500. But, with our medieval theme, we wanted to avoid any contemporary looking halls with white ceilings and walls (or anything that looks like a church basement, aka Sons of Norway hall), which eliminated pretty much any “budget” venues. And having looked at a half dozen places online with the same/similar character, the one we chose is still the cheapest by half. But we don’t have to put up hardly any decorations in the venue since it’s already awesome. Just runners and lanterns on the table, with a few other touches on the fireplace mantle.

    If we were doing a non-theme-wedding, we could conceivably save quite a bit of money, but we wanted the look and feel to be just right, and so it goes…

    I’m a crafty offbeat, though, so while we splurge on the site and food (and party gifts, but we’ll see if that happens…), we can save a TON by making our own attire and decorations and invites and all that jazz. And also, the fact that very little additional funds will be spent on the ceremony (friend officiating, standing ceremony, at the reception site, just need to come up with a drape for between the trees and the handfasting cords) really helps as well. So, like others have mentioned, it comes down to prioritizing, and sometimes sheer luck to be able to do exactly what you want on a budget.

  32. Our venue was the key thing. We are both beer geeks, and we are getting married at a brewery that makes killer beer and houses a unique event space. It is a good chunk of our budget, but it is actually cheaper than using some of the more traditional event spaces in the area.

  33. We’re going to try and go off package with our local Holiday Inn. I don’t want their balloons or their fancy three course dinner. I do want to be in a convenient location where there is another hotel opposite, a restaurant and the a Golden Arches… What’s not to like about that. The offbeat part will be the ceremony and that’s at a gorgeous Georgian chapel so… I can compromise on a corporate hotel for the price and convenience…

  34. I am struggling with this too, as my fiance and I recently toured a venue that was really truly “us.” But it’s LA, so that means it’s much more money then we wanted to spend. Now we have to make the decision to use the amazing venue, which was a blast to tour, and try to save the extra money elsewhere, or not use the amazing venue, and learn to be OK with something that may not be quite as personal and meaningful to us as a couple. I have to say that going with him to look at the place, and having so much fun doing it, really has me leaning toward booking it and trying to figure out the money stuff later. I really put a lot of stock in “vibe”, and I think that if you find a place that you feel good in, that is what should count the most. There must be other ways to save money, if you feel like you really want this particular venue.

  35. We are having our ceremony and an amazing venue (we’re getting married in a beautiful old library and I couldn’t be more excited.)

    However, to compensate for that, our reception site is just going to be in a boring old banquet hall. I mean, I’ll decorate and make it my own and it’ll be great, but in terms of venue, the ceremony was the important part to us, not the reception, so we didn’t care as much where people ate.

  36. Offbeat definitely doesn’t have to mean less expensive, however I can’t help but think it’s utterly ridiculous to spend the majority of your budget on a venue, especially one where you are bound to their rules! My partner is CoE and so our local church was our choice , because our marriage ceremony, the union itself is the most important aspect to us. We don’t feel the need to buy into an epic (and equally priced) reception venue, instead we have chosen a very simple location, that we can hire for 3 days for 10% of the average reception cost, and we can build our dream from scratch! We had our hearts set on a candlelit reception, but most local hotels wouldn’t allow us even to hang fairy lights. As a photographer myself, that aspect was very important to me so we have gone for a slightly more expensive photographer than most people we know. My partner is having his ring custom made which seems extravagant to a lot of people but he has a specific idea in mind and it’s what he will wear for the rest of his life. You can save so much money in other aspects – the decorations, the cake, (our bridesmaids dresses were high st finds and cost less than £50 for all!) I think it’s much more important to focus your budget on what parts of the wedding are most important to you both! In our case it is the ceremony, rings and photography, over custom cocktails and entrées.

  37. Strangely enough where I live in Essex (UK) the more traditional big flash hotel venues are waaaay more expensive than the alternatives.
    The Cinema where we’re having our ceremony is actually a 10th of the price of the others.

    So I guess my answer is neither and.both, we chose cost over venue and venue over cost!

  38. I am having this issue all over the place. All we want is a beautiful meadow, barn, old home scenario and New Jersey keeps squashing our hopes and dreams. I’m hoping I can off set the “Jersey-ness” off a cheaper “regular” venue with cool table settings and lighting? I’m actually pretty freaked out.

  39. I’m so glad to have found this. After looking at a bunch of traditional wedding sites and going through the budgets and comparing them to mine and what we chose, I’ve been freaking out quite a bit. I couldn’t see myself doing a banquet hall, even though much of the time I look at the packages and dream of how easy it could have been. We spent roughly half our budget on a venue that we LOVE and I’ve been spending time at other budgeting tools tearing my hair out that we made that decision. The fact is though that it includes all tables & chairs, a beautiful ceremony site (both outdoor and, if need be, indoor) basically all the decorations (really, all we would need to do is centerpieces), a bridal suite to get ready in, a fire pit, all the set up and breakdown for the ceremony and the reception, and we can bring in all of our own vendors. The trick now is how to do all of the rest under $4,000 – including food, drink, music, photography and all that good stuff. It’s really overwhelming but it feels better to know that I’m not the only one in this boat and it seems like it really is the best decision we could make for ourselves.

  40. My venue is a historical site with a barn and several log cabins. Because it is located in the small town my family grew up in, we got the chance to rent the entire place for $150 for the whole weekend and we have permission to come in the week before to start decorating. The only drawback is that the barn is the only spot with running water.

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