For those of you who recently got engaged — congratulations! Now that the news has sunk in, the fun (“fun?”) begins. There are lots of things (and expenses) to think about, and your initial reaction might be to panic. But don't fret, finding a cheap wedding venue on your budget is doable, even if you live in a spendier area.
I spoke with a couple of wedding experts who have kindly shared a few tips on how to find your dream wedding venue on the cheap…
Don't be afraid to unleash your creativity
Back in the day, it was far more common to get married at a church, then head to the nearby banquet hall for the reception. It was what most folks did, which meant hundreds of couples in the same area competing for the same venues.
But now, we're in a whole new era of weddings. It's about creating a wedding day that expresses who you and your partner are, not about sticking to the norm. Your venue needs to reflect who you are, and there isn't a better time than on your wedding to flaunt your individuality. Most importantly, thinking outside the box and choosing to have your wedding out of a traditional wedding venue means that you won't be competing with thousands of other brides out there, most likely helping you reduce the cost.
“Don't be afraid to unleash your creativity,” wedding photographer Jimmy from Pixelicious advises. “Pull out the map and explore all these wonderful places, often requiring less than one-hour drive from home. Brides are incorporating seasonal themes nowadays: sugar shacks in spring, botanical gardens, outdoor vineyards, farms, barns, and for those hardcore adventurers… try tying the knot on a mountain peak!”
Uncover hidden gems
Have a look at venues that may not seem like suitable wedding venues at first glance, especially if they're hosting private non-wedding events already. Venues like that are more likely to create a unique experience and will not have their prices inflated due to the “wedding” label.
“If you happen to have a favorite restaurant, why not try contacting the owner and reserving the entire space for your wedding day? What about that live underground concert you attended last week? They don't advertise themselves as a wedding venue, but with a bit of imagination, you can transform it into one.”
Quit procrastinating to save money
Wedding venues can cost a fortune, but they don't have to. There are several smart ways to save on the cost of a wedding venue. Number one rule: quit procrastinating (sorry for the tough love — it's for your wallet's benefit!).
“All venues aim to fill their calendars in advance, so that they can manage staffing and catering, and sometimes they even offer an incentive to do so. Not only will you save money, you get the widest selection of venues to choose from. The most prominent establishments may require two years in advance for booking, so book your dream venue early.”
Like everything else, price is dictated by supply and demand. Expect to pay a premium should you wish to get married on a prime Saturday in the summer or autumn. This also means that the price will drop significantly should you pick a weekday outside of wedding season.
“Your chances in negotiating for a better price with the larger chains are virtually non-existent, mainly because you are dealing with the venue manager or coordinator, someone who has no power over the price.
Don't be afraid to ask for freebies
When you are negotiating venue cost, asking for freebies may not be something that pops into your mind. But you totally should, the experts told us. If you don't ask, you don't get, right? Venue managers will often let you have so much more for the same cost, which means more enjoyment and more value for your money.
“If the venue remains firm with the price, try asking for freebies and other upgrades. Ask for the slightly larger room such that you guests can enjoy the extra space or extra treats during cocktail and appetizers. The cost is minimal for the venue, so they might as well say yes to secure your booking.”
Consider destination weddings to save money
Wedding planner Rachael Affleck Mayo from Rachael Ellen Events, is a strong advocate for destination weddings.
“Destination weddings are a great way to save on wedding costs. It's more than likely that your guest list of people who could travel to be at your wedding is between 25-50 people. While a wedding in, say, Europe might seem more expensive, if you are hosting a small, intimate dinner with your small group of guests, the costs will likely be much lower in the long run.”
Use a good venue comparison chart