The Ultimate Guide to Affordable Wedding Venues
Posted in Wedding Venues on February 26, 2015
When you first get engaged, along with countless well wishes, a couple is also on the receiving end of a stream of questions regarding the logistics of their wedding. The most common among these is none other than “when and where?”
Figuring out the answer to these questions is one of the most important aspects of planning your wedding. Venue plays a big role in budgeting, inviting guests, and, of course, the look and feel of your special day as a whole. So it goes without saying that you want to book the perfect venue for your wedding.
If you’re like most people, however, you don’t have an endless supply of money to spend on your wedding venue. You need to work within a budget. Luckily, there are a lot of great ways to find the ultimate affordable wedding venue for your special day.
Below are our top tips to find the best venue for your wedding – at the most affordable price possible. We round things out with our ultimate wedding venue checklist that you can use alongside the numerous tips outlined below. Finding an outstanding wedding venue really isn’t as hard as it seems!
Set a Wedding Venue Budget
First things first, setting your wedding budget. Before you start planning and looking for the perfect affordable venue, you need to have a solid budget in mind. With a wedding budget in place from the get-go, you will be able to more efficiently plan your big day and keep the costs down while doing so.
Better Homes and Gardens explains that setting your wedding venue budget ahead of time will narrow down your options. When you know you only have so much money to spend, you will look for venues in this price range. Your wedding budget will also make the choice between a hometown and a destination wedding easier to make.
Book Your Venue Early
One of the easiest ways to save money on your wedding is to book your venue as early as possible. Most wedding magazines, including Brides magazine, recommend booking out nine to twelve months in advance. However, you can never do wrong booking even earlier.
In addition to increased money savings, booking your venue far in advance also ensures that you secure the specific venue you want on the specific dates that you want. According to OffbeatBride.com (online home of the book Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides authored by site owner Ariel Meadow Stallings), some wedding venues, depending on region and the time of year the wedding will be held, can get booked out up to two years in advance!
Time of Year/Day of Week/Time of Day
A lot of factors play into the cost of booking a wedding venue, but the biggest of all is time. Consider getting married in the off-season. Though the summer months are the most popular for weddings, many venues offer far more affordable deals in the fall and winter.
Brides magazine states that November, January, and March are among the cheapest months for weddings. December is skipped over because of the appeal of getting married around holiday celebrations. Another benefit of booking your wedding venue for an off-peak time of the year is that you will also save money when booking your honeymoon.
The day of the week you get married also plays a big role in the cost of a wedding venue. Saturday is the most common day to get married, however, it is also the most expensive. According to MoneyCrashers.com, most wedding venues charge up to 50% less if you book their location for a Friday or Sunday. Most venues typically don’t get weddings on these days so they are happy to pocket the extra income even if it’s at a lower price than normal.
A Practical Wedding goes even further by suggesting a morning wedding. Though there are definitely negatives to a morning wedding (harder to get ready for big day all bright and early), they can save you a lot of money. In addition to cheaper rates for the actual venue, you will likely save money by serving brunch of lunch at the reception in place of dinner.
Consider a Non-Traditional Venue
SaveUp.com suggests looking at non-traditional venues in place of traditional ones. Creative choices like a bed and breakfast, a public park, or an art gallery often charge far less than traditional venues. Though these places don’t come with all of the built-in services (including vendors), they come without the exorbitant prices that many traditional venues charge, leaving you more room in your budget to select the services and vendors you like best.
Hidden Fees Commonly Charged By Wedding Venues
If you’re working within a budget, as most people are, then you need to make sure that you actually stay within this budget. Unfortunately, this can sometimes be difficult as many wedding venues charge hidden fees they don’t readily mention upfront.
The key to avoiding – or at least knowing about – these hidden fees is asking about them in advance. During your initial selection process, ask if there are any hidden or additional fees you should be aware of.
Here Comes The Guide says that extra fees for services and event equipment are the most common wedding venue hidden fees. They state that many venues charge small fees for all the extras including tables, chairs, linens, dance floor, cake cutting, valet service, and more. Security and cleanup are other services that often come with additional charges.
So make sure you understand the ins and outs and fine print of your wedding venue rental agreement before signing any contract.
Services and Vendors Offered By Wedding Venues
There are basically two different types of wedding venues, full service and non-full service. The names are fairly self-explanatory. Full service wedding venues offer everything from table and chair rentals to catering to florists. On the other hand, non-full service venues usually just offer the space for you to fill up yourself.
Naturally, full-service is the easier option. It gives you a lot less to plan. But which is cheaper? According to the Huffington Post, some venues get kickbacks for recommending specific vendors and services such as bands or florists and they charge more because of it. At the same time, however, some venues save money by working with specific vendors and can offer you discounted rates. It is also worth noting that some wedding venues only allow you to work with their preferred vendors. They don’t give you the option of hiring your own.
Basically, it all comes down to shopping around and getting quotes. Martha Stewart Weddings recommends looking around at the costs offered by individual caterers, rental companies, and event designers before making a final decision on your wedding venue.
Wedding Venue Checklist: Top 10 Questions to Ask When Shopping for a Venue
When hunting for the perfect, yet affordable, wedding venue, there are a lot of things to consider. Below are 10 of the most important questions to ask each wedding venue that you survey.
- What are the rates for different days and times of the day Friday, Saturday, Sunday and morning, afternoon, evening)?
- What is your payment schedule like?
- What type of deposit is required?
- Are there any hidden costs involved like a service charge, cleaning fees, gratuity fees, or overtime charges (or any of the other hidden fees we discussed above)?
- Do I have to use the vendors you choose?
- Do you own sound equipment and speakers or will that need to be rented?
- Will guests be charged for parking?
- Is there an in-house caterer? Do we have to use that specific caterer? Are there any limitations on which outside caterers can be used?
- What is your alcohol pricing? Are we allowed to bring our own liquor? Is there a corkage fee?
- How long do you allow each party to be here?
Finding an Affordable Wedding Venue
Planning a wedding is stressful. There is no getting around that. Yet keeping the tips and questions outlined above in mind will make the process of booking your wedding venue much easier.
Perhaps the best thing you can do to find the most affordable wedding venue possible is don’t assume anything is included. On top of the base price for the space itself, many venues will also charge you for tables, chairs, table linens, and other services. You might even have to rent portable bathroom stalls!
Basically, what it all comes down to is figuring out what you want, setting a budget, and starting to look early. Give yourself enough time to weigh all your options and really consider what each wedding venue offers. Go over your contract with a fine-toothed comb to makes sure you understand every detail. You don’t want to think you scored an excellent deal only to find out later that you racked up the cost with hidden fees.
Do all of these things and you will have the affordable wedding of your dreams!