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6 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding Venue

Once of the first wedding planning decisions you make is likely your venue. Your venue will serve as the framework for the rest of your vision. But what happens when you find “the one” but the price tag is super scary?

Don't worry, we have you covered!

Here are 6 considerations that can help you stick to your budget AND book the venue of your dreams.

Outdoor ceremony with french doors and floral.
Think "outside the box" when it comes to your wedding venue.

Day of the week

As you will see, your flexibility is key for sticking to your wedding budget. Venues charge a higher price for Saturday nights based on the classic model of supply and demand, especially if they offer in house catering. Sundays and Fridays are often less expensive in rental rate AND food and beverage minimums. While it used to be taboo to host your event on any day but a Saturday, these days…anything goes! While you are trying to be considerate of your friends and family’s jobs and responsibilities, remember you are likely giving them A YEAR to plan ahead. Plus, consider the advantage of cheaper flights, hotels AND less crowded highways for your guests who aren’t local. The reality is, if your guests make your wedding a priority, it won’t really matter what day of the week it is. When they look back on your special day, they won’t likely remember if it took place on a Saturday. If you really want to be a rebel, try a Thursday!

Month of the Year

Continuing the theme of flexibility, when you go on your venue search – have an open mind as to what “season” you are looking for. Although different depending on what your geographic location is, every venue will have a “busy” season vs. an “off” season. For example, in Florida the “off” season tends to be the hottest summer months. Talk with your prospective venue about the times of year when they might have booking incentives. Maybe there is a unique ceremony location away from weather elements that most couples don’t explore. It could be more economical to add on an attractive clear tent or space heaters than to book in the busy season. It is important to assess any risks of booking in the off-season. Imagine the “worst case scenario” of external factors – maybe there is a busy festival in town the same weekend and hotel rooms may be hard to secure. Giving your guests plenty of notice and reserving a block of rooms may eliminate that issue. Maybe you are worried an afternoon thunderstorm may move your outdoor ceremony inside. But what if you agree on a picturesque “back-up” location that you like almost as much as the original? Booking in the off season isn’t without risks but with the right planning, the rewards could be great.

Outdoor tent wedding with floral accents and greenery.
An outdoor tented reception can impress your guests AND keep them comfortable.

Time of day

Weddings take place in the early evening and continue into the night, right? Wrong! Brunch Weddings are quickly becoming a popular trend that may be here to stay. This option is budget friendly for a few reasons. First – with the right timing, your venue can actually execute 2 weddings in one day which could lessen your space rental cost. Second – A breakfast spread for your guests will be significantly less dollars and cents per person. Third – A majority of your guests won’t be expecting to drink heavily at 10am. Offering a welcome mimosa and a champagne toast will suffice. No need for a lengthy open bar. Since your celebration will be over by early afternoon, you can still plan to hang out with your wedding guests the rest of the day. Offer a meetup later at the hotel pool or local pub where your friends and family can party without breaking your bank.

Bar Offerings

It is not absolutely necessary that you provide an open bar for the entire event. It is also not necessary that you provide top shelf liquor for your guests, or liquor at all for that matter. Beer, wine and soft drinks have become a popular beverage package. You can often upgrade that package to offer liquor drinks on a consumption OR cash basis. Take stock of your guests and see what option makes the most sense for you, your crowd and your wallet. Many venues are now allowing couples to provide their own alcohol as long as it’s served by one of their licensed bartenders. This way, you can customize drinks to your guest list AND whatever they don’t drink is yours to take home. You’re all set for your next Super Bowl Party! Just remember, providing your own alcohol comes with some extra logistical planning. You definitely don’t want to add a trip to the liquor store to the wedding day itinerary OR be hauling out bottles of wine in your wedding dress at the end of the night.

Intimate outdoor wedding with a beer and wine beverage package.
Consider offering your guests a selection of your favorite wines and beers.

Regardless of venue, one sure-fire way to save money on your wedding, is reducing your guest list. Although this can be a stressful process, it really is the best way to make your wedding budget go further. Try this – Since you and your partner are celebrating your future, don’t create a guest list that mostly reflects your past. Only invite people from your life that you honestly see making memories with for years to come. Another trick – take a month to get your guest list finalized…in that month, note who organically contacts you other than to congratulate you on the engagement. It may sound a bit harsh, but once you put a dollar amount to each person on your list, it becomes easier to make well-intentioned edits.

Before you assume you’re home free, also remember the venue or caterer’s Food and Beverage Minimum. It may not matter that you’ve reduced your guest list to 50 people, if the amount of money you are required to spend is $20,000. That would mean $400.00 per guest on food and drinks – every venue and every area is different, but that is generally considered quite a lot. This is where other considerations with lower F&B minimums may come into play. See our other videos in this playlist about days of the week and months of the year.

Try also exploring the smaller spaces at your venue (if applicable). For example, if you really love a mountaintop resort but the 200 person reception space is out of your budget, see if they have a more intimate space for 50 at a lower cost. You can still get your picturesque mountain top ceremony with a much smaller reception price tag.

Wait for Deals

An ultimate exercise in patience and flexibility is key to this tip. Tour the venue and then wait it out for a bit. When you look up a pair of shoes on your computer, you know how they follow you around for a month via your devices and communication outlets? While your venue sales person will not physically follow you around, they will do their best to keep top of mind. Many venues run specials in relation to soft sales seasons and/or holidays and this just may get you closer to your ideal price point. Be honest with the venue regarding your sticker shock and they will make sure you are first to hear about their newest promotion. It may be THE BEST Cyber Monday deal you’ve ever taken advantage of.

Bride and groom celebrating on their wedding day.
Celebrate! You found your perfect venue AND it's in your budget!

So get excited again! If you are flexible, but your budget is not...there are ways to make it work. Keep an open mind and the possibilities are endless. Your dream venue awaits!

For another look at this topic, check out our video on YouTube. Make planning part of the fun!