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16 Ways to Find Cheap Budget Wedding Venue Ideas for the Ceremony & Reception

By Casey Slide

wedding venue coupleThe average cost of a wedding in the United States is well over $20,000. But if you’re planning your big day, don’t let that number scare you! There are plenty of creative methods to implement budget wedding ideas without sacrificing what matters most to you.

One of the best ways to save is with your wedding venue. A wedding venue could be many things, but for most weddings, it means a place for the ceremony and a place for the reception. Planning the wedding venue is really the first step in planning a wedding – everything else hinges on the location.

So start off your wedding planning right by making the most cost-effective decision. Here are 16 ways to do just that.

Wedding Venues on a Budget

1. Don’t Get Married on a Saturday
You are probably not surprised that Saturday is the most common day to get married. It’s convenient, it’s traditional, and it’s what most people are used to. And because it’s the most common day, it’s also the most expensive. Many venues will charge up to 50% less if you book their location for a Sunday or Friday. Why? Because they typically don’t get weddings for those days, it’s like extra income for them and everybody wins.

2. Focus on Priorities
What is the main thing that you want out of your wedding venues? Is it a really great view, with less emphasis placed on the food? Or do you want a 5-star sprawl of gourmet delights, without regard to whether or not the location is in the center of a bustling city? Figure out what’s most important to you and splurge a little on that one thing (e.g. a well-known chef or a picturesque setting) and save on your budget with the stuff that doesn’t matter as much.

3. Consider Non-Traditional Venues
Get creative. Consider a bed & breakfast, a public park, or an art gallery for your reception. Places that don’t typically host weddings may not have the same exorbitant prices as those that are well-known for being wedding venues.

4. Go Small Town Instead of Big City
Prices are usually higher in big cities so go outside the city limits to get better deals. I had a friend who lived in Atlanta, and chose to get married in Newnan, a suburb about 45 minutes outside of Atlanta. She saved about $10,000 compared to the price quotes she was getting in the city.

5. Choose One Venue Instead of Two
Many locations have the ability to be both a ceremony and reception venue, which means you don’t have to pay two separate location fees. For example, many churches have a hall that is available for such occasions. A few years ago, I went to a beautiful wedding at a retreat house in the mountains that served as both a ceremony and reception site. Tip: Guests love when they do not have to drive from the ceremony to get to the reception!

6. Have a Morning Wedding
Although it may be tricky for a bride to get herself ready bright and early, having a morning wedding can save a lot of money. Serving brunch or lunch at the reception is much cheaper than serving a dinner. Plus, you will have more time to spend with your new spouse on your actual wedding day.

7. Use Your Negotiation Skills
Try to get offers from many different locations and use that information to your advantage. Also, make sure you don’t mention that you want the venue for a wedding until after you get quoted a price for the party. Some locations will jack up the price when they hear the word “wedding.”

8. Ask to Pay in Full for a Discount
Typically, you are required to provide a down payment when you book a venue for a wedding and then pay the rest later. Ask if you can get a discount if you pay in full when you book (but make sure you get a contract with a reimbursement plan to protect yourself in the event that something goes wrong).

9. Get Married Off-Season
Summer is wedding season. Although it may be more convenient for families with children to attend the wedding during the summer when the weather is nice and sunny, consider an off-season month, such as November or January, to cut your costs. This will also save you money when you book your honeymoon.

10. Have a Small Reception and a Party Later
If you keep your wedding and reception to about 50 people or less, you can save a lot of money. Invite close friends and family and then when you get back from your honeymoon, throw a casual (and inexpensive) party to celebrate with the rest of your friends.

11. Get an All-Inclusive Package
While my husband and I did opt for a traditional ceremony in a church, I got an all-inclusive package at my wedding reception site. They look care of everything, including the decorations, food, and cake. This saved us a ton because the venue made deals with various services and then passed the savings on to us.

12. Get Married in Your Backyard
There are definite pros and cons to this option. If you’re up for something casual for your reception, like a backyard BBQ, this is a great option. If you want a more formal affair, you will probably end up spending more money, because you have to rent everything (i.e. tables, flatware, servers, etc.). Do some research to see if this is a money-saving option for you.

13. Shorten the Reception
Some venues will charge you by the hour. To shave off some cost, consider shortening the reception by one hour. Many guests won’t even notice since they leave receptions early. This will also save you money in other areas, such as with the photographer, videographer, DJ, or band.

14. Don’t Over-rent Space
Make sure that the space you rent is appropriate for the number of guests that you will have. Do not even look at venues that accommodate 300 guests when you will only expect 100.

15. Find Somewhere New
Another one of my tactics in saving money on my own wedding was to use a newly-opened venue. New venues might offer lower prices as they are attempting to build up a good reputation and gain some new business.

16. B.Y.O.B.
If you’re serving alcohol at your wedding, choose a place that  allows you to bring in your own liquor, wine, and beer. This is where most venues really jack up the prices to make money off of receptions. You can save hundreds of dollars by bringing your own spirits for the party.

Final Word

When planning a wedding, start early, and remember to watch out for unexpected wedding costs. Also take time to prepare for your marriage in addition to your wedding because that is what your wedding is all about. Consider using the money you save on your wedding to go towards a romantic wedding anniversary later in your marriage.

How did you save money on your wedding venue or how do you plan to save money once you do get married? Share your best tips and experiences in the comments below!

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Casey Slide
Casey Slide lives with her husband and baby in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and worked for a prominent hospital in Atlanta. With the birth of Casey’s son in February 2010, she decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Casey’s interests include reading, running, living green, and saving money.

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Comments

  • http://www.topweddingsites.com/reception_sites.html Top Wedding Sites

    Great ideas, Casey. I just wanted to mention a few things NOT to do to save money.

    1. No cash bars. Never ask guests to pay for anything.
    2. Don’t invite guests to the wedding and then leave them off the reception list. Everyone invited to the ceremony should be invited to the reception.
    3. Don’t split up the reception into “dinner” and “dancing” and then only invite some to the dancing portion. That just makes the guest feel like an afterthought.

    Believe it or not, people DO these things, so I figured I’d note it for your readers.

    • Futa

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with offering a cash bar. In my wedding we are paying for the champagne, normal drinks, and some kegs, but the rest is on everyone else. My fiance’s family is religious and doesn’t drink, but my family is party animals and will drink til they are blue in the face and I do not have the funds to appease them. The rest of your suggestions though do make sense. do not invite people if they are not invited to the whole thing. It is your wedding and you do what makes you happy if you can’t afford to invite distant cousin Margie I would hope she would understand.

    • Anonymous

      There is asbolutely nothing wrong with having a cash bar. It’s the couples’ choice if they would like alcohol or not, and if the guests don’t want to pay for it then they don’t have to drink. Couples should not have to buy guests alcohol.

    • cookinqn

      I agree with #2 and #3 but absolutely disagree with #1. I have been to many, many weddings in my life and only a handful of them had open bar. Some had a 1 hour window, but most were cash bar. I f these people can’t afford an expensive wedding that is the last thing to do. Most of the people who are invited to a wedding are family and friends who understand the expense of such things, and do not mind paying a few dollars for a drink :)!

  • Casey Slide

    It is hard to believe that people do those things. Great tips on what not to do!

  • Red Vanity Now

    One of the best ways we’ve been able to save on our wedding was by hiring our wedding planner. He gets discounts with some of the best vendors in the city, and all of those savings get passed on to us. He also based his fee on our budget, so we weren’t spending most of our wedding money paying him.

    • Eevisaucedo

      We are on a tight budget since we are paying for the wedding ourselves. Do you know of a good wedding planner that you would recommend? I live in CA, Orange County or Indland Empire.

      [email protected]

    • Casey Slide

      Hmmm, I never thought about getting a wedding planner for getting discounts. Get idea!

  • Sarah Hill

    Choose tungsten for your wedding bands!

    • Casey Slide

      Oh yes, another great way to save money on your wedding! My husband’s is made of tungsten, and it was very affordable and looks great! Thanks for adding that, Sarah.

      • http://www.facebook.com/susan.knight.5876 Susan Knight

        my rings are made of tungsten as well. e-bay has realy good stores for tungsten rings. also make sure there cobot free. i think i spelt that wrong.

    • Jeweler

      Alternative metal bands are very inexpensive and durable. Try finding a small local jewelry store rather than a chain store like Kays and such because they will usually be less expensive and a better quality. The only drawback of alternative metal bands is that they cannot be sized, so you’ll have to send them back into the manufacturer to exchange them or buy new ones if your fingers change size. Also, since they cannot be sized, they also cannot be cut. So if you jam your finger and it swells then it can cause a major problem because alternative bands like Steel and Titanium cannot be cut off. Tungsten and Ceramic bands can be crushed off – if you can find a shop that has the right tool and proper knowledge of how to operate it correctly.

      • Lisa

        We picked up BOTH rings, mine with an enternity band of cz’s in the middle for about 35 bucks with shipping. We used Coolmetals on ebay and are very pleased! In fact they are making me two eternity bands to stack with my original band!

  • sone

    can you please help me. Im getting married soon and i cant afford it, please help me

    • Casey Slide

      Congratulations on your upcoming marriage! I recommend going through all of the wedding saving articles we have here on Money Crashers. Make a list of ideas you can do and want to do. That should give you a good start. Good luck.

  • Tracylbrwn

    PAISLY BARN is coming. A unique wedding concept and budget friendly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Liz-Leyden/100003766056570 Liz Leyden

    If you want to get married in a scenic spot, check out your local parks. Most state parks in my state have meeting houses that can be used for weddings. They have tables, chairs, electricity, and toilets. Except for 1 or 2 very popular parks, they only charge a $100 cleaning deposit if you get married Monday-Thursday; Friday-Sunday weddings require a $100 site fee. There’s also a per-car parking fee, which can be paid in advance.

    The only other snag is alcohol; if you’re serving more than a mini-keg of beer or a liter of wine, it has to be served by a licensed caterer.

    If you’re not religious, a friend may be able to marry you. Hubby and I saw no need to get married in a church because aren’t religious. However, we didn’t want to go to City Hall, JPs are expensive, and free-standing wedding chapels didn’t really exist in our state (the only one we could find was very, very expensive). Then we found out Massachusetts will authorize anyone to “solemnize” a wedding for a day. All we needed was a willing friend, $75, and an application 8 weeks in advance. We were married by my husband’s sister (yes, we gave her a nice gift).

  • JackieG

    I am getting married next year. This is my second marriage but first wedding. My finance wants to give me what i didn’t have before. However I have three kids a house and other bills so our budget is very small. Some things I am doing to help save is I am making my dress I am a fairly decent seamstress and Instead of buying fabric our local thrift stores have dollar days So i go and look for white table cloths and curtains. My “up cycled” wedding dress is going to be a nice modest tea length long sleeve dress think 1960′s era. The date we have set is a Tuesday 11/12/13 week days seem a lot cheaper for all the venues we are looking at. Another way we are saving money is our wedding party will be small. My bridesmaids will be my sister and oldest daughter his groomsmen my son and his brother. with my youngest daughter as flower girl. A couple of things i am not doing is Not having it at our house I don’t want to do the cleaning that day. and not cutting on food or drinks we will only have roughly 40 people coming. The rest of the planning is still up in the air.

  • Natalie

    These are all awesome points! Check out this link too – it goes into more detail about bargaining for your wedding and getting the most for your dollar!

    http://scantillycllad.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-to-bargain-for-your-wedding.html

  • http://twitter.com/StuDebtSurvivor StudentDebtSurvivor

    My sister got married in my parent’s backyard. They saved a ton of money that way. We live on a pond so the scenery is really pretty. She rented some tents and tables and chairs and got friends and family to help serving the lobster (my parents live in Maine and a friend gave us the “boat” price). It was a lot of fun and much cheaper then renting a space and catering food. Great tips.

  • Anonymous

    My husband and I had a civil ceremony performed by the mayor with just our immediate family and friends in attendance. $100 for the ceremony, $25 for the marriage license. I got my dream gown for only $120. A good tip is to shop in the prom department for a gown. Something specifically advertised as a “bridal” gown can automatically cost you hundreds more. We will be having our reception at an Elks lodge rather than a formal banquet hall. Not the flashiest place on the outside but really nice on the inside, and we can decorate and serve any food however we want without being limited to a set menu chosen by a caterer. A 3 hour rental is only $150. By choosing to have our reception this way we have not had to cut anyone from our guest list. We can afford everything without compromising our celebration.

  • Mrs.Douthitt

    We are having our ceremony and reception all in one place. We are doing a rustic, country wedding and my fiance is friends with a farmer that has a barn that is not being used and is letting us use that for free for our venue! We have to clean and decorate it ourselves, but I really don’t mind and it’s going to save us A TON!!! Lots of candles and white “christmas” lights for lighting and homemade decorations and favors. And all the women are pitching in and making food. BBQ pulled pork, a super cute popcorn bar, finger foods, and I have a good friend making my cake for a discount. This is my second marriage, but first actual wedding. The first time was just at the court house and boring. I want this to be fun and everything I have ever wanted! I am SOOO excited!! Also, find someone with a good printer and make your own invitations!

    • http://www.facebook.com/besufern Beth Parent

      Any chance that farm is near Raleigh, NC and the farmer is willing to let me use it too? I’ll pay him. ;)

      • Mrs.Douthitt

        Lol nope. Jefferson county, MO. Ask around though and see if anyone knows anyone. You might be surprised

        • Stephanie Hill Buck

          I’m in st looking for a barn. Do you think they would do another wedding?

      • Liz

        Did you ever find something like that near raleigh, nc? I am in the same area looking for something similar!

  • http://idealistmom.com/ Kelly @ IdealistMom.com

    This is such a great list, thank you for sharing! I just pinned it :-)

  • pink770

    the wedding was held at a friend’s home in a farming community. They had moved there the year before and were fixing the place up. He painted his house for the occasion. We went to the meadow for the ceremony, where the officiant stood behind a stack of hay bales. she wore formal gown, lovely, he wore his tux and so did her son, . The best man wore his blue shirt and khakis, the maids wore their pretty dresses and the flower girl wore her pretty long white dress and her long curly hair. lovely. i wore garden boots with my outfit. didnt want to mess up my shoes. The horses came and looked over the fence as we sat on the lawn at tables set up and ate carne asadas and salads we prepared ourselves and drank champagne bought at Cosco’s which really was surpringly tasty. Lovely and memorable.

  • Glen Gerson

    Wow! Great tips shared! I just took a note of all the points you mentioned.

  • dialus

    it is great post.

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