Did you know that the average wedding in the U.S. costs a whopping $30,000? By far the most expensive part of the wedding is the venue. Even more “affordable” locations may charge thousands of dollars for venue rentals. If you want to drastically reduce the cost of your wedding (which you probably do if you’re reading this blog!), check out these tips for how to save thousands of dollars on your venue(s).
Get married on a Friday or Sunday.
Most weddings are on Saturdays, and many venues charge less for weddings that are held on Fridays or Sundays. My husband and I chose not to do this because more than half of our guests were traveling from out of state. But if most of your guests are local (or have no problem getting time off work), it’s a great option!
Get hitched during the off season.
Summer may seem like the perfect time for a wedding, but it’s also the most expensive time of year. You could have a winter wedding instead – the weather won’t be ideal (depending on where you live), but some of the most gorgeous weddings I’ve seen have been winter weddings in Minnesota. You may be chilly, but you can get truly stunning photographs and a reasonable deal on your venue rental. If a winter wedding isn’t the right choice for you, why not choose April or October? You might get a better deal since those months aren’t during the busy summer season, but the weather should still be decent.
Choose an all-inclusive package.
My husband and I had our reception at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. I was skeptical when I first saw the $7,000 price tag, but then I realized that it was actually an amazing deal (compared to other venues in our area) because the package was all-inclusive. The package included the reception venue rental, dinner, appetizers, alcohol, bartending, DJ services, cake, security, some basic decorations, a wedding coordinator, and tablecloths/silverware/etc. Most of the venues that I looked at charge $8,000+ for the food alone (which I think is insane).
In addition to being cost-effective, all-inclusive packages also eliminate a lot of wedding planning headaches. I didn’t have to coordinate a caterer, bartender, DJ, cake delivery, or any of those types of things. The staff at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres handled everything, which made wedding planning much less stressful!
Have your reception at a VFW.
By far the cheapest reception location that I found was a VFW. The cost to rent the space is super cheap, and VFW’s allow outside catering – a huge money saver. One of the most frustrating parts of planning my wedding was that I found several locations that seemed “affordable” – they had reasonable rental fees – but they only had one allowed caterer. That means that no outside catering is allowed, and many caterers have enormous catering “minimums”. In other words, they will not cater your event unless you spend at least $8,000 on food (or whatever their minimum is set at – $8,000 seems to be a popular choice). At VFW’s, you can bring in your own caterer (and you can choose a cheap one who doesn’t have a ridiculous minimum).
The only reason we didn’t have our reception there was because we found Chanhassen Dinner Theatres and fell in love with it. A VFW isn’t the nicest looking venue, but you can always decorate it and make it look lovely. Decoration costs add up, but with the amount you’ll save on the reception venue rental, you’ll have some extra room in your budget.
Have the ceremony/reception at a relative’s house.
If your budget is tiny, having the ceremony or reception (or both!) at a relative’s house may be a good option. Do any of your family members live on a farm or in the country? It might be difficult to have an at-home wedding in the city (my mom and step dad did it, but they only had about 30 wedding guests). If you know anyone who lives out in the country, there would likely be more room for guests to park.
The cheapest and arguably least stressful option is to just elope! When we got close to our wedding date and the stress kept piling on, I wished many times that we had eloped instead! If you elope, you don’t necessarily have to limit the guest list to just the two of you – you could still invite your best friends and closest family members.
If anyone tells you that your relatives will be offended if they don’t receive an invite, politely remind them that you are a on a tight budget and that your relatives aren’t the ones who have to pay for your wedding. Weddings are insanely expensive, and many millennials are buried in student loan debt. It can be difficult to afford a wedding, especially if your parents aren’t able to help.
Do what works best for you (and your budget)!
Whatever you decide to do, remember that it’s only up to you and your fiancé. Unless your parents are paying for the wedding, they don’t get a vote. With weddings being so expensive, you need to do what works best for your budget.
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Those are all great ways to save! 7k is definitely reasonable!
My friend did my makeup, my brother was the dj, cash bar (my MIL is anti-drinking anyway), limited store bought flowers (my parent’s neighbors contributed some lilacs), my aunt made the cake, did our own decorating and an amateur photographer. We got married at a church and had the reception at a golf course. May isn’t super busy for wedding season either and lucky for us, the weather was great. It was about 7k including clothing (dress/tux). We only had about 150 guests though so it was pretty small.
I have been this close to eloping many times as well! I often feel that people will have opinions no matter what so if they’re not complaining about eloping, they’re complaining about whatever next thing they want to complain about. Might as well do what makes you happy in that case! To save money – we’re doing a Friday wedding in the winter and chose a wedding venue that allows us to bring in our own caterer. I also got the quote down by asking the caterer if there were any items we could remove that would shave the quote down a little bit. She proposed eliminating fresh fruit served with the wedding cake, which eliminated $1.75 per person. We also swapped out a seafood appetizer with a meat which saved $1 per person. You would be surprised what can shave a little bit off the top.
Sounds like you’re doing an awesome job keeping it affordable! I agree that it’s crazy how much the little things can add up!
I got married on a Wednesday! It saved us (if I’m remembering correctly) $3,000 on the venue, and got us a discount with our photographer and caterer as well! I highly recommend it!
Wow! It makes a big difference!
My wedding was very inexpensive back in the day, but I wanted to share what my sister did. She was married in a historical chapel at a park. Then, the reception for about 125 guests was held in my parents’ backyard, which is open to a beautiful golf course. We rented several white tents, tables and chairs for the event, and I catered this with the help of family, buffet style. (I had some experience in working for a catering company.) For drinks, we had beer on tap and soft drinks on ice. It was a warm July day. My sister bought one small cake for photos, and then we bought sheet cakes to slice for guests. My brother recorded several hours of dance music for a sound system for dancing on the patio. Photos were taken at no cost by a relative, who is a wonderful photographer. She had only a maid of honor and flower girl (her mother sewed the flower girl dress). It was a super fun wedding, and the cost was about $3,500. We were fortunate that the day was beautiful, and there was a great venue for the reception. Also, my parents had a large extra refrigerator in the garage, which helped greatly with the food prep.
That’s awesome! Very affordable! Thanks for sharing.