Planning a wedding is one of the most stressful processes you can put yourself (and possibly everyone around you) through. Not only is it incredibly difficult to coordinate all the different products and services a wedding requires, costs can also spiral out of control in the blink of an eye. When it comes to your wedding venue, it is possible to save huge amounts of money. But, you have to be willing to be flexible. If you’re more concerned about the who, the what, and the why in regards to your wedding than you are about the where, there are massive savings to be had by considering free or low-cost venues.
Free Wedding Venues
Most weddings take place in the spring, summer, or early fall when the weather is generally pleasant. This makes moving your wedding outside to cut down on costs practically a no-brainer. Besides, if there does happen to be a little rain on the big day, that’s what tents and pavilions are for. If you’re open to the idea of an outdoor wedding, there may be free venue options available that you haven’t even thought of.
Backyard wedding venue
Do you have a decent sized backyard? How about your close friends or relatives? A backyard wedding may sound a bit hokey, but with the right touches, you can make your special day amazing. Getting married in your own backyard, or the one you grew up in may end up having more meaning to you and your guests than any fancy venue ever could. Plus, not paying for your venue means you’ll have a lot more money to put into decor, food, and drinks, hair and makeup, or whatever you prioritize the most about your wedding experience. Maybe you’d rather pocket the money and put it toward a down payment on a house or car for you and your spouse-to-be, or put it toward starting a family, traveling, or getting a degree.
Borrowed wedding venue
Does your uncle own the most charming alpaca farm, complete with a restored antique barn and a gazebo? Have you admired the private apple orchard down the road for years? If you know someone who happens to own a possible venue for your wedding, ask them to borrow it! Think about the services you could provide in exchange for using their property for your wedding venue. Are you great with kids? Offer a few weekends of free babysitting. Have a way with animals? Do free labor on the farm or walk the dogs for a month. The trading of goods and services isn’t as common as it used to be, but it can still be a great deal for everyone involved. Do be sure to show your gratitude by cleaning up after your event and leaving your borrowed venue in the same state it was in before you arrived.
Low-Cost Wedding Venues
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a large backyard or a farmer uncle at their disposal. That doesn’t mean that you’re stuck spending a fortune on a wedding venue. Check your area for local gems. Ask people you know who got married in the same area where they had their wedding. People love to tell the story of when and where they were married. Don’t be afraid or feel guilty about contacting more than one possible venue, either. These places understand that you’re shopping around and making an important decision about the biggest event of your life and that another place may work out better for you in the end. As intimate as their customer service may seem, it’s just business. They won’t take it personally if you won’t.
Park wedding venue
It seems to be a relatively unknown fact that nearly every park is available for rent for events. Most will cost you less than $100 for half the day. Some can even be reserved for free. If you’re down for an outdoor wedding, but don’t have a big enough (or presentable enough) space, a park makes for a great inexpensive wedding venue. Keep in mind, though, that many parks will only let you reserve one area, so there may be other patrons nearby. If that’s not okay with you, look for a small local park and see what kind of arrangements you can make there. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.
Here’s an idea: What if you were to skip the stuffy, expensive, ceremony altogether and get right to the party? That’s what all your guests are coming for anyway, right? It costs as little as $10 to be married by a judge or magistrate at your local courthouse. That leaves a ton of money in your budget for an epic reception. Set up a pizza bar, a taco bar, a weed bar (if that’s your thing), or a candy buffet and let your guests go wild to celebrate your union. Don’t forget the actual bar, of course. Most of them will be thrilled to go straight to the reception, and you likely will be too. A ceremony is stressful to plan, expensive, and nerve-wracking. A reception is all about letting loose, celebrating, and having fun.
Did you know that military veterans can rent American Legion banquet halls at a steeply discounted rate? Some can be reserved for as little as $70 and include a full bar and kitchen. If you or your spouse happen to be veterans, great. If not, it’s likely that one of your invited family members or friends is. Ask around and see if you can find one of your future guests who is willing to rent the legion and be reimbursed. The savings are worth it, and he or she will likely be more than happy to help you make your reception happen.
Does your town have a local recreation or community center? Most likely it does, even if you’ve never noticed it. Many of these buildings are converted into community centers after spending decades as schools or libraries. Community center venues can usually be reserved for $50-$200, depending on the room size (caution: the largest available space is usually a gymnasium or tennis court) and kitchen access. If you are interested in going the community center route, be sure that you check with the center about their alcohol policy before you commit. Some may prohibit smoking and/or alcohol on the premises, which could be a deal breaker if you don’t exactly plan to have a dry wedding celebration. They may even have restrictions on what type of decor you can use.
The most important thing to remember about your upcoming wedding is that it’s truly all about the marriage. Your wedding will last one day, but your marriage will hopefully survive a lifetime. Don’t get so caught up in finding the perfect wedding spot that you lose sight of what will really matter the day after the wedding. And the day after that, and the day after that. Besides, as it turns out, couples who spend more money on their weddings are also more likely to divorce. Tell that to the next overpriced wedding venue you come across.