Once I got engaged, everyone immediately asked me, “what’s the date?” I don’t know the date yet… I barely have a ring on my finger! But picking a date is the next thing to do, and this means finding a venue.
The weekend after Jacob and I got engaged, we started looking at venues. I always dreamed of getting married at this one venue in Oregon City. It was gorgeous. My mom and I went to check it out and boy, was it spendy! It was beautiful, but it was pretty much my entire wedding budget… Even though I was bummed that my dream venue wasn’t going to work out, we ended up getting married at a venue more perfect than I could have imagined. And it was also a lot less expensive! With that, here are some things to consider when trying to save money on a venue.
Day of the Week
If getting married on a weekday or even a Friday doesn’t bother you, this is a HUGE way to save money. Maybe you can’t afford your dream wedding on a Saturday night, but you can probably afford it on a Thursday. Be reminded that having a wedding on a weekday would probably mean that fewer people could come, but this is a great option if you have a lot of people flying in from out of town, or are even doing a destination wedding. This could cut the venue cost in about half. Another option (depending on the venue) would be having a Saturday morning wedding. This could also save you some cash and still have that Saturday date.
For Jacob and I, it was important for us to have a wedding on a Saturday so that more people could make it. Therefore, getting married at that dream venue on a Saturday just wasn’t going to happen.
Have an Off-Season Wedding
If you’re flexible as to what time of year you can get married, this is another great way to save. Summers are expensive, and they book up fast. If you can get married in April/May or September/October rather than the middle of summer, your venue costs could be just about half as much as a summer price. Outdoor weddings in Oregon could be pretty risky this time of year, but if you want to get married indoor, no problem! Also, winter weddings are super cute and going to be less expensive. 🙂
Trim the Guest List
Another great way to save on a venue (and the entire wedding) is to trim that guest list. Most venues will factor guest numbers into the rental cost since tables, chairs, clean up, and additional expenses will vary depending on how many people are in attendance. It can be hard to trim that list when you have family, high school friends, college friends, a spouse’s family and friends, etc… But having a smaller number of guests will save you money in all categories. Keep it to who is close and important to you rather than inviting people you would rather not have there anyway. We had about 200 at ours and I thought it was a great amount!
Avoid Venues with In House Catering
Some venues will require you to use their catering, and this can be VERY expensive. My dream venue had this requirement and it can easily be $60 a head for chicken, salad, and potatoes, which is ridiculous! Finding a cheaper caterer will save you a whole lot of money in your budget. This might mean having to choose a different venue just based off the fact that the required catering will cost you an arm and a leg.
Speaking of catering… this is an item on your list that you can really be flexible to meet any budget (if you aren’t at a venue that requires their catering). So look at your budget and determine what kind of catering you can supply in your price range. Remember: guests are at your wedding to see you get married! Not have a gourmet meal.
Find an Alternative Caterer
Many weddings will do traditional chicken, steak and potatoes, but you could find a great and cheaper vendor that offers other options. This is exactly what we did for our wedding. A southern BBQ restaurant catered a few events at my church so we looked to them for catering our own wedding, and it was a great deal! We had BBQ chicken, brisket, pulled pork, mac and cheese, cornbread, beans, and coleslaw. It was delicious and fed everyone for dinner! Well… being the bride I only had a few bites but it was a hit! In fact, when anyone talked about our wedding, they say these two things: it was so incredibly hot that day, and the food was delicious!
Just Hors d’oeuvres
If you’re trying to save on food, another option would be to just do hors d’oeuvres. This would obviously cut back on food costs because you’re not supplying as much food! If you decide to go this route, make sure to mention it in the invitation so guests know what to expect and can eat some before they come. Also be mindful of the time of your wedding for this case. If you have a wedding at 5:30pm, guests will be hungry for dinner. Having a wedding at 2pm would be a better option with this type of catering.
Another lower cost alternative would be to just do desserts! This is similar to the hors d’oeuvres option where you are spending less because there will be less food. You could do an ice cream bar, assorted desserts or even just cake! Again, remember to be mindful of the time of your wedding to make a dessert reception work, and don’t forget to tell guests what to expect.
Consider Disposable Plates and Cutlery
Now this was something that I was hesitant on because I thought it would be tacky to have paper plates, but it ended up being totally fine. Again, this is something that your guests aren’t necessarily going to remember. Real plates and cutlery can be expensive to rent, and then you would also have to wash them. If you’re doing the catering on your own and have the option to choose plates, save the money and go paper. We bought the thick Chinet paper plates from Costco along with the plastic cutlery that looks real. The plates were durable and the cutlery still looked “classy” if you want to call it that. It all worked out great and saved us a good chunk of change!
Avoid the Alcohol
Simply put, alcohol is expensive! Hosting an open bar is a huge wedding expense, and even a cash bar will cost you with bar tender fees. If wanting to save and alcohol isn’t something important to you, skip it. We did Italian sodas at our wedding, and it was a huge hit! It was my mother-in-law’s idea to do as she had a friend who offered to serve them at our wedding. We went to Cash And Carry to buy soda, syrup and cream, and that was about it! Guests could choose their flavor and it was made for them right there! I even had one and it was delicious! So look at alternatives when it comes to alcohol. Lemonade and water also work just great!
A Wedding is About Marriage
All in all, remember what a wedding is about. The food and venue are lovely and can make for a great wedding, but the purpose of a wedding is for two people to get married! Don’t assume that you have to spend a fortune in these areas to have a nice wedding.
Photography by Donny Zavala