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.

Elope!

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.

How did you save money on your ceremony and/or reception venue rental?

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