Trimming Venue Costs
Five tips on how to avoid overspending
By Sara Doerrier
August 3, 2011
In 2010, the average wedding in the United States capped off at about $24,000, according to "The Wedding Report", a market research publication. That's a significant amount of change; for many, it's more than half their yearly income. No matter how smart you shopunless you plan to elope or wed at city hallthe costs will add up.
The website "Money Under 30" provides this sample budget for weddings with 100 guests.
- Church/officiant fee: $500
- Reception site rental: $2,500
- Food ($40/plate x 100): $4,000
- Photographer: $2,000
- Music: $1,500
- Flowers: $750
- Cake: $500
- Rings: $5,000
- Dress/tux: $500
- Open bar: $3,500
- Total: $20,750
(NOTE: This figure doesn't include fees for décor, wedding planners or other essentials, such as wedding favors or gifts.)
Bridal sticker shock isn't easy to overlook. And with more couples paying for their own nuptials than ever before, the pressure to host a large wedding can sometimes feel like a burden. The price tags are shocking; the expectations are high. You can try planning a small wedding to cut costs, but in a few weeks, your guest list may include scores of people you barely know but were pressured to invite. What now?
To start off, read these tips on how to avoid overspending. Then, start saving.
1. Invite fewer guests.
We know, this is easier said than done. But in order to save cash and have the wedding you want, you simply must slash names off the list. Be respectful and reserve tables for your parents' friendsbut limit this to a few tables max, maybe even just one. Place important family members as a priority, especially if your parents are funding the wedding, but negotiate on relatives you barely know.
2. Plan the wedding yourself.
Dozens of software options, bridal organizers and books exist on this feat alone. The task is not easy, but you will save thousands. Full-time event planners are costly, and they may try to pitch products and services that you don't need. If this option overwhelms you, consider a day-of coordinator to help you at the wedding, but nix the idea of hiring a professional to plan the entire shebang.
3. Rethink your open bar.
The bar is important, but having fewer types of alcohol or fewer bartenders may reduce fees. If you're a sucker for Bombay Sapphire, splurge a bit on that brandbut that brand alone. Buy wine in bulk and leave bottles on the tables for the guests to consume. Get in touch with vineyards directly to get the better deals. Head over to Costco and stock up on hard liquor. Just be sure that the venue allows for BYOB.
4. Wed "off season."
When venues are quiet, a large discount could be offered and there is a lot more room for negotiation. You won't wed during the popular bridal months because "off season" occurs in January, February and March. Use this to your advantage: Consider a winter wonderland reception, Valentine-inspired bash or springtime fête. This is a smart way to get the venue of your dreams for a considerably marked down price.
5. Go abroad.
A destination wedding = a small wedding = reduced costs. Of course, some destination weddings are elaborate, days-long festivals that require hefty transportation costs. But a large percentage of invitees will not be able to attend. You can also save big on decorations, entertainment and flowers if you choose a location that offers natural beauty and low-cost activities. In addition, destination nuptials tend to be more casual and your attire can reflect this.