How Much Do Wedding Venues Charge
The rental cost for wedding venues is soaring higher every year (high now than ever before), as wedding vendors are learning that brides and grooms will pay whatever they have to in order to get what they want on their wedding day. However, with budgets getting tighter, and couples getting smarter, non-traditional venues are looking more and more attractive with their better options and lower prices.
Before we can discuss wedding venue costs, we need to look at some of the requirements of non-traditional wedding venues. In Wedding Venues and What They Provide, we looked at the products and services offered by those locations that market themselves as “wedding venues.” Because they market specifically to those getting married, there are certain expectations they must meet in regards to what they offer to be attractive to marrying couples. The same is not so for non-traditional locations, which are not normally used for weddings, like parks, lakes, restaurants, airports, art galleries, movie theaters, etc.
Unfortunately, as these locations are not normally used for weddings, there are more requirements for couples than there are offered benefits. This doesn’t make these locations any less attractive. It just means that as the couple using the location, you have more control over . . . well everything! Let’s look at what I’m talking about and then we’ll discuss common pricing for both traditional and non-traditional wedding venues.
Were you aware of the restrictions and requirements to get married at your own location?
Requirements by Non-Traditional Venues
In order to host a wedding at a more unique location, there are requirements that must be taken care of by the couple getting married in order to legally get married there. These types of locations, as they don’t market themselves as wedding venues, most likely also do not have liability insurance to cover anything that might happen on their site in relation to an event. They may provide gazebos, covered “event” areas, and allow groups to gather for various reasons on their grounds, but they do so at their own risk. Where family reunions and picnics may not have legal requirements, weddings do.
- Bathrooms – Couples are required to provide adequate restroom facilities for their wedding guests. This isn’t a big deal in many areas because most public locations have plenty of bathrooms for the public. However, if you are hosting a wedding on a mountaintop, in the middle of the ocean, etc. there may not be bathroom facilities. Plenty of companies will rent out portable restrooms for weddings. There are even fancy ones with sinks and mirrors. (Check out http://royalrestrooms.com/ for some ideas.)
- Covered Food Areas – If you don’t have a professional serving food to make sure you are complying with legal food service regulations, they are pretty basic. The big one is that the food must be served under a covered location. This may simply be a tent or mini-cover, or it could just be placed under the ramada (or covered event area). Each location will have its own restrictions. Some even ban the service of food altogether.
- Parking – Sufficient parking must be available or provided by the wedding couple in order to prevent illegal parking and other parking and traffic violations.
- Alcohol – Most locations simply require responsible serving practices by those providing alcohol at the event to prevent underage drinking, drunk driving, fighting, and vandalism. Sometimes this is as easy as identifying minors so they don’t get served, not inviting minors to the event at all, and providing shuttles and lodging for those that are inebriated. Alcohol is a tricky topic at alternative locations; so tricky that many prohibit the service of alcohol altogether. If alcohol is important, it might be necessary to choose an alternative location that serves alcohol.
- Permits – An event permit and maybe even wedding insurance are likely going to be necessary in order to hold an event at many of these locations. Lucky for couples, it’s inexpensive and very easy to obtain.
- Music – This restriction simply limits parties and other events from impacting or deterring the general public's enjoyment of the location. This means that any event is not necessarily private. The public may watch the wedding, play football in a nearby grassy area, or have a family function in a nearby ramada. Any public places being used for a wedding is still a public place, especially if that location is a public park, an airport, a zoo, or other place popular to the public.
- Photography – Depending on the location, like a museum or library, may not allow you to take pictures for the privacy of the location or the people within it. Some churches don’t even allow you to take pictures. It’s important to check on any restrictions for photography that may apply to a location so that you don’t have legal problems later (or get thrown out of the location on the wedding day).
- Other Wedding Vendors – Usually the only restriction regarding other wedding vendors requires that vendors, such as the DJ or the band, have some sort of covering over their electronics equipment in the case of rain or other bad weather.
- Clean up – All locations require that the party cleans up after themselves following the event, or fines may ensue for said cleaning afterward. This makes sense. If you were to leave behind trash after a picnic in the park, it would be considered littering, and therefore illegal.
Now that we’ve discussed the products and services provided by both types of wedding venues (traditional and non-traditional), let’s look at the cost of these products and services.
Prices and Wedding Packages
Of all the information you need to know about wedding venues, this is going to be the most important. Wedding venues typically charge higher prices for their products and services than any other wedding vendor in the industry. On average “wedding venues” are charging couples about $25,000 to $60,000 just for the venue location. This does not include the food and beverage minimum, or any extra rentals or services. Let’s look at many of the price ranges for all packages, products and services that these locations, both traditional and non-traditional, offer.
- Location Rental Packages: $2,500 to $80,000
- Furniture (tables, chairs, other furniture): $1,000 to $3,500 ($3 to $20 per chair, $20 to $500 per table or other items)
- Linens (tablecloths, napkins, chair covers, table runners): $500 to $2,000
- Dishes (china, flatware, glassware, stemware, barware): $500 to $1,500
- Different rooms (courtyard, garden, pavilion, etc.): $100 to $7,000
- House speakers: $50 to $500
- Tents: $2,500 to $30,000
- Details (candles, centerpieces, fountains, vases, bridal suite, etc.): $100 to $650 each
- Catering minimum: $1,500 to $20,000
- Per Plate Cost for Meals: $50 to $350 per person
- Bar Services minimum (corkage fees, taxes, barware, stemware, and gratuity): $1,500 to $5,000
- Open Bar: $12.50 to $20 per person
- Limited Bar: $10 to $15 per person
- Beer and Wine: $6 to $10 per person
- Signature Drink: $5 to $15 per person
- Wedding Cakes: $600 to $3,000
- Cake Cutting Fee: $1.50 to $9 per person
- Hotel Rooms: $80 to $600 per room
- Waitstaff: $50 to $200 an hour
- Wedding/Liability Insurance: $200 to $3,500
- Transportation (shuttle): $350 to $950
- Wedding Coordinator: $300 to $1,500
- Staffing (valet, bartender, security guard, coat check): $100 to $500 an hour
- Champagne Toast: $1.50 to $12 per person ($350 to $500 flat rate)
- Rental fee: Free to $1,200
- Portable Bathrooms (standard porta-potties to deluxe portable restrooms): $100 to $4,500
- Tents: $1,000 to $25,000
- Parking (self-parking to professional valets): $2.00 to $4,000
- Permits: $25 refundable deposit to $680
- Post Event Clean-up (if not done by party): $25 to $100 an hour
It’s really important to ask about these additional fees right from the beginning to keep from being blind-sided by them later. Some of these you can get rid of (gratuity, cake cutting fee, bar services, etc.) by simply asking them to be taken off before the contract is signed. However, too many of these venues have a nonrefundable “deposit” of 75% of the entire bill. In the case that a couple wants something changed, or wants to move to another location, they lose most of their money from this vendor.
Make sure to read your contract carefully before anyone signs anything to verify that there are no hidden fees or charges that will surface later. I don’t even think it’s appropriate to pay $5,000 total for a wedding venue, but that’s my opinion.