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How to Save Money on Your Wedding Location

Updated on September 21, 2013
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With all of the money you'll be spending on your wedding, this is usually where most of it will go. With couples spending 48% and more of their budget on their receptions, this will be one of the biggest you'll make in regards to your wedding. This is isn't the place to throw money away or to make a hasty decision. You'll want to arm yourself with as many tips and tricks for saving money as possible in order to make the best decision you can on a wedding venue.

I'm not just going to tell you to get married in your backyard or at the reception hall attached to your church in order to pinch a few pennies. However if this is what you want, I'm sure it will be beautiful. If not, there's no reason you can't have the wedding venue of your dreams and still stay within your wedding budget. Let's look at how to do just that!

Day, Time, Season

As with anything else, there are peak seasons for weddings, when most couples choose to be married like June and December, and off-peak seasons that aren't traditionally considered when an engaged couple is choosing their wedding date, like February and July. There's really no reason or rhyme to why people choose some months or seasons over others when choosing their big day, but to choose a date or month in an off-peak wedding season will ensure that prices will be lower and venues more readily available to you.

Depending on the type of venue you are searching for, this may not even need to be a consideration (like public parks and areas will most likely not change their prices regardless). But this is true for most traditional wedding venues. If the business or location is worried about bringing in enough revenue during certain parts of the year, they will be more willing to bring their prices down and possibly even give you discounts in order to fill those days.

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Speaking of days, just like with peak and off-peak wedding seasons, there are also days of the week that are more popular, and therefore also more expensive. I bet you can guess which days are the most popular and which one in particular would be the most expensive. If you guessed weekends and Saturday, you're right!!

EVERYBODY wants to get married on Saturday. Regardless of peak and off-peak seasons, just about EVERY Saturday in the year is going to be taken, therefore businesses, knowing this information, can raise their prices for weddings on these days and make more money. Saturdays are great. Guests can leave Friday after work to come and rest up on Sunday to get back to work the next morning. That's why people choose them!

Fridays and Sundays are the next expensive being that individuals expect parties to be held on the weekend and Fridays and Mondays are easier to take off of work than any others. So it only makes sense that if you want to save money on your wedding venue, book your wedding for any day other than one of these three. You'll be pleasantly surprised when you see just how much cheaper weekdays are than weekends.

I realize that having a weekday wedding might make it a little inconvenient for guests to attend your event, but give them plenty of time to make plans by sending out Save-the-Dates well ahead of time, and those that are really important will be there.

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Not only does the wedding season and the day of the week you choose affect the cost of your wedding, but so does the time of day. You wouldn't think the time of the day would affect anything, but due to the popularity of evening weddings, especially sunset affairs, these weddings tend to be more expensive all around.

Choose the least likely time of day for a wedding, first thing in the morning, and you'll be sure to score all of the discounts that go with it! Rentals will be more available, caterers can serve less expensive food and less of it, florists and bakers have no other obligations in the morning and can probably give you more time (and even more bonuses being that they will probably be in a better mood), and you'll have your choice of venues and entertainment options at lower prices because they will be so thrilled to get this extra business when they normally wouldn't have.

Hey, choose a wedding in one of the least popular months, during the week in the morning and you'll score in every department!

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Discounts and Deals

The biggest tip I can give you in this section is to STAY AWAY FROM WEDDING FACTORIES. This may seem a little harsh, but wedding factories are locations that don't put much though into the thoughts, desires and feelings of the couples to which they market. Weddings are simply systems they have perfected, out one goes and in another, and the bride and groom don't get much say in what happens.

I have coordinated many a wedding at "factories" such as these that couples are convinced are going to be the key to the success of their event. I'm also the one who has to see the look of despair in couples eyes when the venue is specifically doing things that the bride and groom were adamant did not happen at their weddings. I've seen them remove the purple flowers and replace them with yellow ones, changing nothing else between repeated weddings that are only 15 minutes apart, while the guests of each wedding are rushed in and rushed out to accommodate the wedding before or the one after.

It's really sad. Weddings are such personal events. I believe they should be treated as such. Look out for venues that have multiple weddings a day, don't let you decorate or change anything to personalize your wedding, and set unreasonably strict time limits on you. You'll probably be able to identify them from the start by the way they treat you and the appointment they've made with you. If they make you wait 15 minutes or more for a meeting you set 2 weeks ago, BINGO! You've found one!

Look for nontraditional venues that can only be found with careful, specific research, possibly those that are public locations and will book you for free, or a location, such as a school, that will offer you super low prices due to your affiliation with them. If you can find a location that will offer you freebies (free honeymoon if you book your wedding with them), you have uncovered a treasure! Tons of locations will offer you a free hotel room, a discount on catering or other wedding service, or even an amazing deal on guest hotel rooms that would make the cost of the location worth it.

What They Will Do For You

One last thing to look for in a venue in order to save the most amount of money, is what the venue can offer you. As I stated before, most "traditional" wedding venues will charge a minimum catering fee for the pleasure of being able to use their venue. They do this to ensure the quality of the vendor (and their reputation), as well as the ease of having a vendor so familiar with their ways and location. Typically included in this catering minimum is the alcohol and bar fees. If they will allow you to supply your own catering and alcohol, you will save thousands in this area.

Another way the venue can save you some money is by providing you linens (tablecloths and napkins at the least), furniture (chairs and tables), and china (plates, glasses, and silverware). Although many venues that provide these items have a limited selection of the most basic options, like white and off-white tablecloths, it will save you a humongous chunk of money on rentals if they are provided for you by the venue.

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Finally, venues have many little fees that they casually throw in for absolutely no reason on top of the rental charges you would already be paying. I really think that they sneak these in because they think that they can pull the wool over the eyes of their unsuspecting customers, who won't stand up for themselves and say anything. Charges like a cork fee, a cake cutting fee, and cleanup charges can easily be maneuvered.

If you are able to provide your own alcohol and bartending services, you will avoid the cork fee, which is simply the fee they charge to serve your alcohol, even if you get your alcohol and all bar services through them. Why would you have alcohol (which you have to pay for) and a bartender (whom you have to pay), if you you didn't want him or her to actually serve it?

Have a friend of the family or your wedding planner cut the wedding cake for you in order to avoid the cake cutting charge, which is simply the fee they charge you to cut the cake. What?! Finally, there's absolutely no reason to pay a rental fee and all of these secret charges, and then have to pay for cleanup as well. Wouldn't they have cleaned up their location anyway whether you had been there or not? Make sure to find out what secret charges the venue is trying to slip past you (you can do this by thoroughly reading your contract before signing it) before signing anything!

What You Can Do

Once you have chosen your perfect venue, and taken all the necessary steps to save yourself as much money as you could, there are a few last things you can do for yourself that will reduce the burden on your wedding budget.

1) Host both your ceremony and your reception at the same place. This will relieve you of at least one rental fee (and any hidden charges included), decorations and rentals for two locations, and the traveling in between. Your guests will also thank you for the ease of being able to settle in for the whole celebration and not having to follow directions and travel to a second place for the last half of your wedding.

2) Use the natural decor of the venue. I know you've heard that if you choose a beautiful venue you won't need quite as many decorations. Well, you heard the truth. Any place where you can use decorations they already have or cut back on your own, you will save money. Find a naturally beautiful location and you won't need to spend more money making it picturesque.

3) Stay on schedule. Many venues have strict schedules to follow. For instance, they want you there not a minute before 10:00am and not a minute after 8:00pm. If you make sure to be well-organized, planning for the limited time you have at your venue, you won't have to worry about overtime charges, which can run from $200 an hour to sometimes $500 an hour. Talk about saving money! Go a step further and utilize a location that doesn't put you on a time clock so you don't have to worry about it at all.

4) Finally, and the most obvious tip, you can cut back on your guest list. In my article Cutting Your Wedding Guest List Down to Size, I explain how the typical wedding cost per person range starts at around $50 per person, including another chair, another plate, glass and set of silverware, another plate of food, and another wedding favor, amongst other costs. To really save money that you will see automatically, cut down a little smaller.

It may get a little stressful trying to find ways to save money all the way through your wedding planning, just to stay within this budget you created. It may be tempting to overspend just to save yourself some time and energy. Although, if you take the time to work through the kinks, do your research, and even take some time to relax and sleep on some of your decisions, it will most definitely pay off in the end.

Don't give up!

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