Inexpensive Wedding Venue Options
Searching for a wedding venue can be discouraging, especially if you can't spend thousands of dollars on one! Luckily, there are lots of places that can accommodate your big day without blowing your whole budget.
Some of these lesser-known options are a little bit outside the wedding venue box, and come with their own unique benefits. Not only are they far less costly than a traditional venue, they also offer more freedom and flexibility than run-of-the-mill wedding and reception halls.
A Backyard Wedding
You can create a beautiful backyard wedding on even the tiniest budget, provided you have a beautiful backyard to use. If someone in your circle of friends or family has a home that might accommodate a wedding reception, find out if they would be willing to let you rent it for a small fee. If this person is a close friend or relative, they may even offer to let you use it for free.
Some people are honored to be asked. Others might be put out by such a request, so be tactful when asking around about this.
If nobody in your main circle has a cool yard, you might want to put the word out to a broader group. You can even take to Facebook (though I would recommend doing it via private message) to ask friends if they know anyone who would be willing to rent out the use of their home and/or yard for your wedding reception.
Someone may have a large outdoor space that needs some TLC to be wedding-ready. You could offer to spruce things up in exchange for using the space for your event.
You may have to rent tables and chairs, especially if you want everything to match. Of course, you can mix and match tables, chairs, benches, and other furniture items you already have if it works with your style.
One of the best parts about a backyard wedding is that you can decorate however you want. You can also serve whatever food you'd like, as you won't have to abide by the rules and regulations of a standard wedding venue.
Backyard weddings definitely allow couples to bring a more personal and intimate feel to their day.
Most states have dozens of public parks with pavilions that can be rented out for weddings and receptions. The going rate for these is invariably low, and they are usually reserved in half-day increments.
Since they are in parks, these venues usually include excellent scenery - perfect for picture-taking. Decor can be kept to a minimum since the surroundings offer plenty to look at already. Most pavilions include exclusive access to a small area of the park - usually a bit of lawn - in addition to the covered space with tables and chairs.
Pavilions usually have built-in electrical outlets and lighting. You'll just have to follow any laws and ordinances regarding alcohol, noise, and so forth. Usually these are pretty lax as long as you are not rude or obnoxious to park patrons, and you clean up after yourself. Do keep in mind that you are in a public park, and there are bound to be members of the public present there.
Around the world, there are vacation homes just waiting to be rented out. Many of these places lend themselves very well to weddings and receptions, as they tend to be spacious and sit on nice plots of land.
Rates are surprisingly low (some charge a small deposit for large groups) - especially when you compare them to what you'll be charged at a wedding venue. Usually you'll get the place for the whole night, and will have access to a great big house and surrounding property. These places are always very clean and nicely decorated and you'll find quite a few with fantastic entertainment systems, huge decks, and other features that work really well for a wedding reception.
Your biggest issue will likely be parking. Ask the owner or rental company about this; they will often have suggestions as they have likely come across the situation before.
Studios and Rehearsal Spaces
The arts are your friend. Especially if you are looking for an inexpensive wedding venue. Many dance studios and art spaces rely on grants and donations for funding, and will welcome the chance to rent out some space during off-hours. Once you start looking, you may find that there are several such places in your area.
Rehearsal studios usually rent at an hourly rate, but you can often negotiate a package deal so that you don't have to pay full price for time spent decorating and cleaning up. A huge plus is that most of these will have really good lighting and sound systems available for your use. You won't have to worry about the trouble and expense of renting and setting up this stuff, and it makes DIY DJ-ing a breeze.
Another great thing about art spaces is that, since they aren't "wedding venues" in the typical sense, you won't have to adhere to the "preferred vendor" list. As long as you make sure to clean up your own mess (or arrange to have it done), you can usually bring in whatever and whoever you want.
Most rehearsal studios are pretty nondescript looking, as they are meant to serve as a backdrop - a blank canvas, really. This means that you don't have to conform to - or compete with - a particular style. Creative types will really enjoy getting to decorate a place like this!
Family Entertainment Destinations
Who knew you could get married at the zoo? Or waterpark, or museum, or....The list goes on. Most family fun spots have areas available to rent for groups and events, at really reasonable rates. This is a good option for anyone, especially if the place has any significance to you and your partner.
Beyond the good price, such places offer excellent photo opportunities. Also, your guests will have access to sights and activities - a huge plus when you have restless children present. There are often chairs and tables available, along with audio and lighting supplies. Sometimes these are included, other times they'll have to be rented separately - but usually for a very reasonable rate.
Make sure you check with the event coordinator of the place you're considering, because some of these places do require that you use in-house caterers. This can be a pro or a con, of course, depending on your particular situation. Another thing to find out about is how much background noise to expect and how much privacy your group will have from regular patrons.
Group Camp Sites
If you live near any wilderness areas, check into renting out a group camp site for your wedding and reception. You can rent an area to accommodate over 100 people for two nights for a fraction of what you'll pay to use a traditional wedding venue for a couple of hours.
A big bonus of going this route is that you still get the natural backdrop - and then some - that you would from a park, but with a bit more seclusion. You will have huge amounts of freedom with this kind of venue as well. You can DIY anything you want, bring in any vendor you want; the only rules you need to follow are those of the site itself (which usually involve preservation of the natural landscape).
These often come equipped with tables and benches, concrete pads, and camp spaces for guests who want to stay overnight. What they don't come with, however, is electricity - so you'll need to think about renting a generator and any lighting or audio equipment necessary to pull off your big shindig. The cost of renting these in addition to the rental of the site will still probably come in at much less than that of renting a reception hall.
Getting married out in nature can be a really magical experience, and makes for great photos! Most designated group sites are well maintained and highly accessible to even the oldest and youngest guests. Just make sure to keep kids under close watch if there are streams or lakes nearby.
Have fun finding your wedding venue and keep in mind the most important thing: no matter where you are, you'll be married to your love at the end of the day!
Do you have suggestions for great not-so-well-known places to have weddings and receptions? Leave them in the "comments" section, please!