The first thing you do is tell all your friends and family that you’re engaged! The second thing you do is wonder how much all of this is going to cost. How much is a wedding dress? How much does wedding decorating cost? What’s the average cost of wedding venues?
We’re here to walk you through how to set a wedding budget.
The Average Cost Of Wedding Venues
Average cost of wedding reception venue
Couples are spending between 40-50% of their entire wedding budget on the ceremony and reception venues at an average of $10,500.
This means that the average costs of wedding venues are close to $6000, with some couples spending upwards of $20,000.
If you prefer sticking closer to the lower end of that figure, don’t worry. Play your cards right and you can claim a gorgeous wedding reception venue for less than $1000.
Average cost of wedding ceremony venue
Getting straight to the point, the average cost of wedding ceremony venues (the other 50% of your largest expense) is $5500. Again, wealthy couples are spending up to $75,000 on posh hotel spaces but there’s no reason why you can’t host a stunning event for a few hundred dollars.
What Impacts A Wedding Venue’s Cost?
What affects how much are wedding venues and associated costs most is the time of year and their specific function.
Expect to pay a premium during peak wedding season (late spring through early fall) when looking at a formal wedding banquet hall, or save money by booking a less traditional venue (like a National Park) during the offseason.
Other factors that drive up the price are wedding venues hidden costs. Read the fine print to determine if your venue will provide enough chairs, food, drinks, and other essentials.
The location plays a major role in how much is a wedding venue as well. Wedding venue prices rise significantly when you compare an average banquet hall in Manhattan when measured against a comparable space in Sandpoint, Idaho.
Of course, the number of guests you invite impacts absolutely everything. The more people there are, the more space and accommodations you’ll need.
Larger venues naturally cost more and most venues serve their menus on a per-person basis. Unless you have money to burn, a good rule of thumb is to keep your guest list to close friends and family members. Your mother and future mother-in-law will be invaluable in finalizing the list.
What Does A Wedding Venue Include?
At first glance, it may seem like you’re getting a deal with a $1000 venue, but add in all the rentals and your total cost can quickly balloon to $4000 whereas a $2500 venue fee could cover it all.
A comprehensive list includes:
- How long (number of hours) you get the space for
- Menu, how many courses
- Decor and florals
- Shuttle Services
Some venues even come with their own in-house coordinator.
Additional Wedding Venue Costs
Although we’ve mentioned pretty much everything that’s included with the average cost of a wedding venue, there are some peripherals that need to be accounted for.
Make sure to inquire (and reserve some of your budgets for) parking, tips, taxes, and third-party vendor fees.
In downtown areas parking is often off-site and very expensive. Before placing your deposit, compare the cost and convenience of parking vs the cost of transportation.
When researching your venue make sure to specifically ask who is providing services. It’s not uncommon for a banquet hall (for example) to hire outside contractors or formal business partners to fulfill some of the obligations. There may be a fee hidden in the fine print, and they’ll require an individual tip.
If you’re wondering who else has a tip coming to them, many venues provide bathroom attendants, bartenders, and coat checks. They are all in the customer service industry and should be assessed and compensated just the same as a waiter at a nice restaurant.
One last thing you should consider is cleanup. There will be leftover food, dirty linens, and (among other things) decor to dispose of. Who’s going to handle that? If it’s not expressly written in your venue contract you may be on the hook for additional fees.
Wedding Venue Cost Estimator
To help get your wedding budget started, we’ve prepared a list of the average cost of wedding venue rental estimates to make sure that you’re only looking into options that match your budget.
- Community or Event Center: $2,000 to $24,000
- Country or Private Club: $2,300 to $18,000
- Banquet Hall: $2,500 to $22,500
- City Buildings: $4,000 to $22,500
- Museum or Art Gallery: $3,500 to $15,000
- Brewery or Winery: $5,000 to $10,500
- Hotel or Resort: $6,000 to $74,000
- Barn: $6,000 to $13,000
- National or City Park: $7,800 to $13,500
Not all of these wedding hall prices are “full service” and may require (on average $650) additional fees.
- DJ: $1500
- Security: $300
- Rental Furniture: $1,200
How To Save Money On A Wedding Venue
The biggest opportunity for wedding receptions cost savings is to cut down your guest list as much as possible. This means less food, seats, drinks, security, and everything else.
The biggest impact comes with the fact that a smaller guest list opens the door to many more cost-effective venues.
If you’re looking to pinch every penny:
- Choose a full-service venue that will perform the ceremony and host the reception. Paying for rentals and services once instead of twice really adds up.
- Bring Your Own… Consider cash bar drinks and a potluck menu. It doesn’t matter how many guests you invite if they’re feeding themselves.
- Enlist some help. If someone in your family or circle of friends fancies themself an up-and-coming DJ, consider that they’re wedding gifts. Use this same mentality of other functions that usually cost money.
- DIY. You’ll no doubt be participating in several wedding-related celebrations in the months leading up to your wedding. Use these as opportunities for group DIY projects so that you can cut down on the cost of decor.
You only get married once, so we don’t recommend skipping on important wedding experiences, but (if you can afford it) investing your time instead of money is always a good idea.
Questions To Ask Before Booking A Wedding Venue
People hate having to pay for fees that they weren’t expecting but, believe us, it’s no picnic for the vendor either. Their priority is to do everything they can to make sure you have a great time and recommend them to others.
To make sure that there are no unpleasant surprises for both parties it’s important to ask a few simple questions.
- How is the main contact?
- Is the venue available for your desired date?
- How big is the dance floor?
- What is the A/V accessibility?
- Is there a separate entrance for caterers and other vendors?
- Is there on-site parking?
- Can they accommodate special needs guests?
- Can you get a tour? Be persistent and check out unusual spaces like the coat check, kitchen, and bathrooms to make sure they’re adequate.
- A list of rules and policies.
- What’s included. Get a comprehensive list
Make sure to get it in writing so that everything is crystal clear. A formal contract ensures that the vendor isn’t paying their staff more than they are making, and ensures that you get absolutely everything you paid for.
Your best bet to keep your wedding venue cost in check is to calculate your total costs before agreeing to anything. Add up your venue fees along with all the extras. In some cases, a more expensive (and usually more impressive) venue that includes a lot of those extras winds up being less costly than what seems like cheap wedding venues at first glance.
Wedding Venues Hidden Costs
Rustic Barn Venue Hidden Costs
If you are planning a rustic, country-themed wedding, a barn is the perfect setting. But getting the barn up to par for your ceremony will require lots of work, and don’t forget those extra wedding venue costs.
Restrooms: If the barn is not equipped with restrooms, you will have to provide them yourself, and it’s going to cost you if you want more than the basic porta potty.
Climate Control: Depending on the season, you may be required to rent either heaters or fans to keep yourself and your guests comfortable and happy,
Generator: While barns can be quaint and charming, they may lack certain modern-day luxuries. like electricity, which you will then have to provide.
Cleaning: You definitely want your wedding to be free of spiders, dust and dirt so you will have to hire a commercial cleaning crew to get that rustic, homey feel.
Lighting: Unless the barn has lots of natural light, there will be additional costs to provide adequate lighting.
The Great Outdoors Venue Hidden Costs
Whether it’s a sunlight beach, a romantic vineyard, or a simple backyard wedding, there will be hidden costs, as being exposed to nature and the elements always call for extra precautions. Here are some possible extra wedding venue costs for you to consider.
Tents: You have to be prepared for rain or shine, so always have a Plan B. And of course, you will need lighting and decor for the tent to keep in synch with your wedding theme.
Permits: Events held in a public place like a beach or public park often require permits, location fees, and often, insurance. And you most likely will need a permit for that tent as well.
Dance Floor: You don’t want people slipping and sliding in the grass or falling on the pavement and getting hurt. And as an added fee, of course, dance floors built over grass require subflooring.
High Powered, Quality Sound System: There is a lot more noise at an outdoor wedding than an indoor one and you don’t want anyone to miss out on the toasts and speeches or not be able to enjoy the dance music.
Destination Wedding Hidden Costs
Nothing beats flying to an exotic or dream location for a magical wedding. But let’s be realistic, destination weddings are NOT cheap and incur lots of unexpected wedding venue costs that will throw you off-guard if you are not prepared.
Planning Trips: You should definitely plan on at least one visit to your desired location before the big day so you have to figure out transportation costs, as well as hotel, food, and any other travel expenses, above and beyond the cost of travel for the actual wedding trip.
Transportation Costs: You may have to pay for the florist, DJ or band, hairdresser and makeup artists’ airfare, and maybe even family members or members of the bridal party. Plus any decorations, favors, etc., will have to be shipped.
Regional Marriage Requirements: Most countries legally require you to be in the country two to five days prior to the big event (sidenote: France requires 40 days in advance!). You should definitely research this well in advance and budget accordingly for extra hotel costs, etc.
Foreign Taxes and Exchange Rates: This could incur extra costs on every single expense (but keep in mind, in some cases, depending on location, you could actually end up saving money).
Second Reception: Realistically, all of your guests may not be able to attend your destination wedding so you may want to host a second celebration at home to include them, thus incurring additional expenses.
Fancy Hotel Or Banquet Hall Venue Hidden Costs
The majority of bigger hotels will offer complete wedding packages, on-site planning, and additional amenities. However, they will probably not cover all your personal needs for the perfect wedding. Once again, you are going to run into additional wedding venue costs.
Power Drop Charges: These occur if your power usage requirements exceed the hotel’s electrical capabilities. For example DJ or band equipment and lighting.
Corkage Fee: If you wish to have alcoholic beverages that are not part of the hotel’s usual offering, you are going to have to purchase the additional alcohol as well as pay the incurred fee.
External Vendor Fee: If you chose to use your own caterer, florist, baker, etc, you may incur additional fees.
Overtime Costs For All Venues
Let’s be honest, most receptions run into overtime as the guests, and bridal party, are so having so much fun that no one wants to leave. Most hotels charge you by the hour so overtime charges will occur. Also, cleanup crews and garbage removal, which may be included in your contract, book their services for the “same day” so if your reception goes past midnight, you will once again be faced with additional charges.
We don’t want to deter you from having your dream wedding. Quite the contrary, we want you to have the wedding you always imagined, whether it’s a chateau in France, a beach in Hawaii, Martha’s Vineyard or a simple yet elegant wedding in your local park, or even your own backyard. The purpose of this article is to simply warn you of additional or hidden wedding venue costs so you won’t be caught off guard as you are planning your special day. Do your research beforehand and always have a Plan B. Factor in unexpected costs and “issues” that always seem to arise last minute. Have extra money set aside for unforeseen expenses and your wedding will be everything you dreamed of…and more!