One of the most expensive parts of a wedding is the venue. It’s also the first part to be planned. Your venue will determine or support your theme and other aspects of the wedding. There are several little to no cost options depending on your area and the popularity of the location. I will say that the less popular – the more likely to get a deal.
One thing to remember is that off-season times are cheaper but off-season depends on how that particular place gets the most business. Areas that have beaches are more popular in the summer, places near the mountains could have their season through the summer.
In the Palouse, hotels are cheaper in the summer and during school holidays such as around Christmas time. September through November, April and May are all busy times for area hotels but if you plan right, you can still get a deal. But that’s our area, you need to know your area and it’s “Tourist” season.
The following places don’t necessarily follow a tourist schedule but it never hurts to schedule during the downtime.
1 churches – many churches will offer the space for free to members and their family. The plus side is that it can host both the wedding and the reception. The negative is that the reception space is not always the nicest looking space (many have their kitchen spaces in a basement).
2 parks – parks are a great space for an outdoor wedding. The right park is already decorated saving money on flowers. However, not all parks allow chairs so ask questions about what you can and can’t bring into the space. You will also need a back-up plan for weather.
3 museums – my husband and I got married at a museum belonging to our local historical society. We were allowed to dress in the museum. The wedding was held on one side of the grounds and the reception on the other. We had to bring everything in – chairs and tables. There was also a limit to how many people we could have which was not a problem for us.
4 hotels – smaller, attractive hotels may offer space for a wedding at no cost when guests and the wedding party stay at the hotel. This could also work for bed and breakfasts or inns. Non-chain hotels are better than chain hotels (even though you could probably have it at a chain hotel). My brother and his wife married in a hotel and it was beautiful. There was no room for the reception at that particular hotel but some have space available.
Another option is if you or an immediate family member is a member of a club such as Moose or Elks, you can often get space for free in their clubhouses or lodges for a wedding or reception. The disadvantage to that is they are often unattractive places. But I have attended a fair amount of receptions at local clubhouses so it’s a popular idea.
Something to think about when planning the venue is the number of people you want to invite. Honestly, the more you invite the higher the price. I’ve seen weddings that only had a handful of attendees which cost just about nothing. I’m not saying to exclude everyone but be honest when planning – is this about the event with other people or you? For me, my wedding was about me having my dream wedding. I only invited family and close friends which worked perfectly for me – I wasn’t overwhelmed and everyone had a great time.
We’re in a time when bigger is better and people are spending stupid amounts of money for a wedding they don’t necessarily enjoy. When planning the number of people attending your wedding – ask yourself the following:
1. How much money do I really want to spend on the wedding (because you may want to spend more on the honeymoon instead)?
2. Why do I feel the need to invite x amount of people?
3. What do I envision my reception to be like? Do you want the chance to connect with your guests (remember the more guests, the more work for the bride and groom to make each guest feel special)?
Another thing to think about is whether or not you want the reception to immediately follow the wedding. It’s quite okay to have a small quiet wedding with a reception later for one reason or another.
I want to say one more thing about weddings in general. Everyone says the wedding is about the bride – while that’s sort of true, the wedding is often more about the guests. It’s quite alright to have a huge event because you want to feel special or because you want to get a lot of gifts. But if you ignore your guests at your reception or forget that there are other people involved that’s not good. It’s important for a bride to feel special but she should never do it at the expense of another person’s feelings. The bride and groom should make an effort to make each person involved feel special, they need to take the time to show gratitude.
Planning your wedding around the guests will help you create an event that is memorable and enjoyable for all involved. If you plan your wedding around just yourself, you may find you regret it later.
*I apologize to those who receive my posts via email and got a copy of this post earlier. There was some technical difficulty that resulted in the first half of this post disappearing.