12/9 Broke-Ass Advice: Budget-Friendly Venue Options

Winfrey Point Cake TableFrom reader Amanda:

I am on a very tight budget for my wedding, and I am having issues finding a cheaper venue for the ceremony and reception. I understand most times you get what you pay for, but I still want my wedding to simple yet elegant and not “thrown together” due to lack of funds. I am planning on an outside ceremony and an inside reception in June 2017. I live in Tennessee and have plenty of options for an outside venue, but I have a difficult time finding ideas for a spot big enough. For instance I have a nice park approx. 15 miles from me and would be perfect for an outside wedding, but how do I go about figuring out how I can make it work.
Any ideas would be most appreciated.

Dear Amanda,

You’re already on the right track looking at local parks. City or State-owned venues can typically be reserved for relatively little money and offer simple spaces with gorgeous views. Take a look at nearby lakes or riverfronts with campsites. These areas often have a recreation area or a lodge of some type that has plenty of room for you and all of your guests, plus most of the amenities you need to serve food and drinks. Another bonus to avoiding wedding chapels and venues is the fact that you’re not limited to the specific vendors in most cases. If you have a family member who can cater, there aren’t the same kinds of limitations more expensive venues set. A DIY bar, food service and decor can really save you money in the long run.

If you’re coming up short in the parks department, look into retreat centers. Large compound-style areas give you plenty of space, seating options and often have staff there to help out. One caveat to this type of rental is the frequent limitation on alcohol served, so be sure to check if you plan on serving drinks.

A sea-side restaurant in Galveston, TX made a great venue for this later-in-life wedding

A sea-side restaurant in Galveston, TX made a great venue for this later-in-life wedding

And finally,  if you’re willing to change locations between the ceremony and the reception, don’t be afraid of looking into restaurants with banquet rooms. In many cases, you won’t be charged for the use of the room, plus the space will be decorated, supplied with tables, chairs and often linens as well as a full staff. This plan requires a little give and take in your budget. While the food will certainly cost more than, say, an uncle who makes amazing barbecue, you’re saving yourself money on the rental cost of the venue, freeing up some extra cash. Many restaurants will allow you to pre-plan a “banquet menu” where you select a handful of popular menu items (and can leave out that $25 steak) to control your final cost. Locally owned restaurants or any place that serves food “family style” are especially great options. On top of that, when it comes to clean up, you just need a few people to grab gifts and the few decorations you bring!

A little flexibility and creativity go a long way when it comes to finding your perfect budget venue. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and even negotiate on prices. You never know until you ask!

  • Get invitations from us. Nice article though.