All-Inclusive Wedding Venues: Pros and Cons

All-inclusive wedding venues provide essential services, thus reducing your need to vet and book wedding vendors. Is all-inclusive right for you? Find out here.

By The Zola Team

All-Inclusive Wedding Venues: Pros and Cons
Photo by Zola

The First Look ✨

From making the guest list to finding the perfect apparel, plus anticipating your guests’ needs, planning a wedding is an enormous endeavor. While some couples have the energy to iron out these details and DIY all their decorations, others would prefer a slightly less labor-intensive solution.

Enter: all-inclusive wedding venues.

Country clubs, banquet halls, hotels, and other all-inclusives offer packages that provide a venue, place settings, and catering—all in one place. Some go the extra mile to provide flowers, DJs, photo booths, and the other elements that you need to make your wedding memorable.

So, is an all-inclusive venue right for you? In this short guide we’ll cover:

What’s Included With an All-Inclusive Wedding Venue?

All-inclusive wedding venues provide essential services, thus reducing your need to vet and book vendors. But, they don’t necessarily provide every single thing that you’ll need to make sure that the big day goes off without a hitch. That depends on the specific venue and its offerings.

Most all-inclusive wedding sites can provide:

  • Reception venue: All-inclusive venues usually provide the perfect space for a reception, complete with a meal and dancing. If you’re already planning on a religious ceremony at a house of worship, an all-inclusive venue could provide an ideal locale for the afterparty. If you’d like to hold all wedding events at one place, some all-inclusives have a suitable outdoor or indoor space for your ceremony
  • Lunch or dinner: Don’t want to deal with the hassle of when to book a wedding caterer? Your all-inclusive venue should have several potential menus and dishes for your reception meal, whether it’s lunch, dinner, or a picnic service. Just check to make sure that it meets any dietary restrictions.
  • Tables and place settings: At some venues, you’ll be responsible for renting tables, chairs, linens, plates, bowls, utensils, serving ware, and anything else that your guests need to enjoy the meal. All-inclusive venues eliminate the need to contact vendors, review quotes, and schedule delivery and returns. Keep in mind that there may be an added rental fee.
  • Drink service: Most all-inclusive venues can set up a cocktail hour before the beginning of the meal. Liquor licenses can vary, so some smaller inns may only serve wine and beer. Check with your all-inclusive venue to make sure that it can meet your needs.

Of course, there are dozens of other services that you need for your wedding reception. Luckily, some all-inclusive venues come with other perks.

Other Potentially Included Rentals and Services

Besides the above list of basics, check with potential venues to see if they can supply services such as the following:

  • Outdoor tents and benches
  • Lawn games
  • Decorations (centerpieces, etc.)
  • Florist
  • Photographer or videographer
  • DJ
  • Wedding coordinator services
  • Photo booth
  • Sound equipment
  • Wedding cake
  • Cake cutting and plating
  • Accommodations

Some of these services may be included in the base rate, while others will come at an extra charge.

If there’s something you need that’s not on your venue’s price sheet, talk to management (or your wedding coordinator) to make sure that you can bring it to the premises.

How All-Inclusive Weddings Are Priced

All-inclusive venues usually structure their prices in one of the following ways:

  • Flat fee: A small venue might charge a fixed fee of $10,000 for up to 50 guests. Do you have only 40 guests? Unfortunately, you won’t see any savings, but you can always be generous with your plus-ones.
  • A per-person charge: Other venues require a minimum number of guests, plus a fixed fee per guest. If the minimum number of guests is 50 and the price per guest is $150, expect to pay $7,500 plus any taxes and gratuity. An extra plus-one will add $150 (plus the additional taxes or tip).
  • A renal fee, plus a per-person charge: In other cases, there’s a set rental fee for the venue plus a per-person charge. For example, you could pay $5,000 to rent the venue plus $80 per head (plus taxes and gratuity).

If rates depend on party size, the venue will quote you a price on your anticipated headcount and then provide a final bill based on the actual number of attendees.

In most cases, this reflects the basic pricing before any add-ons. However, the cost can stack up if you say “yes” to more of the venues’ rentals and services.

Understanding All-Inclusive Packages

Keep in mind that most venues offer several base packages along with different add-ons.

  • A wedding with basic options such as cotton table coverings, folding chair seating, and minimalist decorations will cost less than one that requires the venue to break out its finest lace linens, padded ballroom chairs, and stunning centerpiece arrangements.
  • In addition to your base rate, you may want to add-on other services, which can bring the price tag up. Your venue might charge extra for items you consider must-haves, such as dance floor assembly or outdoor tents.
  • Your menu also affects your receipt. Catering for a teatime wedding with light snacks might be significantly less expensive than for a twelve-course dinner.

To stay within your budget, go over what’s included in each offered package, and then factor in the venue’s add-ons, as well as any services you’ll need to secure off-site.

The Pros of All-Inclusive Weddings

Some readers are already breathing a sigh of relief once they realize they can rent a venue that provides catering and cocktails. Now, they can cross days of vendor meetings and deliberations off of their calendar.

But, besides the obvious convenience of all-inclusive weddings, what are the other perks?

Let’s take a look.

Potential On-Site Accommodations

If your all-inclusive venue is a hotel, resort, or estate, you might be able to stay on-site and reserve a block of rooms for your guests.

This can have several advantages.

  • Reduce the need for transportation: If you choose a remote venue without closeby accommodations, you’ll have to coordinate a transportation plan. This could include renting buses, vans, or golf carts. Beyond the expense, there’s the challenge of communicating information to your guests and wrangling them to remain on schedule. But, if they’re staying at the venue, they can walk to your reception.
  • Reduced costs: In some cases, your all-inclusive host might even roll a wedding suite into the package. In others, you can enjoy lux accommodations at reduced rates.

The Perfect Solution for Destination Weddings

If you’re planning a wedding in your hometown, you’ll know exactly which restaurant should cater your dinner, which bakery should bake your cake, and which affordable wedding florist provides the freshest flowers.

But, when planning your destination wedding, you may have limited contacts and limited time to make decisions. Some couples plan destination weddings without ever visiting the venue, while others make short trips while figuring out the details from afar.

An all-inclusive wedding venue can significantly reduce the stress and time involved in planning a destination wedding.

  • Your venue knows local vendors and can make great recommendations.
  • If accommodations are included, your friends and family will save time researching hotels and figuring out transit.
  • Your venue might even have on-site activities or guided local tours to help guests pass their time both before and after your ceremony.

Overall Reduced Cost

The upfront price tag for an all-inclusive venue can initially look higher than it would for a standalone venue. But you might find out that the value of included catering, table settings, and other add-on items results in overall savings.

Why?

  • When you book external vendors, they typically charge a delivery fee. If there’s not an explicit cost for mileage and delivery labor, it’s likely factored into the overall price. Because all-inclusive venues have their supplies onsite, they can offer them at a lower rate.
  • Do you bundle your car insurance and homeowner’s insurance? If so, you might see an overall reduced rate that rewards your loyalty. Likewise, all-inclusive vendors want to incentivize the use of their add-on services by providing a competitive price.

Of course, it’s still prudent to price out the optional services. That way, you can make an informed decision about whether the venue’s DJ, photographer, or florist is really the right choice for you.

If you need a quick comparison, Zola’s pre-screened wedding vendors can be sorted by location and budget—that way, you can find your ideal vendor match quickly.

Complimentary Wedding Coordinator (in Some Cases)

Another potential cost-saving advantage? The free services of a wedding coordinator or planner.

  • Your all-inclusive venue does weddings day and night (literally). They know exactly how to usher couples through the process, from tasting potential menu items to choosing their linens, as well as navigating the venue on the big day.
  • Because there are limited options, weddings often follow a similar format and schedule. So, it’s no sweat for the venue’s in-house wedding coordinator to lend a helping hand for your nuptials.

If you’re customizing significant elements of your wedding, you may want to hire an external planner. But, if you want to save money and work with someone who already knows the ins and outs of your all-inclusive site, go with the provided choice.

Time-Saving Advantages

Some people want unlimited options. The world is their oyster, and they’re willing to try two dozen different caterers, twenty potential wedding rings, a handful of bands and DJs, and Pinterest boards full of designs for DIY decor until they find the pearl. Other couples would rather figure out the broad strokes of their wedding plan in one fell swoop.

When you book with an all-inclusive wedding venue, the choices are straightforward. You can plan your menu, select your decor, and even book accommodations in a single afternoon. Use that extra time to let go of stress and bond with your future spouse. After all, your wedding is supposed to be fun.

Potential Cons of All-Inclusive Venues

Are there any downsides to all-inclusive venues? Well, it all depends on your vision and goals.

Let’s review a few potential negatives to keep in mind.

Limited Options

Do you want your wedding catered by the restaurant where you had your first date?

Maybe you’re not picky about food, but you’re adamant that the decorations match the Old Hollywood wedding theme you’ve been dreaming about since high school.

In these cases, an all-inclusive wedding venue might not provide the right options. Consider your vision in the following areas:

  • The venue itself: If you’ve always dreamed of getting married in a museum, botanic garden, or another specific venue, all-inclusive options might be off the table.
  • Food: One of the major benefits of an all-inclusive venue is on-site catering. If you already have your heart set on a particular restaurant or there are specific dietary restrictions, consult with your prospective venue to see whether it’s possible to swap chefs (and what fees would apply).
  • Table settings: Most couples would rather forgo the hassle of renting tables and chairs. But, if you’re just not happy with the venue’s options, you could incur additional costs when working with an offsite vendor.

Lack of Custom Feel

Along with more limited options comes the potential concern that your wedding is slightly generic. Sure, most weddings fall into common patterns, from calligraphed place settings to floral displays and beyond. But you still want yours to reflect your specific love story.

If you’ve always dreamed of a super-unique theme, DIY decorations, and a menu that will leave guests talking for years to come, an all-inclusive wedding venue may not feel like “you.”

However, there are usually ample opportunities to customize your all-inclusive reception. If you’re looking for a strong foundation that allows you to get creative with the details, this could still be the perfect fit.

Planning Your All-Inclusive Wedding

Once you’ve reviewed the pros and cons and said “I do” to all-inclusive, how can you make the most of your venue? Let’s run through it step-by-step.

Create a Guest List

Some all-inclusive venues require a minimum party size, while others charge per head. Therefore, it’s important to know the size of your potential guest list before you start looking at venues.

How many people will actually say yes?

  • On average, 60-75 percent of invitees respond with RSVP “yes.” It’s prudent to assume that around 75 percent of attendees will give positive responses, so that you make sure to budget enough for the event.
  • Keep in mind that the numbers may be significantly lower for destination weddings in foreign countries. If you’re looking for venues in a far-off locale, put out feelers to see which friends and family could realistically attend.

Don’t forget to consult all parents and in-laws. Otherwise, you risk last-minute additions.

From there, allow Zola’s guest list manager to take care of the rest. The guest list manager will collect guests’ mailing addresses, track RSVPs, and coordinate meal choices. You can even create seating arrangements to ensure that Aunt Lois stays as far away from Aunt Bonnie as possible. Phew.

Set Your Budget and Review Pricing Options Once you know the size of your wedding, browse venues of the right size and compare prices. This will help you get a better sense of your ballpark budget. As you narrow down your list of all-inclusive venues, take a careful look at their options, including:

  • Basic package rates: What’s the price of the least expensive package given your prospective number of attendees? What does it include?
  • Add-ons: How much are add-ons, such as a champagne toast, cake cutting, and decorations? If you booked everything through the venue, how much would you pay per guest?
  • Mandatory gratuity: Your all-inclusive venue is providing a waitstaff and bartenders, not to mention a clean-up crew. How much are you expected to tip? Is gratuity included in the package rate or added on?
  • Items not included: Is there anything that the venue absolutely can’t take care of? If you’ll need to buy a cake, contract a videographer, or find your own band, factor that into your overall budget.

Once you have a clear sense of your potential expenses with the venue, it’s time to decide whether you’d like to use their add-on services or go your own way to book some vendors.

Then, secure your wedding suite and a block of rooms for your guests, and start planning in earnest.

Work With Your Coordinator (or Your Friends) to Nail Down the Specifics

After you’ve booked your venue, plan the details of your reception.

If the venue provides a free wedding coordinator (or you’ve hired a wedding planner), he or she will lead you through the ropes. Otherwise, ask a trusted friend to weigh in on decisions such as the following.

  • Menu: Your venue should be able to organize a tasting so that you can select the menu items that best suit your budget and your palette.
  • Table settings: Most all-inclusives have several alternatives for chairs, tables, linens, dishware, and more. Review the options after your tasting.
  • Decor: Take a look at the venue’s centerpieces and ask to review their florists’ past work. If you’re unhappy with the options (or their price point), start shopping for decor that better fits your style.
  • Entertainment: In some cases, the venue provides a DJ. In others, your wedding coordinator might have leads on local talent. Beyond the music, consider whether you want a photo booth, games, or other interactive activities. You could choose to rent or DIY these items.

Send Out Invites and Make Your Wedding Website

Unfortunately, your all-inclusive venue can’t do everything for you. In most cases, you’ll need to order your own invitations and create your wedding website.

But this doesn’t have to be a hassle, either:

  • Zola’s beautifully crafted save the dates and invitations come with free addressing, shipping, and envelopes. Customize your designs with photos and text for an invitation that feels uniquely you.
  • It can be tempting to skip your wedding website. But, if you want a place where guests can ask questions about transit, agenda, and local activities without blowing up your text messages, a sleek website is a must-have. Create one for free with Zola’s intuitive wedding website builder.
  • Your website is also the perfect place to link your registry so that guests can start sending you their good wishes (and some swag).

Add a Custom Twist

No one said that all-inclusive weddings have to be generic.

In fact, taking out the guesswork of catering and table settings can actually free up precious time and energy for adding fun custom details.

Dreaming of DIY floral crowns or boutonnieres? Now’s the time to go crazy. Want to add specific decor touches related to your culture or beliefs? A few well-planned details can complement any decor supplied by the venue. Consider customizing in the following areas:

  • Welcome table and guest book
  • Place settings and wedding favors
  • Wedding arch
  • Photo area

Don’t quite have the energy after shopping for apparel and wrangling your guests? You can always ask a member of your wedding party.

Zola: For Everything That’s Not Included

Wedding planning takes time, energy, and money. But an all-inclusive package can help you save in all three categories, freeing up more hours in the day to enjoy with your soon-to-be and loved ones in the days leading up to the big event.

While it’s important to understand the details of your all-inclusive package, the convenience and ease make it that much easier to tackle the rest of your to-do list.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an all-inclusive package for planning the following?

  • Guestlist
  • Invitations
  • Wedding website
  • Registry
  • External vendor booking

Actually, there is. Here at Zola, we’ve crafted free wedding planning tools that make it easy to map out the rest of your wedding logistics and tackle your checklists with confidence.

Are you ready to say “I do” to free wedding planning tips and tools?

Simplify Your Wedding Planning at Zola