Your venue choice has significant budget implications, and can cost a significant portion of your total wedding budget. While it’s romantic to get lost in the beauty, location, and ambiance of a venue, it’s crucial to stay focused on how the overall venue cost will factor into your wedding budget. So, let’s break down exactly how much wedding venues cost. Plus, share some money-saving tips to keep in mind while planning your dream wedding.
There are many factors that go into a wedding venue’s cost. The biggest impact to the cost of the venue is what services are you getting for the cost, specifically food and beverage. Additionally, your desired wedding arrangements and details can all impact the price. As you look for venues, it is crucial you understand what level of service they are offering for the price, so you can compare across service levels. Here are some common factors that influence wedding venue cost:
Type of Venue: Venues can be broken down into three main service levels: Raw, Limited, and Inclusive. The less services a venue is giving you the less they will cost (generally), but also means you will need to pay someone else to provide those services.
Size of Wedding Reception Space: Some wedding venues like hotels, banquet halls, and specialized event spaces have different rooms (allotment of space) to offer you based upon your guest list. Naturally, the larger the square footage of their room offering, the higher up in price the venue can charge. The size of your dance floor or the arrangement of your seats can also affect how much space you need.
How Many People: Some venues charge a ‘per-head’ fee based upon the number of guests you have coming to your wedding. This venue cost can be in addition to the catering fee.
Catering: Wedding catering. may or may not be included in your venue’s pricing. As catering is one of the largest contributors to the overall wedding budget, having a venue include this number in your price can cause the venue estimate to skyrocket over what you originally allocated. If they do not include catering, you will need to find your own caterer (some venues have a set list of approved vendors) and that budget will be totally separate. Keep in mind that catering in NYC and other big cities is going to be more expensive than catering in rural areas. Catering is budgeted on a per-head basis, so be mindful as you consider the tail end of your guest list!
Outside Vendor Fees: Make sure you are aware of what is included in your venue. You may need to pay separately for a sound system or lighting.
Rentals: Rental equipment can also contribute to the overall venue cost. Rentals usually include chairs, tents, and tables. You may also need to rent additional infrastructure, such as portable bathrooms, dumpsters, and generators if your venue can’t manage your guest count. Many event locations (like hotels, banquet hotels, houses of worship, and specialized event spaces) include rentals at a minimal and reasonable cost for their customers.
Location: Are you planning a local celebration or destination wedding? Once you’ve narrowed down your wedding location, you can start looking for your perfect wedding venue. Wedding venues in a big city or near a major airport can cost significantly more than those venues outside of metropolitan locations. In addition to location, the popularity of the particular venue can also cause an increase in the overall price.
Day of The Week: As (almost) everyone is after a primetime weekend wedding, venues can often increase their price point to secure a couple that particular day of the week.
Aside from the listed costs to host your ceremony and/or event at a particular venue, there are additional fees and considerations to budget for. Factor in these five fees before making your final decision on the venue.
Everyone is entitled to the dream wedding they’ve always envisioned for themselves and their partner. The idea of an ideal wedding venue varies widely from person to person. Of course, different venue spaces carry different average costs. Here’s what you can expect to pay for each of these more common wedding venues:
Backyard: Whether it’s your own yard or a loved one’s, this option is theoretically free. If you go this route, though, recognize that you are creating an event space from scratch. Bbe sure to account for the cost of rentals, a tent in case of rain, catering, a dumpster or trash handling, whether the home’s bathrooms will be sufficient or extras will need to be brought in, and the fees incurred from electricity or a generator. Plus, the event must abide by any noise ordinances.
Houses of Worship (Church, Synagogue, etc): An event in a small house of worship (100 people or under) can range anywhere from $100-$400 (this is typically made in the form of a donation). An event in a medium house of worship (100-200 people) can cost anywhere from $500-$800. And a ceremony in a large house of worship (over 200 people) can cost up to $2,500.
Government Land/National Park: National Parks typically only require a small fee of $250. However, you will not be able to have private use of the space and it might be best for a ceremony only or an elopement. Plus, consider a rather long list of ordinances to adhere to, from what flowers can be used in a bouquet to permits for your photographer.
Government Buildings: Pull a Carrie Bradshaw (round two) and host your wedding ceremony at City Hall or a court house for an average fee of $35.
Public Beaches: Depending on the popularity and location of the beach, a public beach permit can range anywhere from $200 to $2,000. If you go this route, account for prices on rentals, catering, and the fees incurred from electricity (as well as where to source electricity from). Check if the permit allows for a ceremony only or a reception as well! If you go this route, account for prices on rentals, catering, and the fees incurred from electricity (as well as where to source electricity from). Also, check that the beach of choice is physically accessible by all your guests, and that they will have access to a bathroom facility!
Hotels: Hotel wedding venues can vary in cost depending on size—and rating—so it’s hard to pinpoint an exact price range. However, many popular wedding hotel destinations can range from $6,000 to $12,000 in price. Be sure to ask if this fee includes rentals, catering (depending on the location), and other costs when booking a hotel wedding venue. They may also require your guests to stay at the hotel or have a room block minimum.
Banquet Halls: Depending on the size, location, and brand, renting out a banquet hall can cost as little as $2,000 to as expensive as $20,000. It’s important to note that many banquet halls with the smaller price point may not include (or have discounts on) rentals, catering, and amenities like event coordinators.
Country Clubs: If you and your family, or your partner and their family belong to a country club, this may be a particular venue of interest. However, thanks to the exclusivity, you may be racking up high costs. Some country club venues can charge up to $25,000 to use their location for your wedding day, not including catering. Additionally, some country clubs add on an 18-20% convenience fee.
Museums: With the unique aesthetic and backdrop, a museum can be a costly wedding venue, depending on the popularity and demand of the museum. Expect to pay anywhere from $3,500 to $25,000 on a Museum wedding venue. Traditionally, these prices do not reflect catering or rentals.
Restaurants: As restaurants can vary in size, price, and popularity, there is a large discrepancy in cost. However, it’s important to note that traditionally a minimal fee is requested to rent out the space, and the food or set-menu cost separate and additional. This cost can vary depending on the prices of the dishes and the size of the guest list. They may also have a food and beverage minimum
Vineyards: Like any private business, vineyards can charge fees depending upon their location, size, and popularity. Renting out a vineyard for a wedding can range anywhere from $6,000 to $14,000 for the rental alone. While this cost may include wine, it’s important to note that vineyard weddings will typically require rentals, generators, and catering (beyond wine and cheese).
Weddings are expensive—save where you can. Fortunately, there are a few ways to minimize wedding venue costs.
Host the ceremony and reception in the same place. In addition to canceling out the cost for transportation to and from the ceremony and reception. A separate ceremony space will require its own cost and decor.
Throw a weekday wedding. Hosting a wedding on a Saturday or Sunday is expensive—venues can charge a hefty premium for the demand. Instead, consider a weekday wedding. While less conventional (and sometimes less convenient), the average wedding venue cost of a weekday wedding is considerably less. Weekday weddings also give guests a reason to celebrate on a weekday if they can make it.
Money traps and extra costs can sneak their way into your wedding budget. Before signing off on a venue location, ask the following questions to save on potential wedding expenses you hadn’t originally planned for:
No matter what your wedding venue budget, there's a place for you! Be upfront with venue owners about your budget and be sure to do your research ahead of time.