On average, couples spend anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 on their wedding venue. This price range includes additional fees, services, and hidden venue costs. 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.
What Factors Impact Wedding Venue Costs?
There are many factors that go into a wedding venue’s cost. In some instances, venues can cover and handle logistics like catering, rentals, and event providing an event coordinator or planner. Additionally, your desired wedding arrangements and details can all impact the price. Here are some common factors that influence wedding venue cost:
Size of 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 cost can be in addition to the catering fee.
Catering: You may encounter a mandatory or optional fee for wedding catering. 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. Keep in mind that catering in NYC and other big cities is going to be more expensive than catering in rural areas.
Outside Vendor Fees: If a venue doesn’t provide catering, or has it as an optional catering package, a service charge for outside vendors may apply. In addition to catering, using outside vendors for music, lighting, bartending, and more can rack up fees.
Rentals: Rental equipment can also contribute to the overall venue cost. Rentals usually include chairs, tents, and tables. Rentals can also mean electricity and floral arrangements. 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: 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.
Photo Credit // Amy Smith
Hidden Wedding Venue Costs
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.
Set Up and Break Down Fees: As it takes additional time and resources to set up and break down a particular event, the couple is responsible for covering these costs. When looking into venues, ask the time allotment and fee they’d charge for your event.
Tipping Vendors: Take into account tips for the setup/break down staff, event coordinator (typically 15% of their fee), as well as the wait staff and florist (just to name a few) if included in the venue package.
Parking: Some venues will charge per-vehicle parking or mandatory valet parking for your guests. This is traditionally covered by the couple and should be included in your overall venue budget.
Cake Cutting Fees: If you decide to purchase a wedding cake outside of the venue, traditionally a cake cutting fee is applied to each slice of cake (approximately two dollars). This can also happen to alcohol purchased elsewhere and brought in—some venues charge an un-cork fee.
Taxes: It’s easy to forget that most states tack on an extra cost for any purchase. When given the flat rate price of your particular venue, always add in the state sales tax amount. Shout out to Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon for 0% sales tax.
Average Cost of Wedding Venue Spaces
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 free. If you go this route, though, be sure to account for the cost of rentals, catering, and the fees incurred from electricity. 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 $200. However, you need to account for prices on rentals. Plus, consider a rather long list of ordinances to adhere to.
Government Buildings: Pull a Carrie Bradshaw (round two) and host your wedding 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). The event will also probably need to abide by any noise ordinances.
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.
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 planners or florist.
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. 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 $14,000 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 is tacked on. This cost can vary depending on the prices of the dishes and the size of the party.
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. 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).
Photo Credit // James Thomas Long
How To Save Money On A Wedding Venue
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 cost for transportation to and from the ceremony and reception, oftentimes venues will strike a deal with a couple to host both their ceremony and reception with them. This can be anything from a percentage off to a packaged deal with inside or outside vendors.
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), weekday weddings help you save a massive fee on the venue and give guests have a reason to celebrate on a weekday if they can make it.
Questions To Ask Before Booking A Wedding Venue
Money traps and extra costs can sneak their way into your wedding budget. Before signing off on a venue location, ask the following questions:
Are we responsible for weather-related incidents? No one wants rain on their wedding day, but if your outside venue gets rained out, are you responsible for extra fees? This can include: renting a tent or moving to an inside location.
Do we have to hire particular vendors? The cost of the venue may be a nice deal (even considering all the fees, tips, and taxes), but after signing you may be handed a list of vendors you must use for your special event. Not only does this take away creative freedom, but it can also mess with your overall budget down the line.
Can you point out additional costs outlined in the contract? Sometimes being blunt when discussing your wedding budget with your venue is the best policy. Review the venue’s contract and ask for them to point out ways extra money can be accrued on their end. This can be cancellation policies, automatic gratuity, and more. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when signing any sort of paperwork.
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.