Weddings are a celebration of love. It’s a time when friends and family travel across the country (and sometimes across the globe), coming together to commemorate a special bond and pushing you and your partner forward on a new life journey. As such, there’s no shame in wanting to splurge on this once-in-a-lifetime moment.
According to Zola's First Look Report 2022, weddings in 2022 cost anywhere from $5k - $100K, with more than ⅔ of couples going over their budgets. And 55% of those couples were willing to splurge on their venue.
This makes finding affordable wedding venues one way to dramatically cut down on your wedding spend, while keeping the same amenities in other categories (food, music, decor, etc.).
Just because you’re money-conscious and want to find affordable wedding venues doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice any of the glitz or glam that you want on your big day. Follow this four-step plan to find affordable wedding venues that meet all of your expectations:
Before diving into the nickels and dimes of wedding planning details, you should know what your absolute maximum budget is. This will determine more than just your decision on the venue. Some view the budget as what you can reasonably save given the time from engagement to wedding. But this budget shouldn’t deplete you and your partner’s bank accounts—instead, it should be a new account that you grow together and save.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of what weddings cost in your chosen area as it varies widely across the country. Most couples spend more than they originally plan simply because they are not educated about how much things cost. . Set a number, but make sure to check in on that number as you learn more during the planning process. Transparency and communication are key when it comes to wedding budgets! Once you have your number, determine what you want out of your wedding and start allocating the funds.
The point of breaking down your wedding goals is to help you identify the most important aspects of your special day.
These types of questions are going to influence some cost-savings decisions. For example, a smaller wedding with fewer people means an affordable venue, less stress on the catering budget, and fewer tables and chairs that need to be rented. Similarly, if you’re okay with your wedding not being entirely private, then there are some outdoor and community venues that can dramatically bring down the cost of the venue.
You don’t have to rent out an estate manor overlooking an expansive lake for a memorable experience. The following wedding venues can be spruced up to create your dream wedding experience:
Unique wedding venues on the beach can present dreamy photo-ops, beautiful natural décor, and a relaxed environment for all your guests. Plus, there’s nothing quite as romantic as a sunset on the beach.
If this venue sounds like a worthy option, you’ll be happy to know that it can cost as little as the permit fee. For a beach wedding, keep in mind:
The temperature typically drops at night. Be sure to have plenty of warm jackets, blankets, and bonfire supplies (if permitted) to keep your guests warm throughout the night.
Beaches are (typically) public property. If you want some privacy, try to find a place off the beaten path or away from the main areas.
Consider the bathroom situation. Public beach bathrooms can be crowded or have limited hours. If you want to provide guests more privacy, you can rent portable bathrooms for your wedding party. Be sure to check with the local municipality about these features, as this might require a permit.
Food or catering can be complex. Unless you are doing a simple beach picnic or refreshment table, having any sort of catering can be expensive due to the remote location (no power, access to running water, etc.).
Accessibility. Beaches can be difficult terrain for elderly guests or those who have mobility issues. Consider your guest list when looking at sites.
Utilizing a neighborhood place of worship for your wedding ceremony (and possibly the reception as well), can provide a low-cost or completely free alternative. Plus, the walls and decorations already offer a grandiose atmosphere, placing a sense of importance on the day.
If you do choose a place of worship, be aware of a few key things:
You might be required to use a specific set of vows. Although this isn’t true for all religious weddings, many of them will have pre-written vows for their ceremonies.
There might be limited availability. Many places of worship have been doing weddings for a long time, and on a regular basis. Check in to see about availability early.
Typically require a donation. There is often a donation expected for the use of the space and the time and effort of the officiant.
May require membership to the congregation or sponsorship. Many places of worship will not allow just anyone to be married in their spaces by their religious leaders. Many require some sort of connection to the space, and one or more meetings with the leader in advance of the ceremony.
Your local community park or community center might be able to host your weekend for free or for a marginal fee. This would allow you to cut down on your wedding costs and still have a space that feels yours. If this sounds like a perfect option for you and your partner, here are some aspects to consider:
You might have to share the event space. Depending on the size of the community center, you might not be able to reserve the entire space. If so, you might be sharing it with those outside your wedding party.
Cleanup might have to happen immediately. If there is another event planned the day after yours, that means you’ll be on a quick cleanup duty (which can be hard after a night of celebrating).
If you have your heart set on a certain type of reception venue, there might be workarounds that allow you the best of both worlds.
A wine tour instead of the vineyard wedding. Planning an event for your wedding is often an incredible way to secure joyful memories for years to come, without sacrificing your bank account. If your heart is set on a vineyard wedding, but the $45,000+ price tag is too much to handle—consider a wine tour after the ceremony, or on the day before the wedding. A tour and transportation will (typically) cost far less than renting out the vineyard and can be just as fun. Plus, if you go in a full wedding wardrobe, you can still gather incredible photos while you’re there. Win-win. Remember to make reservations and to not drink and drive!
Renting out a portion of a restaurant for the night. Instead of renting an entire venue, you can try a private room at a local restaurant. They can likely help you create a set menu to ensure you have aligned on costs in advance, and might even stay open late for your party.. This could greatly reduce the cost of your wedding venue.
Museums, libraries, state campgrounds, and other alternative venues allow for so many creative possibilities when it comes to an affordable wedding venue. Keep your imagination open as you consider different types of landscapes and venues. Soon, you’ll find the perfect one that’s affordable.
While a Saturday in September might seem like the most ideal date to get married for you, many other couples agree. This makes those dates (called “peak” in industry terms) most competitive and most expensive. Peak vs off-peak months are heavily dependent on the area of the country (November in Massachusetts is very different than in Arizona!) but generally June, September, and October will be peak months.
Saturdays are the most expensive day of the week to get married, followed by Friday and Sundays. Weekdays are the least expensive day to get married across the board because most vendors will be available and looking to add an additional client into their schedule. However, weekdays can be difficult for people's work and school schedules, especially if anyone has to travel in from out of town.
And to ensure that your wedding is just that—about love and memories—you can rely on your team at Zola. To help you get started, we've provided links to some of our most popular venue locations below:
Finances are never a fun thing to talk about, but hopefully these affordable wedding venues help you find a new, less expensive home for your wedding dreams.
To guide you along the process, Zola offers a free wedding planning tools that and can help you plan your special day. You can even find vendors and venues in your area via the Zola app available on both iPhone and Android devices. Whatever you need, we’re here to help.