How to Find an Affordable Wedding Venue

Affordable wedding venues can give your budget some breathing room and still be gorgeous. Learn more with Zola's guide to finding cheap wedding venues!

By The Zola Team

Outdoor table setting
Photo by Taylor Rae Photography

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.

However, the average wedding spend has increased tremendously over the years. In 2017, it reached over $33,000, with the venue alone averaging out to more than $15,000—almost half of the budget.

This makes finding cheap wedding venues one way to dramatically cut down on your wedding spend, while keeping the same amenities in other categories (food, music, decor, etc.).

How to Find Cheap Wedding Venues

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:

Step 1: Know Your Budget

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.

Once you’ve decided on a number, stick to it, and don’t let each other be convinced otherwise. From there, determine what you want out of your wedding and start allocating the funds.

Step 2: Decide Your Wedding Goals

The point of breaking down your wedding goals is to help you identify the most important aspects of your special day.

  • Do you want everyone dancing and crowding into photo booths together?
  • Is having enough delicious food for everyone to eat all night long crucial?
  • Are you okay if your wedding isn’t entirely private?
  • Do you want all of your extended friends and family to be there?

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.

How to Find an Affordable Wedding Venue Photo Credit // Bandera Wedding Photography

Step 3: Consider Low-Cost Venues and Alternatives

Cheap Wedding Venues to Consider

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:

Bed and Breakfast Wedding Venue

Instead of renting out a major banquet hall or hotel floor, you might be able to find a cheap alternative wedding venue in a bed and breakfast. Some will have preset packages, for others it might be their first wedding. If so, be prepared to offer a price or negotiate.

If a cute B&B sounds like your speed, then here are some aspects to consider:

  • Prepare to provide all the wedding equipment. While B&Bs will be able to offer catering and alcohol supplies, they might not be set up for a full ceremony. Work with them closely to understand what they will provide and what you will provide.

  • Check with noise ordinances and curfews. If you can find a B&B off the beaten path, you might be able to get away with celebrating well into the night. However, if it’s nestled in a community, be wary of noise ordinances.

Beach Wedding Venue

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 costs as much 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 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 aren’t always in the best condition. 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.

Church, Temple, Synagogue, or Other Place of Worship

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 an early curfew or a restricted time. Make sure you’ve coordinated with the leaders to be aware of any curfews or time restraints.

Community Center Venue

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).

Alternative Venue Ideas

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.

For example:

  • 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.

  • Renting out a portion of a restaurant for the night. Instead of renting an entire venue, you can strike a deal with a local restaurant owner who doesn’t mind staying open late, serving plenty of food, and keeping the alcohol flowing for an after 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.

Step 4: Reflect on Wedding Expenditures

As a team of wedding planning experts and helpers, we here at Zola understand the societal pressures (and internal pressures) that come with planning a lavish ceremony for all of your loved ones to enjoy. And as much as anyone enjoys a bit of glamorous splurging, it’s also helpful to hear the realistic side.

Think about the average amount spent on a wedding: $30,000.

This money could be spent on:

  • Down payment for a home
  • Savings for retirement
  • Kids’ college education fund
  • Starting a business together
  • Saving an emergency fund

Soon-to-be newlyweds should openly discuss with each other what their five- and ten-year goals are. This will allow both of you to be acquainted with the financial aspirations of the other’s future.

Splurging on a wedding is fun and exciting and will make for an undeniably incredible weekend, full of joyous memories. But then again, this will happen regardless of the venue—whether it costs $1,000 or $100,000. Your friends and family are there to witness your love, not to witness how perfectly shaped the architecture of the modern estate is.

And to ensure that your wedding is just that—about love and memories—you can rely on your team at Zola.

How to Find an Affordable Wedding Venue Photo Credit // Anna Guziak Photography

Zola: Your Partner Through Tough Wedding Decisions

Finances are never a fun thing to talk about. Hopefully these cheap 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 website builder and can help you plan your registry. Whatever you need, we’re here to help.