There are so many things to consider when booking a wedding and reception venue: Will it look great in photos? Will it be large enough for the guest list? Will it fit into my budget?

An ideal location for your wedding and reception can be found – at a reasonable price – by following these guidelines.

Set priorities

Join your fiance and make a list of all the priorities for your wedding. Decide what you must have and what you are willing to compromise. The list will help narrow your options and will keep you focused as you consider venue choices.

Consider non-traditional days and times

Saturdays are always the most expensive days to reserve a wedding venue. Are you willing to have the wedding on a weekday or a Sunday? Or consider having a ceremony in the morning or early afternoon. Ask the venue if discounts are available for non-traditional days and times. Thursday may not be the most ideal day for a wedding, but my fiance and I are saving $1,200 by choosing that day.

Food and alcohol

Bring your own (alcohol). Some venues allow people to bring in their own alcohol. I never would have thought to ask this question, but I have recently learned this is an option at some locations. If you plan to serve alcohol at your reception it can cut back on your overall budget by bringing your own wine, beer or liquor (the average cost for an open bar is almost $20 per person).

Skip the champagne toast! When your vendor asks about champagne, just order one bottle for the head table. Champagne is one of the biggest money wasters when it comes to wedding expenses. If your venue allows you to bring your own alcohol, consider other options for the toast (sparkling wines or sparkling cider, for instance). At an average of $3 to $8 per person (and usually more than half is wasted), champagne is often not worth the money.

Vendor options: When selecting a reception venue, remember that some locations work exclusively with a specific caterer. While that doesn’t guarantee an elevated price, it can also be outrageous. If you have the option to choose your own vendor, consider working with a local restaurant or having several caterers bid on your wedding to find the best deal.

Multipurpose venues

If your wedding venue is a hotel, ask if they offer a discount for rooms and and how many are guaranteed for that price.

Consider a restaurant for a small ceremony and/or the reception. There are many restaurants with banquet rooms that won’t charge for the use of their facility, and they will only charge for food and beverages. It can save money to use the same location for the wedding and reception because it reduces the amount of time some services (such as a photographer) will be needed.

Consider non-traditional locations such as an art gallery, park, bed and breakfast, or science center (I was surprised when I saw what Orlando’s Science center had to offer).

Additional savings ideas:

  • Ask for a discount if you pay in full. It may seem like a lot of negotiating, but every bit of savings will help! You may also be able to get a discount for an off-season wedding.
  • Get out of the big city! Weddings in popular downtown and urban areas can be costly. Consider a venue in a more rural area off the beaten path.
  • Consider the size of the venue. Even if it is beautiful, don’t be tempted to reserve a large space for a smaller number of guests. You’ll pay for unused space.
  • Shorten the reception time. Instead of five hours, cut the reception back to four hours. Even a one-hour time difference can save hundreds (or thousands for larger parties).
  • Remember this wedding is for you and your fiance. Not every guest is going to love all the same things you do, so aim to please yourself and don’t overspend to try and please every person on your guest list.

This is a guest post by Cheryl from St. Cloud, FL
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How to Save Big on a Wedding Venue