April 4, 2019

Average Cost of a Wedding Venue

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You can spend as much as $15,000 on your wedding venue, which accounts for almost half of the typical wedding budget.

What else goes into the average cost of the wedding venue? Keep reading to find out more.

Paying for the Wedding Venue

How much should you budget for a wedding venue?
Prepare yourself—the wedding venue alone can cost you as much as $15,163 (that's currently the average spend on venues). While the type of venue has changed dramatically, the cost remains a large part of the wedding budget. Whether you plan to wed in a typical reception hall, barn, or an historic landmark, you'll have to pony up for the cost.

How much of the average wedding budget does the wedding venue cost?
The venue itself accounts for just about 46% of the total wedding budget. The average couple spends a total of $33,191 on their wedding.

What's included in the wedding venue rental costs?
Every venue will differ, but in general you can expect some or all of the following to be included in your wedding venue:

  • Location/Time Slot
  • Parking
  • Photo Sections
  • Private Bridal/Groom Areas
  • Existing Décor

Some venues may also include the cost of bartenders and servers. You may even find some venues that include the wedding cake, but this is on a per venue basis, so always check with the venue to find out for sure.

What "extras" may not be included in the wedding venue cost?
Again, each venue is different, but in general, you can expect to pay extra for some or all of the following:

  • Insurance or Permits
  • Extra Venue Hours
  • Extra Bartenders
  • Valet
  • Security
  • Extra Décor
  • Other Services (D.J. or Photographer)

Who pays for the wedding venue?
It may seem old-fashioned, but there are still certain "etiquette rules" that state who should pay for which wedding costs. Of course, you can always do your own thing. In fact, today, many couples pay for their own wedding from start to finish. If you want to follow tradition, though, the bride's parents typically pay for the wedding venue. The groom's parents, though, pay for the DJ and the liquor at the venue.

Breaking the Venue Fees Down

What is the average cost per person for a wedding reception?
The average bride and groom spend a shocking $268 per guest for their wedding. This is a $74 increase from 2009. Couples are trying to show their guests a unique and great time, tending to spend more on guest amenities than increasing their guest count.

What is the average cost of a buffet-style wedding reception?
If you are trying to trim costs, you may want to consider a buffet-style wedding reception vewrsus a plated meal. Buffet meals cost an average of $28 per person. This means you may save around $13 per person opting for the buffet. If you have the average 150 guests, this is a savings of almost $2,000.

What is the average cost of bar service at a wedding reception?
Manywhat venues don't include the cost of bar service in their prices. Even if they do, you can break it down to around an average of $15 per person at your wedding. This is for a full-service bar. Many venues include beer and wine service in their prices.

What is the average cost of equipment rental at a wedding venue?
If your wedding venue doesn't provide tables and chairs or flatware and linens, expect to pay an average of $650 for wedding equipment rental.

The Wedding Venue Specifics

How long do you need to rent the wedding venue?
The type of wedding you have will determine how long you should rent the venue. On average, though, a full-plated wedding reception lasts approximately 4 hours. This provides ample time for a receiving line, cocktail hour, dinner, champagne toasts, first dances, and cutting/serving the wedding cake.

How long is a wedding ceremony?
The type of ceremony you have will determine its length. On average, though, a basic ceremony (non-religious) can last around 20 minutes. A religious ceremony with a full mass, on the other hand, can last as long as one hour.

How far in advance should you book a wedding venue?
Booking your wedding venue should be one of the first things you do when planning a wedding. If you are getting married during "wedding season," which is April - October, you should book your venue at least 9 to 12 months in advance. If you know your chosen wedding venue is popular, you may even want to allow more time.

What factors affect the cost of a wedding venue?
While each wedding venue has its own prices, there are certain factors that can affect its cost, including:

  • Date of Wedding
    Getting married during the popular wedding months can mean paying higher prices just because the demand is higher. If you opt for a winter wedding or an odd day of the week, you may be able to save a significant amount of money on the venue.

  • Type of Venue
    Choosing a typical wedding hall may cost you less than choosing a more unique venue, such as an historical library or your city's museum.

  • Type of Menu
    As we discussed above, you may save money opting for a buffet-style wedding rather than a plated menu. The items on the menu, whether plated or buffet, will also determine the cost of your venue. Items like steak and seafood tend to cost more than chicken dishes, for example.

  • Alcohol or No Alcohol
    If you include alcohol in your wedding, you'll have to pay for the alcohol as well as the people to serve it. Your costs may also increase as the cost to insure the

Saving Money on the Wedding Venue

How can you Save Money On Your Wedding Venue?
We've discussed a few ways to save money on your wedding venue, such as choosing an off-peak month or day of the week to get married. A few other ways to save money on your venue include:

  • Off-Times (Morning or Afternoon)
  • Venue that Supplies Everything
  • Beer and Wine Only
  • Small Guestlist
  • Larger Tables Cut Décor Costs

How can you save money on food at your wedding?
Aside from renting the venue itself, the food is the next largest item on your bill. Luckily, you have options when you choose your menu to help you lower the cost of food:

  • Serve Appetizers Buffet Style
  • Simple Appetizers
  • Serve Only Heavy Appetizers
  • Family-Style Dinners
  • Lunch Reception
  • Outside Caterer
  • Less Expensive Meat Cuts

How can you save money on the bar bill?
The bar bill can also get costly, depending on the type of service you have. If you want to trim your costs, use some of the following ideas:

  • Find Venue that Allows You to Bring Your Own
  • Only Serve Beer and Wine
  • Charge for Drinks
  • Limited Bar: Charge for Certain Drinks

Does having the ceremony and reception at the same venue save money?
You can save money hosting your ceremony and reception at the same location simply because you save on décor and transportation costs. But there's always the chance that you choose the higher-priced venue for these events, which can increase your cost. If you shop around and choose the lowest cost venue, though, you certainly stand to save money on certain costs.

Choosing the Wedding Venue

How do you choose the right wedding venue?
Choosing the right wedding venue is about as personal as choosing the right wedding dress. Your budget needs to be the first consideration, obviously. From there, you should consider the type of experience you want for you and your guests, as well as the number of guests you'll invite. Choosing a quaint venue that only holds 100 guests won't work if you have a guest list of 300.

Questions you Should Ask Before Renting a Venue

As you look around at wedding venues, you'll need to ask certain questions to get a feel for where you should host your wedding:

  • How many guests can the venue hold?
  • How many guests can the dance floor hold?
  • What is included in the rental fee?
  • What hours are included in the rental fee?
  • What is the procedure for setup and cleanup?
  • Can you bring in outside vendors?
  • What accommodations are included (restrooms, bridal room, etc.)

What other fees should you ask about when renting a wedding venue?
Don't forget that a variety of fees may not be included in your wedding venue. Ask specifically about the following fees:

  • Parking
    Typically standard parking may be included in the venue fee, but if you want to include valet parking, it will be extra.

  • Miscellaneous Fees
    Don't assume all services are included in the venue fee. Ask about tips, serving fees, bar fees, and even cake-cutting fees.

  • Vendor Fees
    Some venues charge a surcharge if you use an outside vendor, especially if it's not on their "approved list."

Can you negotiate the cost of a wedding venue?
Venues typically have "set in stone" pricing, but you may stumble across a few that are willing to negotiate. Your chances of negotiating are best when you choose a wedding date outside of the "prime wedding season" or even when you choose an "off time" of the day. You may also have better luck if you are planning a wedding in the short term rather than, say, 2 years from today's date.

Do you have to sign a contract to secure a wedding venue?
Yes, most venues require not only that you sign a contract, but that you also make a security deposit at the time of signing the contract. The amount you must put down will vary by location. Before you sign that contract, make sure you read the fine print and have all of your questions answered.

Can you cancel a wedding venue rental?
Each venue will have their own cancellation policy. Before you sign a contract, make sure you fully understand the terms of cancellation. Some venues allow cancellation early on for no charge, but will increase their penalty as you get closer to the date. Many venues require a non-refundable deposit, which means you'll lose your deposit should you cancel.

Write to Kim P at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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