How to save money on your Wedding reception venue - The Chief Bridesmaid's top tips
Choosing your wedding venue will be one of the biggest determining factors in the cost of your wedding day - combined with the catering, this will use about 50% of your overall budget - and so it's a hugely important decision. My biggest piece of advice is to make sure that you shop around and look into all the aspects of cost carefully to ensure you know exactly what the costs are likely to amount to.
Top tips for finding the best value Wedding Venues
Have your Wedding Reception at home
We had our wedding reception in my parents’ back garden in a marquee in the Cotswolds. It was a lovely personal location that felt really special. We saved on venue hire costs, and were able to save even more money by choosing our caterer direct rather than being tied to whichever one was associated with the wedding venue. We were also able to offer a free bar as a result because we weren't committed to buying the venue alcohol, or liable for an expensive corkage charge.
Look beyond the obvious "Wedding Venues"
Don’t just look into those reception venues that explicitly market themselves as wedding venues, why not explore renting your favourite local restaurant as a reception venue? Just get costs before you mention the fact it’s for a wedding reception - you may find that the cost instantly inflates.
If your wedding party fills the restaurant, then these’s no reason why you should have to pay a hire fee, you should just have to cover the cost of the food and drink. My brother had a reasonably modest-scale wedding, and he worked out after the event that it would have actually been as cheap to have taken all the wedding guests for a slap up meal at the Ivy!
If not a local restaurant, then how about a local pub for your wedding reception venue? If you’re keen to have a relaxed, casual reception or you’re getting married in the winter months, what better way to create a cosy, inviting reception venue? The catering is likely to be cheap, and pub gardens can be spectacular.
It’s worth investigating with stately homes, schools, museums and country cottages if they’d be suitable. If they aren’t explicitly marketing themselves as wedding venues, you may find that they’re less expensive. They may not have affiliations with particular caterers etc, and so by shopping around, there is more potential to save money.
Village and church halls, as well as sports clubs can also be great low cost alternatives. Even if the venue doesn’t look great in its natural state - it’ll probably be cheaper for you to paint the space yourself, or splash out on a bit of decoration than go for a more expensive venue.
If your own garden isn’t big enough for a marquee, then there are plenty of other avenues to explore. My cousin paid a rock bottom price to pitch the marquee for his wedding in a farmer’s field. Alternatively, investigate village greens or sports fields. Sports fields could be particularly good venues because they often have amenities like toilets and running water adjacent to them, so you don’t have to splash out on portaloos too.
Save money by getting married during an off peak time
Many wedding venues offer substantial discounts for weddings that take place during the working week (particularly from Monday to Thursdays) or out of season (in the autumn and winter months, avoiding any major holidays). Get married in November or December and you could save a massive 50% off the cost of your venue.
It’s worth enquiring with the wedding venue before you book just how much money you could save by getting married at a less busy time. If they don't have a low cost "off-peak" wedding package, why not try negotiating with them - it's not rude, as long as you are polite! Just ask, is this your best and final price? If they won't negotiate on price, then you might find that they will throw in added extras - like free accommodation for the Bride and Groom instead.
For example, Ringwood Hall in Chesterfield, Derbyshire offer a reduced charge on their suites licensed for Civil services - normally £395, they charge just £275 if you get married between Monday and Thursday. For the reception, they offer a cheaper special mid-week package as do many of the wedding suppliers - from wedding photographers to chair cover suppliers and wedding cakemakers.
Look out for last minute cancellations
If you don't mind having just a few weeks to prepare for your wedding, you could look out for last minute cancellations at venues. Unfortunately, because of the credit crunch, many couples are having to postpone their wedding, and so more and more cancellations are being made with wedding venues. As a result, the venues are re-advertising those dates at much reduced prices - so there is potential to save money along the way! One couple I spoke to made a 75% saving on the venue by taking up a last minute cancellation deal - although it did mean that they had only six weeks to organise their big day!