Save money on wedding venues, part 2 (getting married on a budget series)

(Photo credit: Jason Koenig)

Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope you are as excited as I am about week four of our six-week series on getting married on a budget. This week we’ll be wrapping up the two-part segment covering wedding venues (see last week’s part here) and what you can do to cut costs on what can often be one of the largest parts of your wedding budget.

Cash talks
Okay, for those of you who know me, you know that I don’t believe in going into debt for your wedding day. One of the biggest hidden secrets on cost cutting tips for your wedding is to use the green! This is not something most venues generally advertise. You will need to ask for the cash discounts, but they’re out there, so don’t be afraid to go for it. Below are the main things you should ask for when using cash.

Ask for a discount because you’re not using a credit card. Right off the bat, you’ve just saved yourself the 3-4% credit card service fee.

Let them know that you only budgeted X amount of dollars for your venue, and that you can pay them in cash. Generally, they will come down to meet you. (Be realistic here, if the venue is over your budget by $10,000, no, they won’t meet you. But if you’re looking at a Friday or Sunday especially, and the venue is about $3,000-$4,000 out of reach, more than likely you will get it).

Hint: You can use ‘Cash Talks’ with almost any vendor to get a better deal!!

Pros and cons of a private home
Private homes can often be some of the most beautiful and intimate weddings I’ve ever planned or attended, and I’m sure you can say the same. They offer that feeling of home, warmth, and familiarity that is so wonderful at weddings. There are definitely some hidden fees associated with having a wedding at home that should not be overlooked.

Bathrooms - Yup, first and foremost. Does the home have enough restrooms (or does the homeowner even want guests tromping through their home) to support your guest count? If not, you will need to consider bringing in some less than glamorous porta-potties. A really cost-saving company that I’ve used (and they’re nation-wide) is United Site Services. They have been a really great company to work with, and offer many options.

Lighting - If your wedding will be outdoors at the home, you will need some sort of lighting, especially if your party will go well into the evening. Consider using Christmas lights, outdoor lanterns, monkey lights, and candles to give adequate lighting to your event. Remember your guests (and photographer) want to see your first dance and cake cutting, so be sure to plan appropriately for time of day and to have enough light.

Catering - I think a great cost-cutting tip that fits great into an at-home wedding is to do a potluck style. If you don’t want to worry about someone always being available to help restock food, etc. there are some great companies out there that offer day-of services to help with the serving part of your wedding. One here locally is The Invisible Hostess. They will even clean up the guests dishes before the end of the reception, and have them ready to go when the guests are!

Shelter - If your guest count exceeds what you can accommodate inside, and need to move the party outdoors, you will need to be sure you are prepared for inclement weather. Especially here in Seattle our summers are unpredictable weather wise, and you need to have a back-up plan. Tent rentals are surprisingly expensive and need to be thought of as part of your budget. The average 100 person tent runs about $2,000. What you need to know here is that you have up until that tent is loaded onto the truck before you get charged for it. So if you make the decision that a tent will not be needed, call the company ASAP to cancel that order. You should however, pre-order it so it is available in case it’s needed

Public Parks
Using a public park is a HUGE cost saving location for your ceremony. Most parks around the Seattle area do require a park permit. Also, there are some around here that don’t allow professional photography (Bellevue Botanical Gardens for instance), so do your homework. But, finding a less used public park location can often be beautiful, private, and very inexpensive. Parsons Gardens up on Queen Ann is a beautiful little hidden gem tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Kerry Park (the more popular option). Most park rental fees range from $50-$150 depending on the location and time of year.

Use a venue that lets you bring in your own caterer
Finding a location that doesn’t lock you into a food and beverage minimum is a must to finding extra money in your budget. Negotiating with your own caterer on your menu selections, amount of food served, etc. will save you tremendous amounts of money. Remember, cash talks here too! Be sure you are aware of how much staff will be on-site, what the hours of service will be, and if there are any travel fees. Make sure you are aware of all costs up front (including taxes), so you know where to cut if you are over-budget. Many times you can cut extra linens, opt for paper plates, plastic cups, and disposable serve ware to cut significant costs on catering. Also be sure you are watching your food selections. Obviously, steak and salmon will run you more than prime rib and pasta, so choose your menu wisely, and don’t be afraid to ask your caterer for a more cost effective menu selection.

This segments us right into catering – which is our topic for next week! Check back next Wednesday for money-saving tips for catering.

Did you save big on a venue? What was your secret? What are some of your favorite Northwest venues? If you have specific venue questions – leave a comment here or head over to the New Creations Facebook page and ask Rebecca – she’d be happy to help!

About Rebecca
Rebecca Grant is owner of New Creations Wedding Design & Coordination. She has been in the wedding business over sevenyears now, beginning her career in Honolulu, Hawaii, then moving back home to Seattle and launching her business here in November 2009. She’s now one of Seattle’s premiere wedding planners. Because of her experience in Hawaii, her specialty is working with Asia-Pacific Brides; specifically, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Hawaiian and Samoan weddings, however, she also does work a good portion of the time with traditional Western couples.

To catch up see our earlier posts in the series:

Saving Money on Invitations
Saving Money on Flowers
Saving Money on Venues (Part 1)

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  1. We had ours in my mom’s backyard. I will say we were on pins and needles with the weather, but it worked out great!

  2. Two family weddings recently held in the Pacific Northwest were at two great outdoor venues: Scenic Beach State Park:, and Chambers Bay:
    Breathtaking views! Both were catered, BBQ style.

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