If you’ve already begun to plan your wedding ceremony and reception, you might be suffering from sticker shock as you tally it all up. And you very well might be asking yourself, “Is it all worth it?”
The reality is that, in 2018, the average couple polled in a study of nearly 13,000 couples paid $33,391 for their wedding. Nearly half of the entire wedding budget (an average of almost $15,200) went toward the reception venue, plus $2,300 toward the ceremony site.
So, you might figure, it you could eliminate or greatly reduce the venue costs for the wedding ceremony and reception, then you’ve taken care of the largest costs in one fell swoop.
Fortunately, there are indeed plenty of free wedding venues, as well as relatively inexpensive wedding venues to consider. We’ll share four affordable places for you to consider for your own wedding. Mix, match, and make this day truly your own!
Plus, if you discover that you could use help financing your wedding, we have suggestions for that, too. Congratulations and best wishes!
This can literally mean at your own home, or that of a parent, friend, or other loved one, which will likely be one of the most affordable wedding venues around. Benefits of this choice (besides the lack of rental fees) include the flexibility to have your ceremony on just about any day of the year, plus you have a ready-made shelter if the weather isn’t ideal. Want a pet-friendly ceremony? It doesn’t get any better than a home wedding for having your beloved dog be your ring bearer.
Also, any home upgrades made for the ceremony can be enjoyed for a long time afterward. You might want to decide how much of the event will be held outdoors, what rooms of the house should be made available to wedding guests, how to ensure enough seating—and, in case of bright, sunny weather, how to provide enough shade for those guests.
You might want to be sure your officiant of choice is able to perform the ceremony, plan the parking logistics, check out how to comply with any noise ordinances, talk to pest control professionals, if that seems necessary, and so forth. This could be a perfect time to invest in permanent outdoor landscaping that will beautify your special day and your home for years to come.
City Hall Wedding
You aren’t restricted to the city hall or courthouse by where you currently live. Brides.com suggests that you choose one that has special significance to your relationship, perhaps where you first fell in love.
Or, you can get married in the city hall where you’ll enjoy your honeymoon or your family vacation. As another strategy, you can choose the city hall based on its beauty, with Brides.com recommending the one in San Francisco, with its stunning white column and gold-capped roof.
The article also notes that city hall weddings typically take place on a weekday morning, so think about how that would work in conjunction with your post-wedding celebration. As far as ceremony costs, a wedding at the San Francisco courthouse, for example, will cost you $86 .
Perhaps there are beautiful parks in your town or city full of unique flowers, landscaping, and more—or maybe there is one with special meaning to you, maybe near where the two of you attended college.
If that’s the case, you could contact the relevant parks department and find out any details about fees and permits . How accessible is the location for guests? If it’s a small park in the center of town, it’s likely to be fairly accessible. If it’s deep in the heart of a national park system, you may need to decide how to make it practical for guests to find and attend.
Other considerations for a park wedding include shelter in case of rain, having enough public restrooms (are they readily available or do you need to rent portable options?), and how comfortable you are getting married in an open space.
You might also need to find out what the park’s policy is on receptions. Can you set up tables and have food brought in? Or are you imagining a picnic complete with champagne? Dream it up, brainstorm details, and get confirmation from park officials.
One bride who got married in Glacier National Park wore her grandmother’s dress. In and of itself, that might not be unique—but this dress had been made out of the silk parachute her grandfather used in World War II! What unique touches can you bring to your own special park wedding?
You might also consider a beach wedding, one rife with possibilities for incredible, one-of-a-kind photography, soft breezes, and tropical drinks. As practical considerations , do you plan to have a ceremony along the ocean on a public beach or will you locate a private beach alongside a natural spring? The permits you’ll need will likely be quite different if you plan to have just your ceremony there versus if you also plan to have a beachside reception complete with food, drink, and music.
You might need to take into account any noises made by waves and create a Plan B or otherwise have shelter available if the weather doesn’t cooperate. And, where you plan to have this ceremony, geographically speaking, may help to dictate what time of year your wedding should be scheduled.
Do you plan to have alcohol at your reception? That often isn’t permitted on beaches, but there are some that do allow guests to imbibe . Do you want to rope off a section of the beach? Build a bonfire? Again, you might want to ask what the rules and regulations are for the beach you have in mind and be flexible about finding a different location or modifying plans to help make it all come together.
Budgeting for Your Wedding
Even when you choose a free or inexpensive wedding venue, you still might want to figure out your budget and start saving for the engagement and wedding rings, your wedding and reception attire, food, music, drinks, flowers, photography, video, and more.
During a discussion with your partner, you could both try to determine who will pay for what, and how much you’re willing to spend. It could help to discuss priorities so you’re in agreement about where to splurge and where you’re willing to compromise.
If, for example, you know that having lush and beautiful flowers is important to both of you, that could rise to the must-have category. And, maybe you want to spend more on photography and less on videography—or vice versa. What’s important is that you mutually create and agree upon a plan that’s unique to you and your special day.
Rather than staying local, another option might be to have a destination wedding in a place where you’ll also honeymoon. Costs for destination weddings can vary significantly based upon location. Some of the more expensive include:
If you’re looking for more affordable wedding venues but still want a destination wedding, here are a few that could be more budget friendly:
Financing Your Wedding
Wedding loans are just what they sound like: unsecured personal loans to cover wedding costs. Rates on personal loans tend to be lower than credit card rates, and they can offer more flexibility on the term of your loan and the amount you can borrow. You can also choose a fixed rate, which can help make it easier to budget for, and you won’t have to worry about the rate jumping up on you.
A personal loan from SoFi can be a fast, simple way to get extra cash for your wedding. You can apply online and, if you qualify, get the money in just a few days.
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