My Mama Told Me, “You Better Shop Around.” Choosing Your Venue

Many people I talk to know where they want to get married years before anyone pops the question. For them, the decision of a venue is an easy one. We weren’t these people and for us this decision was the most painstaking of all.

Every bridal magazine and wedding article I read suggested that the couple should try to think of places with meaning for them and make one of them work for a venue; the spot of your first date, the place the proposal happened, a family spot or a vacation destination. None of these worked for us. The site of our first date was a noisy bar that played live music. He proposed to me one night while I was doing homework in our bedroom. We had no family with the right space to host a wedding. And in five years of being together we had taken a total of zero vacations.

Zero is how many venue ideas we had. We started by deciding exactly what type of wedding we wanted. We knew it would be pretty low-key. We wanted to do as much of it ourselves as possible to save on costs but we had no idea where to start.

While talking to my seamstress at a fitting about what we wanted she casually threw out the name of a local venue that is already BYOB. Rustic décor (which fit our theme perfectly). Locally owned and relatively inexpensive. She passed along the phone number and I called them immediately. By the following Saturday we were there touring the most beautiful venue. As soon as we saw it we knew it was a perfect fit for our wedding. Best of all, the cost was $600 for five hours.


Here are our top tips for how we cut costs at our venue:

1.) BYOB
BYOB saves lots of money. Our venue requires the couple to purchase private insurance to cover the self-service of alcohol. This policy cost us about $120. Much more affordable than paying for a full bar and bartender.

2.) Do-it-yourself DJ
Our venue is a music venue which means that they have live bands regularly. Because of this they have all the sound equipment of a DJ and all we have to do is plug in an ipod with music loaded. This also means we have a dance floor already. No need to rent one. We spent about $30 on iTunes buying music. The rest we got from friends, family and our own CDs.

3.) Ask Away
Don’t be afraid to ask the venue manager what you want to know. Ours offers a rental of tablecloths at a fraction of the cost of getting them through a rental service or buying them ourselves. They will be steamed and set up for us good to go on our wedding day. One less thing to worry about. And it cost us only $96.

3.) Combine Ceremony Site with Reception
We aren’t religious people but we were going to get married in a church. For about $600 for 20 minutes. Then we asked the venue about hosting the ceremony with the reception. Turns out they offer this. At no additional cost. We are saving $600 plus we can reuse our ceremony decorations without moving anything.


The bottom line is that these tips aren’t for everyone. They worked for us and our style. Your best bet is to educate yourself as to what things cost so that you can figure out what best works for you, your wedding and your budget.

3 thoughts on “My Mama Told Me, “You Better Shop Around.” Choosing Your Venue

  1. I like the look of the page for your blog and the pictures really add a feel for the place you picked for your venue. The tips on how to cut back on cost are really good for anyone who is planning a wedding. It is amazing how getting married does not have a price tag, but with the tips you included they could really help someone on a budget. The title of the blog is really catchy as well and sets up the reader for what they can expect to read.

    Only thing I can think about that you could add is maybe some websites for other tips on how to save money. As you said the tips are not for everyone, but giving them a few resources might help them figure out what sort of tips are helpful to them.

  2. Abby,
    You know I have enjoyed your blog through out this course. I love the heart in the sand and the idea behind your blog. I wish this blog was around before I got married! My husband and I got married in the Public Gardens in Boston, MA. It was a special place for us since most of the time we spent together during the years was in the city. It cost us $100 and my dad performed the wedding which cost nothing. The place you got married seems so neat. I love the rustic look. If I had anything to critique about this post I would maybe give some insight on how to find places that will do a dual ceremony/reception fee as well as places that will let you do BYOB. I love the ideas but just would need to know how to obtain them. I would also love to see some of your D-I-Y ideas. You seem crafty, let us in on that! I hope you continue to blog you will help many brides and grooms to be.

  3. I love your blog. I think that’s true of everything, including weddings (the Gotta shop around kinda thing).
    I really like what kind of detail you went into to show others how you save while being a bride to be.
    I really like the pictures. I also like the venue too. Very rustic.

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