Budget Wedding Venues and Vendors

A simple beach wedding with a wooden gazebo

The wonderful thing about venues is that there’s a lot of places around you for free or extremely budget-priced. Parks, zoos, beaches, fairs, or forested areas are everywhere around the country. Depending on where you live in the USA, there are so many places which have great wedding options. For example, are there already scheduled affairs in your area that could accommodate a wedding with flair? In my area, we have a Renaissance Faire that would perfectly suit a spring wedding. Perhaps in your area, there are events that would serve well for your wedding if you look a little deeper.

Beach Weddings

You can have weddings on city beaches for very small fees or for free, depending on where you live. For example, in Los Angeles the costs are between $100-150, plus $100 insurance, and require at least two weeks notice. There are incorporated cities in Los Angeles, such as Santa Monica, which are free to use for up to 150 guests, but are on a first come, first serve basis, so it’s important to plan ahead. In either case, there are rules, such as the size and types of tents, no cooking equipment, and more so be sure to check your city, county, or state beach departments to go over their requirements and costs, if any.

If you’re considering a destination wedding, there are many great beach resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean Islands, which offer free weddings and receptions during your stay at their resorts. These usually include a wedding planner, and they can offer additional services you’d need to make the most of your event. You can check online to find some nice resorts, some of which you might already be considering for your honeymoon!

Yosemite National Park with a view of upper Yosemite Falls

Public and State Parks

Local, state, and national parks are readily available for weddings. Just like beaches, there are possible fees, rules, and other restrictions to observe. When you visit the location for the first time, check out good locations and make sure it would accessible for all your guests.

If you’s like to use an outdoor public location, be sure to check hours, rules, and restrictions (number of guests, sound, photography, set up for table and chairs, decorations, etc.). Also, in available, check out a location’s calendar for other public events going on at the same time (concerts, fairs, etc.). Research seasonal weather, proximity to restrooms, electricity, parking, and public foot traffic areas to ensure your wedding has privacy. Bring extra supplies, such as umbrellas, bug spray, and extra water, and use signage to direct guests. Also, see if your clergyman or officiant has a problem performing a wedding outside their church or place of worship. You can have a picnic, BBQ, or even use food trucks to create a more festive feel. Another option is to use a nearby café or restaurant to cater your reception, which would save money on renting tables, chairs, and more, as they’re already full-service.

Other Great Locations for a Budget Wedding

When thinking of creative, budget wedding locations, look into local zoos, botanical gardens, museums, theaters, restaurants, and other locations where you could combine the wedding and reception. You could save money if they already have what you need for seating, tables, decorations, and have foliage that would help with the look of your wedding. Some of these venues offer catering services as well, so check for their best deals before contacting any outside venues.

Another great option would be a nuptial cruise boat cruises that offers a flat cost per guest. This could save you money and worries, as they might already include a lot of your wedding details.

Bride and groom piggy banks with a bouquet and bow tie

How to Save Big on Wedding Vendors

When hiring vendors, consider negotiating costs by asking for discounts, as there is usually some wiggle room. Get more than one quote for each service and if you like the more expensive one, consider mentioning the lower price of competitors for a possible price match. You can do this with musicians, DJs, flowers, stationery, and rentals such as tables, chairs, linens, and much more. If a vendor or a coordinator makes a mistake, advise them that you might need to use another vendor. Sometimes they will give you a discount or additional services to make up for the error and to keep you happy. Remember, it doesn’t hurt to politely ask.

It makes sense that Saturday is the most popular and expensive day of the week for all events. So if you really like a venue or dining experience, ask which week day is the least expensive. A Thursday brunch or dinner usually will cost 30-40% less than a Saturday.

If you’re using a restaurant’s venue, they might give you discounts for multiple services. Also, ask the venue if they have “preferred vendors,” as vendors and venues help each other out, and can get you a much better deal. Your package could include additional services you would have spent on another vendor anyway.

Check Your Vendor Contracts

It’s incredibly important to check your wedding vendor contracts for errors in case of a surprise price change or additional charges later, as the contract may state things in your favor. Vendors can make mistakes, but you shouldn’t have to literally pay for these errors. I had a friend where a vendor had to make a change to the color choices, as they didn’t get a detail correct, and wanted to charge more to make corrections. However, it was stated that any number of colorations was part of their signed contract and they were able to work this out and not overpay. So always save and read your venue and vendor contracts.

Save Money with DIY and Friends

Perhaps you or your friends can help bring down your wedding’s costs by creating some DIY decorations, as there’s a lot of great how-to information and materials available online. I’ve been to a few weddings in the past where a friend was great with all the floral arrangements and knew someone with access to the flower market. The money saved there is easily spent on other necessities you might not otherwise afford.

Do you have a friend or relative who is good with hair and makeup? There are many other possible talents among your personal network and these good folks can even help put your wedding plans together with you. You’d be surprised by the amount of talent you didn’t know you had access to once you start asking around! There are friends, relatives, and colleagues who also might be able to help by trading services later by bartering. It doesn’t hurt to ask among your personal or professional circles.

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