The Perfect Venue at the Right Price (by UltimateVenues.com)
Searching for wedding venues is often the most difficult part of planning your wedding. Searching for wedding venues while staying within your budget can be even more challenging. What should you do if you find the perfect venue, but learn that it is outside your budget? Short of going into major debt, there are some measures you can take to have the venue of your dreams without breaking the bank!
Lunch weddings are often much cheaper than dinner weddings. Venue rental fees are generally lower during the day and food costs are often much lower. Plus, your guests may be likely to drink less during the day and you can enjoy the rest of the afternoon when the reception is over!
A cocktail reception
Cocktail receptions allow for more guests to be squeezed into a venue (which means you can rent a smaller venue than you would need for a banquet-style reception), and you will definitely save on catering costs. Cocktail-style receptions also allow guests to mix and mingle more than they could if seated at a table with 7 other guests, and saves you the trouble of creating seating charts, making place-cards, etc.
Another Night of the Week
Venue rental fees are often higher on Saturday than on any other night of the week.
Worse yet, many venues have minimum food and beverage expenditures that must be met on Saturdays. For example, a venue may require a couple to spend $20,000 in food and beverage expenditures for the night of their event. If they spend less than this amount, they are billed for the unspent balance. Some venues only have these minimums on Saturdays. Others have minimums for other nights of the week as well, but they are typically much lower. If the venue that you are looking at has a minimum expenditure for the night that you are considering, ask about other nights of the week!
The Sunday of a long weekend can be a great time to get married. You may be able to pay “Sunday” prices for venue rental, and may benefit from the lower minimum food and beverage expenditure associated with a Sunday night. Be careful though – some venues will charge you “Saturday” rates for Holiday Sundays. In fact, some venues may actually charge more for a Holiday Sunday than for a Saturday! Check with your venue.
Venues will often lower their rental and catering charges before and after the ”peak” wedding season. While the definition may differ among venues, most venues consider May 1st through September 30th to consitute “peak season”. Consider an April or November wedding! Your savings may be substantial!
If you had intended on having a host bar, you can lower your costs by issuing drink tickets to your guests. This will allow you to buy your guests a drink or two without writing a blank cheque for the evening! Many venues have a minimum expenditure for bars. If you do not spend the stipulated minimum, you are charged bartending fees – which can easily erode your savings. Be sure to take this minimum into account when deciding how many tickets to issue!
Some (but not all) venues charge a fee for cake cutting. Some charge a flat fee (for example, $50), while others charge up to $6 per person to serve wedding cake to your guests. To put this in context, a $3 cake-cutting fee applied to a party of 200 guests would run you $600 (plus GST and gratuities!) That charge is, of course, in addition to the price of the cake itself!
Try negotiating with your venue to see if they will waive all (or part) of the cake-cutting fee. Some venues will waive this fee if you purchase a cake through their bakery or an affiliated bakery. Look into their prices and consider the cake-cutting fee. A cake purchased through your venue for $100 more than you would pay elsewhere may actually end up being cheaper than a cake purchased for $100 less elsewhere and brought into the venue where a sizeable cake-cutting fee will apply.
Can the Banquet Hall Rental Fee be Waived?
Most venues will waive the banquet hall rental fee if you spend a certain amount on food and beverages over the course of the night. Some venues will tie this into the minimum food and beverage expenditure (for example, the difference between the minimum expenditure and the amount actually spent becomes the banquet hall rental fee), while others will keep it separate (meaning that, even if you are $10 short of the minimum expenditure, the entire pre-set banquet hall rental fee will apply.) Some venues will be open to negotiating what that minimum expenditure is – especially if your wedding celebrations are planned for a weeknight or Sunday. Give it a try.
And remember, if you’re close enough to the minimum expenditure, you might as well upgrade your menu or issue more drink tickets. After all, if you’re going to pay the difference anyway, you might as well get some value for it!
What is Included?
Find out what your venue offers you. Will they provide linens, decorations and chair covers? Are security personnel required (as they sometimes are) and, if so, are they included in the price? Will set-up of the venue and take down at the end of the night be done for you? As always, negotiate, negotiate, negotiate!
Booking early can help to guarantee that you will get the venue that you want. More importantly, however, if you book before the 2010 menus are released, you may be able to convince your venue to “lock into” their 2009 menu prices. Since catering prices are expected to increase by roughly 5% between 2009 and 2010, this can represent a substantial savings!
Good luck and congratulations on having found the perfect venue at the right price!