Be sure to download our Printable Wedding Venue Checklist, the Ultimate Savvy Wedding Venue Guide!
Looking for a unique and affordable wedding venue for your big day?
We're all about staying on budget here at BSB, and one key way to help you save on wedding costs is to find an affordable venue.
It's important to remember that using a traditional wedding venue offers more convenience in the form of amenities and service but those conveniences tend to come at a higher price.
However, that doesn't mean you can't find unique wedding venues for an affordable price. With a little research and a lot of thinking outside of the box, you can surely find an option that suits your needs within your budget.
Finding Non-traditional Wedding Venues Online
One of the best ways to cut costs is to seek out non-traditional venue options to host your wedding.
For example, you could rent out your local community center, book an AirB&B, rent a cabin in the mountains, or throw your reception at a beach or lake. There are tons of options to choose from where venues are concerned, even if they don't scream ‘wedding.'
Often times, you'll find that these venues are hidden gems. Further, these non-traditional venues are often more unique, personalized, and easier on the wallet, in many cases! But how do you go about finding these diamonds in the rough?
Below you will find some resources that you can use to locate unique wedding venues that will work with your theme and budget. Remember, people don't remember most weddings they attend, but adding fun and special things like interesting locations will really make it a memorable occasion for everyone.
Peerspace allows local hosts to rent out their spaces to be used as venues for things like photoshoots, launch parties, musical performances, and weddings.
When browsing, make sure you don't limit yourself to just the obvious with Peerspace. A wedding can literally take place anywhere and many venues just need a little creativity to make it your special place.
Currently, Peerspace is limited to 15 of the biggest metropolitan areas in the United States, but the amount of options within those areas is truly staggering!
People don't really picture event venues when they think of Airbnb. While well-known and wide-spread, it's thought of as a vacation and travel peer-to-peer rental space locator. Starting off as more of a hostel alternative, it has evolved to include luxurious urban lofts and properties big enough to house a small army.
It isn't much of a stretch, though, to look to Airbnb for unique wedding venues. Just remember that you can always contact the host to see if they can accommodate your event, even if they don't list it as an option on the website.
Splacer is a unique website that allows “hosts” to list their unique meeting spaces. You can search by your zip code to find venues in your area.
Remember, finding your unique wedding space takes some creative thinking. When searching Splacer, don't limit your search to just reception or wedding keywords. Charity event, festival, conference, and, believe it or not, memorial, were words that turned up some super cool spaces for me.
Don't see anything on the map in your zip? Zoom out to include more of your local area. When you widen your search, you open yourself up to a whole host of more options!
Natural Retreats is a vacation home rental service located in some strategic and beautiful parts of the country. Search areas like Palm Springs, Lake Tahoe, Park City in Utah, and more.
Being as they are luxury homes within some beautiful natural landscapes, they are quite expensive if you were to rent it for a vacation. But search around and then contact an owner to see if you can rent their place for just a couple days, using it strictly for your wedding venue.
Google can be a real help in locating unique wedding venues if you know how to search. First, type in your desired area and then add a combination of words that describe your theme, dream venue, and/or any unique attributes it may have.
For example, when I plugged in Minneapolis outdoor memorial rental, I found the above AMAZING venue in a nearby suburb called Veterans' Memorial Amphitheater. With an optional indoor space, a person will pay just $120 an hour to rent. Can you imagine walking down that aisle?!
If you're looking for some guidance on how to phrase your search queries, try using some of the terms below. For instance, some keywords that may prove to be valuable in your search include:
-Bed and Breakfast
⛰ Other Options
- Post on Craigslist, while also being sure to periodically search the listings for venues advertised.
- Join a variety of local Facebook groups, including garage sale and “Swap and Shop” groups in order to ask other couples in your area. Search their archives for ideas, but don't be afraid to post asking for suggestions. I found so many unique options for my sister's bridal shower this way.
- Likewise, call your local city hall. No one knows your desired area better than the folks running the government.
- If you're still in need of more options, be sure to take a look at our Real Weddings archive. You can view by state and who knows, you might just find your dream space thanks to one of our former brides.
- Try websites like: Book A Retreat, Rustic Bride, VRBO, HomeAway.com, and American Camp Association.
- Consider getting married on a boat! Hire a boat rental via Boatsetter.com.
Other Tips for Finding a Wedding Venue
Check out wedding blogs
Browse wedding blogs for events that took place in the area you want to get married and check out their venues. (You can search our archives here on The Budget Savvy Bride by state. Browse Real Weddings by Location.)
Ask for recommendations
Talk to your vendors and ask for recommendations. They always know hidden gem locations.
How to Decide if a Venue is Right for You
Knowing your cost and capacity limits will significantly narrow down your wedding venue search and save you loads of time. Once you’ve set your wedding budget, outlined a rough guest list, and determined your geographical location, you’re ready to interview the venues and find the best one for you! Sandy Hammer, the co-founder of the free wedding planning marketplace AllSeated, shares her top 5 essential keys to finding your ideal venue below:
1. Know what you want.
It's crucial that you have your wedding wish list established when you visit potential venues so that you can effectively communicate your desires. Do you want a sit-down dinner or buffet? Maybe a cocktail hour with your favorite small plates and a Viennese table for dessert? Will your reception be outdoors? Are you looking for specific seating styles and linens? To get the most accurate proposal (and pricing), you have to outline and communicate all these details to the venue.
2. Have a Plan B
Even though no bride likes to think about it, bad weather happens to us all. That’s why if you’re dreaming of walking down the aisle outdoors, be sure to ask the venues about their indoor options. Even though the chance of you using having to use the Plan B is small, knowing that there is a just-in-case plan in place will help you be much calmer on the day of your affair
3. Preferred vendors
Most venues have preferred vendor lists, which suggest specific vendors that have experience with that venue. While they can be helpful, at some venues, choosing from these vendors is obligatory. Find out if the venue requires that you work only with their preferred vendor list or if you allowed to hire any florist or entertainment company that you choose. This is important to know from the start, especially if you already have your dream décor team in mind.
4. Payment schedules
All venues have different payment requirements, so it's critical that you know this from the start. Do they require monthly payments? A deposit? Payment in full before the wedding? Are there any extra costs not listed in the contract that you may be responsible for? How does the venue handle tipping for their staff? All of this should be addressed before signing a contract.
5. Who is in charge?
The person you work with throughout the planning process may not necessarily be the same person in charge the day of your wedding. When you meet with the venue, it’s important to ask that. You should also find out about the venue’s staffing ratio, coat check service and valet parking and whether any of those are included in the price.
With this list of questions, you will be able to easily pick an ideal venue that fits your budget, guest list, and vision.
Venue Tracking Spreadsheet
Need a way to keep track of all the possible options in your initial research? Check out our Wedding Venue Tracking Spreadsheet to compare all the details at-a-glance.
Questions to Ask: Wedding Venues
Finding the perfect venue for your big day is one of the first decisions you will make, and also one of the most challenging. Since so much depends on it and you don’t want any unpleasant surprises, it’s important to arm yourself with the right set of questions.
If you're looking at unique wedding venues that aren't often – or ever – used for weddings, there's a lot you will need to figure out before putting down a deposit. Below, we have some suggestions on what to ask the proprietor/host to make the process a little bit easier for you.
In addition, we've also created a printable guide that you can download and take with you when speaking to potential venues! (There's another great guide from The Spruce with questions to ask your wedding venue.)
📋 The Basics
- Can the ceremony and reception both be accommodated?
- How many people can the venue hold sitting? How about standing?
- What's is the base price? What exactly is included?
- How long will we have the space? Can we pay to get additional time?
- What is the deposit and cancellation policy? How about the payment schedule?
- Can we supply our own food?
📋 What's Included?
- Do you have any seating, tables, musical equipment, or decor that we could use instead of renting? What about linens, china, silverware, etc.? Does the venue have serveware and food warmers?
- What kind of lighting is available?
- Will there be any staff members on-site during the event? If so, what are their roles and responsibilities?
- What kind of set-up/clean-up is done by the venue? What is expected of us?
- In the same vein, is the set-up and tear-down time included in the base charge? If so, how much time is allocated and when? Can we pay more to get additional time, if needed?
- What kind of storage areas and preparation spaces are available for our use?
📋 Good to Know
- Is there free parking on-site and if so, how many cars can be accommodated?
- If there is no parking available, where do you recommend guests park?
- Will there be any other events on the day of our wedding? To clarify, is the venue open to the public?
- What is the bathroom situation? Are the facilities fully stocked and clean?
- Are there ample electricity sources? For instance, are there enough power outlets to accommodate our lighting and sound amplification?
- Are heating or air conditioning available to maintain a comfortable temperature?
- What kind of food preparation spaces are available?
📋 Rules and Regulations
- Is alcohol allowed and is a licensed bartender required? Can we bring our own? Is a permit or license required?
- Regarding decor, is anything off-limits? For example, are sparklers or candles allowed at the venue? Are we allowed to hang items from the ceiling?
- What is the local noise ordinance? Is there a quiet hours policy?
- Do you have restrictions on what vendors are allowed on the property?
- Are there onsite waste receptacles on-site? Who is in charge of waste removal after the ceremony?
- When can rentals arrive on site?
📋 What If?
- Most importantly, is there a backup plan for inclement weather for outdoor weddings?
- Is insurance included within the base price? Are you and/or your vendors required to carry insurance?
- What is your policy regarding “Acts of God” (natural disaster, fire, etc.)?
📋 Look and Feel
- If the space requires a change after the ceremony, who is responsible for doing that?
- Is the event space all in one area or are there separate spaces?
- What kind of events have been hosted in the past and what types of layouts were used?
- Are the outdoor grounds maintained year-round?
In conclusion, locating a wedding venue that suits your needs and budget is possible! Finding inexpensive and unique wedding venues can seem like a chore at best and a nightmare at its worst, but with these tips, success is possible.
Above all, approach your wedding venue hunt with an open mind. You never know what sort of diamonds in the rough you may discover!
Download our free venue checklist guide!
Download a copy of our free wedding venue guide, filled with everything you need to know to find an affordable venue for your wedding!
Editor's note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more resources for planning a pandemic wedding here.