Wedding Venues

How Much Does Your Wedding Venue Cost? Budgeting Beyond the Venue Fee

February 5, 2024

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Today we are kicking off PART ONE of our wedding budget breakdown series on the podcast. We have talked about budget a few different times on the podcast and we will link to those episodes in the show notes but for today’s episode, we are going dive deep into VENUES. And before you think this is just about that shiny wedding venue fee you pay when you book, think again. We are going to share all about how to better compare venues, how to factor in your wedding food and beverage minimums, how decor plays a role and so much more. Let's get started and break down: how much does your wedding venue cost?



wedding planner does a wedding venue cost breakdown




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EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS: How Much Does Your Wedding Venue Cost?

To fast-forward to a specific part of the podcast episode, check out the timestamps below:

  • Breaking Down The Wedding Venue Fee [4:31]
  • Food and Beverage Minimums [6:06]
  • Looking at Included Decor [8:14]
  • Guest Accommodation Options and Financial Liability [8:51]
  • Parking costs and potential valet services [10:34]
  • The most overlooked cost when it comes to your wedding venue fee [11:08]
  • Accessibility considerations [12:07]
  • Outdoor Contingencies [13:08]

Links Mentioned in the Episode




And if you prefer to read, here's the summary of the podcast episode!

When planning a wedding, choosing the right venue is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make. It sets the tone for your entire event. But here’s the thing – understanding the costs involved isn't as straightforward as some budget calculators make it out to be. It's less about sticking rigidly to a specific percentage and more about having a holistic understanding of what’s included in the cost.

Let's be real – not all venues are created equal! That charming barn on the outskirts of town might offer a different package than the elegant ballroom in the heart of the city. And what’s more? One might have a lower venue fee but end up costing you a LOT more overall.

Today, we’re going to dive deep into this. We'll look at different types of venues and what they typically include in their packages. Do they cover catering? What about decorations or seating arrangements? And let's not forget the hidden costs that can sneak up on you!

We’ll also discuss how to prioritize your budget based on what’s most important to you and your partner. Is it the location, the ambiance, the food, or maybe all of the above?

By the end of our time today, you'll feel like a pro, armed with all the knowledge you need to make an informed decision that aligns with your vision and budget. So, grab a notebook, a cup of coffee, or your favorite beverage, and let’s get started. 


The Wedding Venue fee

When most people think about the venue cost, they are only thinking of the neat and shiny figure printed on the venue’s catalog. But the cost of your venue isn't just about the space; it's about what comes with it. Some venues might seem less expensive at first glance, but they can have minimum spending on food and beverages or require you to bring in everything, including tables and chairs. Others might look pricey, but they include so much that they actually save you money in the long run.

Consider this: An all-inclusive venue might be more expensive upfront. But, when you break down what's included – like catering, decorations, even a wedding planner – you might find it's actually a bargain compared to sourcing all those services separately.

But let’s talk about the fee first. This is something that will often fluctuate during high season or low season, and you can maybe even score a discount on this if you are choosing a Sunday or Friday date. What we really want to stress though, throughout this whole episode if I haven’t said it enough, is that this number being lower does NOT mean a lower wedding budget overall. We will dive more into this now!


Food and Beverage Minimums

One of the biggest wedding venue costs, or wedding costs in general, is your food and beverage. When looking at a venue, consider whether or not they have a minimum food and beverage spend, and if that aligns with what you’ll need to spend regardless. If they require you to use their in house catering, like at a hotel, look at the prices of their food and beverage options when considering if the venue will actually fit into your budget.

For example, if their minimum spend if $20,000, but their cost per plate starts at $250 and you're inviting 200 guests, you're going to be WAY over the minimum anyway, so consider whether or not that works in your budget.

If you’re free to use your own caterer, that means you have more options so you can spend more or less on your wedding food depending. For example, you can find a less expensive caterer and offer a beer and wine bar (maybe?). Or, you can choose to have a luxurious affair with a 5 course meal with a premium bar, which will likely cost more than a hotel caterer.

While I love to have options (especially where your wedding budget is concerned), it’s not always cheaper so I want to dispel that myth right now. Sometimes it can actually be less expensive to use your venue’s catering, because there won’t be any travel fees or additional equipment needed. And let me tell you, renting a grill, oven, and refrigerator is not cheap!

Whether you choose to hire your own caterer or not, don’t forget there are tax and service charges on top of the fees listed. Often these range between 18-25% so they make a big difference in what you can “afford” to spend at first glance.


Wedding Decor

Next, let’s talk about decor. While a “bare bones” venue will likely have a cheaper price tag, by the time you add tables, chairs, lighting, florals, – oh my gosh the list could go on and on and I’m not even factoring in the set up and take down crew. If you’re fine with round tables and white linens, you might be fine with what the venue provides. But if you’re dreaming of a more unique and elevated affair, you might want to find a venue that provides a lot of what you are looking for already!


Guest Accommodations

Now, let’s talk about guest accommodations. Some venues require you to book a certain number of rooms. This can be great if you have a lot of out-of-town guests, but it can also add to your costs if you aren’t sure you’ll be able to fill the rooms you will be on the hook for.

On top of that, if you are choosing a destination wedding (like many of our couples do, who choose to get married in Upstate New York), transportation costs are another factor to add to your budget. If you are getting married in a hotel, great, then it’s likely your guests will stay on site. If not, it’s generally considered proper etiquette to arrange transportation to and from your wedding venue from the hotel where you’ve reserved your guest’s rooms.


Our Wedding Budget Bundle

Before we keep going, if all of this is making your head spin, we have a spreadsheet for you (and because of who we are, we actually have two). Our wedding budget bundle has absolutely everything you need to create and manage your wedding budget (and the cashflow logistics that come with it!), whether your budget is $10,000, $50,000, or $150,000. And because we know you’re on a budget, you can grab it for less than $50. Head here to get instant access – and to save your sanity – now.


Parking and Transportation

Picking up where we left off, I also want to remind you not to forget about parking and transportation! If your venue is in a remote location or a city center, consider the ease and cost of parking for your guests. Some venues offer valet services or have ample parking space, while others might require you to arrange and pay for a shuttle service or nearby parking facilities.


Equipment and Setup Costs

Moving on, let's talk about equipment and setup costs. This is a category that often gets overlooked but can significantly impact your budget. Think about sound equipment for your DJ or band, projectors for slideshows, and even the dance floor. Some venues might include these in their package, while others will require you to rent them separately. And remember, setup and breakdown costs can add up, so make sure to ask your venue what's included and what's not.


Accessibility and Amenities

Accessibility and amenities are crucial, especially if you have guests with special needs. Does your venue have wheelchair access, elevators, or enough restrooms? What about heating or air conditioning, depending on the season? These might seem like small details, but they can greatly affect the comfort of your guests and, consequently, your overall experience. Nothing ruins a wedding like being uncomfortable!

If your wedding is in the cooler months, consider renting heaters to keep your guests cozy. Nobody wants to shiver through your vows, right? On the flip side, if it’s the peak of summer, large fans or portable air conditioning units can keep everyone cool and comfortable.


Outdoor Contingencies

Lastly, if you’re planning an outdoor wedding, consider the cost of contingencies like tents, heaters, or fans. Weather can be unpredictable, and having a backup plan is essential. These additions can be pricey, so include them in your budget if your venue doesn’t provide them. Mother Nature can be a bit of a wildcard, right? So, let's talk about how to be prepared for anything she might throw our way.

First, tents are lifesavers for outdoor weddings. But not just any tents. You’ll want to consider sturdy, weather-proof options. There are so many styles to choose from – clear-top tents that let you gaze at the sky, beautifully draped marquees, or even gorgeous sailcloth tents. They not only protect you and your guests from rain but can also provide shade on a sunny day.

But here's the thing – tents aren't just about having a cover over your head. You'll want to think about the flooring too. Grass might be fine on a dry day, but if it rains, you don’t want your guests sinking into mud. Portable flooring or a dance floor can save the day and keep those heels from getting stuck! And I’m not talking only about rain on your wedding day. 



If you have questions about any of this, I would love to know. I can even do a deep-dive into one of these topics if you think it’s helpful.

Please review the podcast on Apple Podcasts and write your questions in the review and I’ll incorporate them into a future episode.  If there are specific guests you want me to interview or topics you want me to cover in a future episode, let me know who that is in your review, too!

If you want even more help with your wedding planning, I’m only a phone call away, and you can schedule a 90-minute clarity call with me where we’ll talk through a specific issue or question you have.

For those of you that are excited to plan your wedding on your own, check out my Ultimate Wedding Planning checklist in the Wedding Planning Templates Shop. It’s one of my most popular items and for a good reason!

If there’s something that you’re looking for that’s not in the shop. Please let me know. I want to create resources that you want and that will help you!



breakdown of a wedding venue cost