Finding a Frugal Venue for Wedding Ceremonies and Receptions

I announced that we got engaged a few weeks ago and a few people commented that they wanted to hear more about the wedding process and how we planned to save money along the way. We’ve already made a few decision regarding basics of the wedding, such as the date and the size of the guest list and those decisions are pretty basic.

We didn’t pick the date based off of anything special, we just did what worked best for us and what we could fit in the schedule. In terms of size of the guest list, it was a pretty easy decision because we have a very limited budget. We’re pretty much inviting only immediate family and we’re keeping the guest list under 20.

With those two items crossed off the wedding planning list we could now start making some more detailed decisions. The first thing on that list was the venue for the ceremony and reception. We had heard that venues could run up your budget fast so we knew we needed a plan of attack.

How to Find a Frugal Wedding Ceremony and Reception Venue for Your Wedding

Some of the best ways to come up with ideas for frugal venues is to ask people who are established in your community. We are relatively new to our area so asking friends who have lived here their whole lives was a huge help. They know the area and where to find the great deals.

Be sure to think off the beaten path and consider public areas. In general, you can rent these areas pretty cheap and it is a great way to support your local community government. If you haven’t been to the local parks in your area you might be surprised at how nice some of them are!

Make sure to check out places where you have relationships with the owners or organization. You could probably get a great deal at your local church or potentially a not-for-profit organization building that you volunteer for. Even if you don’t think they’ll let you hold an event, it probably wouldn’t hurt to ask.

If you heart is set on a more expensive venue there are still ways to be frugal. Try scheduling your ceremony and reception at off peak times of the year. Another option is to schedule it on a weekday rather than a weekend or to schedule your wedding ceremony or reception at a non-traditional time such as in the morning.

By scheduling when the venues aren’t as busy you can likely get a discount on the normal price.

Our Initial Ideas for Wedding Venues

We initially had been talking about two ideas for wedding venues that ended up not working out for various reasons. We were seriously considering having the wedding at the beach or in my parents’ back yard on the water.

The first plan was to have our wedding on the beach. We currently live just 3 blocks from some of the most beautiful beaches but we’re going to be moving into town before the wedding. The things we really didn’t like about the beach was it would be hard for some guests to be able to get to the actual ceremony (walking in sand is a horrible idea for older people) and we’d be at the mercy of the weather with no hope of cover. Weather can be very unpredictable in Florida and with my luck there would be an all day downpour on the day of our wedding.

The second plan was to have our wedding in my parents’ backyard. They have a great backyard that would be an amazing backdrop for the wedding but it had the same problems as the beach with the weather. The other problem is it just isn’t big enough, even for our limited guest list.

Our Frugal Wedding Venue

We ended up finding a great deal on a frugal wedding venue. We decided to have our wedding in a great public park in our city. All we had to do was talk to the leisure services board for our city and ask to reserve the park. The park has many great outside locations we could have the wedding and a covered area in case it rains so we’ll be fine no matter what the weather.

As far as cost goes, they do charge a fee of $100 to reserve the park for a 3 hour time block  and a $250 security deposit in case we need to set up electricity or some other service. We’ll get the security deposit back after clean up and leave the park the way we found it.

Our Frugal Reception Venue

We had to do a bit searching to find a frugal reception alternative that would work well for us. We actually asked some of our friends for ideas and many recommended a local community center in a nearby community in our city. They don’t charge their residents for use but we had to pay a $50 use fee and a $100 deposit which we’ll get back after we clean the place up when we leave.

The reception venue isn’t anything fancy but it doesn’t matter because fancy isn’t important to us. It is a nice building that provides tables, chairs a small kitchen area and a decent outside space. We get complete access to the venue the whole entire day of our wedding so we can have people there earlier in the day to set up if we want. We thought it was a steal for the price!

So now that we have the wedding venue and reception venue settled I’m sure we’ll have a lot more decisions to make. What should we be looking out for and do you have any frugal suggestions?

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. Weddings can be SOOOO expensive if you let it get out of control. When my wife and I got married we went to all the wedding expos and looked at plenty of venues, but most of them were going to charge $200 a head. As we were planning on inviting about 100 people, there was no way I wanted to spend that much money.

    We ended up finding a nice little local place which had a great atmosphere and cost $100 a head. It didn’t overlook the ocean or have fireworks, but it was well decorated and everyone had a good time.

  2. Great work on having the reception at a public park! My wife always wanted to get married on the beach as she’s from San Diego, but chose against it because it would’ve been difficult for some of our older family members as you said. There were a number of things we saved money on. We got our flowers done by the local grocery store which ended up costing only a few hundred dollars and they were great. We also did a lot of things ourselves and did the party favors on our own. Some Hershey kisses or some other candy and a little tulle works great.

  3. Weddings are huge deals! There are a lot of details and questions that must be answered. I would start with what kind of wedding I wanted. Theoretically, you only want to get married once and it should be special, but it does not have to cost a fortune. I have known people who get out of control because of one issue. It all starts with what kind of wedding do you want? I am not talking about a theme or something, it is what is important to you.

  4. You’re saving a BUNDLE on the venues. We did a combo wedding/reception venue, and dropped $2,800! Though, we did also have 150+ guests 🙂 If you need any tips on other wedding-related items, let us know. My wife did a stellar job, and though we dropped some coin on photography, videography, venue, the rest was SUPER inexpensive.

  5. Congratulations! I went through this wedding business with my daughter 2 1/2 years ago, and even with a wedding planner we were running ragged, doing what we had to do.

    There will be unexpected expenses pop up that you are not thinking of now, so set aside a little cushion for that. We paid for and ordered the dress 7 months before the wedding date – TEN DAYS before the wedding the dress boutique ruined the dress. (If I hadn’t been buried with the wedding, I would have walked up and down with a picket sign in front of their business and a pole with the ruined dress trussed to it like a kite: DON”T SHOP HERE! And no, I did not get a refund of the money paid for that first dress)

    Another wedding dress boutique took us under their wing, we sat through a morning of trying on dresses, and once one was selected the boutique was able to order it from the designer in New York and have it shipped overnight – which means 2 days 🙂 Overnight delivery from a NY dress designer has its own meaning, it means “thousands of dollars”. Alterations then had to be made. The owner of the business did those herself based on the circumstances, alterations cost me another few hundred. We picked the dress up on our way out of town – talk about a close shave. Personalized reception favors that were ordered and paid for 2 months in advance never showed, and we were scrambling the last two weeks trying to replace those.

    One bridesmaid decided to bow out two months before the big day; her dress did not fit the replacement, another dress could not be found in the right size, and we ended up buying another round of special-order bridesmaids dresses.

    There is more, but I don’t want to scare you. I’ve told the other daughter she isn’t allowed to have a wedding, the Las Vegas drive-thru will work for her just fine – I’ll even spring for the limo.

    Thing is, you just never know. Always have a back up plan and some extra money in the bank 🙂

  6. Never planned a wedding, but I know from watching others plan the whole process can be really stressful and a huge drain. I think a public park is a wonderful idea. My sister got married in my parent’s backyard. It was a really special and meaningful gesture for our family that she wanted to be married at home (we live on a pond and have spend hours and hours swimming and boating and having fun at home).

  7. Congratulations on your engagement! Very happy for you!

  8. Wow! That’s inexpensive and original at the same time. I have suggestions, but they aren’t based on saving money…they’re based on saving your sanity. My advice is to make someone the “host” of the wedding and hand them all the responsibilities of taking care of the fine points that day. Often parents or the bride/groom get stuck handling these details and it can quickly crash the day.

  9. Sounds like you’re off to a great start!

  10. eemusings says:

    Nice one, finding such a bargain!

    We looked into some public venues but ultimately settled on a former wine estate turned arts centre. $500 all up for the afternoon! And we don’t pay a cent until the week before the wedding.

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