- The average 2021 wedding venue cost $10,700, taking up a big portion of the total average budget of $34,000.
- Some venues include a large number of services, such as catering, event planners and decor that can drive up the price tag—but might be worth it.
- You may be able to save some money on a venue by holding your wedding on an off-peak day or time, selecting a place that doesn’t need additional decoration or cutting down your guest list.
You spent all that time finding the person you wanted to marry—but you might now think that finding a wedding venue is the harder feat. Finding a beautiful space for your special day that fits your aesthetic, your guest list, your budget and your timeline is no easy task.
As you start hunting for your venue, here are the most important things to know, including the average wedding venue cost, questions to ask about your venue and ways to save money.
Inside this article
What is a wedding venue?
A wedding venue is simply a place where a wedding is held. Common wedding venues include churches, country clubs and barns.
According to research from the Knot, these were the most popular wedding venues in 2021:
Banquet halls (20%)
Farms, barns and ranches (18%)
Historical buildings and homes (12%)
However, venues can take a variety of forms. People get married in national parks, at Airbnbs, in their own backyards, in conservatories and in museums. Your imagination—and your budget—set the limits.
How Much Does a Wedding Cost?
How Much Does a Wedding Cost?
How much your wedding costs depends on a lot of things, including guest count, location and whether you decide to hire a wedding planner or a live band. Here’s a breakdown of wedding expenses.Find out more
How much does a wedding venue cost?
According to the Knot, in 2021 couples spent an average of $10,700 on their venue. About 75% of these venues included rentals, like chairs and linens, as a part of the venue package. Taken out of the total average budget of $34,000 (including the engagement ring), it represents a good 30% of what couples are spending on a wedding overall.
"Your venue and associated reception costs will likely consume the bulk of your budget," says Jessica Bishop, founder of the wedding planning website the Budget-Savvy Bride. "Feeding and watering your guests is typically a sizable chunk, and good food and beverage options are always appreciated by guests."
Should you consider so-called wedding loans, or a personal loan for your wedding? While it can be tempting to fund the wedding of your dreams with a personal loan, there are downsides. You would be starting off your marriage with that debt, and existing loans can make it more difficult to qualify for new loans if you hope to buy a house or a car. If you’re determined to take out a loan, make sure you get the best interest rate possible and that your budget can handle the repayment plan.
What determines the cost?
A lot of factors go into determining the cost, but here are some of the biggest ones:
Guest count: An event with a long guest list is likely to require a larger space as well as more food, drinks and table settings. That’s before you add on other costs, like invitations and favors. In fact, in 2021 the average cost per guest was $266!
Date: The more desirable the date and time of your wedding, the pricier the venue is likely to be. It’s simple supply and demand: Most couples want to get married on a weekend when the weather is beautiful. Venues for weekday and winter weddings are usually less expensive.
Popularity: Again, basic economics can determine the cost of your venue, as well as its availability. If there’s a long waitlist for a specific venue, their prices are likely to be higher than less-busy options.
Add-ons: How much you expect your venue to do will also determine the cost. If you’re looking for a package that includes flowers, decor, linens, food, beverages, cake, event planners, set-up and clean-up, it’s going to cost more than just the venue itself. For 2021 weddings where the couple packaged these costs with the vendor, the average cost rose to $15,800.
Planning Your Dream Wedding for Less
Planning Your Dream Wedding for Less
Your dream wedding doesn't have to break the bank. We'll show you how.Find out more
What to ask when choosing your venue
There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to a venue besides if they have your preferred date open. From how you want it to look and feel, to more practical questions like if it can fit your numerous extended family, you should seek out answers before signing a contract. Not all of these considerations will be reflected in the bottom line, but they can turn what looks like the perfect spot to a definite no.
Here are some of the most important questions to ask when you’re shopping for a wedding venue:
Occupancy: Can they handle your guest list? You don’t want to send out invites then take them back! On the other hand, a small wedding in a massive space might be awkward in its own way.
Style: Is the kind of decor you want possible in the space? For instance, if you really want a giant ice sculpture of two swans kissing at your rooftop wedding, you’ll want to make sure they have a service elevator large enough to accommodate it. Or if you want a sleek, modern wedding, a space with rustic paneling probably won’t work.
Location: Take into consideration how you and your guests will get there. If you’re having the wedding and the reception in different places, is it quick and easy to get to the second location? Or if you’re holding a wedding in a big city, is there enough parking and public transit options?
In-house services: If you want to have a more extravagant affair, you may be looking for a venue that can do it all. Ask them what’s possible to do in-house—you might be able to take care of almost everything with them if convenience is your top priority.
BYOB policies: One way to save money is to supply your own alcohol, but many venues won’t allow it. Make sure to check first instead of assuming.
Vendor and other restrictions: Outside alcohol might not be the only thing that’s not allowed. Some venues require you to use in-house services or approved vendors, so if a certain cake-maker or live band is a must for you, run it by the venue before you sign the contract.
Hidden fees: These fees might not be hidden because of some evil intent on the part of the venue, but just a part of the total price you forgot to consider. Some common hidden fees according to the Knot include gratuities, service fees, vendor trials, clean up and breakdown cost and overtime fees if you go over schedule.
Cancellation and refund policy: An extremely important thing to discuss with your vendor is what happens in a worst-case scenario. What if a tornado touches down? What if the venue catches on fire? What if the whole bridal party comes down with COVID? Make sure you understand the fine print so you’re not on the hook for the whole sum if something disastrous happens.
Should you consider wedding insurance? Even if your venue has a forgiving cancellation policy, they can't help if your partner gets cold feet—but there are insurance policies that cover such events.
How to save money on a wedding venue
There are a variety of ways to save money on a wedding venue. Some are relatively minor, while others will impact every step of your planning. Here are some suggestions:
Choose an off-peak time and date. The time of the year, the day of the week and even the time of the wedding can impact how much a venue costs. Opting for a winter wedding, a weekday wedding or a wedding earlier or later in the day could lower the price of a venue.
Unfortunately, you probably can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you’re trying to stick to a budget and save money, you’ll probably have to make compromises, whether that’s not inviting some college friends you’re not as close to anymore, or having your wedding in February instead of June.
Cut the guest count. As noted above, you can save money by booking a smaller venue. Whether or not you bundle food, settings and other considerations with your venue, having a smaller wedding is one of the most straightforward ways to cut costs.
Hold your wedding and reception on the same site. This won’t apply in every situation, but you’ll often be able to get a better deal—and have a less stressful day—by bundling your venues. You might also trim transportation costs this way because guests won’t need to be ferried from the ceremony to the dance floor.
Choose a place you don’t need to decorate. This doesn’t lower your venue costs per se, but you can cut a lot of costs elsewhere if you choose a place that’s already beautiful. A garden, an ornate church or an elegant restaurant might allow you to seriously cut your budget for flowers and other decor.
How I Planned My Wedding on a $6,000 Budget
I had a beautiful, intimate wedding without going over budget by keeping it small, making unconventional choices and focusing on what we really care about.
Choose a nontraditional outdoor space. A public park or beach, a block party and your backyard are all great, low-cost places to hold your wedding. In most cases, you won’t have to pay for the space, but you might have to pay for a city permit or ask for your neighbors’ forgiveness. And while it can be more difficult and expensive to pull off these options in a big city, it could still save you a good deal.
Use an Airbnb or Vrbo. "If you're doing something intimate, booking a unique vacation rental for your nearest and dearest that doubles as a wedding venue is a fun choice," Bishop says.
Whatever your budget or taste, there’s a wedding venue for you out there. Take the time to ask the pertinent questions and seek out alternative options, and you’ll find the perfect place.