How To: Scrimp & Save on your Big Day: Venues

Where you have your marital shindig is often a big deal to most bride and grooms. Whether you fancy a big glamour-filled Georgian hotel or a rustic barn (ooo you hipsters you), there is a way to save cash at all turns….if you are willing to remember that THIS IS JUST A PARTY….yes…I am banging on about that again…your wedding is just a glorious party to share your love with your family & friends…it is not a film/OK magazine/a chance to outdo your sister/cousin/friend.


If you must have the big Georgian hotel….how about getting married out of season? March or October would be considerably cheaper or during the week. Be warned that you often can’t bring your own catering, which for us was a deal breaker as I knew I could make our own food work really hard and cost much less than a hotel would charge. (But hey…that’s a WHOLE other blog post).

If the rustic barn is more for you…do you know someone who owns a farm or has a family member got a massive garden you can pop a marquee in? We have had quite a few friends get ‘married from home’ in their parent’s gardens/tractor barns and they have been some of the most lovely weddings (and much more stressless as they have time to set up/clear out) I have been to. When it comes to venues on the cheap you need to be ready to think outside the box and rethink your ‘dreams’….you know….the one where you marry the one you love and live happily ever after…way way after your wedding day…

I actually arranged both venues (ceremony and reception) without P seeing either…because you know…I’m naughty and controlling like that. I only had one request from him, that they were light enough for photography…his main concern… le sigh.

Before we moved the wedding forward by 12 months due to my Grandmother’s health, I fell in love with a converted railway station where we could have held our reception. It was mostly wheelchair accessible for my father, it was perfect for my Hornby-mad husband to be (a hobby he inherited from his grandfather), it would be so photogenic….the thing that wasn’t perfect? The whopping £4,000 price tag to just get in the door. That was without catering, without furniture for the marquee, without a flipping dancefloor…. it tore my heart to realise that I just couldn’t let myself pay that for a ONE DAY party.

I begun to search for other unique wedding venues, as a hotel really wasn’t for us. One thing I did realise was that a good old village hall was the cheapest option for our reception. I searched the local areas for small and quaint village halls, and I struck gold with the tiny village of Damerham. The grounds had a river, complete with picturesque bridge and some gorgeous willows…and it cost us £425, from 6pm the night before till midnight on the day of the wedding and it was fully wheelchair accessible! BARGAIN.

Damerham village hall family wedding willowsOur ceremony venue was a little bit more expensive, at nearly a quarter of our budget, but as we aren’t religious, we decided that a village church really wasn’t for us. Yet we wanted something a little fun and a little different…and MY dealbreaker….to be able to walk next to my dad down the aisle.

We found the Medieval Hall in my hometown and booked it as soon as I had had a viewing. It felt so much like a church due to being built at the same time, but I got to have Bruno Mars ‘Marry You’ on my descent down the aisle and a song from The Muppets on the way out! And come on…it looks SO COOL!

1265724_10153182038730524_1806008068_o bride groom medieval hall salisbury

My advice….have a look at weird venues…. not ‘oooo that’s a bit odd…a barn’…..type of venues…have a look at museums, local landmarks, quirky pubs, cool restaurants if that is your thing. Do have an ask around if your family has a biggish garden and you think you could get a decent sized marquee in there…and a big tip… DON’T invite the world and his wife.

The more guests you have, the bigger the venue has to be, the more food you have to serve. We had a strict guestlist, which shrunk and shrunk. We only invited friends and family who made a difference in our lives. I wasn’t about to invite people I never see/talk to just to show off….that is completely the opposite of why you get married. We invited people who we thought would truly love to share our day with us. People who we didn’t care if they turned up in jeans and flip-flops, as long as they were there. People who would still think our day was great/magical/beautiful after I had cried my make-up off through THE ENTIRE CEREMONY and the fact we served crisps instead of canapes….you know the VITAL people who make us happy to be around. Our vitals ended up coming to around 85 people… mainly because my family is HUGE and P has about 300% more close friends than I do. It was a great number and we were able to fit medium-sized venues.

Salisbury Medieval Hall weddingMy next tip is to choose a venue that you don’t need to decorate (like our ceremony venue) or that you can decorate yourself (like our reception venue). Granted my reception venue may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I needed to house eating and dancing…that was it really….the fact that it was alright looking was a win!

Damerham Village Hall wedding receptionDamerham village hall wedding receptionI will be doing a BIG post of decor, as that is what I spent a LOT of the time running up to the wedding prepping….but for very little cash.

My FINAL tip is DON’T say it’s your wedding if you can help it. It bumps up the price threefold. Say something like ‘family party’ or ‘family celebration’.

Please, brides…I beg you…just remember your venue is to house the happiness…it is not the be all and end all.

Hope this has helped! Any questions? Pop them in the comments below!



6 responses to “How To: Scrimp & Save on your Big Day: Venues

  1. Great advice and I’m loving the fact you got to walk out to a song from the muppets!!

    Good idea on saying it’s a family celebration… hadn’t even considered that would bump up the price.

    Can’t wait to see your décor post! 🙂

    • It was great…I loved being able to use ‘our’ sort of music!
      The word wedding adds so much cost…which is CRAZY! You would get the same venue if you were having your Nan’s 70th there, as if you were having your wedding reception… it is all about expectation…and by that i mean what vendors EXPECT you to be happy to pay.

  2. Do you ever get any stick for your views on “it’s a wedding not a marriage”? I think it’s ace and was exactly the attitude we had. We went for a fun theme so my dress wasn’t a wedding dress as such and cost £15. We have friends who think we are totally nuts but I didn’t want to start married life in debt x

    • I am always worried that I will be shouted down from the rooftops anytime I post anything about my ‘wedding views’, but so far I have had nothing but lovely comments. I think my mum was a bit puzzled that I didn’t want to have a big ‘ole princess day, as I am the only girl in my family, but it just wasn’t my scene. I said throughout the whole process as long as everyone has a great time, then my wedding would be perfect.
      Everyone’s day is personal, and I have been to weddings all up and down the price spectrum and they have all been perfect for the bride in question. My thoughts/lifestyle choices on being a tightwad doesn’t mean I didn’t think those weddings were beautiful, worthwhile and didn’t stop me having a good time.
      Our friends have been really supportive and understood that it was going to be a ‘muck in, mess about and have a good time’ sort of day over ‘be treated like royalty’ day….I mean they come over to my house and have to make their own cups of tea most of the time…so why would my wedding day be any different?!
      Thank you for your lovely comment…sorry about the essay in response! 😀

  3. I think weddings have changed a lot since I got married and that was only 16 years ago ! We didn’t treat it is a wedding neither. As if you look back at those good old days when a wedding meant, that you couldn’t live together, have sex or have kids before marriage. That has all gone out of the window now, which is sad to be honest with you.
    I already had one child, pregnant with no 2 and we lived together, so we decided to do our own thing. And just to treat it as a special day which was still cool. Yes I would have loved the big dress and the fancy wedding, but it wasn’t our thing, so we just did it our way. Epcots pretzels are epic by the way.
    Sometimes I do wish that I had done it the other way but, life throws curve balls at you and you have to deal with them the best you can. She says nursing a broken foot !

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