Your choice of wedding venue colors everything else around it: the food, the flowers, the decorations, and the general mood of the party. But a great venue doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank, and a unique choice can go a long way to creating lasting memories for you and your guests.

Avoid Saturday Afternoons in Summer

We’ll start with the easy one: avoid Saturday. It is by far the most popular day for weddings, and venues know it. Some may charge as much as a 50% premium over the slower days of Sunday and Friday. While it might be slightly more inconvenient for your guests, if you can swing it, your wallet will thank you. By the same token, if you’re willing to have the ceremony in the morning and serve lunch rather than dinner at your reception, your bill will likely be substantially lower. You also get more time after the party with your new spouse!

While you’re cost-cutting, consider the advantages of a fall or winter wedding rather than the traditional summer or spring ceremony. Again, with so many fewer weddings being performed in that time, venues will be slashing prices just so the space doesn’t go to waste.

Venture Out

If you live in a big city, spaces are always a little bit smaller, schedules more crowded, and prices higher. If you’re willing to drive an hour or so out of the city limits, you can almost always find a great spot with plenty of room at a fraction of the cost of a big city wedding.

More metaphorically, consider non-traditional venues for your ceremony, reception, or both. Many towns have theaters filled with charm that can be adapted for a wedding with minimal decoration. Public parks, a spacious backyard of some of the family, an art gallery the bridge and groom enjoy, and even a cozy bed and breakfast location can host amazing events and provide unique experiences at a lower price point than your standard event halls and churches.

Pay Smartly

Booking a wedding venue is just like every other major purchase: there is always room to negotiate. Field offers from many different venues and leverage it when speaking to the location you really want – though always be willing to walk away, as a negotiation you aren’t willing to abandon isn’t really a negotiation. Whatever you do, always mention that you’re booking a “party,” as some venues will instantly move the goalposts up once they hear you’re having a wedding. Paying the full amount with cash upfront can also reduce the total bill, though you need to make sure you have a contract in place to protect you in case of some unforeseen catastrophe forcing the date to move.