Many couples planning a wedding in 2021, like any year, have been asking about how to find the most affordable wedding venues. Whether you’re looking to scale down your guest list for safety concerns, want to preserve budget for a larger celebration at a later date, or just want to save some cash to splurge on another budget item, we have got some ideas for you! If we’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that oftentimes the most affordable venue options are the most unique and just as instagram-worthy as the poshest ballroom. Here we’ve outlined 10 great inexpensive wedding venue ideas to help you start your search. Read on to discover the perfect idea that may have never crossed your mind.
SENTIMENTAL BACKYARD CEREMONIES
Idea: Whether it’s your home, your partner’s childhood home, or the house with the white picket fence you dreamed about owning when you were younger, a backyard space creates immediate intimacy and a comfortable ambience for your guests. If you or a relative owns the home, you enjoy the benefits of added sentimentality and meaning to the space and relatively high flexibility in choosing a wedding date, in addition to it being very low cost. If nobody in your family or close circle of friends has a home that fits the bill, you can often rent a standalone house through a homeshare site such as AirBnB for events, which is a fraction of the cost of a regular venue, assuming you have a small guest list (info about vacation rentals for a larger, affordable wedding are below!).
Some of the other benefits of a backyard wedding include the fact that pets can attend if you want them to, and there are far fewer restrictions on decorations. If you’re exploring this option, consider planning your wedding during a season that has friendly outdoor conditions so guests will be comfortable, and take into account what the ground will be like that time of year so you can advise of any clothing or shoe restrictions (e.g., block heels or flats only). It is worth noting that you will likely need to incur additional costs to rent a tent (or other outdoor covering in event of rain), guest tables, and seating, which might be included in other venues’ fees. You should compare these costs as part of the “cost” of your backyard wedding when weighing your options.
Costs aside, you can take this opportunity to transform an outdoor space with decor that makes it your own. Incorporate plush furniture outside with rich rugs (perfect for Instagram--we’ve recently been loving the trend of antique rug aisles!). Create cozy lounge areas, build a wedding arch using garden trellises and weave in florals and large leaves. Lastly, invest in strands of fairy or twinkle lights to amp up the romantic, unique feel of the space. Some couples choosing a backyard wedding venue prefer their celebration to be more casual, so the most important thing is to design what feels right to you. If your dream wedding involves a barbecue kit and a variety of lawn games for your guests, it’s your special day, and the backyard is the perfect scene for this sort of celebration! That said, we do recommend you use your wedding website and stationery elements to help guests understand just how casual or informal the celebration will be and what they should be prepared for. Our invitation etiquette guide is a great place to start to learn how to word dress code and other information.
BREATHTAKING NATIONAL PARK WEDDINGS
Cost: Prices vary from $60 to $250.
Idea: If you’re considering a microwedding or minimony, both love the outdoors, and have fit and dedicated guests able to complete a hike, National parks are an incredible place to tie the knot. Because they come with built-in backgrounds and dramatic landscapes, you’ll have some of the most unique wedding photos of any couple, and you won’t have to spend a significant amount of money on decor. Some of the best national park wedding venues are Yosemite National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Glacier National Park, Redwood National Park, Zion National Park, Olympic National Park, and Haleakala National Park. However, there are 62 to choose from! Make sure you check in with a local expert on reserving a spot at the park and getting the permitting required. We also recommend that you discuss potential park venues with local photographers during your initial interview. Local photographers can help you pinpoint the perfect spots and timeline for capturing the most impactful wedding pictures. You should also know that many parks have strict regulations about what you can and cannot bring in, so you may not be able to incorporate some décor elements you might have been considering. That being said, we’ve loved seeing brides and grooms with “Just Married” hiking packs all over Pinterest.
Given park hours and restrictions, if you’re hoping to have any formal reception or celebration beyond the ceremony and photos, you will likely need to find a secondary location offsite. Many couples choose to rent cabins or homes outside park boundaries to host an outdoor dinner or dessert and dancing under the stars after the event itself. Given you’ll have hiked a national park and gotten married that day, we recommend keeping this portion simple!
“I DO’S” AT THE BEACH
Cost: Permit costs are anywhere from $60 to $300 depending on the coast and the beach.
Idea: You probably don’t need us to explain to you why the beach is such a beautiful setting for a wedding celebration, but it’s also, luckily, one of the most inexpensive wedding venues. Most beach city permitting offices and local photographers will be able to help you find the best, most private space for your ceremony. Think about a location where you can face westward to catch the best sunset views. In some states, like Florida, private resorts and hotels often own their own strips of the beach, so before you set your heart on a spot, be sure you aren’t looking at a private venue’s property (where you would need to pay private venue fees). Just like a national park, you will need to get a permit for any beach wedding, and can also inquire about accessibility for your guests at that time. And, of course, like the other outdoor venues on this list, weather can be a factor, so make sure to scope out a nearby beach pavilion or other “plan B” should a summer squall come through. Mid-day sun may get warm, so morning or sunset vows are advised!
Using the natural beauty of a beach means you have a built-in background for your vows, so you can also save money on decorations and focus on a few beautiful, complementary touches. You can always add flowers and palm fronds to your wedding arch to frame your vows. Or, add flowers to the chairs along the aisle for a pop of color. Review our wedding flower guide for expert recommendations from a seasoned florist. 2021’s neutral on neutral trend looks particularly beautiful along the sea, with many couples using elements like bleached palms and pampas to generate a beautiful, beachy texture.
As far as the reception goes, not all public beaches allow for permits greater than 3 hours, or the pitching of event tents, tables, and seating, so you will need to confirm in advance if you would like to have your reception in the same area as your ceremony. Oftentimes you can reserve a nearby public pavilion to avoid additional event set-up fees entirely. For décor, in addition to incorporating wedding colors and floral design elements for your ceremony, consider using seashells, sand dollars, and faux bleached coral to tie your tropical look in on the table(s). Many couples like to include these design elements in their wedding stationery. After all, “Destination Wedding” is one of Minted’s top-searched terms! Review our full post on beach wedding ideas.
“Sunset by the Sea”, designed by lulu and isabelle
COZY CAFÉ SOIRÉES
Cost: Based on negotiation
Idea: If you and your partner have a favorite coffee shop nearby or love the historic architecture, decorations, or theme of a café in your city or town, it can be the perfect venue for a microwedding or more intimate affair! Many coffee shops close in the early evenings, so you may be able to negotiate with them to stay open later and have the whole space to you and your guests. They’re also less likely to mind if you want to cater your own food or bartending service. Additionally, they can probably introduce you to contacts in their local hospitality network and help you negotiate a friends and family price.
One important piece to consider when exploring a café as your affordable wedding space is how and whether you might be able to rearrange the space. For example, if dancing is important to you, you’ll want to make sure you can push tables to the side to create space for a mini dancefloor. Or if you want to include a dessert buffet, you’ll need to arrange several high-tops together (as a side note, we think the café is a perfect locale for a naked wedding cake). Once again, the manager can often help you and make sure you’re all set up on the big day.
Hosting a wedding in a coffee shop means you can theme the event in one of two ways. Lean into the coffee theme (perfect for a couple of caffeine connoisseurs) or highlight your unconventional choice and uniqueness with interesting design and unexpected hues. Consider a color palette that includes a dark chocolate or mocha color for your wedding invitations. A creative wedding favor for your guests could include monogrammed coffee mugs. You could also create custom signs that say things like “I love you coffee...and you,” or other things that tie into a “caffeination station” theme.
If you’re looking to achieve something more quirky and untraditional, we recommend starting with a bold, typographical invitation and incorporating clever copy like, “Good Coffee. Great Music. Bad Dancing.” to delight your guests. In addition to flowers, you can consider interesting, non-floral design elements like paper cranes or vintage candelabras to set the scene.
“Woodland Hills”, designed by Eric Clegg
VACATION RENTAL CELEBRATIONS
Cost: Prices range depending on the location and size of the rental.
Idea: One sure-fire way to find affordable wedding venues is by scouring VRBO and Airbnb for a private venue that may be open to hosting guests for a wedding. Both actually offer filters to search for event-friendliness, and it is an increasingly popular means of finding a wedding venue. You can find many venue types, from manors and estates to vineyards and private ranches, that are willing to host a group event. Oftentimes, they will let the lucky couple book the space one day in advance, so they have somewhere to stay the night before the wedding and can easily set everything up the following day. Many property owners on these vacation rental sites own multiple homes in an area, so it’s also worth exploring whether they are willing to block off those properties for other guests in your party to make for a simpler experience.
The benefit of selecting a home on VRBO or Airbnb is you can easily navigate through a variety of filters and photos to find exactly what you are looking for aesthetically and functionally. The ideal situation is when you find something that has built-in or natural décor elements that speak to the style you’re looking to emulate on your wedding day so you don’t have to spend significant extra money on decorations. However, it is important to remember that homeowners are likely to have specific restrictions about bringing event rentals or catering vendors onto the property, so be certain to clear your specific plan with them directly before completing any booking agreement.
One pro tip for the day-of: Because you’ll be hosting at a private residence that may not be well known to local taxi or delivery services, sending a custom direction card for guests to physically bring with them can avoid last-minute panicked calls and texts. If you need something special, you can reach out to our Custom Design Services team to create a custom venue map to include in your invitation suite.
“The Ace”, designed by Smudge Design
ROMANTIC GARDEN CEREMONIES
Cost: TBD, depending on the garden.
Idea: Have you dreamt of a secret garden-esque wedding? The good news is that you don’t need your own French chateau to capture this experience. Full disclaimer, while some of the ideas on this list are free wedding venue ideas, many gardens and parks will charge for the time and space, especially if they are privately funded or maintained. That being said, many public gardens are organized into smaller garden areas or vignettes that allow you to create an interesting and beautiful flow for the order of your wedding day or night, and help create an atmosphere of seclusion and intimacy. Botanical elements are already taken care of, so this is a great way to save on what can be an expensive flower budget. We still love when couples feature a few arrangements right where they stand to say “I Do.” The added touch helps accent the space and ensure the photos are magical.
It goes without saying, but most couples who choose a garden venue gravitate toward floral and botanical themes, which you can integrate easily into your wedding website and stationery. As a bonus, we’ve even seen some couples send invites that contain pressed flowers. Couples can also count on the garden backdrop to frame their reception, but you can always ask if the garden is willing to trim some blooms or foliage to incorporate into your tablescapes.
Given the element of weather, weddings during the Spring and Summer are probably best, but if you don’t mind wearing a shawl or jacket, we’ve seen some breathtaking ceremonies framed by fall foliage that were perfectly cozy and chic. Be careful with sundown timing, though! You should determine the time of day to start depending on where you live and whether you would prefer a tea time reception or a more traditional dinner.
“Everlasting”, designed by Susan Moyal
MOVIE THEATER OR PLAYHOUSE NUPTIALS
Idea: If your personality shines on stage and there is an old quirky playhouse nearby, why not explore renting it for a night when a show isn’t scheduled? Between productions, you might find a decent rate! Given the time we’re living in, theaters are drawing smaller crowds so it’s possible you can work out a deal that you and theater management are both happy with. If you end up going this route, be sure to put your name up in lights on the marquee for your wedding. It is a can’t-miss photo op!
For additional savings, many theaters have a variety of tables and chairs on hand that you can likely negotiate with your space rental in lieu of contracting with a separate event company. This can also add to the charm of your décor, as you are likely to be able to mix and match different pieces for a found, eclectic feel.
The lighting in a theater will be fun to play with, as it can be customized to match almost any wedding colors. Also consider using twinkly lights or safe candles to set an extra romantic environment for reciting your vows. For the old Hollywood aficionados, this is also an opportunity to integrate a vintage theme or dress code if your dream is to be wed in a different era. And, unlike the other options on this list, you are unlikely to have to worry about the weather, so this is a particularly good option for a fall or winter wedding.
“Crescendo”, designed by Griffinbell Paper Co.
SUNSET CRUISE CEREMONIES
Cost: Reach out to local boat rental services for pricing. It can be more affordable than you might think!
Idea: Almost every guest gets excited about the idea of a celebration out at sea, and a boat can be surprisingly versatile with respect to theme, from tropical to nautical to country club to classic & formal. Surrounded by water and beautiful views, perhaps of a special city skyline, it’s not likely you will need to do significant decorating, and most boats have a built in sound system so you can save on DJ costs if you have a playlist you want to plug in.
You can use customized wedding signs that are tied with thicker rope to match the theme and guide guests around the ship to the ceremony space, dinner, and dancefloor. Offer festive favors like sailor hats, leis, and other island-wear to those who attend to solidify your at-sea theme. Of course, if you’re more classic in your vision, any ship looks beautiful with simple twinkle lights under the stars. In addition, you can consider creating a monogram that incorporates the steering wheel of a ship or a seahorse (our design team is happy to help you with this). The opportunities to get creative and tailor something to your specific vision are endless.
HAVE A MEANINGFUL CEREMONY AT A SCHOOL
Cost: TBD, depending on the school.
Idea: Some private schools and universities offer inexpensive wedding venues for alumni. If the couple went to the school or met there, it could be really special to tie the knot at the same location, and we would bet many friends and family also have a connection to their alma mater. Many schools provide different buildings with unique architecture that make for great photo backdrops too. You can have your photographer take photos at different spots on campus. Recreate key memories like the first time you met, a first kiss, or a first date. Minted has a printable list of questions to run by your wedding photographer in advance of the big day so you don’t miss that perfect shot!
When thinking about your theme, playing into the school colors can be fun, and there’s a good chance the school will already have many decorations you can use in the color scheme. Use pops of school colors in your flowers, ribbons on the backs of chairs, the groom’s tie, etc. You can make the guest book a jersey from the football team, or have an old beloved professor officiate to make the ceremony especially personal. When considering the actual location on campus, the school or university may offer up a small auditorium, classroom, chapel, or study hall.
CLUBHOUSE “I DO’S”
Cost: TBD. Potentially low cost or free if you are a member or otherwise have an in!
Idea: One option for affordable wedding venues is a club or organization you may be a member of, or that someone you know is a member of. Perhaps it is a museum you volunteer at or a rotary club that has a venue hall. Maybe even a sailing club your parents participate in. Now is the time to explore your network to see what organizations people are a part of and who may be able to get a special rate for members! It’s also possible that this will yield both indoor and outdoor options, depending on the time of year and you can decide which you prefer.
The great thing about local spaces is that they are typically pretty flexible on what they offer and are more than willing to have their members create happy memories in their spaces. They are also already set up for groups to gather and will come pre-equipped with chairs, tables, sound systems, and, in some cases, serving dishes or a small kitchen. And, you can typically decorate a blank canvas to perfectly match whatever your theme or vision is, so you don’t have to worry about camouflaging a space. Instead, think about the things that matter most to you and your partner and focus on that. It might be flowers, food, favors, or any numbers of things you want to pour love into.
Other ways you can secure an affordable wedding venue include:
- Certain days and times are more affordable. Getting married during the week is almost always going to be less expensive, and morning weddings will be cheaper. More and more couples are showing a willingness to get married on a Thursday or Friday night, so you will be in good company.
- If possible, partner with your wedding location to use materials they already have, such as chairs, catering, staff, etc. rather than having to source externally. Always be sure to clarify how much you might be able to DIY or bring in yourself. Print out our wedding venue questionnaire as you perform your search.
- Ask if payments upfront may reduce the total cost compared to paying in installments. Another consideration is, if you pay with your credit card, perhaps you’ll earn points toward your honeymoon!
- Pick a venue that is already beautiful and doesn’t need a lot of decorations.
- Ask your talented friends and/or family to chip in. If you have a friend who is a baker, ask her to make the cake. If you have an aunt who used to be a seamstress, as for her help with bridesmaids dresses or alterations to the groom’s tux.
- Consider having a city hall wedding and hosting the reception at a different venue built primarly for dining, dancing, and entertainment. This way your venue will not require an arch, seating, and other details required to host a ceremony.