The next part in my ongoing series on planning a green and frugal wedding. So far, I have covered invitations and food and drink, sharing some great ideas for doing things outside of the standard wedding traditions. Today, I’m going to cover something that, for most people, represents the biggest wedding expense – the venue. This is one avenue where its entirely possible to be both green and/or frugal, without seriously defying standard wedding traditions. Essentially, picking a venue comes down to identifying a few major priorities, then finding a location that fits those priorities and your budget.
One Venue or Two?
One of the first big decisions to make is whether to hold the ceremony at the same venue as the reception, or to use two different venues. This is generally a matter of personal preference and will depend largely on where the ceremony is to be held. From an environmental and financial point-of-view, holding both the ceremony and reception in the same place can make the most sense. Its convenient, easier to plan and limits the amount that you and your guests have to travel to attend the wedding. Personally, this is the route that we are taking however this is made easier by the fact that we are having a civil, not religious, ceremony. In that sense, we are free to essentially get married anywhere we want. In a religious ceremony, you are frequently restricted to holding the ceremony in an appropriate place of worship.
Indoors or Outdoors?
The next big decision to make is whether to hold the ceremony and/or reception indoors or outdoors. An outdoor wedding can be lovely and can promote a connection with the natural world. But you can easily fall prey to that same natural world, as its impossible to predict what the weather will be like on your wedding day. If you are planning to have an outdoor ceremony or reception, make sure you have a backup plan or a rain date in place in case of bad weather.
Banquet Hall or Multi-Use Facility?
There are all kinds of dedicated banquet hall facilities nowadays that specialize in hosting weddings or other kind of major banquet style events. These venues offer the convenience of having to do very little planning – you pay a set fee, and the venue often takes care of almost everything. But without a lot of unique decorations, these venues can often all look the same. They also generally carry a higher price tag simply because they are well known wedding venues. Sometimes the best deal is to rent out a facility that is not primarily a wedding venue, but that can be creatively used as one. Local community centres are a great example of this – they are large spaces and are typically only looking to recoup basic costs, so fees are more reasonable. With a little bit of decorative flair, they can easily look just as nice as a standard banquet hall. On the downside, they usually require more effort on the part of the couple to plan the wedding.
What Will Your Venue’s Ecological Footprint Be?
If having a green wedding is important to you, make sure you ask them specific questions about their environmental practices or green initiatives before booking. For example, does the facility sort waste into true waste and recyclables? Do they use pesticides or other chemicals on the outdoor green spaces? Do they source their goods from local vendors (i.e. linens, food if they are catering, etc.)? Do they clean the facility with eco-friendly products? You are likely paying a lot of money to book the venue – in this situation, you have a lot of power to vote with your dollar for a facility that makes the environment a priority.
Another thing to consider is how far will your guests have to travel to get to the facility? It may be worth booking a less desirable facility that is far closer for the majority of your guests to cut down on the amount of resources your guests have to consume to transport themselves to the venue.
It’s All About Choice
At the end of the day, choosing a wedding venue is all about personal preference. The venue will be playing host to one of the most important days of your life, and it likely represents the biggest expense in your wedding budget. So choose carefully and try to find a balance between what’s important to you and the convenience of your guests.
For our upcoming wedding, we decided to book a community center building that has a wonderful outdoor space attached to it. Because its not a dedicated wedding venue, it was several thousand dollars cheaper than most of the venues I had researched and we were able to book it for an entire weekend. We plan to hold to the ceremony outside, weather permitting, then the reception will be held inside with guests free to roam outside as they please. If worse comes to worse, we can easily move the ceremony inside and keep everyone out of the rain. While we originally wanted to get married out of the city and deep in nature, our venue now allows us to maintain a connection to nature while remaining relatively convenient to our friends and family.Like What You See? Share the Story!
As a guest, I’ve always liked it when the ceremony and reception are in the same place – less traveling and no idle time. Not sure what I would do for my own wedding, but it sounds like you guys have a good plan!
Definitely indoors. Auckland is stunning but the weather is awful and unpredictable.
I wanted an all-in-one venue but that may not happen! I’m less concerned about decor than I am about who will handle serving and cleanup if we go the budget way to a hall/club reception rather than a venue that provides staff.
That’s a very valid concern! I didn’t really think to speak to that. We will be having to hire someone on our own to run the bar for the night, and then we are just going to count on the spirit of community and everyone chipping in to make sure our potluck goes off without a hitch. It could be a disaster, but we have a lot of friends that I’m hoping will be all too happy to help on the day of. As for cleanup, that will be us the day after the wedding. 😀
My girlfriend and I have talked about weddings. At first we thought maybe we could do a cool outdoor wedding at her cabin. There is a gorgeous beach, it would be frugal and very unique. Now we are leaning more towards a destination wedding. The best part about this is keeping costs and stress extremely low. I place a huge premium on keeping planning stress to a minimum. It was also a sneaky way to keep the guest list short!
Well, a destination wedding certainly keeps your cost/stress low, I don’t know if the same could be said for your guests 🙂
I know quite a few people who have been less than thrilled that their family/friends have had destination weddings. But it can work to your advantage as well, as the only people who come are the ones who really want to be there with you.
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Because our guest list is so small, a backyard wedding was suitable. We just found someone else’s backyard using Airbnb.com! Definitely a bit more work than a dedicated public venue, but it’s a lot less expensive.
That’s an interesting idea Remy, I wouldn’t have thought of that! I guess I would be worried about something happening to someone else’s house. Thanks for sharing!
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Both as a guest and as a groom, I definitely love the idea of having the ceremony and the reception in the same place, or at the very least, within walking distance! Not only does it save on gas but it’s a lot less confusing for guests!