Spoiler alert: Your venue makes a big difference!

By Alyssa Brown
March 17, 2020
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It's so, so easy to go over budget when planning a wedding, but what does it take to stay under? Other than setting a realistic budget from the start of the planning, being accurate with your guest count estimations and selecting the right venue are critical to coming in under your budget target. Here, wedding planner Sara Fried of Fête Nashville offers her best tips for coming in under budget and keeping expenses in check.

Be realistic about your guest count.

"The number one variable regarding your wedding budget is headcount," Fried says. "So, before you send out save the dates, be sure to make a budget based on your estimated headcount. Once you send out your wedding invitations, it'll be hard to cut back on anything substantial; you can change to less expensive linens, for example, but that will likely only save you a minimal amount compared to the overall budget."

Compare costs of renting versus purchasing.

"There are some items that may be more economical to purchase instead of renting," Fried says. "Even if you end up tossing them or donating them at the end of the evening, votive candles, large hurricane candle holders, and candles can be purchased in bulk online. Two big trends right now for Boho weddings are macramé hangings and fun rugs down the aisle, which can be found at discount home stores."

Consider all-inclusive wedding venue.

"A great way to stay under budget is to have your ceremony and reception in the same location to eliminate providing transportation and reduce the number of vendors," Fried says. "For example, instead of hiring strings for the ceremony in one venue and a separate trio for the cocktail hour, the musicians can easily move over to a different space and continue playing if you're in the same venue."

Choose a venue that not only works for your budget but sets a realistic framework for your budget planning.

Fried advises budget-conscious couples to select a venue that's more inclusive, like a hotel. She says, "Hotel ballroom weddings are often overlooked, but with the right décor, a ballroom can be completely transformed!" In addition to being easy spaces to work with and stay within a realistic budget, couples will benefit from more affordable room rates for guests, as negotiated based on events being hosted at the hotel. She says, "Guests can stay in the hotel where the wedding is, eliminating transportation costs."

Being able to host various events in one location can also help keep a budget in check. Fried says, "A Sunday brunch is an easy set-up at the hotel (prices are negotiable when also hosting a big event); the hotel should be able to store flowers from the wedding overnight and they can be reused at the brunch. At a hotel, flatware, china, tables, barware, and bars are typically included—although we recommend using an outside vendor for beautiful linens—and sometimes there is plenty of soft seating outside the ballroom for the cocktail hour, eliminating another expense. Hotels also typically have in-house audio, visual, and lighting, eliminating the need for outside vendors, and keeping the planning process more streamlined." This kind of streamlining often helps keep couples from going over budget, as all the costs have been clearly outlined well in advance.

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