Ellicott City Wedding Planner

How to Find a Wedding Venue to Fit Your Budget


The average wedding venue in the DC area will run you between $4,000-$5,000 to rent.  But, if your entire wedding budget is less than $40,000, then that might be too steep for you (since you’re only supposed to spend 10% of your budget on the venue). Not to worry, there are plenty of innovative ways to save on your wedding venue without sacrificing what what’s most important to you. To start off your wedding planning right by making the most cost-effective decision, here are some tips for you to consider:


1. Consider A Non-Traditional Venue

Reception halls and hotel ballrooms are not the only locations for wedding receptions. This day and age anything goes.  A budget conscious bride may be able to find eclectic, wedding-friendly options; many of which may surprise your guests (in a good way). Places that don’t typically host weddings will likely not have the inflated prices as those that are well-known for being wedding venues. So get creative and consider the alternatives. A bed & breakfast, public park, art gallery, barn, brewery, industrial space, community center, a theater, a private home, clubhouse, camp site, restaurant, or retail space—are all great examples of spaces that can be used as wedding venues. There are some drawbacks to having your wedding in a place that doesn’t typically host these types of events. Check out this article for things to look out for. http://abridesbff.com/2014/03/non-traditional-wedding-venues/

2. Avoid Peak Wedding Periods

It should come as no surprise that Saturdays are the most popular day of the week for weddings. And because it’s the most sought after day, it’s also the most expensive. Many venues will charge up to 50% less if you book their location for a Sunday, Friday or on a weekday. Why? Because they typically don’t get weddings for those days, it’s like extra income for them and everybody wins. The same can be said for off-peak season weddings. In the DMV, this is usually November through March.

3. Focus on Priorities

What is the key thing that you want out of your wedding venue? Is it a really pretty appearance, or a great view? Or are you foodies with gourmet taste?  Figure out what’s most important to you and splurge a little on that one thing (i.e. a well-known chef or a scenic setting) and save on your budget with the stuff that doesn’t matter as much.

4. Go Small Town Instead of Big City

Prices are usually higher in the city, so go outside the city limits to get better deals. Think Eastern Shore, the Shenandoah area, Southern Maryland, or on the outskirts of the WV or PA line.

5. Choose One Venue Instead of Two

Many venues are able to host both your ceremony and reception, which means you don’t have to pay two separate location fees. For example, many churches have a social hall. Tip: Guests love when they do not have to drive from the ceremony to get to the reception!

6. Have a Daytime Wedding

Weddings that take place during the day can save you a lot of money! One, because food costs for brunch or lunch are much cheaper than dinner. Secondly, because many venues have a morning rental rate and an evening rental rate. And guess which one is cheaper?

7. Ask to Pay in Full for a Discount

Normally, you are required to provide a down payment when you book a venue for a wedding and then pay the rest later. Ask if you can get a discount if you pay in full when you book (but make sure you get a contract with a reimbursement plan to protect yourself in the event that something goes wrong).

8. Get an All-Inclusive Package

Some venues offer to take care of everything, including the food, decorations, cake and DJ. This can save you a ton because the venue makes deals for these various services and then passes the savings on to you.

9. Get Married in Your Backyard

Or someone else backyard. Backyard weddings can be as formal or informal as you want them to be. They are a great money saver because the space is usually free. There are definitely things you’ll have to rent to make the space suitable for a wedding. But nonetheless it is still the ultimate money-saving option!

10. Don’t Over-rent Space

Make sure that the space you rent is appropriate for the number of guests that you will have. Don’t even look at venues that accommodate 300 guests when you will only expect 100.

11. Find Somewhere New

Another good tactic in saving money on your venue is to look for a newly-opened venue. New venues might offer lower prices as they are attempting to build up a good reputation and gain some new business.

12. Check your college

If you graduated from a college or university, chances are there are many venues where you can get married on campus. If you’re an alumnus, you’ll typically receive a discount, so don’t hesitate to ask!

13. Opt for Outdoors

Outdoor venues normally require less in the way of decorations because the view makes up the majority of your backdrop and the landscape provides the ambient decor. Also, venues with outdoor spaces provide better light opportunities for your photos. However, you’ll need a pretty solid weather backup plan if you’re going for an all outdoor wedding.


As the Owner and Lead Planner at A Bride’s BFF, I launched my Wedding and Event Planning Company after many years of helping family members and friends plan events on tight budgets. Equipped with this background, I soon began to focus on helping budget-conscious couples in DC, Maryland and Virginia plan affordable and memorable weddings.

When it comes to one of the very first steps in planning a wedding or event (finding a venue), I cannot tell you how many times couples have come to me after signing an expensive contract with a venue, only to regret their decision later on when they realize they have no money left for the other things that were really important to them. It breaks my heart and it makes my job much harder because they end up having to make scarifies in other areas of the wedding, all because they blew their budget on a venue they couldn’t afford.

So many couples become incredibly overwhelmed trying to find a venue to fit their budget. So, with everything I know about the local wedding market, I decided to put together a list of the most affordable wedding venues in the DMV. And I’m giving it to you as a gift–for free! All you have to do is sign up here: http://200ofthemostaffordablevenuesinwashingtondc.gr8.com/

I hope this free resource helps you get started on the road to planning your dream wedding. And if you should need any additional assistance finding the perfect venue or planning the perfect wedding now or in the future, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Happy Hunting!


Merlyn (Mimi) Perez

Is the Lead Planner and Owner of A Bride's BFF. She lives for all things weddings and is a self-proclaimed organizing junkie--acquiring the endearing title of “The Latina Martha Stewart” from those that know her best. During her downtime you can find her baking, crafting or reading her favorite lifestyle blogs and magazines; and spending embarrassing amounts of time combing through The Container Store and Office Depot!

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