Let's be honest: the price of a wedding can be a shock. When you add up all of the costs for vendors and a venue, it may feel like a wedding may be out of reach. But don't give up and elope just yet (unless that's what you and your fiance want, of course!). We know that one of the biggest wedding expenses is the venue, and we're here to help you think through some of your options
Needless to say, one of the best things about getting married in your backyard is that there's no venue fee! If you have a large yard (or know someone who does), you could easily have enough space for a ceremony and reception. On the other hand, if you want to have a small wedding but you're worried about the politics of trimming your guest list, a small backyard venue is a great excuse to have an intimate celebration.
Maroo Tip for the Taking: One thing to remember, if you do decide to have a backyard wedding, your rental fees may be higher. You’ll have to bring in all tables, chairs, plates, utinesels, table linens, and more. Most importantly, you’ll have to think through the restroom situation. You may need to bring in additional restrooms or an attendant to keep the powder room fresh and restocked.
Having your wedding in a public park is a great way to save money, while still having a beautiful setting. Most parks have pavilions or other outdoor focal points that can be reserved for events, and many of them also have beautiful gardens or lakes that can be used for photos.
Maroo Tip for the Taking: Make sure to research fees and permits with particular locations. One downside of this type of venue is that you may have to contend with noise levels from nearby streets or other park activities.
Love nature? A national park could be a great option if you and your partner are big fans! From the Redwood Forests of California to Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska – and everything in between, America is home to some of the most beautiful and diverse parks in the world.
Maroo Tip for the Taking: While the rental fees for these venues may be higher than a local, public park, they're still relatively affordable when compared to other outdoor venues--you can expect to pay no more than $200. Since they're so popular, you'll want to book as soon as you can. You can apply for most permits up to twelve months in advance.
One downside to consider is that national parks don't guarantee privacy, and can be crowded especially during peak season. If you're looking for complete privacy on your wedding day, this may not be the right choice for you.
One last note--if you go this route, just remember that national parks usually have strict rules about noise levels and alcohol consumption.
There's just something uber romantic about exchanging vows at the beach. The sound of waves crashing against the shore, the salty air blowing through your hair, the sand between your toes... it's no wonder beach weddings are very popular!
Maroo Tip for the Taking: Of course, there are a few things to consider before booking a beach wedding. First, make sure the beach you're considering is actually open to the public--some beaches are private property and you'll need permission from the owner before you can have your ceremony there. If it’s a public beach, a permit will likely be similar in cost to a national park at $100-$250.
City Hall or a Courthouse
City Hall weddings are often affordable, easy to plan, and beautiful. Plus, many city halls offer unique spaces like gardens or courtyards that can be used for photos.
Maroo Tip for the Taking: The cost of getting married at City Hall varies depending on the location, but it's typically a more affordable wedding venue, ranging from $20-$100 for a basic civil ceremony. Some city halls, like San Francisco City Hall, can be booked for 1-hour celebrations for up to 100 people at around $1,000. Keep in mind that you may be limited in the flowers and decorations you can bring (especially in that time frame), but don't let that stop you. Many cities have stunning City Halls that look like luxury venues.
The last thing to consider is timing. City Hall weddings often book up quickly, so make sure to reserve your spot well in advance if you're interested in this option.
Historic Home or Museum
If you're looking for a truly unique and memorable wedding venue, consider getting married in a historic home or museum. These types of venues can range from small bed-and-breakfasts to large estates, but they all have one thing in common: they're full of unique character.
Maroo Tip for the Taking: When it comes to these venue options, costs can vary from low to high. Most venues will require a rental and use fee, while others may only require that you purchase a ticket to tour the property. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500-$10,000+ for a wedding at a historic home or museum.
Just keep in mind that historic homes and museums often have strict rules about how you can decorate and many have a preferred vendor list. Before you fall in love with an art museum, make sure their vendors fit within your budget.
Libraries are often seen as quiet, refined places, so it's no wonder they're becoming more and more popular for weddings. While some libraries command fees similar to luxury hotels (like the New York Public Library), there are many affordable options out there, comparable in cost to a museum, at $1,000 and up.
Maroo Tip for the Taking: If you're considering a library wedding, there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind. First, most libraries have rules about noise levels and alcohol consumption, so be sure to read the fine print before booking.
Also, be aware that many libraries only allow their space to be used for receptions, not religious ceremonies. If you're looking for an indoor venue to exchange your vows, you might either have to use a smaller room within the library or book a separate space for your ceremony.
That said, if you're looking for a unique yet classic venue at a fraction of the cost of other luxury locations, a library is definitely worth considering.
College campuses offer a unique and beautiful setting and oftentimes, they're super affordable. Not to mention, they're the perfect trip down memory lane for couples who met on campus.
Maroo Tip for the Taking: When it comes to costs, they vary. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere from $750-$2,500+ for a wedding venue at a university campus. For more stately settings like Notre Dame's Basilica, start at the $5,000 mark.
Zoo or Aquarium
A zoo or aquarium offers a one-of-a-kind experience that guests will never forget.
Maroo Tip for the Taking: Zoo and aquarium weddings can range in cost from $500-$3,000+, depending on the size and location of the zoo. Many zoos and aquariums have exclusive areas that can be reserved for weddings, like gardens, pavilions or other unique spaces! In addition, many aquariums offer in-house catering services and may allow couples to bring in their own alcohol.
Barn weddings exploded onto the scene in the early 2000s. Couples love exchanging their vows inside a barn because they're rustic, charming and oftentimes affordable. Before they became popular 20+ years ago, they were much more affordable – but price points still vary! You may be able to find barns that have fees starting at $500.
Maroo Tip for the Taking: When it comes to planning your barn wedding, the sky’s the limit. Just be sure to check with the venue owner to make sure you're within their rules, and remember that many barns (unless the owner has repurposed it as a venue) don't have a power source.
Restaurant or Cafe
Restaurant and cafe weddings are becoming more and more popular, and for good reason: they're convenient, intimate, and couples often relate to them as real-life favorite places.
A restaurant or cafe wedding’s costs will vary depending on the restaurant, time and day of the event, guest count, the menu, and more.
Maroo Tip for the Taking: When it comes to planning your restaurant or cafe wedding, there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind. First, because these venues are often smaller, they are only able to be used for receptions and you'll likely want to limit your guest list. Second, be clear on whether you're booking out the entire venue or just a portion of it (such as a patio or room) dedicated to large parties. If you're sharing the space, you may have to keep the noise down.
When it comes to finding a multi-purpose wedding venue, couples are increasingly turning to vacation homes and Airbnb properties. Not only are these venues more affordable than traditional wedding locations, but they also offer a unique and intimate setting that's perfect for any couple.
Maroo Tip for the Taking: Costs for weddings at a vacation home vary depending on the size and location of the property. However, many homes can be rented for between $1,000 and $5,000 per day. (Keep in mind that, in addition, some homeowners or booking sites will require a security deposit equivalent to the cost of the rental.)
When booking a wedding at a vacation home, be sure to read the owner's rules carefully. Many homeowners don't allow additional guests, loud music, smoking, or pets on the property, while others are comfortable with hosting weddings or events at their home.
If you're considering an intimate destination wedding with only close friends and family, this could be the perfect option for you. With a house the right size, it could serve as lodging for your guests as well as the ceremony and reception venue.