15 Affordable Wedding Venue Ideas

Couples who got married in 2023 spent nearly 40% of their budget on venues, according to a survey of 10,000 couples by the website The Knot.

On average, they spent $12,800 on their venues, although pricing varied by state. Utah weddings cost the least at $4,900 while couples in New Jersey shelled out an average of more than $27,000 for their sites.

There are multiple ways to save on a venue — not to mention other wedding vendors.

“We offer a lot of discounts in nonprime months,” says Nicole Ettenhofer, vice president of growth and strategy for George Street Photo and Video, which works with clients nationwide. Prime wedding times include Saturdays in June and dates in September through mid-November.

Scheduling a wedding in a less busy month, or on a Friday, Sunday or earlier in the day on a Saturday are all options to score discounted rates. But you might not have to resort to those strategies if you choose a venue that’s less expensive than the traditional hotel or banquet hall.

Here are 15 affordable wedding venues to consider as you plan your dream day.

1. Historic Sites

For a wedding venue with character, consider an historic site. You could get married at President Lincoln’s cottage, with package prices starting at $7,500 or the Beaufort Historic Site in North Carolina for $2,000.

These and other historic sites regularly host weddings and have systems in place to make the day run smoothly. Other historic sites, such as a local estate, train station or government building, may be less frequently used for weddings. As a result, they may have lower fees but also require more legwork from couples in terms of setting up the space.

Before booking an historic site, ask about what you will need to provide — such as tables and chairs — and what areas of the facility will be available for use by your wedding party, caterer and other vendors.

[READ: How to Save for a Wedding.]

2. All-Inclusive Venues

All-inclusive venues will often cost more than other options on this list, but they can bring down the overall cost of your wedding when you consider all that is included.

For instance, Sequoia Weddings offers an all-inclusive wedding package in Sequoia National Park for $18,000. That price covers 30 guests and includes the ceremony, reception, catering, photography and lodging for six people.

Perhaps surprisingly, destination weddings at all-inclusive resorts can be even more affordable, according to Dana Lewis, owner of DWD Travel and Destination Weddings.

She says an average wedding for 30 guests at an all-inclusive venue in Mexico or the Caribbean can cost $10,000. “That obviously doesn’t include the travel portion of it,” she adds.

Given the sheer number of venues offering all-inclusive packages, Lewis recommends couples work with an experienced planner who has visited the various venues they’re considering and is familiar with what each offers.

3. Vacation Homes

Properties listed on sites like Airbnb and VRBO include caves, mansions, treehouses and everything in between. Many of these could be unique and affordable wedding venues, but there are some caveats.

The first and most important is that not all rental properties allow special events like weddings. Assuming the owner is OK with a wedding being held on the property, you’ll likely need to provide tables, chairs, dishes, linens and similar items. This option is probably best for those with a small guest list.

[Read: The New Wedding Registries: What Newlyweds Want Now]

4. Churches

Churches are traditional wedding venues and typically very affordable. If you are a member of the congregation, the fee may be nominal or waived for you. Depending on the time of year, the sanctuary may already be filled with flowers, minimizing how much you need to spend to decorate for the ceremony.

Many churches have attached halls or nearby reception areas that you can rent at a low cost. While these facilities may be simple, they often have kitchens and will provide tables, chairs and other necessities.

If you aren’t a member of a church or want to get married in an historic one, expect to pay more. But be aware that some churches will not host weddings for nonmembers.

5. Schools

Did you and your betrothed meet at school? Getting married there could be an affordable option. Or, even a school you didn’t attend could make a nice backdrop for a wedding.

Some historic schools sell wedding packages. For instance, the District 5 Schoolhouse in Zeeland, Michigan, has pricing that starts at $1,900 for a weekday ceremony and reception and goes up to $6,500 to book the entire weekend.

More modern schools may not host many weddings, but that doesn’t mean their facilities aren’t available to rent. Districts may be happy to make additional revenue during the summer months, and the cost of a cafeteria and gym may be significantly less than what you’d pay elsewhere.

6. Beaches

A beach wedding is a popular choice and can be an inexpensive option. “Many locations will require permits, but they are very affordable,” Ettenhofer says.

For instance, Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine, Florida, has a permit fee of only $212 for weddings with more than 25 guests. At Virginia Beach, Virginia, there is no fee for standing on the beach and getting married, but there is a $200 permit required if you’ll be cordoning off a section of the beach, setting up tents or chairs or having more than 200 guests.

“It’s really important to ask if alcohol is permitted on the site,” Ettenhofer says.

Also, double-check the logistics of where people will park, what restroom facilities are nearby and how far everyone will need to walk to get to the wedding site. Beach sand can pose challenges to those with limited mobility.

7. Parks

From local public parks to national parks, the great outdoors can provide a beautiful setting for a wedding. As with beaches, there may be a permit required, but the fee may be in the hundreds of dollars rather than the thousands charged by other venues.

As with beaches, parks can pose some logistical challenges. “They don’t have the typical amenities,” says Jean Neuhart, who has 27 years of experience as a wedding planner and maintains the blog Weddings from the Heart.

Some parks may not have running water and will require generators for electricity. That, in turn, can limit your food options. Sparse restroom facilities can be another challenge in some parks.

Still, many parks have pavilions and amphitheaters that would make for a perfect wedding backdrop. Be sure to check into restrictions on alcohol, time limits for use and how you can set up the space. For instance, Glacier National Park doesn’t allow people to bring tables, chairs or decor to any of its wedding sites.

Some couples may find a park works well for the nuptials, but that the reception is better held elsewhere.

8. Backyards

No wedding venue is more affordable than a backyard you can use for free.

“It gives that sentimental value that you can’t get from a local ballroom or banquet facility,” Neuhart says.

But couples need to be aware of the limitations and challenges that come with holding a backyard wedding. “Do you really want 100 people traipsing through your house to use the bathroom?” she says.

Depending on the size of your wedding, you’ll likely need to rent tables, chairs, tents and more. Be sure your kitchen can meet the needs of a caterer and that your electrical service can carry the load required for lighting, a DJ and other needs. Also, be mindful of any noise ordinances that will require you to wrap up music outside by a certain hour.

[Related:Say Yes to the Different Dress]

9. Barns, Farms or Garages

Barns, farms and ranches were the most popular venue for wedding ceremonies in 2023, according to The Knot, and the second-most popular choice for receptions.

“You can take a simple barn or outdoor location and add your own personal touches,” Ettenhofer says. “You can turn any space into a beautiful space.”

Many historic barns have been transformed into special event and wedding venues, which means many of the amenities needed on your special day — such as tables and chairs — will be provided.

Examples include the Whiskey Bonding Barn in Molena, Georgia, which you can rent for as little as $1,200 for a weekday wedding and The Barn at Kill Creek Farm in De Soto, Kansas, which offers three-day rentals of its barn and three acres for $4,200.

If you decide to use a barn, farm or garage that you or someone you know owns, be mindful of the price and work involved in preparing the space and bringing in tables, chairs and other supplies.

10. City Halls or Courthouses

A courthouse wedding could be a simple affair with a judge officiating and several close friends as witnesses nearby. In these cases, there may be a negligible fee for the judge but no other cost beyond the wedding license.

Some government buildings offer more elaborate options. The San Francisco City Hall will host one-hour, two-hour and evening weddings in its historic building. The cost for one- and two-hour weddings are a reasonable $1,000 and $5,000, respectively, but expect to pay significantly more for an evening wedding.

11. Community Centers

American Legion, VFW and Knights of Columbus halls, as well as other community centers, can be affordable wedding venues. For couples who want a DIY wedding, these can provide a blank space from which to work.

“They give you the leeway of ‘here’s the room — do what you want,'” Neuhart says.

Many have tables, chairs and kitchen facilities. They may also have few restrictions regarding which vendors you can use and typically also offer ample parking and accessible entrances.

12. Libraries

For bookish couples, the library can be a natural place to hold a wedding. But even if you aren’t a regular reader, historic libraries can be a beautiful backdrop.

Your local library may have rooms available to rent for a low fee, with few hoops to jump through but with limited amenities. Smaller libraries may be appropriate for the ceremony with a reception elsewhere.

Some historic libraries — such as the New York Public Library — will quickly move your wedding budget from the affordable to extravagant category. However, other beautiful library spaces are reasonably priced.

These include the Winter Garden at the Chicago Public Library that costs $7,000 or the George Peabody Library at Johns Hopkins University, which you can be rent for as little as $5,500 for a weekday wedding.

13. Museums

Like libraries, museums can boast impressive architecture and provide a beautiful wedding setting. Whether you like art, natural history or science, your venue can reflect the interests of you and your future spouse.

Smaller local museums may have gathering spaces and gardens you can rent for an inexpensive wedding. Larger, more prominent museums come with higher costs but may also include amenities such as security, tables and chairs.

14. Theaters

Theaters — both stage and screen — are another affordable choice. When using a theater, you may have to compromise on space for guests to easily mingle afterward. However, some theaters have adjoining rooms that would easily accommodate more traditional seating and dining arrangements.

The Fox Theatre in Atlanta has a ballroom you can rent for weddings with prices starting at $4,000. In Fort Wayne, Indiana, the historic Embassy Theatre has a lounge that can hold 40 to 70 people and rental rates as low as $500 in the off-season. The larger domed theatre lobby starts at $3,500.

15. Greenhouses or Gardens

For an affordable outdoor venue, check into local greenhouses and garden space. Not only may they offer reasonable rental rates, but they could also eliminate the need to purchase expensive floral arrangements.

The California Botanic Garden in Claremont, California, offers several venues with prices starting at $2,080 for a weekday reservation. Or, you could choose from several ceremony and reception packages at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, including intimate ceremonies for up to 10 guests at a cost of less than $1,000.

If you’ll have a lengthy gathering at a garden or other outdoor space, be sure to have tents or some sort of covered area for guests. “Tents are great to keep the sun from beating on your guests for so long,” Neuhart says.

More from U.S. News

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15 Affordable Wedding Venue Ideas originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 06/20/24: This story was previously published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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