Ever wondered how much does a wedding venue cost?

Why are weddings so expensive? The average cost of a wedding sky high, but don’t let that scare you.

“Expensive” and “stressful” might be two things that come to mind when you think of wedding planning, but they don’t have to be. Below, find the budgeting mistakes you should avoid in order to make your wedding planning process as fun and cost-efficient as possible. 

Just got engaged? Surely, you’re excited about planning for your big day and looking forward to picking the perfect wedding dress, visiting different churches, and food-tasting with possible caterers? But before you get started, you have to work on the most challenging and stressful yet most important part of wedding planning: the cost of the wedding.

When planning a wedding, a couple must consider a lot of expenses. There’s the venue, the clothes, the invitations, and a whole host of other things that you and your beloved will need to spend for the big day.

Set your wedding budget from the get-go, as this will help you determine how much to pay for major expenses like ceremony and reception venues, and even minor ones, like adding an extra layer to your wedding cake.

Many times couples have a specific wedding budget in mind, and while some stick to it, the reality is that things add up quickly and often exceed the original plan. With this in mind, here are three infographics that aim to help Australian brides prepare for real wedding budget expectations in 2020. The set of numbers provided in these infographics were amassed from reputable local wedding vendors in Australia and averaged based on their regular charging rate for a 150 pax-wedding. Expenses and prices can vary widely. One should expect to pay, on average, 50% to 100%+ more when choosing well-experienced professionals, designer labels, popular event locations, unique or customized products and services. 

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Tell an engaged couple that the average wedding cost is more than a down payment on a great home and chances are, they wouldn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Probably, they’d opt for the latter, given that the average cost of a wedding stood at $33,391 in 2017.

That is a big price tag, and burgeoning newlyweds have an uphill climb in trying to keep wedding costs down. From paying for the venue to the cost of make-up for the bride on her wedding day, the dollars are flying out of family bank accounts before – and on – the big day.

Figuring out your wedding budget is no easy feat. Your wedding will likely be the biggest party you’ve ever hosted—and the priciest. The average Australian wedding costs $44,000 for 167 guests. Nearly 27 percent of couples cover the entire expense themselves, while about one-third of them pay for at least part of it. But here’s the kicker: Almost half of the couples go over budget. Make sure you’re not one of them by setting a realistic wedding budget—before you start fantasizing about venues abroad, booking expensive vendors, or trying on designer dresses.

To make a budget, you’ll need to tally up your savings, maintain a detailed spreadsheet, so you don’t go over during the planning process, prepare for unexpected costs, as well as make meaningful cuts if you do exceed your total budget. It’s hard work, we know, but putting in the time and energy now ensures you’ll live happily ever after (wedding-debt free). Here’s exactly how to set a wedding budget you can stick to.

How much does a wedding reception venue cost?

One of the first decisions you’ll make when planning your wedding is choosing your wedding venue—and there are lots of types of wedding venues to choose from, from barns to ballrooms! You’ll likely spend a large portion of your budget on your wedding venue cost (half of the couple’s total budgets are spent on wedding venue cost, catering, and rentals), so it’s important to do your research before selecting your wedding site. The average wedding venue cost in Australia is $6,000, with most couples spending between $3,000 to $11,000. Note that these are only averages and pricing varies widely depending on a variety of factors, like whether in-house catering is included.

The average cost of a wedding in 2019 was $33,900 (including the engagement ring, ceremony and reception.

Before you sign the contract for your wedding reception, it really pays to go through the items one by one to avoid extra charges and surprises after your wedding reception. Make sure that you are well aware of the extra charges that might come up post-wedding. 

Couples spend between $12,343 and $14,006 on average for their wedding venue, according to recent surveys of brides. This cost includes any general location fee as well as food, drinks and incidentals like tables, chairs and linens. Each couple’s venue cost, furthermore, is highly individual and varies based on their vision, geography, and budget. A good rule of thumb is to expect to pay about 45% of your entire wedding budget for all of this. You should try to get as much for this money as possible, and don’t forget to account for service fees and taxes, which are likely to add an additional 30% or so to the rate you’re quoted upfront.

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About half of recently married couples chose a banquet hall, country club or hotel as their venue. But historic homes and buildings and farms have gained popularity in recent years. And many couples are opting for more unusual venues that reflect their personalities, like public gardens, breweries, children’s museums and backyards. As you might imagine, there can be an enormous amount of variation between the least you might spend at each venue type, to a more lavish approach. For a fairly small wedding hosting 50 guests, a couple might face the following amount ranges at different types of venues in Melbourne.

A number of optional elements and choices – from the type of meal served to whether the location charges a venue fee – determine your final cost. For the bare minimum, you can provide a simple buffet meal for your guests, with soft drinks only. It’s impossible to cite a true maximum since you could theoretically continue to upgrade all your options to the highest-priced foods and drinks and decor known to man. To go all out, consider a cocktail hour and full premium bar all night long, a lavish plated 4-course dinner with lobster as an option, extra desserts.

Some couples choose to have their wedding ceremony and reception in separate locations. A wedding ceremony is shorter than a reception and doesn’t include catering, so the cost of a ceremony venue is typically cheaper than wedding reception prices. In Australia, the average starting site fee for wedding ceremonies is $600.

Wedding Venue Cost Factors

So what influences the large variability and range in costs? Your venue cost typically incorporates a lot of your reception expenses (and potentially some ceremony ones if you hold both events at the same place). For example, more expensive venues generally tend to offer more inclusive services and higher-end options.

Food & Drink Requirements

Some venues—often hotels, banquet halls, and private clubs—require couples to source all of their food and drinks in-house. Others, especially those with minimal kitchen facilities, like gardens or historic buildings, expect you to hire a caterer and all other vendors you’ll need. You may or may not save money by choosing the piecemeal approach, depending on how the individual pieces add up.

Because there’s no standard format for venue pricing, you need to be savvy about knowing what you’re getting for the amount your venue is charging. To take alcohol as an example, some allow you to supply it yourself, some charge a per hour per person rate, while others count up and charge you for all of the drinks ordered. When you’re comparing venues, make sure you’re thinking about all the potential costs you’ll pay to get what you want.

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On-Peak vs. Off-Peak Timing

The cost of hosting your wedding at a particular venue will also depend on supply and demand – this carves the year into on- and off-peak seasons. If you have a plethora of similar venue options in your city or town, the higher amount of competition will likely keep prices lower. If the weather is generally mild and temperate, there are more months available to wedding parties, which also helps to reduce costs. Wedding couples typically avoiding extremes of heat and cold (those months become off-peak).

Generally speaking, an easy way to pay less for your venue: choose an off-peak month, day or time for your wedding. To rent one historic building in Seattle for your wedding, you’d pay $625 if you held your wedding on a Thursday evening or Saturday morning in November; while you’d pay $1750 for the exact same space and number of hours if you chose a Saturday evening in August. That makes the on-peak event 2.8x the cost of the off-peak wedding.

Miscellaneous Fees

When you’re hammering out a contract with your venue, make sure you ask exactly what’s included in the cost, exactly what’s required but not included (like an insurance certificate), exactly what else you might need that you’ll have to get elsewhere (tables and chairs in some cases,) and exactly what fees will get tacked onto the final bill. Venue fees are generally taxable, at your state’s sales tax rate. It’s also customary for venues to add a service fee to the bill for food and drink, typically between 18% and 24%. This is a significant added amount when the bill comes due, so make sure you’re factoring it in from the start.

Getting married doesn’t mean you should go broke, just so you can impress people. You can control how much you spend on your wedding. The last thing you want to happen is to start your married life in debt!

Negotiate if necessary

If you find it necessary to negotiate, do it carefully and respectfully. If you have a wedding planner, he or she should know what’s reasonable and where to find wiggle room. You can also lower rates on your own. Consider asking vendors to cut back on what’s included in their packages. For example, ask the photographer to work a few hours instead of the whole day, or find out if the caterer can limit guests to one or two drinks instead of offering an open bar.

Add it all up

Don’t bow to pressure from relatives, friends, social media or spending reports. Your wedding spending should align with your income, regular expenses and other financial goals.

Once you’ve established a budget, decided the kind of wedding you want and begun to compare costs, plug in the numbers. Use our calculator to help you figure out what you’ll spend overall.

 

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