Sneaky wedding venue costs that can easily derail your budget – watch out!

Sian Belton

Choose which place to organize your wedding is a big decision and should be thought through carefully before signing on the dotted line – after all, venue and catering make up around 40-50% of your total budget.

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There are many factors to consider when choosing a location: Will your ceremony take place on site? Will the same room be used for the ceremony, breakfast and wedding party? Is there a cost associated with preparing the room each time? If you’re looking for answers, keep scrolling to see our money saving column with British Alliance of Wedding Planners (UKAWP) elite member Sian Belton of Busy brides. Avoid potential additional costs with these budget considerations…

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1. Number of guests

You really need to know your headcount before you start looking at your site. If a venue offers a great package that accommodates 75 guests, you may find that each additional guest can be very expensive. Don’t consider flat rates until you know your headcount and what the extra £pp is to ensure you stay within your budget.

Likewise, if your venue has a minimum number of guests and you go below that, you’ll still have to pay the difference. For example, if their minimum number of guests is 100 but you have 90 guests, you will have to pay for 10 non-existent guests and the associated fees!

2. Table wine

You need accurate estimates for drinks

Ask yourself if half of a bottle of wine per person is an accurate estimate for your guests. And what if customers drink less? Will you still be charged? Can opened bottles be redistributed at the evening reception? Or will a refund be given?

This can be a huge expense if the bottles are unopened.

3. Permit Late

While a venue will say it’s open until 1-2am, you’ll usually find it closes (as many do) at standard midnight, which means the music and bar closes at 11:30pm.

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If you want to party past midnight, you’ll likely find there are additional per-hour charges from the venue and vendors.

4. Approved Suppliers

If you notice that a venue has a list of recommended vendors, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best vendors for you. In most cases, approved providers have to pay a fee or commission to get on a list of sites.

So, you may find that your venue not only charges you your venue rental fees and catering fees, but also receives commissions from each vendor you use on their list. By doing your own research and finding them independently, you might find perfect vendors for your wedding that are likely to be less expensive.

If you hire a dry-let venue that has a list of caterers, but want to use someone else, you may need to pay an extra £1-2000. Again, compare the prices of recommended caterers with those of others you find to verify that you are getting a fair price for the food and service provided.

5. Wedding Cake

Costs can easily double when it comes to cake cutting services

Some venues will charge you for a cake cutting service. If your venue charges £6 per slice, they can turn your £600 cake into a £1,200 cake. Ask the questions ahead of time so you can decide whether to go for a fake cake or just have a nice alternate cupcake or macaroon tower – no cutting required!

6. Linen

Who provides the linen? If your caterers provide the linens and they finish before your wedding is over, they may charge you to come back the next day for collection, or worse, they may remove them from the tables before your big day is over – not a good one. look for your wedding, right?

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7. Favors

Alcoholic wedding favors! These sound like a great idea and there are so many great ideas around them, but make sure your venue won’t be looking to charge you a corkage fee before you buy, as that could prove costly .

8. Confetti

Be sure to ask your site ahead of time if they allow confetti, and if so, the exact type, as you must comply with their rules. Some sites will charge for confetti vacuuming and others will charge £400 which is very high!

9. Early Access and Clearance

Consider fees for wedding linens and set-up or take-down

Some venues will charge vendors extra for set-up or tear-down after a wedding, as this is outside of the contractual ‘rental period’.

I understand this is a bit overwhelming and unfortunately this is not an exhaustive list of stealth costs, but it pays to be prepared from the start. Creating a realistic budget upfront and understanding the potential costs before visiting the shortlisted sites will help immensely.

And if you need some extra support, why not hire a wedding planner who can keep extra costs off your budget by making sure you spend it wisely?

Discover the UKAWP member Sian Belton from Busy brides or follow her on Instagram @busybridesweddingplanners for all your wedding planning needs.

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