One of the first (and most crucial) decisions you’ll have to make after becoming engaged is deciding where the wedding will take place. This can also be one of the most costly parts of wedding planning. To help save you a few dollars, we asked experts across Canada to shed some light on the best tips and tricks to keep your wedding venue budget in check.
Lindsay McCormick, the coordinator at Cecil Green Park House in Vancouver, stresses how important it is to keep in mind what you need instead of focusing on what you want. This can easily be done if you plan ahead and list what your top priorities are. To avoid additional costs (and get the most out of what you’ll be paying for) make sure you do some research before committing to a venue. Understand the venue entirely: what it includes and doesn’t include. You’ll also need to figure out if you’re going to have both the reception and the ceremony there. When you’re going to look at a venue, even for the first time, it’s important to have in mind what you’re looking to get out of it, from the capacity to the catering. “You can place items on your wish list, but prioritize,” says McCormick. “The right vendor doesn’t necessarily have to be the most popular and expensive, but ensure you trust them,” Getting an estimate beforehand, with taxes included, will help you decide which venue is right for you.
Booking further in advance has its benefits, but don’t completely write off booking a little closer to the date as cancellations do happen. “As the date that you want gets closer, the pricing could get more flexible because the venue will want to fill that space,” says Leanne Ruest, the director of sales and marketing at Eagles Nest Golf Club in Maple, Ontario. If you’re willing to put off selecting a day to get a discount, it could be worth the risk, just don’t wait too long.
FOOD & DRINK
Before you book a venue make sure you know what’s available to you when it comes to catering. Some venues only allow internal catering, while others let you bring in food. Both have their cost differences, however it’s important to keep in mind that other fees for extra staff or equipment can arise. Review portion size options, as well as the price difference between plated dinners and a buffet-style meal. Gillian Hoff, the events manager at Design Exchange in Toronto, suggests bringing in your own alcohol if possible so you can be more in control of the pricing as well as what’s bring served. “At the end of the event you can return what wasn’t used and get a refund,” states Hoff. Just remember you may need a special occasion permit to serve your own booze and keep in mind that your venue may also charge corkage fees. Not fully committed to a dinner reception? Natalie Ho, the manager of sales for Oliver & Bonacini Events and Catering in Toronto suggests considering a mid-day wedding. “Try having a lunch or brunch with your guests,” she advises. “Guests tend to consume less alcohol during the day and the food served for these meals can run a little less expensive.”
The more guests you have, the more your wedding is going to cost. Period. If you’re trying to keep a tight budget in check, consider hosting a small post-ceremony dinner with your closest friends and family and then invite additional people to an after-party where you’ll only be dolling out cash for drinks and snacks. Still scrambling to save? “Edit your guest list and exclude children,” says Erin Lister the weddings and special events manager of Elm Hurst Inn and Spa in Ingersoll, Ontario.
If you’re not set on a summer wedding, there’s a huge opportunity to save on venue costs. Off season for most spaces runs from January through March. These months tend to have reduced prices compared to the peak times between April and November. December weddings sound festive, but keep in mind you’ll be competing with holiday parties and that can cause prices to climb. The days of the week can even affect the price — book a Friday or Sunday rather than a Saturday and you’re sure to save a bundle.
Looking for wedding venue inspiration? Check out our list of Canada’s Loveliest Venues.