You've got the ring, you've showed it off, you've made your guest list, now comes the fun part - where it will all go down. You start looking at venues, and you can feel the panic attack coming - how will you come up with the thousands of dollars it will take just to get the venue for a few measly hours, let alone set up and take down everything in that time frame? Will I need to pull out a loan just to have a decent place?
Fret not, my dear! Your wedding does not have to be at that high-end wedding-specific venue! In fact, it doesn't have to be at a wedding venue at all! There are hundreds of options out there for you to choose from nowadays if you get a bit creative. Here are just a few ideas to help you on your way:
That's right, parks aren't just for birthday parties and family reunions. That beautiful lake, the picturesque cliff, the rolling hills, all of these can be great scene for your perfect day. Try checking with your local parks (city and state) to see how much it would be to rent a venue. Many parks are less than $100 for a full day at a pavilion, giving you the place for both a ceremony AND a reception. Just keep weather in mind with this option - if you're at an open park, there will be little to no coverage in case of a storm, so if you plan to get married in a typically stormy season, you may want to have back-up plans.
Whether you're high school sweethearts or just want to relive glory days, many schools offer to lease out their gyms, cafeterias, or other large spaces for private events. Areas like this are spacious and allow plenty of room for ceremony, dancing, eating, and more. Sometimes you can even hire the school's maintenance staff to help you set up and take down your decorations.
Almost every town has a theater and/or community center. These facilities are used to put on concerts and plays, host parties, for community meetings, and more. These facilities can often times go unused, so they encourage others to rent out the building (or rooms of the building) for typically low prices. Often times these facilities are pretty flexible on how you use the facility, too. If you have a community theater, you can use the theater space for the actual ceremony, taking care of seating and often acoustics, and they are designed to allow everyone to hear what's being said on stage, even when someone talks in a normal tone of voice. (photo credit Mr. Smalls Theatre)
Combine the wedding and honeymoon in one and have your wedding at a destination on a budget! Air BNB now offers you to search for rentals that allow events! You can find a beach house in Texas, a mountain cabin in North Carolina, or a farm home in Montana to give your perfect touch. Some places are large enough to invite several guests, or have a lot of land that family members can camp on (always be sure camping is allowed), others are smaller, allowing you and your future to have an immediate honeymoon after the reception without having to dash off and catch a plane. Always be sure to be respectful of and follow the rules for the homeowner, and leave the property as you found it. (photo credit Southern Living)
From art to history to nature, there are thousands of museums (and even zoos) to match your event. Most counties have at least a historical society museum, while larger towns can have array of different styles of museums to check out, including heritage-based, science, political, collectibles, and more. Some museums do have higher price tags, especially ones that are well known and even have event spaces for lease. However, smaller ones that are not as commonly visited tend to welcome the donation and the appreciation for their collection and are more than happy to lease the museum for a day. Another plus side - if the museum is fit to your theme, there is minimal decorating needed! (photo credit Southern Illinois University)
From fraternal orders to military bars, lodges may be typically exclusive to their members and their demographic, but they usually don't exclude someone renting their facility! Many of these locations have built-in bars and will even sometimes "loan out" bar tenders for the night if you want. You usually don't have to be a member of an order to get a discount, but if you or someone you know is, you can often get great discounts and prioritized access. (photo credit Twin Oaks Lodge)
There are so many more places you could get married besides a standard venue. Where will you get married? Let us know in the comments!