1. Don't be afraid to negotiate
Many venues are open to discussion, especially if your date falls during slow months when they have fewer weddings. (In most locales, this usually means November, January, February, and March.) Be polite, and make reasonable requests—they're running a business, after all.
2. Forget about Saturday night
You'll save big by holding your event on a different night, says New York planner JoAnn Gregoli
. While Friday and Sunday are popular, Gregoli says the latest trend is Thursday night.
3. Go for a naturally gorg site
Magnificent outdoor locations with views, manicured grounds, and lush gardens don't need much decoration. In a similar vein, if an indoor site has a lot of personality—historic home, art gallery, museum—you'll spend less on flowers and other décor.
4. Get out of the city
Venues in large metro areas tend to be the costliest. If you're from a small town but now live in urban quarters, consider a wedding back home. (Think of
how happy you'll make Mom and Dad!)
5. Consider your fave restaurant
You won't have to pay for rentals, such as tables, chairs, dishes, and glasses, or a site fee. One caveat: You may have to hold your wedding during nonpeak hours.
6. Stay in one spot
Have the ceremony and the reception at the same place. You'll have just one site fee and save on decorating, and you may be able to hire the photographer for less time.
7. Ask about hidden fees
These can add up, turning an affordable venue into one that bloats your budget.
According to New York event planner Xochitl Gonzalez
, typical "surprises" include fees for
the coat check (which you may not have considered if you visited during the
summer) and cutting the wedding cake (if you're going with an out
side baker, rather than the venue's).
8. Go clubbing
"Lots of country clubs aren't stuffy, and their meal prices may be more reasonable than caterers'," says San Francisco event planner Amy Nichols
. (Note: You may have to know a member to book.)
9. Hightail it to a hotel
"Look for one with great decor that matches your party's style," says Milwaukee consultant Catharine Han
. "You can also save by using the venue's votives set on mirrors to fill out smaller table centerpieces."
10. Find a BYOB venue
It won't affect the cost of the site itself, but book a place that lets you BYOB and doesn't charge a corkage fee, and you'll save with every sip.