When it comes to your wedding budget, it's likely that the biggest percentage of your funds will go toward your venue and any rentals that go along with it. That's a serious chunk of change! We've talked about how to know if your venue is a good deal, thinking about what's included—and what services your venue should offer to really give you a good bang for your buck—but the cost of a venue also depends on where your wedding will be held.
To really let you know what to expect when you reach out to your dream venue, we turned to planners from across the country to spill on how much cash you'll need to rent some of the most popular locales. Natalie Dawley, owner and consultant at Two Be Wed, filled us in on what couples can expect to pay to rent wedding venues in Houston, Texas.
Ballrooms are an incredibly popular venue choice, no matter where in the country you're located. In Houston, a mid-range ballroom rental will start with a $20,000 food and beverage minimum, with higher-end ballrooms starting at a $50,000 food and beverage minimum. "A lot of that variance depends on the date, as well," says Dawley, so expect higher minimums on more popular weekends. "And don't forget tax and gratuity, with service charges anywhere from 20% to 23%, and a tax of 8.25%."
While that seems like a huge number, remember what's included: all of the food and beverage you'll be serving your guests, china, flatware, glassware, house linens, as well as tables and chairs, so you can save on rentals if you're not looking to upgrade to specialty items. "Mid- to high-end hotels have better linen and glassware selections, so even the 'house' options are a great choice," Dawley explains. Hosting a more intimate reception that doesn't merit a full ballroom? Look into smaller half ballrooms that are equally gorgeous, but have a food and beverage minimum of around $5,000 - $10,000.
And of course, remember the value add: "Hotel ballrooms come with ambiance, convenience, and stellar customer service—they do weddings and events constantly, and taking care of you and your guests is their #1 priority!" says Dawley.
Lofts and Blank Spaces
In Houston, this can mean anything from a conservatory to an art gallery. "These types of spaces usually start much lower than ballrooms, at around $3,000 or $3,500, but nothing is included," Dawley explains. So it sounds like a great deal, but you'll have to rent tables, chairs, linens, glassware, and flatware, bring in all of the lighting and décor, and hire a caterer and bartender. "You're really building the experience from the ground up," says Dawley.
Bigger spaces also charge more, and fewer and fewer venues these days are allowing clients to bring in their own liquor, instead opting for a liquor package that you have to purchase on top of the rental fee. "There are definitely ways to save money in this scenario, such as choosing a less expensive catering option like barbecue, serving it with just beer and wine, and opting for simple, minimal decorations and rentals, but you still should think through all of those costs before choosing a blank slate venue," Dawley continues. "It sounds like you'll be saving, but unless you're savvy and itemize every single thing, it can really add up."
In Houston, venues like old banks and libraries are becoming more and more popular. A venue fee ranging from $6,500 to $12,000 will get you a stunning space, but everything else is à la carte. "You'll choose a caterer off of the preferred catering list, purchase your own liquor, bring in all the rentals, and possibly also pay for things like security or moving fees if it's a historic building," Dawley says. So for the venue, bar, and catering (but before you've looked at rentals), you're looking at around $25,000, which is comparable to a hotel ballroom but with a very different personality. "If you want something a little different, with a real sense of place, a venue like this could be a fabulous choice," Dawley concludes.
If food and drinks are your #1 priority, a fabulous restaurant could be your perfect venue. "You can get a really great value," says Dawley. "The restaurant is already decorated and has ambiance built-in." Most will skip the room fee, instead charging a food and beverage minimum based on the number of guests (say, a minimum of 90 guests at $75 per person). "And you can get more creative with the menu, since a restaurant is used to people ordering off a menu instead of choosing between three standards," she continues. "The only place where it gets pricey is when it comes to alcohol: You might be paying per bottle, or per glass of liquor or per cocktail." $8 cocktails can really add up, so be sure to really think through how much your guests will drink!