Trying to choose a venue… Talk about the biggest, most difficult decision in the whole wedding process. Half the reason it took us so long to get married (we had a 5-year long engagement) was that we just couldn’t settle on a venue that fit our budget, our style and our ideals. The most important thing for us was the food and the alcohol; we wanted everyone to be able to turn up and eat and drink as much as they liked of the best food we could find! This is where we found venues let us down a little and led to the craziest decision we made in the whole process: to cater it ourselves. That is a story for another post…
The important thing about your venue is that you love it and that it fits what you need your wedding to be. There are many options out there for DIY brides to get a cheap reception venue that you can do up exactly how you want it. So first let’s look at some options:
Choose a venue:
Town halls make wonderful venues because they are lovely big spaces, they usually have tables and sound setups and they are completely blank canvases for your reception. They usually come at a very reasonable price and depending on your area can have some lovely backdrops for photo opportunities.
The downsides of a town hall are that you literally have to decorate everything, there is nothing cute about them, to begin with, and this can be quite a large task. It was also rather important to us that we had an outside area that was nice to sit in and the ones around us only had car parks.
If you know someone with a field this can be an amazing opportunity! Hire out a tent and do a budget, festival-style wedding! This was something that we really wanted to do but had a small snag in the plan- we didn’t know anyone with a field.
Fields have their downsides, of course, rain can make it more miserable than usual and often guests in high heels may grumble at having to trudge through mud. However, if you can get around these and get people to feel the festival vibe you’re on to a winner!
We have a beautiful park nearby where I’ve seen many a party held with a load of blankets and a potluck picnic. It would be the perfect chillout day! For us, the issue was that we wanted to be married within 6 months and summer was drawing to a close (I know my timing is impeccable) not to mention that we live in England so relying solely on the weather holding out is a truly bad idea.
Cons of parks are of course the weather, and for some, that picnic vibe might just be that bit too laid back.
I did consider booking out a restaurant for the evening and treating it more as a meal than a party, ie. everyone pays for themselves. Cheeky? Perhaps, but it keeps the cost down and you get to eat your favourite food. Even if you do pay for everyone’s food, however, it could still come out more budget-friendly depending on the size of your party and how expensive your restaurant is.
This was our final option and the one we ended up going with. What we wanted was a cute and cosy vibe that we could fill with awesome food and music and just be with the ones who were most important to us. Obviously, the downsides of a house are that it is small but it kept our guest list small which kept the cost down even more. The biggest pro is that it was completely free. We just had to worry that the house didn’t get completely trashed.
Now once you have your venue you need to plan around that venue to get the best experience out of it you can. For an obvious example, no point in planning anything that requires walls in the park. Duh. So here is the process we went through to make our house work for our wedding:
We started by splitting the house up into areas where would have food, photobooth, dance music etc.
- A small front room made a perfect photobooth and chill area with a cosy couch and an empty wall for the backdrop.
- The living-dining area was an obvious choice for a cold buffet, with tables down the side and the back patio doors open to the garden.
- Kitchen couldn’t be anything other than hot food really, but also played host to our DIY novelties such as the bar and polaroids of the 2 of us together.
- We were fortunate to have a large and really beautiful garden to work with; plenty of places to hang lights from and lots greenery to look beautiful in pictures. Unfortunately, as it turns out, the weather was not on our side and the garden was not used as much as we had planned but that is why we didn’t get married in the park!
Flowers were chosen for where they would look most beautiful in the house, down the bannister and over the hearth were obvious choices! If you are going for a budget wedding and think real flowers may be too pricey, I had also considered using fabric flowers, foam flowers and paper flowers which would all allow you to put your own personal touch on them.
On a final note
Thinking about your venue also leads you to decide where you would like your ceremony. Of course, a church would be a traditional choice; sometimes these budget venues may have a wedding license which is the ideal scenario; finally, registry offices feel like the less glamorous option but you may be surprised. If you are thinking of a registry office make sure you do a little research; it can be easy to assume you have to go to the nearest one however you may find with a little research you can actually find somewhere that really suits your taste. Shop around a little. The registry office in our town was very small and if I’m honest… a little depressing. But, barely 5 minutes further away and we found a wonderful one, inside a town hall, recently renovated and bursting with lovely decor and beautiful features. You might be surprised!
So to summarise you need to think a lot about how you choose a venue and what it can do for you before you decide. Try to consider:
- How much effort you want to put into decor
- How much indoor and outdoor space you want to have
- What weather your area is prone too
- How many guests do you want to attend?
Once you answer these questions, hopefully, your venue choice will be clear. Good luck!
Have you had a DIY wedding? How did you choose a venue? I’d love to hear about all your weddings and DIY projects below!
In the meantime here’s some Pinterest wedding inspiration: