The wedding venue is one of the biggest decisions that will be made. It is also the biggest expense. The average costs of a mainstream venue on a Saturday night in the summertime will be upwards of $10,000-$16,000 for 100 to 150 guests. This includes catering, alcohol, and dessert. This route has been the most common approach over the last 20 years, but that seems to be changing with the times. There are ways to make this happen and cut the costs considerably.

1. Trim your invite list

Inviting fewer guests will result in a smaller and less expensive venue. Also, the caterers will charge a price per person, less people will bring down the cost considerably. do you really need to invite that friend you haven’t seen in 10 years?

2. Pick an off time

Saturday nights in the summer is the premium option for a wedding. What about a Friday night in late fall? Alternatively, what about a Saturday afternoon in late summer? Bringing the time away from the evening of Saturday in June will translate to a lot of extra money for the honeymoon. Make sure and express that you’re interested in alternative times when speaking to different venues, because most will not even think you are considering it.

2. Beer and wine is just fine

Providing an open bar with cocktails is very expensive, usually $20 per head. We recommend offering beer (a light beer and a pale ale/IPA), and a red and white wine. Sometimes you can also incorporate a cash bar for more variety and it won’t cost you any extra.

4. Small cake

Use a small decorative cake for display and photographs, and serve your guests sheet cake. Grandiose cakes are very glamorous, and also very expensive. You can save upwards of $2000 by doing this method.

5. Don’t book a venue

Obviously, the most thrifty venue is having your wedding at whichever one of your friends or relatives has the biggest house. You can find a cheap caterer, or maybe a different friend to handle the food. You can stock up on alcohol when your favorite liquor store has a great sale. This is the most DIY approach, and is a very popular trend especially for millennials.