Getting married is so expensive these days, but there are at least a few ways to cut down on the expenses. The biggest expense by far is your guest list, so if you can have a small wedding, that will make a big difference on your wedding budget.
Your next biggest expense is your wedding venue. To keep costs down, look for a venue where you can hold both your ceremony and your reception. Another thing to keep in mind to save money — think all inclusive. Just like an all-inclusive resort, where you can get your room, food and a few activities in one package, there are some venues that provide everything — the venue, the linens, the food, the cake, the decorations, etc.
Since last year, I’ve been compiling a list of Southern California wedding venues that brides say have given them a great deal, or have contacted me for consideration as a venue that offers a great deal — and I’ve seen evidence online to support it. I haven’t had personal experience with any of these venues, so take these suggestions as just that — suggestions for wedding venues you should check out.
Highland Springs Resort in Cherry Valley (Riverside County) is home to olive fields, an 1,100-year-old oak tree and a lavender farm, which makes me think it must smell wonderful out there. A recent Yelp review notes that “resort” is a bit of a stretch, but that could work in the favor of a budget-conscious bride. Going back to 2011, a poster on WeddingBee says she was quoted $8,000 for a party of 200, including the venue, tables, chairs, linens, flatware, cake and food — quite a deal.
A little closer to me, the Strathearn Historical Park in Simi Valley is run by the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District — an agency I have personal experience with, actually. The agency runs quite a few beautiful parks in the Ventura County area, including Oak Canyon Community Park, where I had my second son’s 1st birthday back in August. (Oak Canyon Community Park has a beautiful lake and an amphitheater in its own right, but is maybe not the best wedding venue. It was perfect as a summer birthday party venue though!) Strathearn, however, features a 100-year-old church, a gazebo and a barn that would be perfect for a rustic wedding. Judging by Rancho Simi Recreation’s rentals FAQ, a wedding at Strathearn probably could not exceed 225 people, but at the same time, probably wouldn’t exceed $2,000. Because their prices are so reasonable, and their parks so beautiful, they’re popular, so make your inquiry quickly and book Strathearn fast.
Culver Events wants to give brides a package deals for low, low, low prices. Culver Events Center was apparently a 1920’s speakeasy at one point, and is now a place for weddings, film shoots, birthday parties and other events. When you have a wedding here, you have it for the whole day — and let me tell you, speaking from a decorator’s point of view, that’s a big deal. Just to rent the venue for their max capacity of 150, it would cost $5,450. However, they offer an all-inclusive deal (price was not disclosed) that would cover everything — officiant, photography, flowers, music, etc. How stress-free and awesome does that sound?
I first read about the Historic Santa Barbara County Courthouse on the Well Heeled Blog. It doesn’t surprise me that this courthouse is so beautiful — so much of Santa Barbara’s architecture is — but I was not aware of this building’s presence in the first place. Renting this courthouse for their wedding cost $240 for two hours — what a steal, and its so gorgeous and timeless. After your wedding, you can just go have a big family dinner at one of Santa Barbara’s beautiful oceanfront restaurants.
Be forewarned — when you visit the website of Serendipity Garden Weddings, make sure your volume is turned way down, because music plays as soon as you launch the site. While that is a huge pet peeve of mine, as an Internet professional, there’s no denying that the venue is beautiful and affordable. I appreciate folks who are upfront about their pricing — at Serendipity, all-inclusive weddings in 2013 cost $13,500 plus an 8 percent tax and admin fee. That price goes up to $14,500 in 2014, and in all cases, that goes up $1,000 for Saturday weddings. That package includes chairs, tables, centerpieces, heaters (if needed), table settings, linens, bridal suite, parking attendants, a horse-drawn carriage, a baby grand piano and pianist, a DJ, catering, golf carts for shuttling guests, dinner, cake and personal flowers. Whew! Serendipity is the most expensive venue on this list, but they also include the most amenities, so, wow.