The ins and outs of paying for your wedding venue
Wedding receptions are, typically, the most costly item in your wedding budget, though, naturally, this will depend on where you’re holding your wedding, when you’re holding it and how many people you’re inviting.
Hiring a room at your favourite put for a cocktail wedding reception is not going to cost the same as a three-course meal at a five-star hotel in the centre of the CBD.
So, here are answers to the most common wedding venue-related questions we’re asked:
Who pays for the wedding venue
Traditionally, it was customary for the bride’s family to pay for the reception venue and the groom’s family to pay for the ceremony venue.
However, this becomes harder to define if you are holding your ceremony and reception at the same place and, frankly, most modern couples actually pay for their wedding themselves with very little financial assistance from parents.
Also, even if a couple’s parents are pitching in, these days, it’s usually a 50/50 split between both sides of the family.
If, for example, you’re holding your wedding at a small boutique hotel or a winery that is well out of town and accommodation is required, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask guests to pay for their own rooms.
The bridal couple will, typically, cover the costs of the bridal party’s accommodation, however, wedding parties are usually given a discount by the venue they’re staying at if they’ve held their wedding reception there.
What do we have to pay and when
The number of payments you need to make and when you need to make them often depends on two factors; how far in advance you book your venue, and how much you will be spending in total.
You will have to agree on the various terms and a payment schedule with your venue before signing your contract, which will reflect that agreement including details of what payments need to be made and by when.
Typically, your wedding venue will require a deposit, which may be as low as 10% or as high as 50%. This deposit guarantees the venue will be booked for you on your chosen date and won't be given to another couple.
Your payment schedule will usually need to be met and finalised before your wedding day and the only thing you may have to pay after your wedding is the cost of, for example, the fact that your wedding ran over or extra meals that may have been ordered on the day thanks to unexpected guests turning up or more drinks being consumed than you planned for.
Before signing your contract, be sure to ask about your venue’s refund policy, should anything not go according to plan.
The first payment you will make to your venue will be a deposit. This confirms your booking and is generally non-refundable if you change your mind or the wedding is cancelled at no fault of the venue, so think carefully before you hand it over.
Some venues have a fixed percentage deposit, as mentioned above, though others have a fixed dollar figure, perhaps around $1000 - $5000 regardless of your overall spend.
Others ask for a percentage of your total bill.
Your first payment
If you have booked your venue a long way in advance, some venues ask you to pay half of the outstanding balance three to six months before the wedding. Most couples are happy to do this as it spreads the cost out and you don’t have to find the whole lump sum in one go.
If you book your wedding venue within six months of the wedding, you may be asked to pay half the overall cost immediately or the final balance before the wedding date.
Your final payment
Most venues ask you to pay the final balance a week or two before the wedding.
Generally, as long as the funds have cleared into their bank account a few days prior to the wedding reception, there should be no problem. Occasionally, venues will allow you to pay the balance after the wedding, but this is usually if you have an open bar and they need to work out your bill at the end of the evening but do you really want to be worrying about paying bills or finding credit cards on your big day
Can we use money from our wishing well on the day to pay for the venue
Of course you can, but it’s a very risky move. After all, not only do you not know how much money you may receive in wedding gifts, you don’t know if you will receive any money, so don’t bank on it or you’ll be caught short – and thoroughly embarrassed on your wedding day.
That said, as mentioned above, most venues have the wedding reception bill well and truly settled before your wedding day, so it won’t even be possible.
If, however, you are able to pay on the day and are banking on using any monies given as wedding gifts, be very sure to have a solid back-up plan as your gifts may not cover the total cost of your wedding reception.