We completely get where you’re coming from if you’ve ever wondered about this.
See, we asked it ourselves too. When we first started searching for wedding venues for both ourselves and for friends, we were kind of stumped when it came to justifying the costs.
Here are some of the questions that came to mind:
- Why does it cost more to hire a property for a wedding than it would for normal accommodation?
- I’m going to style the space myself – so why do I need to pay thousands just for a blank-canvas?
- We’re just having a really relaxed wedding – more like a private party – so do I really need to book a venue for a ‘wedding’ or can we just call it a family gathering?
All very legit questions. We think we can provide some answers.
When we first started developing WedShed, we began managing one of our venues hands-on to get some insight into what happens on the venue-side of the wedding biz. This particular venue provided both holiday rentals on Airbnb and Stayz, as well as offering the space up for blank-canvas, DIY-styled weddings.
What we realised was that there’s a big difference between renting a property for a weekend get-away and for a wedding. We also spoke to a bunch of different venue owners to get their thoughts on this topic too. And in order to shed some light on this sometimes sensitive question, we wanted to share some of the reasons why venues are more expensive to rent for weddings.
Photography by Smith + Archer.
1) There’s a LOT more venue prep than the average event
No matter the occasion – be it a special birthday, anniversary, Christmas, whatever – weddings trump them all when it comes to the amount of preparation a venue owner will put into the property in the lead up.
Venue owners get that this is a day that you’re only going to have once, and that simply sweeping and pulling a few weeds won’t do. There are many hours of preparation to make a property wedding-ready – and this also means that the venue typically won’t be rented out in the days beforehand which is a potential loss to the venue owner.
Little things that we might all be able to let slide, like a downlight that needs changing or a leaky tap, all need to be sorted before a wedding. It’s got to be looking it’s best for you, your wedding photos and your guest’s experience.
2) There are viewings (and often multiple ones) involved
In our experience, both personally and professionally, almost every couple wants to check out the venue in-person before they book it. And for good reason. You want to be 100% sure that it’s the right fit for the most epic party of your life, right?
We probably viewed our wedding venues 3+ times and this is typical of most couples. The first viewing is to make sure it has the right ‘feel’ for your big day before booking. The second viewing is to drag along mum and/or friends/the entire extended family (hey, it’s happened) to validate your initial suspicion that this is the one. And the third time is where the logistical stuff, like measuring, happens (generally closer to the wedding date).
Each viewing takes up a lot of time – and even money. Again, it means blocking out the calendar to make sure the property is yours to view, which is potentially at the owner’s expense (there could have been other guests staying on site or holding smaller events that day). It means travelling to and from the venue if the owner or manager doesn’t live there, allocating enough time to spruce up the property in advance of your viewing, and spending an hour with you to take you around and answer any questions. All done happily of course, but it’s definitely not something most couples typically think about (us included).
3) There’s a LOT of back and forth liaison
Whether via email or over the phone, there’s a lot of communication that goes on between a venue owner/manager and a couple in the lead up to their wedding. No exaggeration – we’ve exchanged 150+ emails with people in the past.
In the same way that there are plenty of amazing, zen bridechillas out there, there are also people that need to be reassured along the way – and that’s totally fine, it’s just something to consider when understanding a venue’s fee. All that emailing and chat takes time, and, well, time needs to be factored into money when it comes to making a business out of venue hire.
4) There’s also liaison with your suppliers
But it’s not just liaising with you either. Venue owners coordinate with hire companies and caterers in the lead-up to your wedding and on the day to make sure they’re able to do their jobs as easily as possible at the property. Sometimes this means hosting viewings for the supplier in the lead up to the wedding.
5) There’s wear + tear and the cost of insurance and resources (both in utilities and humans)
There’s inevitably wear and tear on the venue that happens at weddings. A lot of it can’t be controlled – say it’s been raining and someone gets bogged and churns up a road – and some of it is just due to fun times, like broken glasses or spillages on furniture.
Even the most angel-intentioned of couples can’t control every single guest. We’ve heard of guests that went AWOL, broke a fence and had a late night picnic in a neighbouring property with a herd of alpacas (and yes, a small part of us wishes we were there, but that’s beyond the point).
There’s additional water usage, electricity costs and other maintenance that comes about as a result of having large numbers of people on a property at one point in time, like increased septic system treatments, driveway upkeep, gardening, etc. And the cost of having the right insurance to make sure that everyone is protected in the event that someone gets hurt or major damage occurs.
Not to mention the actual cost of the venue owner or manager’s time if they’re going to be onsite before, during and after the wedding to coordinate the event (this is a big one).
6) There might be facilities included that you would have otherwise needed to hire
When weighing up the cost of a venue, it’s worth keeping in mind all the bits and pieces that are included, as otherwise these might’ve needed to be rented from a hire company.
For example, if a venue comes with tables and chairs, you’re saving yourself multiple hundreds of dollars in hire costs. And if the venue has a shelter of sorts (be it a shed, barn, permanent marquee, etc) you’re saving yourself multiple thousands of dollars, as that’s how much marquees and teepees cost.
* TIP: if you’re conscious of your budget and trying to decide between a couple of venues, we’d recommend taking stock of what both venues include. If you price up the facilities that are included and then consider what they’d cost to hire, you can get a pretty fair idea about which venue will be the most suited to your position.
7) It’s not over when the wedding is done
Oh no, no, no. There’s rubbish removal, massive cleaning, fixing and replacing things that may have accidentally been damaged and just bringing the venue back to the condition it started in. Again, more time.
8) Venue owners need to make some money
Hey, at the end of the day if the venue owner isn’t covering their time with a little extra in the back pocket, weddings are just a time-consuming hobby. As with any business, there needs to be a little bit of profit involved – and when it comes to wedding venues, it’s definitely not as much as you might think.
We know what some people might be thinking. Perhaps it’s just easier not to mention the ‘w’ word?
It’s a dangerous idea. See possible scenarios below:
- The septic tank overflows because it’s not equipped for the extra load (literally) of people
- The power shorts because of the extra lights, music equipment, catering requirements on the power board (it’s happened before)
- Neighbours complain because they’re not expecting a wedding and your wedding band and tunes get shut down
- The owner finds out (with social media, this is easy – we’ve seen it happen) and charges you for the wedding anyway – plus holds back any security deposit you put on the property for being untruthful and breaching the conditions of the rental
- Bad ju-ju and karma haunt your marriage
The fact is, wedding venues do come at a cost. But that cost can be ratified in the amount of hours the venue owner or manager spends on each wedding.
At the end of the day, most venue owners (and certainly the ones that we work with at WedShed) are fair, wonderful people who are flattered that you want to share their space for such an amazing purpose. They’re not trying to send you broke and will go out of their way to make sure everything is exactly what you had hoped for. Which isn’t priceless, but it’s pretty good.
Want 17 awesome tips on how to save money on your wedding day? Right here.