Wedding Guide: How to Finance and Budget For Your Dream Day Chapter 4: Wedding Reception Venues

Are you dreaming up the perfect wedding reception venue but are concerned about your budget? You have come to the right place! Personal Loans Now presents all the wedding reception venue options for all budgets.

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Learning Highlights
  • The wedding reception (including food and drinks and wedding reception venue) is estimated to make up a 1/3rd of a couple’s wedding budget.
  • Choosing to hold the reception in the same place as the ceremony can save you an estimated £500-£800 on car hire.

In this chapter, we turn our attention to the wedding reception venue. Although many couples hire a hotel, there are many cheaper alternatives. We will balance the pros and cons of all the different venues. We will advise you of the pitfalls to avoid to help you choose the right wedding reception venue for you and your pocket and so that you do not have to turn to personal loans.

Choosing The Right Wedding Reception Venue

You should think about venues for any reception or post-wedding celebration and book well in advance of your big day. This is especially if you have your heart set on a particular place and you intend to marry between May and September.

The first question you should ask yourselves is how important a shared celebration with family and friends is for you. Would you feel ‘robbed’ of being the centre of attention? Or would you prefer to spend this money on something more practical? This could be in the form of new furniture or something for you as a couple like a honeymoon to an exotic location?

You ought to bear in mind how many guests your budget will allow you to invite and whether you would need to look for wedding loans. Also, you should consider how formal you would like your wedding reception to be.

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Would you feel comfortable offering a buffet or would you prefer a sit-down meal? And what about drinks? Would you offer an open bar or expect guests to pay for their own drinks?

There are so many options available and also many ways to budget so that the cost of your wedding reception does not necessarily mean finding yourselves in debt to pay for it. Let’s consider the most common wedding reception venue ideas, their pros and cons and how you can save money.

Hotel as Your Wedding Reception Venue

One of the pricier choices for a wedding reception venue is to hold it at a hotel. However, you can make savings if you choose times when there are fewer weddings. Such as in November when the same hotel can be up to 30% cheaper. Since your caterers usually charge per head, limiting the number of guests you invite to the sit-down meal will reduce your costs substantially. Alternatively, you can offer a buffet instead.

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The main benefit of a hotel is its convenience. The hotel management takes care of all the details leaving you to enjoy your day without stress. Larger hotel chains might have an event coordinator, who can make sure everything runs smoothly. It will, therefore, make the added expense of hiring a wedding planner unnecessary.

A hotel that is licensed as approved premises to hold the ceremony keeps the costs down too. You do not need to worry about the added expense of transportation to the reception using hired cars. You can save up to £800 on car hire.

Beware of Hidden Costs

On the other hand, you should be wary of hidden costs. Bear in mind that the hotel’s event coordinator’s job is sales-orientated: They may encourage you to add extras to the simple package. Always clarify whether something is part of the package deal or whether it is an add-on. You might need to stretch your budget, which could be from a low-rate personal loan or asking family and friends to contribute.

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Although some couples enjoy the professionalism of a hotel reception, others may feel like they are part of a ‘Wedding Production Line’. All weddings there being much the same makes them feel they are unable to put their own individual ‘stamp’. They prefer their reception to be highly personalised.

It is impossible to give an average cost of a reception in a hotel. This is because it depends on so many factors. Those hotels which charge a lot for room hire tend to offer cheaper prices per head for the food.

  • You need to think about whether you really want a post-wedding celebration. Then key questions are how many people you wish to invite, how formal you would like it to be and what kind of food you want to serve.
  • Up to a third of a couple’s wedding budget is spent on the reception.
  • A popular option is to hire a hotel and to use it as a wedding reception venue and for the ceremony.
  • The advantages of a hotel are that the hotel does all the preparations for you, so you are free to enjoy your day. You also save on transport from the ceremony to the reception.
  • The disadvantages are hotels are quite pricey and may lack the ‘personal touch’ to distinguish your wedding from all the others.

A Reception In A Restaurant Or A Room Attached To A Pub

A much cheaper option for those of you on a budget is to hire a restaurant for the afternoon and/or evening. Alternatively, you can hire a room which is attached to a pub. Such a choice gives you more scope regarding what food you offer to your guests and how you want the room decorated. Restaurants are often willing to offer a choice of 2 or 3 set starters and main courses. Although, you could save money by dispensing with desserts completely and offering wedding cake instead.

Some pub rooms can be hired free of charge as long as a certain amount (agreed beforehand) is spent on food and drink. If the pub does not offer food, you could consider hiring caterers, or you could organise a buffet. Alternatively, you could opt for something completely different and arrange for takeaway food to be delivered. This could be as traditional as fish and chips or something more distinctive such as Thai food.

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The drawback of both places is that they tend to have a much smaller sitting capacity compared to a hotel. (Although you may view this as a godsend as it allows you to automatically limit numbers without any guilt and with a ready excuse). The other problem is that there are so many more things that could potentially go wrong. This is because you depend on lots of different groups of people rather than the professionalism of hotel staff.

Tip: Some people recommend you not mention the W word until you have agreed on a price and booked the wedding reception venue. Some venues might hike up the price when they realise it is for a wedding reception

Hiring A Village Hall/Community Centre/Sports Club

Further savings can be made if you book a village hall, local community centre or sports club. All three would be much cheaper than hotels, pubs or restaurants. However, you would have to think about both food and drink: caterers, buffet or takeaway?

These places are ideal if you have a lot of relatives and a wide circle of friends who would be prepared to pitch in.

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They can do everything from decorating the venue to helping make the buffet. It could quite literally become a labour of love. It could be more meaningful as everyone feels they are contributing something to make your day unique. Some couples enjoy the challenge of working out all the details themselves. This way they can express their own personalities rather than follow the conventions.

Websites such as have lists of halls for hire. You can use their search engine so that you can easily find one in the area where the wedding will take place.

A Word Of Warning

A word of warning, however; it requires lots of organisation to create your special day. You might find that this way adds more stress in your run-up to the wedding. Someone would have to think of the practicalities. Does this place possess plates, etc. or would you have to hire them? Is there a kitchen available in case food needs to be warmed up? Does the building have fridges to keep drinks cool? Who would be responsible for tidying up afterwards? In theory, the idea of everyone pitching in is great but is there a possibility of personality clashes when no one agrees on how something should be done? Could stress levels lead to frayed nerves and arguments?

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Another thing to bear in mind is that to prevent noise bothering locals late at night, many of these places stipulate that the party must finish by 11 pm, allowing 30 minutes for tidying up. If you envisage dancing until the early hours of the morning, this might not be the best place for you!

  • Pubs and restaurants can be cheaper options than a hotel venue and might give you more scope in personalising your wedding.
  • Both venues tend to have a smaller sitting capacity than hotels and would require transportation from where the ceremony took place.
  • Hiring a wedding reception venue like village halls and community centres for the reception would entail more work. It is a chance for both sides of the family and friends to offer their help. On the negative side, more things could go wrong, and stress can lead to arguments.

FAQs on Reception Venues

Which venues are popular for wedding receptions?
There are many places to hire for you to celebrate your wedding with your loved ones. They include hotels, restaurants, pubs, village halls, community centres and sports clubs.

How much does a wedding reception cost in a hotel?
For your initial budgeting, you should allow an average of £30-£40 per head for a 3-course meal. The price depends on so many different factors: the date/location of the wedding, the number of guests, the type of food/drink offered as well as all those extras. For example, chair covers, the décor, etc.

For wedding receptions, how do pubs and restaurants compare to hotels?
Pubs and restaurants can be a cheaper option and give you more scope to tailor your reception to make it more individual. However, their seating capacity tends to be smaller, and transport from the venue of the ceremony may have to be arranged.

How much does it cost to hire a village hall or community centre for a wedding reception?
Costs vary considerably since it depends on how long and which day/part of the day you require them. The basic price is around £180-£300 but do not forget to budget for all those extras such as hiring crockery, etc.

Wedding Reception in a Marquee

Have you always dreamed of a garden-style party in a marquee? This is an alternative that increasing numbers of couples are choosing to host their reception. The first question is where you could set up the marquee. If your parents or in-laws have a big enough garden, then you have no problem. If not, you could think about asking close relatives or friends. Make sure that you are clear about who will be responsible for clearing up any mess or repairing any damage to the garden itself.

Alternatively, you could rent land to erect the marquee. But, you should consider such matters as road access, parking, outdoor lighting and the availability of electricity and running water.

Marquees can seem an economical choice for wedding celebrations; prices start at around £400 but can go as high as £1,300. However, you should bear in mind that this price is for the basics, which is the marquee itself and the flooring. The hiring of tables, chairs, décor, lighting, heating (if necessary), toilets and generators are all extras.

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Marquees can give you free rein to express your personalities or develop a theme to your wedding. Many companies can offer linings and furniture which can transform the interior into anything from Arabian Nights to an English Rustic theme.

Marquees are built to be rain- and weather-resistant and heating are available. You might want to consider whether it is the most comfortable choice if you are marrying in winter.

  • You should think carefully about if you have enough place to set up a marquee since its size dictates the number of guests you can invite.
  • Prices for marquees seem reasonable but do not forget to factor in all the extras, everything from furniture to lighting..
  • When hiring the marquee, they might be able to give you ideas on thematic settings which would make your wedding reception unforgettable.
  • Marquees are weatherproof but think about the comfort of your guests, especially if you are not marrying in the summer.

Alternative Ideas For Wedding Receptions

There are a number of different alternatives if you find that your budget does not stretch to the ideas suggested above and you don’t want to take out a personal loan. One possibility is to have a post-wedding party at home. Limited space may restrict the numbers of guests. You would, however, save a fortune on catering and drinks. You could even ask everyone to contribute a dish to be served buffet style. To ensure as many people as possible, you could invite family members to the first part of the party but reserve the evening for time to be spent with friends. The only problem is whether you would be able to stand the pace!

Are you marrying near an area of natural beauty? For example, a beach, a river, woodlands or a beach, even a city park? If so, you could have a wonderful celebration outside in the style of a picnic. The food could be home-made, supplied by a caterer or contributions made by your wedding guests. You would also save a great deal of money by buying the champagne, wine or beers from a supermarket. The expense of a wedding should not get in the way of your marriage. There are many alternative ways to do weddings cheaply and if you are unemployed, Personal Loans Now do offer loans for unemployed. But think about what is important to you. Debt should not get in the way of your happiness.

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The major drawback is that with the vagaries of the British weather, this idea only has a hope of being successful if you are planning on marrying in the summer. And even then, you have no guarantees of a sunny day. For this reason, you should have an alternative backup plan in case the weather lets you down. Maybe the park has a gazebo or bandstand to protect you from a sudden downpour or perhaps the beach has a covered pier?

  • An alternative idea for a post-wedding celebration could include a party at your or your parents’ home.
  • Space may be limited but you would save a great deal of money on hiring a venue, food and drinks..
  • A picnic in a beautiful natural setting would be a cost-effective way to celebrate your wedding with loved ones.
  • The unpredictability of the British weather means you should only consider this idea in the summer and you should have a back-up plan in case it rains.

FAQs on a Marquee as a Wedding Recpetion Venue

What should I do if I have my heart set on a marquee but my garden is too small?
If you have no friend or family member to ask (or do not want to jeopardise your relationship in case any damage is done to their garden), you could look for land to hire, whether this is near the venue of your ceremony, council/village property or a farmer’s field.

How much does a marquee cost to hire?
Although the basic price costs anything from £400-£1,300 (depending on its size), this does not include any of the extras such as furniture, lighting and heating.

Can I have a sit-down meal in a marquee?
Yes, of course. Generators can be provided (at extra cost). You will probably need to hire a ‘kitchen marquee’ for the preparation of food. Access to water is essential even if it is only from a standpipe.

Can marquees only be erected in the summer?
No, all marquees are weather-resistant, and heating can be supplied. However, you should think of the comfort of your guests, especially as they will probably be going outside to use the amenities.

What could I do if I want to have a party after the ceremony, but our budget is limited?
You could choose to have your wedding reception venue at home. Alternatively, you could organise a picnic in a local place of beauty, with a backup plan if it rains.

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