For every venue type, from a traditional hotel to a country barn, there’s a slew of associated rental costs—and some of them, you’ll never see coming. (Take a vineyard: Unless you want to give your guests bug bites along with their hors d’oeuvres, you’ll need citronella candles—and lots of them!) Check out this guide to the hidden costs behind four popular wedding locales to keep in mind before you sign any contracts—and possibly sign away your life savings.
Before you get your heart set on that insanely gorgeous vineyard or rustic barn, make sure you’re in the know about everything you’ll need to shell out for.
Venue: A Barn
Barns are the perfect backdrop for a rustic, simple wedding. But getting them into good-enough shape for your guests can require lots of work—and lots of money.
Bathrooms If your barn doesn’t have a restroom nearby, you’ll have to bring them in—and you probably want something a little nicer than basic porta potties.
Climate Control For a winter wedding, you’ll need space heaters; summer weddings may require fans.
A Generator Barns can be high on charm factor—but sometimes, electricity is nonexistent. That means supplying it falls on your shoulders.
Cleaning Spiders, dust and dirt are the last things you want to contend with on your wedding day. A commercial cleaning service may be necessary if you’re going truly rustic.
Lighting Unless your barn has a lot of windows and your wedding’s not an evening one, it could get awfully dark in there come nighttime.
Venue: The Great Outdoors
We love the romantic vibe of outdoor weddings, whether they’re in vineyards or backyards. Nonetheless, being exposed to the elements demands some extra precautions.
A Tent Rain or shine, the wedding must go on, so having a plan B is crucial. Did we mention that tents need lighting? And you’ll probably want to decorate those plain white walls too.
Permits Getting married in a public place, like a park or beach, often requires buying a permit, paying a location fee and/or getting insurance. You may need a permit for that tent too.
Dance Floor You don’t want your friends’ heels getting stuck in the mud—or your dad slipping on the grass and aggravating his bad hip. Speaking of which: Dance floors on grass need subflooring, for an extra fee.
A High-Powered Sound System It’s much harder to hear at an outdoor wedding than an indoor one—and you don’t want to miss a second of the toasts.
Venue: Destination Weddings
It doesn’t get more exotic or fun than traveling to a far-flung locale for your wedding day. But beware: Tying the knot out of town doesn’t come cheap.
Multiple Planning Trips You’ll probably be making at least one visit to your wedding location before the actual event, so factor transportation, hotel and food expenses into your budget. And, of course, you’ll also have to pay for the costs of the actual wedding trip.
Transportation If you’ll be importing any decorations, you’ll need to pay extra to get them there. You may decide to fly in your makeup artist, hairstylist or photographer too.
Regional Marriage Requirements Research and budget for these in advance. Most countries require you to be in the country for at least two to five days before the wedding; in France, couples have to get there 40 days in advance!
Exchange Rates and Taxes These could make every single expense pricier than you expect (though depending on where you go, you could save money).
A Second Reception It’s inevitable that not everyone will be able to travel to your destination of choice. Are you planning a celebration at home for those who missed out? Add that to your cost list.
Venue: A Hotel
Many hotels offer the serious convenience of preset wedding packages, on-site planners and built-in amenities, like public bathrooms and caterers. But even they may not cover all your celebrating needs.
Power Drop Charges You’ll need to pay for these if your power requirements exceed the hotel’s capabilities (hello, DJ booth and colored lights that match your theme).
Corkage Fee Bringing in outside alcohol? Not going with the hotel’s set liquor selection will almost certainly cost you extra.
External Vendors Fee The same may apply if you choose to bring in cake, food and flowers rather than using the in-house or “preferred vendor” options.
Overtime You might have so much fun that you just keep begging to hear one more song at the end of the night. That’s great, but know that most hotels will charge you by the hour for running over your allotted time. A full-service venue will include cleanup and garbage removal in your contract—but those services are usually “same day,” which means that if your event goes past midnight, you’ll incur a charge.
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