This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.
Does your dream wedding come with a less than dream budget? You’re not alone! More and more couples these days are having weddings for a fraction of the cost by finding creative ways to save
My husband and I had our dream wedding for less than $5,000 CAD (approximately $3,800 USD) in 2016. The biggest reason we were able to afford to do so was that we saved money by having our wedding and our honeymoon at the same venue.
Since we were on a small budget, we weren’t planning on taking a honeymoon at all. As many other couples do, we promised ourselves that we would save up and postpone our honeymoon until our first anniversary. But in the back of my mind, I knew that wasn’t likely to happen. And it kind of bummed me out.
Thankfully, we live in Northern Ontario, Canada where we are surrounded by beautiful lakes and forests. Tourism is a major contributor to the local economy, and there are numerous venues in and around the city that are popular for weddings and other special events. Which is how we accidentally found our venue. My husband was helping his mother scout locations for a family reunion when he came across a perfect venue. Not for the reunion, but for our wedding and for our honeymoon!
How to Find the Right Honeymoon – and Wedding Venue
For most couples, finding the right venue is high on their priority list. A bad location could ruin an otherwise perfect wedding.
Trying to find a venue that fits both your wedding and your honeymoon needs on a budget can be a bit tricky.
Take a hotel, for example. These are pretty common places to have weddings as they are affordable, there are rooms for your guests to stay in, a restaurant and bar on-site, and ballrooms or banquet halls all within the same building. These generally don’t make great honeymoon destinations though, even if you’re staying in the honeymoon suite.
So what are your options?
What Are You Hoping to Do for Your Honeymoon?
There are the basic things to consider when selecting a wedding venue, such as indoor vs. outdoor space, the overall aesthetic you’re hoping for, the number of guests invited, and what else is included with the venue (such as tables, chairs, and linens).
However, you also need to consider what you want for your honeymoon. Are you hoping to kick-back and relax by the pool or are you hoping to get out there and do a lot of sightseeing and activities? Do you want a home-away-from-home where you can do your own cooking or do you prefer somewhere with a restaurant or room service?
How Far Are You Willing to Travel?
People generally have their wedding close to home and then fly to their chosen honeymoon destination. When you’re looking to combine the two, you need to consider how far you and your guests are willing (and able) to travel.
If you are considering a destination wedding, using the same venue for your honeymoon is a no-brainer. This is a big reason why destination weddings are growing in popularity.
You will save money on travel because you don’t have to drive or take an additional flight to your honeymoon. Most destination wedding resorts will also give you a package deal or a discount on accommodations if you stay a few extra days after your wedding.
But what if you can’t afford to travel to an exotic resort for a destination wedding?
If traveling is out of your budget or is simply not something you and your partner are interested in, consider what “destinations” are within an hour or two of where you live.
A scenic hotel or resort might be the best of both worlds. It provides everything you need in a wedding venue but also makes for a great honeymoon getaway.
We went this route and found a resort for our venue, located about an hour’s drive away. Because we saved on travel, spoiling ourselves with an incredible venue was something we could splurge on without going over our budget.
This resort had one main building that included a kitchen, serving space, bar, dining room and a 2-level outdoor deck overlooking a lake, which is where we held our ceremony and reception. For accommodations and the honeymoon portion of our wedding, we rented cabins. But these were not your typical log cabins. We spent our first few days as newlyweds in a beautiful lakefront mansion! We enjoyed the fresh air, hot tub, fire pit, dock, wrap-around deck, walk-in shower, king-sized bed, pool table, and some peace and quiet. It was exactly what we wanted!
Once you decide on what you want and how far you are willing to travel, you can start looking for places that meet your criteria and your budget.
Where to Search for Your Wedding Venue
The internet is a great place to start searching for your perfect venue. You might need to search different keywords to get the full range of options available, such as: resort, retreat, conference center, vacation, getaway, country club, community center, lodge, cabin or parks. We didn’t come across our venue at all until we started searching “family reunion locations” as opposed to wedding venues!
You can also search for affordable and unique venue ideas, and see where that leads you. Some of these ideas include historical sites, adventure destinations, festivals, and yachts or cruises.
Have you considered looking for a venue through sites like Airbnb? As long as the listing is open to events, has enough space, and is okayed by the host, an Airbnb rental could be the perfect place for your wedding and honeymoon.
Don’t be afraid to ask around. Talk to your friends, neighbors, colleagues, or the cashier at the grocery store – they just might know of a hidden gem that is exactly what you’re looking for.
Visit your local tourism center. They would know what venues and attractions are in your region better than anyone else.
Consult with a wedding planner, who would also be an excellent resource to find the perfect venue. You can hire one to help with as much or as little of your wedding planning as you’d like. So if finding a venue is all the help you need, a wedding planner can do just that for you. They can also help you negotiate on costs and might be able to get you a discount if they already have a working relationship with the venue.
With a little consideration and planning, it is possible to have your dream wedding and honeymoon without being left in debt. Using the same venue for both is one great way to accomplish this.
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Biography: Amanda of My Life, I Guess strives to keep the “person” in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and more. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt and living paycheck to paycheck, while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations – including how she managed to have the perfect wedding while she was unemployed.