What Percentage of a Wedding Budget Goes to the Venue?

A reception's venue can make up more than half of a wedding budget.
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The average cost of a wedding in 2011 in the United States was a whopping $26,501, according to a study by "Brides" magazine. The cost of the reception venue makes up the largest portion of this budget.

Average Cost

Couples can expect to spend about 50 percent of their budget on the wedding venue, and that only accounts for the reception. By comparison, all of the elements of the actual ceremony, such as your license, will take up about 3 percent according to a 2009 article on the website She Knows.

What Is Included

The venue cost covers more than the amount of the room rental. Anything involving food and servers technically falls under the venue cost. It also covers taxes and tips. It doesn't include decorations, flowers or lighting. All those things that make the room prettier go in another budget; the venue budget is just for items and people that have to be there for the reception to work.

Decreasing the Percentage

Reception venues commonly cost less during the "off season," which is between the months of November and April. Avoiding a Saturday night reception may also help you save. If reception hall prices are too much, public parks, bed and breakfasts and even small art galleries may be low cost alternatives. You could get a price break on a small venue, but that's only practical if you've got a small guest list or if you're willing to trim the list to save more.


The wedding's location could play a role in how much of your budget will go to venue. Even a small difference in distance can cause a significant shift in venue costs. For example, in 2010, one venue in New York City charged $250 to $300 per guest, plus a venue rental fee of $5,000. Another venue just over 2 miles away charged $175 per person and no venue rental fee.

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