Some couples spend more on their wedding venue than on any other wedding expense, including the rings. However, if you can find a cheap place to hold your ceremony and reception, you'll be well on your way to planning an affordable event. Here are five of the cheapest places you can get married, without resorting to a trip to the courthouse. Some of these options are non-traditional, while several cost less than $50.
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Want an amazing backdrop for your wedding? Get married in a National Park and you'll have your choice of mountains, oceans, canyons, and even volcanoes. To book a spot, you just need to apply for a Special Use Permit at your chosen park and pay the application fee. This can be as little as $50, and rarely exceeds a couple hundred dollars. If you plan to hire a professional photographer, you'll probably also need to spring for a Commercial Use Authorizations Permit. Just run your plans by the park, and they'll tell you what you need.
Before you go all-in on this idea, know that National Park weddings come with lots of restrictions. There will probably be a cap on the number of guests and vehicles that you can have, and on the sorts of decorations that are permitted. Some activities, like throwing rice and securing decorations to structures, are prohibited. You may not even be able to have chairs in some parks. On the other hand, not being able to hang a lot of decorations also means that you won't have to buy a lot of decorations, and that can be a big plus. If you've always envisioned getting married in a church, many of the National Parks have chapels you can use.
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Wish you could afford a destination wedding, but blown away by the prices resorts are quoting? Shift your search to AirBnB, where you can rent large lofts, cabins, mansions, and ranches with room to accommodate 50+ guests, as well as lighthouses, tree houses. and tiny hideaways that are just big enough to accommodate a small wedding party and a few close friends. With a bit of research, you'll find plenty of options that run anywhere from a couple hundred dollars a night to a thousand or so dollars. That's more than reasonable for a wedding venue that includes lodging for all of your guests.
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Colleges or Universities
The months of June and July are peak wedding season in many areas, so you'll usually pay more for a venue during these months. One exception to the rule: colleges and universities. Since students are out of school, this means lots of empty buildings that aren't earning any income. Check with the school(s) that your partner and you graduated from, as well as any other schools in your area, and you may just find a bargain. Some institutions allow alumni to get married on campus for as little as a couple hundred dollars. That's a real bargain when you consider all the picturesque buildings and gardens that you can work into your wedding photos.
Have lots of out-of-town guests who will be attending your wedding? Some colleges may allow your guests to rent dorm rooms and eat in the cafeteria, if school isn't in session; giving you another destination wedding option.
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Neighborhood Block Party
Have hundreds of friends and family to invite to your party, and need a cheap venue that can accommodate a crowd? Then, consider getting a special event permit that'll allow you to take over a local park or city block for a day. This means taking a gamble on the weather, but if everything works out, you could have your venue for as little as $25. Permit requirements and fees vary from town to town but are usually pretty reasonable—and certainly way less than what you'd pay for any indoor venue that'd be able to handle such a large crowd.
Be sure to talk through all your plans with the city. You may need additional permits, if you'll be using sound equipment, outside vendors or want permission for guests to be able to park on the street. You may also be required to purchase liability insurance or to hire a security detail for your event.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Get married in the church you attend, or the church that your parents got married in. Then, move over to the fellowship hall for the reception. If you have ties to the church, there may not be any charge at all. Save even more by getting married at a time when the church is heavily decorated, like Christmas or Easter.