The Hidden Costs of Wedding Venues

Written by Caitlin Hoare
Having a wedding can be an expensive (but wonderful) luxury, there’s no doubt about it.

This is why sticking to your budget is one of the trickiest parts of planning a wedding, and it’s likely that your expenses spreadsheet or Google doc will fast become your best friend (or enemy, depending on how you look at it!). Getting married is a big investment and it’s fair to say that most of us want and need our budgets to work incredibly hard! Especially if you’re going to be able to create the wedding of dreams, straight off your Pinterest board!

Naturally your wedding venue is going to take up the biggest chunk of your budget. We know that couples spend approx. 10 – 15% of their total budget on the venue (excluding catering), which is why it is often the first big purchase couples make when they start out. It’s an exciting prospect – signing on the dotted line and counting down to the big day, but there are some pretty integral elements that will need factoring into your budget ASAP. And ones that you might not have considered at first.

We would always recommend giving yourself a bit of leeway by setting aside approx. 10% of your overall budget for unexpected expenses. Because although it may not be possible to avoid all unexpected costs, it’s way better to be prepared for them. And who doesn’t love a little extra honeymoon spending money if it all goes perfectly to plan!

The Hidden Costs


Some venues absorb VAT into their hire fee, some don’t. Some make it explicit that VAT is additional, and yup you guessed it – some don’t! Our advice is to always read the small print and double check your contract because adding 20% of your budgeted venue fee on top is a healthy chunk, and could be allocated to something else just as important.

Additional hire period

Initially you may think that 24 hours is enough time to hire your venue for. But once you factor in supplier deliveries, setting up time, a rehearsal and a farewell brunch with your nearest and dearest you may find you’re edging closer to 48 hours! Think about how much time you realistically want and need to be at the venue for, and make sure it’s possible with the budget and timescale you have available.


This is a biggie! Firstly, of course you will want to stay at the venue on the night before your wedding, or at least very close by with either your husband / wife to be, or your close friends and family. Booking additional nights at your venue, or treating everyone to a holiday cottage could be a cost that you might not have considered right away. And while there is no right or wrong way to handle guest accommodation for your wedding, it’s time to consider the options. Are you footing the bill for everyone to stay over? Or maybe you’re happy to simply secure the venue accommodation with a deposit and leave your guests to settle the balance? Like I said, there’s no right or wrong way here but a lot to consider.

Refreshments around the wedding

Potentially not the biggest hidden cost to consider here but one nonetheless. Although you may have arranged and paid for the food and drinks being served during the actual wedding, how about the any wedding-eve gatherings, or even the morning of your wedding? If your wedding is at 3pm, or if you envisage having a glass or two of fizz with your pals beforehand it would be wise to provide some snacks, sandwiches etc to wash it down with!


In order for your wedding to be legal, you must have a registrar (two, even) to conduct and witness your wedding ceremony. Note – this is not included in the venue hire fee! The cost of this service varies wildly depending on your location and venue type. It’s also worth noting that while they’re fairly nominal costs, giving notice of marriage and obtaining your marriage certificate are extra.


As with legal civil marriages, getting married in a church also comes with a cost attached. And if your dream wedding ceremony includes the ringing of bells, a traditional organ playing, and a choir singing their heart out then you’ll have to dig a little deeper into the budget because these all come as an additional price. Each church will be different though so just make sure to confirm the details upon booking.


We’re all a little too familiar with when life throws you a curveball so once you’ve got your venue booked, start shopping around for wedding insurance. Check exactly what each policy covers before making your choice – you want the most comprehensive policy your budget allows.


While stocking up with boxes of wine from that brilliant deal at Majestic sounds like a good idea, it likely isn’t going to be once you’ve added on a corkage charge. They can be much larger than you think, so always ask! It might work out just as much cost-wise, and far less faff to order your wedding breakfast wine directly from your venue.


You’re generally not responsible for how guests get to and from your wedding. But if your ceremony is taking place at a different location to the reception, couples often choose to provide transport to aid this. As well, if your chosen venue doesn’t have accommodation you might consider hiring a bus to pick up guests and drop them off again later. If it’s something you do wish to offer, it’s best to plan this into your budget ahead of time to avoid it being a last minute splurge.

Dry Hire

While a dry hire venue sounds like a beautiful blank canvas in which to create your dream wedding, it’s time to get super savvy when it comes to spending. Your venue hire may be cheaper than other ‘package’ options available but be wary as costs soon creep up when you add in the hire of tables, chairs, crockery, cutlery, catering equipment etc, and possibly even security. Folks, this is just the basics, before you’ve even considered decorations. Do your research, arm yourself with lots of quotes and keep an eye on that precious budget!

external suppliers

When booking a wedding venue you are likely to be given a recommended supplier list including trusted caterers, photographers, florists etc that regularly work at the venue. But what if you have your heart set on one that isn’t on the list? Now’s the time to check with your venue that you are able to bring in external suppliers. Some might flatly refuse, some may implement a surcharge and some might have a totally flexible approach! Best to ask early to avoid wasting time (and money) in the process.

Supplier meals

Your photographer, videographer and wedding planner are with you for the whole day working incredibly hard so they’ll be hungry too. You may also have to feed your band or DJ if your reception will last more than a couple of hours and they’ve travelled far. Generally suppliers will stipulate in their contract if meals / drinks need to be provided so just double check and make a note to include them when finalising your catering numbers.

Feature image credits

Creative Director Emma Hla, Coco Wedding Venues

Shoot Manager Katrina Otter, Katrina Otter Weddings

Venue Holywell Hall

Photography Rebecca Goddard Photography

Florists Blue Sky Flowers and Moss & Stone Floral Design

Stationery Bureau Design

Tableware Prezola

Furniture Wedhead


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