If you are at the beginning stages of wedding planning or fully engulfed in the process unless you are a royal with an unlimited budget then you more than likely have some sort of budget in mind for your event. Some couples have a large 20,000+ budget, some have a modest 10,000+ budget and some are working with just a few thousand dollars. Did you know that the average price of a wedding in Colorado is now $30,000? The picturesque venues start at around $7000 for a weekend event and most caterers are charging $100+ a person per a meal. Those costs alone are going to add up quickly and with a very modest budget are not going to leave you much for extra for all the other vendors needed at a wedding. The best way to start figuring out your budget and how much to spend on each vendor is to prioritize what is most important to you.
If you have a $10,000 budget I highly suggest not blowing it all on the venue. There are options out there for couples with this minimal budget such as parks and recreation rentals or even churches offer a more affordable alternative to the high ticket wedding venue. If you have a $20,000+ budget then by all means book that amazing venue. A location with a beautiful view and lovely decor might even save you some money in decorating just because it may not need much more. The time of the year you host your event might also effect the pricing. Some venues even offer savings for hosting an off season event. Depending on the venue this time-frame in Colorado is typically November through March.
A trend in the wedding venue companies is to now offer all inclusive packages. These venues advertise as a one stop shop that is supposed to save couples money and the hassle of looking for all of their other vendors. I’ve worked at a few of these types of venues over the years and can see the advantages and disadvantages to them. The main benefit being that you will probably be able to host an event for under the cost of the average Colorado wedding (sometimes) if you use all of their vendors. The disadvantage of this concept will be that because vendors on these lists are often making their services available for under the market value they are also having to pay their employees under the market value for their work. For instance the DJ hired to fulfill these packages is often a college kid with maybe one or two events under his belt and you won’t be allowed to chat with him directly before your event. This person may not know how to keep a dance floor full, what announcements that need to be made or even how to handle a problem with equipment should it arise. My thoughts about this is to make sure you are able to vet all of the vendors they use. Make sure that you are able to replace vendors with your own when necessary and that it won’t cost you extra to use your own. There are still advantages to being able to create your event the way you want it to be even if it may cost a little more.
Some venues that do not provide food onsite might also require that you choose a caterer off their preferred list. Typically, there are reasons for this requirement. The main one being they’ve worked with these vendors a number of times already. The venue knows the quality of the service they provide and want to make sure that the same quality is provided to the guests they are hosting as it reflects poorly on the venue if the service is bad. If the venue you want to book has a list of caterers you must choose from then request a list of them before you book the venue so you can reach out them to figure out the average pricing. I’ve seen it a hundred times… couples book a venue because they are offering a great deal only to find out after the fact that the caterers on the venue’s list are all out of their price range! Ask questions!!!
After you list all of the items needed to service your wedding, rearrange them in order of importance and then research the average cost of each service and decide on how much you’d like to spend on each item. Leave a little wiggle room in your budget for services that are of the most important to you. For instance if photography is at the top of your list and you’ve budgeted $3000 for it but you found a photographer who’s work you love and personality clicks with yours but they charge $3500 don’t compromise on that service, instead take that $500 off your budget somewhere else. Maybe you had $500 earmarked for wedding favors, but do guests really need some tchotchke that will more than likely end up in the trash after the event? Probably not, but if your wedding photos get screwed up you will remember that forever! Don’t be afraid to ask vendors if they can work with your budget. The worse they can say is no.
Remember that there are also a lot of little items that add up quickly as well. I once covered a beautiful DIY wedding held in a tent on the property of the bride’s parents. The day of the event she told me that she thought they were going to save money by hosting it themselves, but by the time they rented everything they needed (including the porta potties, something they had forgotten about) they were at the cost of the most of the venues they toured, but had all of the hassle of having to set up everything themselves! Her biggest regret was not having researched the costs of everything that would be needed to do the event themselves and having to beg friends and family to do all the heavy lifting!
The biggest take away you should get from this article is to do the research. Ask questions from your top picked vendors, read reviews and research some more before you sign on the line. Prioritize what’s most important to you and understand that priorities are different for every couple. Just because your best friend dropped a ton of money on a band at her wedding doesn’t mean you have to if hiring a DJ will still fit within your vision and save you some dough.
Happy wedding planning!!! Reach out if you need some advice. We’ve worked at tons of venues throughout Colorado both big and small. We truly believe that every couple deserves to have the wedding of their dreams no matter what their budget!