Bride To Be / Lauren

Lauren’s Bridal Diary: The Stress of Finding the Perfect Venue – that fits your budget!

One of my Dad’s favourite lines is, “I’m not Rockefeller, I’m the other fella”. Cheesy as it is, I often find myself wanting to repeat this to wedding venue owners.  If your parents or future in-laws are millionaires, finding a venue will not prove problematic for you.  You can pick and choose from a vast array of beautiful winelands, beachfront and farmland venues which all come with a Monaco-esque price tag. For the rest of us, there’s a dreaded word otherwise known as a budget.

Personally, I’m a fairly simple gal. Give me a warm beach, a few lanterns, picnicking guests and I would be overjoyed.  So you can imagine my devastation when the first beach venue (along the West Coast) I enquired from came with a R25 000 venue fee!  So before a single canapé or cocktail passed a guest’s lips, this is what we’d have fork out. This would be perfectly fine had we intended to let our guests go hungry for the duration of our wedding.

We should’ve cut our losses and journeyed inland but instead we stopped at two more places along the coast.  One surreal venue charged a ‘co-ordination’ fee of R12 000 aside from food and venue fees. Um, co-ordination of what? Surely managing the menu, bar and staff is a no-brainer when you’re hiring your venue out. But it’s comforting to know that if I own a wedding venue one day I too can charge clients for me to manage my own staff.

The final beach venue we road tripped to had mentioned that there was absolutely, under no circumstances, any venue fee. It seemed too good to be true, but the food looked great, the setting even better so we gave them the benefit of the doubt along with our petrol money and made an appointment. They proceeded to explain how they charge per chair, per fork, per knife, per glass, per chair cover….the list continued until we surpassed the R12 000 mark.

“So what you’re saying is, you do have a venue fee, you just call it by another name in the fine print?”  Moral of my story: ‘rustic’ does not equal cheap and every venue has its hidden costs. The more questions you ask, the sooner you’ll figure out what they are and decide whether it fits into your budget. When all vows are said and the day is done, you and your spouse don’t want to begin a marriage in huge debt. Your wedding day is important, but it is a celebration with your family and friends after all.

So whether it’s beside a river, in a hall or at a bring-and-braai, it can be special. Instead save your big bucks for travel afterwards. That’s what we plan to do.  Happy hunting!

Read more from Lauren as she plans her wedding in our Bride to Be section.

Photograph courtesy of Lauren Manuel ©

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