Once you've narrowed down your wedding venue options to just two or three places, a helpful deciding factor might be taking a look at what's included in the cost of the rental. Will you have to bring in restrooms, a back-up generator, and a ton of lighting for the big day? You could end up spending thousands of dollars in the process. Instead, you might decide to put those funds toward a more expensive venue that has a lot built in. Here are a few of the things a venue might have that could save you money.
Some venues offer in-house catering, full wedding planning and coordination, floral design, and more. Depending on the venue, working with an in-house team could save you money, be about the same cost, or end up costing more, so it's worth asking questions about pricing and whether it's competitive with other local vendors. Keep in mind that if it saves you the time of researching vendors, it saves you the cost of time. It almost always saves you money to work with an in-house catering team, as they're a well-oiled machine that already has all the tools they need to cater your event in that specific space.
Basic Tabletop Items
Venues with in-house catering teams typically have a few options for basic tabletop items. You can always choose to upgrade wine glasses or dishes to a rental that's more in keeping with your aesthetic, but you might save a few hundred dollars by choosing to use some of what the venue already has to set your tables. The same goes for linens—your venue will likely be able to provide white or black cotton-polyester blend tablecloths, which you can choose to use on service tables while you may upgrade dining table linens to a rental.
The industry standard is one restroom per 40-50 guests. If your venue only has one restroom, or has inconveniently located restrooms, you may have to bring in rental restroom trailers. If the trailers need generators for power, this is another cost that can add up to over a thousand dollars.
Lighting and Sound
With the exception of private estates and outdoor venues that don't host many weddings, most venues have all the lighting you need for safety. You might decide to bring in some statement lighting and ambient lighting, but having the basics covered can potentially save you a few thousand dollars. The same goes for a soung system. Some venues own speakers and microphones you'll be able to use for the ceremony and reception. This can save you a few hundred dollars in rental fees. For more dynamic sound needs (i.e. if you're bringing in a large band), you may need to rent additional sound equipment anyway.
If your venue rental comes with tables, reception chairs, ceremony chairs, lounge furniture, and outdoor furniture you actually like, add them to the list of savings!
A Rain Plan
When tenting an outdoor wedding venue is the only option for rain, you need to have a large contingency fund in your budget. Tenting is a costly endeavor and one that's nice to avoid if your venue has a backup plan, like a permanent tent or large indoor space, built in.
A Designated Dance Floor
Some venues own dance floors they can add to a reception space while others have hardwood flooring or cement floors that don't need to be covered for dancing. This can save you a few hundred dollars.
If your venue's a hotel, you can skip the cost of shuttles and valet if all your guests will be staying on-site. This is most commonly the case for destination weddings.
Parking or Valet Service
Parking and valet can cost a few hundred dollars to coordinate, plus a bit of fuss. If your venue has both built-in, instant savings!
Many private estates have limited power. If you'll be bringing in things like a pop-up kitchen, portable restrooms, or a sound system, they may each require dedicated outlets. If the venue is unable to provide enough amps of power, you may need to rent a generator to support the event's electricity needs.