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If planning a wedding on the First Coast is a challenge, paying for it can be an even greater one. But don’t despair, here are some insider secrets to help you save money when c choosing your reception site.
Many wedding venues in the Jacksonville area will book receptions from noon to 5:00 p.m. or from 6:00 p.m. to midnight, and they may charge extra to host a reception that overlaps both time segments. To save money, choose one of these times. Better yet, choose the earlier time slot. Because evening functions tend to be easily booked, choosing the earlier time may give you negotiating power with the wedding venue, especially if their list price is the same for both time frames.
Saturday’s are the most expensive day of week to have your wedding, no matter what time of the year it is. If you really want a particular venue, but the Saturday rate is out of your wedding budget think about having a Friday or Sunday wedding. Almost all wedding venues have reduced rates for those dates. Or, if you can get married on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, you can typically get a GREAT deal on your wedding venue space. Not only will you get a great deal on your wedding venue…but you will probably get a great deal with the rest of your wedding vendors as well!
The date you choose for your wedding may significantly affect reception cost. Peak months are March, April, May, September, October and November. Saturday evenings in December are generally reserved for holiday parties. Most wedding venues will refuse to negotiate prices during these prime months, and many require a minimum budget be met in order to reserve the space. At other times of the year, however, venues are usually more than willing to haggle. In the Jacksonville area, the slowest wedding months are during June, July and August…especially for the outdoor wedding venues.
There are many different types of menu options when deciding what to feed your guests; buffet, hors d’oeuvres, food stations or a sit down dinner. Typically, the buffet is the most economical choice. Though many new brides assume that a hors d’oeuvres cocktail party will be the least expensive option, often the exact opposite is true. To host a hors d’oeuvres party at mealtime, you should provide 14 to 16 hors d’oeuvres per person. When all of the items are tallied, the total per person cost can be equal to or higher than a plated or buffet meal. Buffet stations also will cut down on the labor cost because they need more servers/cooks for the other options. Something else to consider is the time of the day the wedding is. A breakfast meal or lunch menu will be less expensive (typically) then a dinner menu.
The largest contributing factor to your overall reception budget is the type of bar you host. Generally, if you are considering hosting a bar for your guests for the full reception (four to five hours), the price can equal or even exceed the meal cost. Many times the venue will offer an “open bar” package price. These prices are based on a fixed per person cost per hour regardless of the amount consumed. The advantage of the open bar is having a fixed cost to factor into your budget. If you select a venue that allows you to bring in your own catering a bar service, make sure you ask a lot of questions of what it includes; glassware, dinnerware, linens, servers, etc.
Another way to cut some costs on the bar is only offer beer and wine and possibly a signature drink.
If you need to save money on your open bar, close the bar during dinner, and reopen after the meal. This way you will have bar coverage when it’s needed most.
Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Orange Park, Amelia Island or Southern Georgia the surrounding areas have hundreds of wedding reception options that can fit any budget and price point! Just make sure that the venue you select is a reputable location that is properly licensed and insured!
To find a complete list of great wedding reception locations please check out our reception guide!