Small outdoor gardens (or larger indoor gardens) provide a picturesque backdrop for a wedding reception. Choose your wedding colors based on which flowers are in season, and you'll have no-fuss decorations for your reception. For a unique twist on a classic garden wedding, look up your nearest botanical garden or find a rooftop garden for your party.
Money-Saving Tip: Have the wedding reception in your backyard. You can save the cost of a venue by having your reception at home. Keep in mind, though, that you'll have to rent everything (including tables, chairs, plates, and flatware).
For couples who love art -- or are artists themselves -- a gallery reception is an ideal choice. Most galleries will have open spaces that are minimally decorated, so they won't clash with wedding decor. Smaller galleries can host a more intimate affair, and the art collections on the walls will provide a unique backdrop.
Money-Saving Tip: Get married in a smaller town instead of a bigger city. Prices tend to skyrocket in large cities, so if you have the option, book your ceremony and reception in a smaller town, even if it is a little ways from where you live.
If you've dreamed of having a nautical theme for your wedding, a lighthouse is the perfect reception site. Unless the lighthouse is surrounded by a large open space, you'll want to consider the size of your gathering -- and of course make sure there will be a view of the sunset for pictures.
Money-Saving Tip: Have both the ceremony and the reception at the same venue -- this will save you from having to pay two location fees.
Museums are great for larger receptions, and couples can choose one based on their shared interests for a pop of personality. Modern, open spaces can be easily decorated, and artifacts provide entertainment and unique photo opportunities for both the wedding party and the guests.
Money-Saving Tip: Ask if the venue requires you to use their in-house caterer. If so, taste the food before you sign the contract -- if it's not what you're looking for, find a venue that allows you to bring in your own food or caterer to give you more flexibility with your planning.
A sculpture park is a simple and creative venue to have your wedding reception. Open spaces offer plenty of room to set up tables, and winding paths allow guests to explore the eye-catching sculptures.
Money-Saving Tip: Get creative with your venue. Places that don't typically host wedding receptions, including many of our ideas, will likely have lower prices than banquet halls or hotels, which are common reception venues.
Wine aficionados will love throwing their wedding party on the grounds of a small winery. Your reception doesn't have to be in Napa, either -- smaller wineries located on both coasts and in the Midwest will likely be less-expensive venues.
Money-Saving Tip: Be flexible with the day you have your wedding -- Saturday is the most expensive day to book, mostly because it's so common. If you can, book your reception venue for a Friday or a Sunday: Most venues will charge up to half off their Saturday fees.
Stately historical buildings provide an old-fashioned backdrop for a classic wedding reception. Former plantations, Victorian-era homes, or impressive mansions can create a unique reception setting reminiscent of a bygone era, often with little decoration.
Money-Saving Tip: Get married in the off-season. Summer weddings are very popular (which means higher prices for nearly everything), so if you chose to get married in the winter months, you'll be able to cut some of your costs.
A more casual and relaxed wedding reception can be held at a favorite lakeside resort of the bride or groom, whether in a banquet hall or outdoors. Small cabins are the solution for guest accomodations, and small boats and Jet Skis provide after-wedding fun.
Money-Saving Tip: If you're serving alcohol at your reception, make sure you can bring it in yourself. Many venues will charge a hefty fee if they provide it, and this way you'll be able to choose your own selection.
For a thrilling party, see if a local amusement park will close the park for your group for an hour. If they won't, don't worry -- most theme parks have banquet halls or picnic areas perfect for a large group, and the bright colors of the park will make a fun setting for pictures, as long as you don't mind sharing the rides with other people.
Money-Saving Tip: Take your guests' RSVPs into account and don't overbook your reception venue. If you're expecting 100 people to come to your wedding, don't book a venue that can accommodate 300, since it will be more expensive.
Any fruit orchard will give an outdoor wedding reception a unique twist. You can incorporate the fruit into the meal or reception decorations, and the natural beauty of the location is unbeatable for group photos.
Money-Saving Tip: Make sure you're out on time. Many venues charge by the hour, and staying for just 20 minutes more than you sign for could lead to expensive overtime charges. Book the venue for an hour longer than you think you'll need, and make sure you start winding the party down during that last hour to make sure you're out on time.
For a rustic and casual wedding reception, a decorated barn is the perfect venue. Hang paper lanterns, streamers, and lights from the ceiling beams for easy decor, and make sure there's a wide-open space for the dance floor.
Money-Saving Tip: Have a morning wedding. Serving brunch or lunch is less expensive than serving a full dinner to guests, so if you can get up bright and early, it's worth it.