All the Hidden Wedding Venue Costs to Look Out For

Before you get your heart set on a reception venue, make sure you know about all the unexpected venue extras.
The Knot
Updated Feb 28, 2020

Every type of wedding venue, from a hotel ballroom to a country barn, comes along with a list of associated rental costs—some you might have anticipated, but others you may never have thought of. Take a vineyard, for example: Unless you want to give your guests bug bites along with their hors d'oeuvres, you'll need citronella candles—and lots of them. Here's our guide to the hidden costs behind four popular reception locations—keep them in mind before you sign any contracts to avoid added fees sneaking up on you.

Hidden Costs of a Barn Wedding

Barns are the perfect backdrop for a rustic, romantic affair, but getting them into shape for a wedding often requires a bit of work—which means a few extra costs.

Restrooms: If your barn doesn't have a restroom nearby, you'll have to bring them in—and you probably want something nicer, like luxury portable restrooms instead of basic porta potties. You'd be surprised how pricey these can be.

Climate Control: For a winter wedding, keep your guests cozy with space heaters and blankets. If you're having a summer event, it may require fans, air conditioning or extra coverage for shade.

Generators: Barns can be high on charm, but electricity isn't always a given. Talk to your pros, from the caterer to the band or DJ, about their electrical needs so you can plan generator rentals accordingly.

Cleaning: Insects, dust and dirt are the last things you want to contend with on your wedding day. A commercial cleaning service may be necessary if you're going truly rustic.

Lighting: Unless your barn has a lot of windows and your wedding is midday, lighting options—think: string lights, lamps, chandeliers, candles—are both a practical necessity and a mood-setter for your event.

Hidden Costs of an Outdoor Wedding

We love the natural, romantic vibe of an outdoor wedding, whether it's in the woods or by the lake in your backyard. Nonetheless, being exposed to the elements demands some extra precautions—which can add up.

Tent: Rain or shine, the wedding must go on, so having a plan B is crucial. Did we mention tents need lighting? And you might want to spruce up those plain white walls with pretty décor, furniture and foliage.

Permits: Getting married in a public place, like a park or beach, often requires buying a permit, paying a location fee and even getting insurance. You may also need a permit for the tent, alcohol and amplified sound.

Dance Floor: You don't want your friends' heels getting stuck in the mud or your grandparents slipping on uneven terrain. And dance floors on grass need subflooring, which is an extra fee.

High-Powered Sound System: It's much harder to hear at an outdoor wedding than an indoor one—and you don't want to miss a second of the toasts or have your guests completely miss your vows.

Hidden Costs of a Destination Wedding

It doesn't get more fun than traveling to a far-flung locale for your wedding. But beware: Although it's always worth it, tying the knot out of town comes with a few unexpected costs.

Multiple Planning Trips: You'll probably be making at least one visit to your location before the actual event (in fact, you definitely should), so factor transportation, hotel and food expenses into your budget. And, of course, you'll also have to pay for the costs of the actual wedding trip.

Transportation: If you're planning to import any decorations, you'll need to pay extra to get them there. You may decide to fly in your makeup artist, hairstylist or photographer too.

Regional Marriage Requirements: Research and budget for these in advance. Most countries require you to be in the country for at least two to five days before the wedding.

Exchange Rates and Taxes: These could make every single expense pricier than you expect (though depending on where you go, you could actually save money).

Second Reception: It's inevitable that not everyone will be able to travel to your destination of choice. Many couples choose to have a second celebration back home and invite anyone they couldn't include or who couldn't make it to their faraway nuptials.

Hidden Costs of a Hotel Wedding

Many hotels offer the serious convenience of preset wedding packages, on-site planners and built-in amenities, like public bathrooms and caterers. But even they may not cover everything you need.

Power Drop Charges: You'll need to pay for these if your power requirements exceed the hotel's capabilities, say, for the DJ booth and colored lights that match your theme.

Corkage Fee: Bringing in outside alcohol? Not going with the hotel's set liquor selection will often cost you extra.

External Vendors Fee: The same may apply if you choose to bring in cake, food and flowers rather than using the in-house or preferred vendor options.

Overtime: You might have so much fun that you just keep begging to hear one more song at the end of the night. That's great, but know that most hotels will charge you by the hour for running over your allotted time. A full-service venue will include cleanup and garbage removal in your contract—but those services are usually "same day," which means that if your event goes past midnight, you'll incur a charge.

Ready to party? Find your dream wedding reception venue on The Knot Marketplace.

Up Next
  • Wedding games
    37 Fun Wedding Reception Games and Activities