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Expensive Tastes on a Low Budget. My Wedding Part 1: The Venue

Updated: Aug 21, 2019

What if I told you my husband and I had a wedding for 70 people with food left over on an estate while hosting our whole bridal group in a mansion on only a $15,000 budget. Oh yeah, and we got published in Pacific Weddings Magazine as well! To good to be true right?

I remember feeling so defeated learning the cost of weddings. Not to mention I don't have the cheapest tastes in the world and Pinterest just loves to fuel that fire. I had to start getting really creative and I want to share with you how I accomplished it all.

So let's start with the biggest cost: The Venue.

The Venue

The first step is you need to choose which path you want to embark on. You could pay an establishment money per guest and they will do it all for you. This probably would be the least amount of stress and time taken but you run the risk of it not feeling that unique and it will costs you. The second option is you do everything yourself. This is the path I chose to do.

And I only lost my mind once.

Finding a venue was the hardest part for me. I scoured the web, visited as many places as I could but none of the places I wanted fit into my budget. My dream was to have a backyard, estate wedding but to rent a property (like in Montecito) was starting at $8,000. It wasn't until I was looking at a property in West Hills, Los Angeles that I stumbled across a CA State Park that guess what? Was an old estate of William Orcutt, a pioneer of oil production and discoverer of the first skeleton from the La Brea Tar Pits. Orcutt Ranch has a rose garden, huge oak trees, a bamboo forest, etc.

So this leads me to my main tip: Check out State Parks. If you live in Southern California, I highly recommend touring Orcutt Ranch. If you do not, I recommend looking into your local state parks. At first, I avoided doing this because it is difficult to get good pictures of all the various parks out there online. You have to visit them in person and this can be time consuming. But doing so might be your best shot at saving a lot of money.

Now here are a few negatives to State Parks.

  • Hours are limited which can be tricky when coordinating all the rentals to be delivered and cleaned up. They also typically end early so no late night partying.

  • You usually have to use a qualified alcohol vendor the state approves and there are a lot of rules.

  • You pay for just the venue so all rentals will need to be coordinated by YOU.

This was what I was planning to do anyway so it worked out for me.

One thing I was NOT expecting was the grass situation of our beautiful outdoor, garden wedding. There was none. When we toured the place months prior it had beautiful, green grass. What was later explained to me was that our wedding was towards the end of wedding season and the place was walked on so much, they had to take all the grass out.

This was definitely something I didn't think to ask about prior. So if you are booking an outdoor wedding, think about how far out you are booking your venue and what might change between now and then. You also will want to guide your bridesmaids to wear thicker heels unless they want to get trapped in the dirt with their spikes.

Luckily for me, I had a solution for the lack of grass. ROSE PETALS. The white petals seen looked even better contrasted against the dark dirt than grass would have. This was an area in my budget (about $300) that was worth it to me. Since I was already getting married in nature, I spent less money on flowers and more on the aisle. And I couldn't have been happier.

Have you had to get creative for your wedding venue? What did you end up doing?

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