How much does a wedding venue cost?

Your venue is the first major decision you’ll make about your wedding, and it’s also usually the largest investment. But how do you know what a wedding venue should cost? Here, we take a look at wedding venue budget trends across Australia and state-by-state.

Your wedding venue will usually be the largest expense of your wedding budget. Setting your budget early and knowing what most couples spend on a venue is important so that you can make informed decisions throughout your wedding planning journey.

This year, we did a massive wedding survey of 4,000 couples and we looked at what couples actually spent on their venues. To give you an idea of where to start budgeting for your wedding venue in 2021, we’ve collated the details and we’re sharing all the budget trends and recommendations below to help you set a realistic wedding venue budget.

Not sure where to start looking for a venue? Let our Venue Specialists guide you through a free wedding venue search consultation.

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Sergeants’ Mess Ceremony | Sydney Waterfront Wedding Venue | Photo by Anne Marie Yuen

How much should I spend?

Did you know that the wedding venue makes up 46% of the entire average wedding budget? The number of guests you invite will directly impact how much you’re spending on your venue per head.

Every venue has its own way of selling packages. While some simply charge a minimum spend or minimum guest count and set a per-head price, other wedding venues set their pricing with a room hire fee or flat rate to use different spaces. Some venues do a combination of the two, using a hire fee for the ceremony space and minimum food and beverage spend for the reception.

The average 2020 Australian couple spent $13,785 on their wedding venue and hosted 88 guests. Based on this, the average cost of a wedding venue per head came to around $156. This is similar to previous years, though weddings had larger guest counts prior to Covid, so the total spend was higher on average.

Our Venue Specialists recommend that you have a vague idea of how many people you want to invite when you start talking about your wedding venue budget. Darcy Burch, our lead wedding planner, says, “I usually tell couples to assume they’ll spend around $140-175 per guest just on their venue and catering, but that number really ranges depending on location and the type of venue they’re after. Because it’s really the biggest number in the budget, once you settle this part, it makes the rest of the budget easier to map out because you instantly have a clearer sense of what you have left to spend in different categories.”

It’s worth keeping in mind that most couples plan their weddings on a Saturday night, so the average couple is looking at per-person pricing at its peak. Non-Saturday weddings, daytime weddings, cocktail-style receptions and shorter celebrations will have lower price points. On the flip side of that, higher-end venue pricing can range in the $200-300 per person for bespoke menu creation and exclusive venue use.

Not sure what venues sit within your budget? Contact our local Venue Finders today for a free consultation and venue quote.

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Kittyhawk Sydney Restaurant Wedding Venue

New South Wales

In NSW, the average cost of a wedding venue in 2020 was right on par with the national average, coming in at $13,560. In previous years, this number has trended higher than the national average, but with restrictions on dancefloors and guest numbers due to Covid, the numbers changed slightly.

When budgeting for your 2021 wedding venue, our Sydney Venue Specialists suggest keeping your eyes on the per person figures instead, with that $150-175 per guest being a more realistic estimate.

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What does a wedding venue cost in Melbourne? In 2019, most wedding venue budgets were coming in at around $160 per head throughout Victoria, but this number has increased to more like $167 for 2020-21.

Again, our local Melbourne Venue Specialists recommend budgeting in that sweet spot of $150-175 per guest to keep things realistic and similar to what we’re tracking throughout Victoria.

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Queensland is a big state and the average cost of a wedding venue in 2020-21 comes in at just $8,182, well below the national average. If you’re getting married somewhere more urban, like Brisbane for example, your venue cost would likely increase to be a bit closer to the national average.

In many rural areas of Queensland, our Venue Specialists think that budgeting a range of $100-130 per guest is probably sufficient, though you’ll want to guesstimate closer to $130-160 if the destination is closer to a city or a more popular wedding destination like Gold Coast.

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South Australia

The cost of a wedding venue in South Australia for 2020-21 went down to $12,087, falling under the national average. As in other states, SA has also faced Covid wedding restrictions at different times, which could explain the drop in wedding guest counts and venue pricing.

If you’re planning a wedding in SA this year, we’d suggest looking to the 2019 average wedding venue cost of about $154 per head as a more realistic budget calculation.

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Western Australia

Our friends out west reported spending an average of $11,793 on their wedding venue in 2020, another drop from the national average and a drop from previous years. Again, we think this is largely attributable to Covid wedding restrictions.

To set a realistic wedding budget for your WA venue, our Venue Specialists recommend looking to previous years’ average wedding costs and calculating closer to $140-160 per guest.

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Australian Capital Territory

Canberra and the ACT have experienced a big drop in the average cost of a wedding venue in the last year, decreasing from $13,012 to $8,779. We don’t think it’s likely that this drop will hold, and it probably mostly reflects out-of-towners not being able to attend Canberra weddings due to Covid travel restrictions.

In the ACT, our Venue Specialists suggest setting a range of $120-150 for your wedding venue budget, though there are many high-end venues in Canberra that may cost more.

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Our island neighbours have also experienced an overall decrease in the cost of a wedding venue, likely due to Covid. We expect these numbers to increase significantly for 2021-22 weddings though, as Tassie has become a more popular destination wedding spot while international borders remain tightly restricted.

In 2020, most couples reporting spending about $9,450 on their Tassie wedding venue. However, a more realistic budget heading into 2021-22 is similar to 2019 pricing, roughly $120-160 per person.

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What type of venue should I hire?

If you’re still working out how to choose your wedding venue, consider your overall wedding priorities and the styles that resonate with you. Last year, the most popular venues were outdoor and garden venues as well as rustic and vineyard venues.

What’s the overall atmosphere you’re into creating? Do you have a theme in mind that will be suited more to a particular venue style? Do you already know that you want a sit-down, cocktail or food truck reception to add to your atmosphere? All these details can work together to help you find what style of wedding venue will best suit your vision.

Still stumped? Our Venue Specialists are always available to talk you through it.

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What should I look for in my dream wedding venue?

It can be hard trying to work out what to look for in a venue when you’ve never planned a wedding before! This is why we find looking at what couples have done in the past such a good guide for newly engaged couples.

One thing that couples love when looking for their venue is a functions manager or coordinator who listens to all of their ideas. This makes couples feel like the venue really wants to help plan the day for them, especially when they help provide suggestions of what will or won’t work with what a couple wants.

Making sure all your cost inclusions and extras are clear from the initial enquiry or quote is also a big plus as it means you can budget accordingly for your other vendors down the track. Couples also like it when functions managers touch base to see if they have more questions or need more help, rather than just getting in touch when they need something.

Things to be wary of when looking at reviews are information not being passed on between coordinators. Function coordinators changing can be unavoidable, but making sure a venue has the processes in place to pass all your information on is a must. Previous couples were also wary when a venue tried to rush them through a meeting or when special areas weren’t sectioned off properly from other guests or visitors.

On the whole, wedding venues are one of the highest-ranked vendors for a wedding day. In fact, venues scored a massive 4.9 out of 5 stars for their customer service and couple happiness score in 2020 (even amidst the craziness of date changes due to Covid)! Rest assured you’ll be in great hands once you find the venue that feels like the one.

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