Planning an affordable wedding in Seattle (or anywhere!) can seem impossible—at first. At best, it's a bit tricky to keep costs from climbing above your budget. On top of that, Seattle can be a pricey city, especially if you're looking to top venues or fancy restaurants for your reception.
The reality is that as long as your ideal wedding isn’t set in stone, putting together a lovely wedding on the cheap is completely possible! Think outside of the box. Consider non-traditional venues. From public parks to specialized wedding venues, Seattle has a number of options to consider whether you want to keep your wedding under $10,000, under $5,000, or under $1,000.
Courthouse Weddings in Pierce and King Counties
Very possibly the most affordable way to get married is by a municipal court judge. Sure, it's not fancy and it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you're looking for affordability over all, a civil ceremony at the courthouse is the way to go. To add some flair to the event, plan a low-key reception afterward...perhaps at a park (see the next item on the list)!
If you go this route, you are usually required to bring your own witnesses with you and you may be allowed to bring a few guests. The Municipal Court of Seattle allows up to eight people in a wedding party, and while there is a fee that's determined by the judge, it's affordable (contact the Judicial Assistant to inquire about fees for your date of choice as it varies by date and time). In Pierce County, you'll need to first get a marriage license and then schedule an appointment with a judge. You can find information on how to do that on the Pierce County website.
Parks and Community Centers
A fair amount of a wedding budget can go toward booking a space for the ceremony and reception. If you want an affordable summer wedding, look to spaces and centers in Seattle’s many gorgeous public parks that are available for rent—there is no cheaper way to be immersed in nature, to have a view of the Sound, or to rent out space for more than 100 guests. Seattle Parks and Recreation community centers have the ability to host any size party, from just a few friends to groups of close to 1,000.
Pierce County’s community centers are also great for large parties. Plus, there are several of these facilities and they don’t require you or your guests to travel far. State parks are additional places to consider, including beautiful locations from Camano Island to the lighthouse at Cape Disappointment State Park.
Colleges and Universities
Check your local community colleges and universities as most have spaces available for the public to rent. If you’re a graduate, you can often get additional discounts. Plus, some schools offer catering services, which can add yet another level of affordability.
Just about every university in the area has some space the public can rent or use, but look to University of Washington for especially beautiful backdrops (the cherry blossoms in the spring there make wedding photos second to none). In Tacoma, University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University are both worth checking into.
Shotgun Ceremonies claims to be Seattle’s “only Vegas style wedding chapel,” but really, they’re so much more - and a whole lot of fun for anyone who seeks affordable with a side of kitsch. Shotgun is located in Pioneer Square, and allows you to completely customize your wedding experience. Ceremony options run from $299 to $349. Bring 10 to 40 of your best friends with you and hang out for an informal reception for just $100/hour more. Shotgun is not only great for price, but for those who want an all-in-one plan. Packages include officiants, witnesses if you need them, location, a wedding photo, and souvenirs. If that's not enough, you can even get married by Elvis! Shotgun Ceremonies also hosts vow renewals, and you can also book special packages like the haunted underground ceremony or book offsite weddings.
Tips to Keep Your Seattle Wedding Affordable
Planning any wedding can be an ordeal, even if you keep your guest list and venue on the small side. A wedding still takes a fair amount of research and time to put together.
If you want to put your own wedding together and just need a few tips to help inspire you in your research, here are a few tips to help you on your way:
- Look for places that don’t lock you into using specific caterers.
- Consider cake alternatives—putting together your own cupcake tree, croquembouche tower (a trendy French tradition), or dessert table can be much more affordable than purchasing a full, decorated, custom cake.
- Avoid reserving venues in the summer, which is peak wedding season.
- Plan to have a smaller wedding—more people means more cost.
- Get married on a weekday. Rates are often cheaper than on weekends.
- Avoid serving alcohol as you may need to pay for permits or extra insurance, as well as the alcohol.