Getting married isn’t cheap. The average U.S. wedding budget is between $20,000 and $25,000, and about $72 billion dollars are spent in the U.S. every year by couples trying to make their wedding ceremonies and receptions picture-perfect. At the top of the budget list is usually the venue, and comparison shopping between locations has always been a tricky process — until now.
A San Francisco-based startup called Wedding Spot has created a website where customers can shop for venues, get quotes, compare prices, and arrange meetings at venues — all from the comfort of their own laptop or smartphone.
“”The first thing you’ve got to do is get your reception site booked as soon as possible because so many are booked out at least a year,” says Robyn Mangrum, owner and publisher of Weddings Magazine. “If you want a specific date, you’ve got to get on that pretty quick.”
With Wedding Spot, couples can enter cities in their area, select their number of guests, and let the website’s search engine provide them with a list of possible venues, all displayed with photos and information. It’s the only wedding venue website where users can get actual price quotes and set up appointments to speak with venue owners.
It also has a Google AdWords-like service for venues, where owners can pay for Wedding Spot to generate leads and assist with booking management.
The service is currently available in 13 states, and CEO Tina Hoang-To informed VentureBeat.com that it will soon expand to all 50.
Huang-To also said a name change is in order, as the company expands to let online users shop and book venues for all kinds of events. Her plan is for Wedding Spot to become the “Open Table of the events industry.”
This expansion will be funded not only by the $250,000 in seed money the company raised in December 2013, but also a flood of venture capital from companies like Atlas Venture, KEC Ventures, Maiden Lane, Canyon Creek Capitol, Great Oaks Venture Capitol, and several individuals.
People and organizations are funding the company in exchange for equity, according to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which also stated that the company raised $1.22 million of a $3.388 million round. Wedding Spot told Venture Beat that the final number was actually just over $3 million.
According to Huang-To, the site has already helped over 200,000 couples find their perfect venue.