Why is finding a new venue so difficult?

My fiance and I recently had to postpone our November wedding to May of this coming year due to financial problems (there is a post on the Wedding 911 board if anyone wants to snoop). Our biggest wedding financial woe was our venue, which made up more than half of our entire wedding budget (it was $1,900 for whole day rental, outdoor ceremony and reception, chairs and tables included; a good price, or so we thought at the time). We hated having to cancel as it matched the mood and theme we were going for perfectly, however unless we won the lottery we just can't make it happen. Oh, well, right?

I've been contacting venues left and right in the area, however I always run into the same obstacles; no outside caterers and/or always at the very least $1,500 or more, with no room to have outside vendors. Finding a venue to just allow us to rent the property is a lot harder than originally thought, and as I have no friends with nice yards or knowledge of how to get more than wedding-specific websites when I search, I turn to local brides who may know of inexpensive venues in the area that I may contact.

Our wedding is Steampunk themed, and we are DIYing the centerpieces, bouquets, and buying the linens for cheap from an online retailer that I found. A close family friend is catering the wedding really cheap for us, and the biggest block is that he is unlicensed to cater (he is a cook and has only catered for a few events, his mother's wedding included). We're having less than 80 guests (we're in the process of trying to cut it to save some money, but family drama is delaying that, of course) and our new date is in May, if that helps at all. We are looking for something at or below $1000 (I found a site for $800, but again, blocked by the catering policies).

We need a venue in Central PA (Hershey, Harrisburg, and Halifax are three areas I was checking) that will allow outside/unlicensed catering, and will allow us to book ONLY the property for the day or at least give us time to decorate and tear down. I've been looking at historical sites, mansions, and parks, however as I've said, most venues I come across do not allow outside/unlicensed caterers and/or are super expensive. I know that there are a bunch of fire halls and local VFW posts, however if at all possible I'd like to have a venue that is visually appealing without me having to decorate too much (even if it's a park along the river). If I can find nothing, I'll look into those.

Thank you for any advice or suggestions you may have!

Re: Why is finding a new venue so difficult?

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