Post # 1
I am just beginning this wedding planning process and I feel like I am already losing my mind!!
My FI and I have a strict budget of $5,000 at the most and a guest list of 150 to 175 that cannot be cut down any more (big, close families…we are only inviting two friends!).
Maybe I am delusional, but I am totally shocked when I see catering at $39 a plate listed as “affordable” or a venue rental of $2,000 that does not include tables, chairs or anything as “budget-friendly.”
I feel like I am cutting all the corners I can. We are fine with a Friday or Sunday wedding, our friend is going to DJ for free and he already has equipment, I found a dress for $100 that is actually going to be gifted to me by my brother, my FI’s wedding ring was $14.99 (it is tungsten and I got an AMAZING sale price!). I am planning on DIY-ing very simple, minimal decorations and a friend is marrying us for free. My uncle is going to play me down the aisle on his guitar…
…But I cannot find a venue or caterer at a resonable price. We envision more of a laid-back, family-reunion vibe, with a bonfire, yard games and good food. Alcohol is a must because although we do not drink, our families do. This eliminates most public parks, unfortunately.
Argh. I guess this is just my first wedding-related vent and I feel so frustrated!!
Post # 3
@SuzyWoozy: We’re making our own food, with help from family. Maybe you guys could do that? We’re renting a community hall and having shredded beef sandwiches and a bunch of salads and things like that.
Post # 4
- Wedding: October 2011 - Bed & Breakfast
If a casual feel is more your thing, maybe you could consider some untraditional catering options, like a local BBQ joint, favorite neighborhood Italian/Mexican/Indian/whatever restaurant, Chipotle/California Tortilla, etc. Your location says you are in NYC. If so, sometimes it’s just the cost of life in the city, ya know? Also, what if you chose a weeknight instead? My friend got am amazing deal on her premium venue by having her wedding on a Tuesday. I am sure that some guests didn’t attend because it was an inconvenient time. But the ones who really wanted to be there made it work.
Post # 5
Spending $5000 on a wedding that size is impractical and frankly is going to leave you even more frustrated than you already are by the end. $39 is very reasonable for the boonie town where I live, let alone NYC area. $2000 for a venue in NYC doesn’t shock me at all either.
You may need to reexamine what’s important to you besides inviting your entire family. Why are you serving dinner and not appetizers instead? Are you serving alcohol? What venues are you considering? Can you hold it in a park or other place for a cheaper price? If you’re going to give 175 people food, drink and a party for $5k and take care of everything else, sacrifices are going to have to be made unfortunately.
Post # 6
Catering is expensive.. we are paying $31 per plate, but it is a home cooked meal with servers. As for the venue.. I believe you might be able to find something a little cheaper, but it might not be as pretty.
Post # 7
We had a full dinner reception for 175-200 in Hawaii (very expensive) for about 3k, so it can be done. Like a pp said, we made a lot of the food ourselves, and we had the reception in a family members beautiful back yard. It’s not realistic for everybody’s circumstances, but it can be done 🙂
Post # 8
@SuzyWoozy: Have you looked at Italian restaurants? My cousin got married in a well under $5000/150 person wedding and had the best wedding food I have ever had. She called up the mom and pop Italian restaurant and got trays of ziti and garlic bread. Her mom went to costco and got bags of salad. They hired a friend of the family to manage the buffet and put out new trays as needed.
We did something similar for my graduation party and ordered the main dish from a popular restaurant (maybe $200 for 150 people) and then bought all of the sides. It came out to be quite affordable.
In NYC, Dinosaur BBQ is a great, affordable choice (that should link to the menu). I know you can get just the main dish by the pound.
Another option– ask family and friends to help. My good friend had each aunt make a dish as their gift (it is how it was done in their social circle). One bought a ton of turkeys at Thanksgiving specials, froze them, then made a carving station. Another one made mashed potatoes and then one made a ton of veggies.
Post # 9
My DSD was married this fall, and she had a fairly small budget also. She and her DH ended up renting a hall and having Boston Market cater the reception. Boston Market did a great job on the food, and even provided servers.
Post # 10
@SuzyWoozy: damn. They don’t even provide tables? Tables, linens, and chairs for 150 is going to eat up a significant part of your budget. Like $1k. Maybe contact any local foo trucks that do catering or find the Yelp forums to ask this question. Maybe someone knows of a brand new caterer/restaurant that needs to get their name out. And keep in mind that a lot of caterers have a minimum, usually $1500.
The parks system also provides enclosed spaces that are technically part of the park system but will allow you to bring in alcohol.
$5k is tough for 150, let alone 150 people in NYC. Let us know what you decide. I’m interested to see how you pull it off. I did my own wedding for 65 at $5k and it was a total pain, but I love event planning and being challenged to an inch of my life. 😉
Post # 11
We’ve managed to cut the costs pretty significantly by having a daytime wedding with an afternoon tea reception – not only does that mean that there will be less food served (basically just finger food), but people are going to drink less. We’re also having it catered by a local club that my parents know, so they can do it for us a little cheaper – food will be about $10-15/head and drinks will probably be about the same. We’re also holding it on my parents’ property because they have a beautiful backyard, so if you can find someone out there whose garden you’d be happy to get married in, give it a shot!
Post # 12
I was also horrified at catering costs (in the Bay Area) for food that I wasn’t even that excited about, since I was looking at “budget/affordable” catering. We decided to order deep dish pizzas from a local pizzeria and it cut costs wayyy down! Plus, it’s filling and almost everyone likes pizza. We’re planning just go to BevMo and pick up some cheap wines and local beers… I hear you can return extras after the wedding. Supposedly food trucks are affordable (really), or you could do just a heavy apps reception.
Good luck! I totally sympathize. 🙁
Post # 13
@Peacockfeather: I agree with this.
You might want to rethink either the budget or the guest list size…since you both have such large families, perhaps they can chip in by cooking some food or something? Just something to consider…
Post # 15
@Pollywog: THIS! We had our favorite local Italian place cater and they were VERY reasonably priced. They included salad, rolls, dressing, all that jazz.
@SuzyWoozy: Seriously, start calling your favorite small restaurants. Of course, this is Texas, but BBQ would have been a very afforable option for us (still under $10 a person), as would most Mexican places. They are usually so happy to have your business that they will bend over backwards for you.
Post # 16
I think we can all agree that wedding costs are crazy! But seriously, $39 per person is a steal. Im almost embarrassed to say my bar per person cost was higher than that.