@Fl_bride83: First of all, congrats! We are almost location twins! Mine will be on St. Pete Beach!
Here is one of your biggest hurdles. You are at one of the most popular times for weddings in FL. EVERYTHING is going to be more expensive, and the weather is going to be so unpredictable. Your venue is almost certainly going to need to be inside or at least an inside back up. There aren’t very many places in St. Pete that are going to be able to accomodate a party of 150 for both ceremony and reception, so now you’re looking at 2 venues (unless you have a church already set for your ceremony). I would look around and start calling ASAP. I know that may seem silly to some, but in FL things book up VERY quickly and many places can have things booked already.
Most hotels are not going to be able to accomodate a ceremony of 150 people, nor offer services for a fully catered meal. You’re probably going to have to get a catering service, so think about that when you’re making your budget. I also doubt are they going to be able to handle transportation for that many people. Not to mention that if you have your ceremony at a hotel, the other hotel guests may be able to see and/or “attend” your wedding. If you want something more private, make sure you say that to the coordinator at the venue, so they can tell you exactly how private it will be.
The first thing you need to do is get a SOLID budget made. $10,000 may seem like a lot of money now, but if it includes the dress, rings, flowers, decorations, makeup, hair, gifts for parents/attendants/each other, cocktail hour, favors, all paper (menus, seating cards, etc), cake, catered meal, alcohol (full or limited bar), and all the rest – especially for 150 people… that’s a lot less money than you think you have!
I think you’re taking on too much responsibility for your guests than you need to. 99% of wedding guests understand that they are expected to take care of their own travel expenses (including hotel and transportation) when they attend an out of town wedding. There is no reason Uncle Joe can’t book a hotel and rent a car on his own. All you need to do on that end is offer a list of car rental places, and look at holding a block of hotel rooms at a quality but affordable hotel (just don’t pay for it!).
If you see a ceremony or reception venue that you like but it’s just a bit over budget, go ahead and call. So many times they will be willing to work with you or build a plan that will better accomodate what you need. The way I feel about it is this – go ahead and ask… the only thing they can do is say no, and you’re no worse off than you were before.