Ideas for frugal (not cheap) reception for extremely large family

posted 2 years ago in Reception
Post # 2
42101 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

Tacey2187:  Do you have a community hall, Legion  etc that can be rented at a reasonable cost? In the town I grew up in , the Ladies Auxiliary to the Legion did catering as a fundraiser and their meals were great.

Pasta and a choice of sauces can be prepared at a reasonabe cost.

Post # 3
1668 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

Tacey2187:  i’m not sure where you are getting married, but we were married in a small town in SC and were able to have a local high end restaurant cater a buffet for 130 people for about $21 pp and that included 4 sides, 2 meat options, bread, salad, and flatware/plate/glass/linen rental as well. it was a heck of a deal. nothing fancy, but that’s not what we were going for anyway. it was perfect 🙂 i never thought we’d get the food portion down to something reasonable, but i was so happy that we kept looking until we found something that worked!

we also pulled off our entire wedding for 130 people for around $11,000 before honeymoon 🙂

Post # 4
2894 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

Tacey2187: Not sure where you are, but there are catering options that are NOT pizza and run anywhere from $15-$20 / head which is a STEAL in San Francisco. They are a bit whimisical and fun though — think food trucks or corporate style catering. I got a quote of $3k for a food truck for 185 for dinner. 

Is there something similar in your neck of the woods? Do you have a corporate event planner who can share tips / vendors with you, at work? I definitely went through my corporate vendors first, because if they could accomodate a weekend event and I already had the relationship, it was just easier. Any wedding vendor I worked with had to match or beat the corporate rate. If they didn’t want to, it’s ok. We just worked with a different vendor. 

Also, A Practical Wedding is great, as is Budget Savvy Bride. There’s also recaps of $10k and under wedding receptions on the bee as well. 

Post # 5
2791 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2015 - Walnut Hill Bed & Breakfast

I’d look for a community hall or church hall like the PP mentioned or a local club someone belongs to (VFD, American Legion, etc). A place you can rent inexpensively. Like she said, some of these might offer catering of some sort. 

Look for caterers that typically don’t do weddings. Think picnic/bbq style food.

Consider DIYing the food.  Pasta and salad are an easy DIY.  Soups could work too (in cold weather). 

Be prepaired to DIY a lot. 

Post # 6
4147 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

Tacey2187:  Just wanted to chime in about the lunch/brunch reception and how you think it might be rude to have your guests come in for just that small meal.

DH and I had a morning ceremony followed by a brunch reception for 100 guests.  We had family drive here from Ontario and BC as well as fly in from other parts.  We were told by multiple guests that it was one of, if not the best wedding they had been to.  We had an amazing spread at a golf course (we got an amazing deal for having it in the off season when the course was closed to the public) a jazz band for those who wanted to dance, and a photobooth for entertainment.  We were fortunate enough to live in a large house so we had our favourite Thai restaurant cater a buffet style dinner, filled our fridge with drinks and had everyone over to celebrate the rest of the evening.  It was fun, laid back, but still amazingly beautiful.  And we spent less than $13,000 (not including rings/honeymoon.)

So it’s possible to have a great wedding, a great time, and celebrate with those you love the most for a modest amount of money.

Post # 7
42101 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

Tacey2187:  Some of your out of town guests may actually prefer a lunch/brunch wedding. It could mean the difference between 1 and 2 nights’ hotel stay if they can fly out the evening of the wedding.

Post # 9
869 posts
Busy bee

Package deals! If there are any in your area they will by far be cheaper than trying to organise it yourself. Also 100 people in your family that is crazy! My whole family and the grooms whole family added together is 36 people! And my mum is 1 of 5! I agree with PP that renting a community hall will be much cheaper – then DIY to make it look pretty! BBQ is always a good option and also pasta dishes. You could also think of doing something like mid-afternoon tea and then just some snacks out on tables for later on if people get a bit hungry? 

Post # 10
1043 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

Think out of the box on food…. look for a place that has open catering … I went to one wedding where they had fazolis cater in and it wass ammmmmaaaaaazzzziiiinnnggggg better then stuffy expenisve norm wedding food and we are planning on having a local chinese restraunt prepare the food and having some people come in and control portions and serve. puts u at under $10 a head 

Post # 11
2302 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

i’d have a 7:00 ceremony and a wine and dessert reception. 

people will already have had dinner, you can serve pies, cakes, cookies, fruit skewers and wedding cake of course! wayyyy cheaper than a catered dinner and still festive and fun 🙂 

Post # 12
191 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: March 2015

I agree with the hall rental, or maybe even a Golf Club? I have seen American movies where Golf Clubs are for the elite, I’m just going by here in Australia, you can rent out gold club rooms for about $100 with kitchen, toilets etc… maybe it’s not like that in the States though

Of you do go for the hall or club etc… a cheaper alternative may be to do the catering yourself, buy meat cheap on special and put it in the freezer, you would be amazed by how quickly it all adds up. 

I have hired out a scout camp for mine and all up, including my dress it has come it at under $3k, it’s not fancy, it’s not lavish abd it will be a lot of work but budget was important 


Post # 13
1765 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

Tacey2187:  try in small towns….we saved a TON of money by not having a wedding in the city…but in a smaller town 10 miles away…think difference between 1200 for the church down to $300….same with reception….our reception hall was about 1/2 the cost of others….we also have a caterer who providers her own plates, cups, silverware ect with meals….it looks like real china, and is durable and included in the costs, saving us almost $500…which helps….we also picked a naturally pretty venu so we saved a lot of money on decorations….we are sitting at about 130 confirmed guests….so we were really selective….and i shopped sales and ebay anyway i could to cut costs…and i think our reception will be pretty nice…

also hit up bridal fairs and enter the drawings….we won a discount from a local company on our rental linens…

we also built absolutely all of our decorations our selves….and found an up and commer for our cake…we narrowly missed winning a discount on a photo booth….

we got a newer dj business….he was a long time dj but just starting his own business….so he cut us some deals….and we reccomended a few friends to him…

Post # 14
461 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2015

We’re considering pizza for a meal. We love pizza, it’s different, and there are brick oven companies that will make it on-site with unique toppings for about $17 per person for 2 hours all-you-can eat per person. It’s not just delivery, so I think they guests would love it since the toppings will be different. If that doesn’t happen, we’ll go for pulled pork and BBQ chicken from a well known but still very affordable restaurant in the area.  I’m doing a lot of DIY decor – don’t let anyone tell you that $2000 in flowers is necessary. Paper flowers with a few real ones here and there, for us. Check out community buildings for your reception. I’m using my iPod for a DJ. My grandma is making cookies for favors, I refuse to waste money on stuff that will get thrown away. Buying our own alcohol, hiring a friend to serve it. 

Post # 15
17 posts
  • Wedding: October 2014

My fiance really kept me on my budget. bye bye ice cream sandwich truck…bye bye extra tier of cake. haha My parents gave us some funds but we talked about using half of it for our home. He just couldn’t imagine spending so much on one day. I soooort of get it. ha being responsible blowwwws.

Food trucks are much more affordable than traditional caterers and the food is usually more fun! What if you did the brunch and then held a really casual gathering at a local bar, park or someones home afterwards? Or what if you did a Friday cocktail or dessert reception starting after 8pm then a play day the next day with family and friends at a park or something. ??? Food is definately a huge bulk of the cost so if you can widdle that number down it helps. 

People think its cheaper to find free venues but then you have to rent all the tables, chairs, linens, etc. and that adss up FAST. Look for a hotel or all inclusive venue in your area and ask them when their slow times are. Usually they provide all the stuff you need plus some planning assistance in the process. 

Another tip is keep your wedding party small. Things add up like rehearsal dinners, bridesmaids gifts etc. 

you will have to do your research on vendors and get a lot of quotes to get the best deals. Also beware of too much DIY. It adds stress and additional costs that might be the same or even more than if you just found the right person for the job. That is unless you just really love doing crafts then good for you!

Finally, if yall are serving alcohol, find a venue that allows you to bring it in. That saves TONS and you can hire a bartending service that charges by the hour. Then keep your bar menu to 2 beers, 2 wines, and a signature cocktail or 2. 

And if you really are paying for all this and you can’t afford it, don’t do it. Really consider if the one day party is worth the financial angst. You can always do a very small ceremony then use your money to travel with friends and family at different times and places. (imagine an aweosme year long wedding!) If they aren’t paying for it, then your family should try to understand. 

Best of luck! 

  • This reply was modified 2 years ago by  FallBride14.
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