I did a LOT of research for places in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan that were under $150/person. I was looking for a max of 100 people, but many of the places I looked at could accomodate more. A general rule of thumb is that venue and food/beverage will take up about 50-60% of your budget. I would definitely go online and find a wedding budget tool, because many of them will calculate the breakdown for you once you put in your total budget.
Keep in mind a few things:
1) October/November – March is “low season”, so you’ll get much better deals. If you’re willing to do a winter wedding, your pocketbook will thank you.
2) Friday/Sunday evenings or Saturday/Sunday daytime weddings are also less expensive than Saturday evening.
3) If you exceed a minimum number by enough people (say the minimum for a given venue is 150 but you can guarantee 175), many places with all-inclusive type packages are often willing to come down on the price a little or throw in freebies. Don’t be afraid to negotiate!
My browser crashed after I spent over an hour typing up my venue research/recommendations for this thread, so PM (or anyone else who is interested) if you’d like and I’d be more than happy to send you a list of places I looked at, priciing and mho of pros and cons for each. I basically created an excel spreadsheet to document them all so it’s pretty easy to pass on. I plan on posting it on the venue thread at some point as well but haven’t gotten around to it. It took a lot of digging, but I found some really cool places that I’m truly bummed that didn’t work out for me!
However, I will plug a woman I contacted by happenstance. In my online venue search, I stumbled across Kool Events, and I’d totally recommend getting in touch w/Amy Kool, the owner (www.nycweddingplanning.com). Somehow she’s managed to negotiate a deal with the venues she works with so they pay her, not you, to do what she does – so she basically finds venues for pple for free. ANd if you book a venue through her, she’ll take on your wedding planning for as much or as little as you need her (she knows many many many vendors). Many are unique places and some are more well known. But basically she’ll call you and get to know you and find out what you’re looking for, and then follow up with a proposal of 5-10 venues, what they cost and if they are available when you want then (she’ll even have some venues hold dates for you if she is able to do that). I only wish she could have found something that fit my needs, or that I had found another venue in the city so I could have paid her to be my wedding planner! She’s a gem though. If you’re not in a hurry, she’s a good resource to try out first – that way you’ll start to get a sense of what you’ll be able to get for your $$ and where. Granted, maybe 2 out of the 10 places she recommended I had found on my own, but she was definitely able to negotiate a slightly better cost, or she recommended a vendor that would work with my budget. She is also from Westchester and has some great connections up there so if you’re willing to go up there, ask her for recommendations for that area too. It sounds too good to be true but it isn’t! I’m actually trying to meet her anyways because she still seems very willing to help me out anyway!