Post # 1
Hello my fellow bees! This is my first post and I want to start it off positive by saying you are all wonderful and this board is always filled with great questions and responses. Thank you for that! So, down to my problem. I will be having my wedding in northern New Jersey, with about 80 people, and a budget of $12,500. Believe it or not I was fortunate enough to find two wonderful and affordable venue options. The first is at Montclair State University’s conference center, and the other at a local Women’s Club. Because I am affiliated with MSU, I have a deep discount, approximately $1,900 for 6 hours to host my ceremony and reception. MSU also comes with tables, chairs, AV equipment, fully staffed and a spectacular view of the NYC skyline. The down side, there are two really: 1) No alcohol (for me this is not a dealbreaker!); 2) I have to use campus catering (this initially was not a deal breaker). When I first went to visit MSU they gave me a catering book with set menu prices, but then when we talked to the Director of catering she bummed the price up to almost twice as much as listed. I was soooo angry! $85/ person for campus catering? I think not. I immediately searched for another venue due to this. I found the Women’s Club which was big! The venue included (ugly) chairs and tables and that’s it. Womp! And, on top of that it was more money, $2300 for 6 hours. But, $2300 was not too much of a difference so I continued to plan with the Women’s Club in mind. I then found the perfect caterer, Emily’s Café, that I am sooooo excited to have! They are about the same $85/person, but include so much more food and it’s partly local/organic produce. I was all set to book it until reality set in. I crunched the numbers and…oh my! Oh my! OH MY! That’s a lot of money. With the Women’s Club I had to consider party rentals, staffing, cleaning, set up, etc. It looked like my budget of $12,500 (set by my lovely future hubby who lives by the motto, “whatever is cheapest”) was about to get blown out of the water by about $3,000! I tried to change the photographer, dj, centerpieces, anything to have the Women’s Club as my venue and Emilys as my caterer. So here’s the wrap up. Despite MSU’s catering dept increasing their numbers on me, it still ends up fitting into my budget of $12,500. But, what if the food sucks? There is no tasting so I will not know what it tastes like until my wedding. I have fallen very hard for the Women’s Club and Emilys, so much so that I cannot imagine going back to MSU. Do I stick with the nice venue with the (possible) crap catering, or the nice venue and catering (of my dreams) and continue to try and trim the fat elsewhere? I also was given the option to push back the wedding to have more time to save, but it is seriously the last resort.
Thank you in advance for you responses!
Post # 3
Do you actually have anything booked yet? Without a venue secured, I said postpone because at this point it’s not even postponing (you have to have a firm date to be able to postpone). But it would also depend on finances and how fast you can save the extra $3k. If it’s only going to take you a few months then I think it’s worth it to have the wedding you want. If it’ll take a year, maybe not so much.
Post # 4
For me, the two most important things for wedding planning are keeping to the budget, and great food… so I really don’t know what I would do in this situation.
What are the things you can feasibly downsize if you go with the second venue, and how much can you realistically save by downsizing those things? Is it possible to have a slightly smaller/less expensive catering package through the caterer you like? Something that will save you a bit of money per person but would still provide most of what you want to provide (ie, maybe cutting one appetizer or something). It seems like you’ll be really, really disappointed if you go back to the first venue, so I think I would try as much as possible to find a way to make the second option work.
Post # 5
For me, the food was one of te biggest things that I wanted to be perfect. So in this situation I would go for the second option. There are many places you can trim 3k! you could do your own flowers, get very simple invites, skip favors, etc! Lots of ways to cut budget. This way you can have the catering of your dreams!
Post # 6
Could you find someone who has used the MSU venue? Search on weddingwire and other rating type sites and see if you can get a recomendation on the food. For me, if my venue is charging that much for food, it better be amazing!
Post # 7
@Boston Bee: +1
It depends on if you have a set date yet & how quickly you can save up the extra money. It doesn’t sound like you would be happy ging back to the first venue so I really think you should rule that out. I don’t know if you exhausted your venue search either, maybe you can find a venue that you like that provides a bit more & helps you stay in your budget.
If you have chosen a date, I say choose the one you love & cut somewhere else. There are a lot of other areas to cut & even just cutting a little from everything should bring you much closer to your budget
Post # 8
Why did MSU’s prices go up? Was it just because you said the “w” word, or was it acorss the board for everyone? Did you ask them why you were given a catalog with out-of-date pricing info, and why they are distributing that if they aren’t willing to hnoor those prices?
If this happened to me, I’d be pretty angry. In fact, I am angry for you!
Post # 9
@MrsAgainstTheGrain: I think the food is really important ESPECIALLY if you won’t be having booze. Campus catering sounds really kind of terrible to me to be honest. Please stick with the nicer place!
Post # 10
Wow! You ladies are quick. Thank you so much for your responses. I wanted to address a few questions:
1) When I asked about why the prices went up from MSU, she responded that the prices listed were for 2 hour events, not 4 hour (like it’s more food depending on if it’s 2 or 4 hours). She also said that they are providing top notch serivce and votives. Yes, she mentioned votives as a reason to increase the price! Who knew votive causes prices to spike from $40 to $85 pp. Ugh! So, I think this has everything to do with the “w” word.
2) Saving $3000 would be a matter of months, not a year. I could easily save $15,000 and still make my Oct. 26 wedding date. My fiance’s arguement is that it would stretch us more than he is willing to be stretched. Especially since I have a bit of a shopping addiction.
3) The venues are not booked yet, but I do have contracts in hand for both. Due to my wedding being so small, most guests already are expecting a wedding in October and I have no desire to tell them otherwise.
4) Because MSU is a university, I am not able to find reviews for their catering. I have attended several events, but nothing high end, at MSU and was OK with the food. I am told this level of catering would be significantly different.
5) I have exhausted ALL options in Montclair, NJ and am not looking outside of Montclair because most of our guest live in town.
Post # 11
I think you’d really regret going with the potentially bad food. What if you pay the $85pp and it’s like canteen food. Also, no tasting is just super lame. The more hours? That also sounds like a load of sh*t to me…
I say go for what your hearts set on, it’s a day you’ll look back on forever, and if you need to, calm the shopping until october, it’s not that long! =)
Post # 12
- Wedding: August 2013 - The Liberty House
i agree with the PP- if there’s no alcohol, I probably would be bummed for campus catering. Are those your only two options? Did you look into any restaurant options in the area? I know there are a lot right by you
Post # 13
It obviously sounds like you really like the second venue and catering, but it only works if you can find other places to cut. And it sounds like you tried that and weren’t able to cut enough. So I’m not sure. I guess if you can find enough places to cut then go to the second option, but I would probably stay with MSU since it sounds both cheaper and easier (since they have so much already provided it’s less for you to organize). I have actually had some really great meals though campus catering (different universities) so that doesn’t really put me off.
Also, have you thought about doing 2 hours and then having an after party at a local pub? That would save you tons!!!
Post # 14
@MrsAgainstTheGrain: If you could save up 15k and still make your wedding date, I def think you can do the 3k difference to get the venue you love. Even if your FI doesn’t want to cut back, YOU still can (cut back, not give up shopping!) and probably save up enough to make the difference minimal or gone completely. I would definitely go with the one you like then! I really don’t plan on choosing a caterer that I won’t allow a tasting. Your paying a ridiculous amount for food, you should at least be able to taste it!
Post # 15
Have you tried looking around for other places, or are you set on the 2 you chose? I only ask because I was in a similiar situation.
I had found a GREAT venue, I loved it. It was $2,000 to rent, but to cater 60 people was going to cost $4000! Yowzas! I have since found a more barn-themed [it’s a pavailion but looks like a barn on the inside, brick building outside] that rents for $350 and I can cater in any food of my choice [we are doing fazoli’s that will be maximum $1200]. We’re saving a TON of money and I actually like the new venue better. I don’t have to decorate it as much, nor do we need to rent $2,000 worth in tents!