(Closed) On a TIGHT Budget – Where to Go?

posted 6 years ago in San Francisco Bay Area
Post # 2
1069 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

How many guests?

Rule of thumb is that public areas like parks tend to be cheap for the ceremony, but you are limited in what you can do/bring.  If you want an all-inclusive dinner venue for that price you are asking a lot, but if you are willing to make some compromises (eg. wedding lunch, afternoon tea, cash bar, or cake and punch) you can probably find something nice.

Post # 4
2878 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

futuremrsbrown17: does your budget include your attire, invites, etc.?

look into doing a buyout. For example, starbelly in the Castro is Michelin recommended and has a food and beverage minimum that is in your stated budget. It would include everything (servers, place settings, dishes, glasses, food & beverage) but tax and tip. 

just ask at your local favorite places!

Post # 6
2878 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

futuremrsbrown17:  ok, well that was unclear in your original post. Not judging your budget for the Bay Area – if you can throw an awesome wedding for budget all inclusive, power to you. 

There are restaurants with 2-3k minimums, but they can’t handle a party my size, so I forgot which ones have that kind of minimum. some already have flowers on the tables, great aesthetics / ambiance so you don’t need a ton, if any, decor. 

Just keep looking. You have a great headcount and it’s doable. Local restaurants are super open. Just tell them it’s your turn to host a family event and you just don’t have room in your apartment. 

Post # 7
8575 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

I totally second parks/community halls, also try historical homes/sites, museums, opera houses, theatres, bed & breakfasts and anything else that might be not be considered “traditional”. Even if they’ve never done a wedding before, go ahead and ask, you never know!

Post # 8
318 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2011

We had a strict 10K budget, and the only option that worked was to hold our reception at the church’s gym where we married. I know, not very glamorous. But we did work hard to make it beautiful, and it made it affordable because we were able to bring in all our own food and alcohol.

I’ve been to some lovely weddings at parks, reception halls at churches (that WEREN’T in gyms 🙂 and I had a friend who had a budget wedding at a local, not too fancy bed and breakfast. The couple that owned it even gave them a free night at the B&B as a wedding gift. It’s best to think outside the box and go to places that aren’t generally booked for weddings, as that tends to drive the price up.

Post # 9
451 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

futuremrsbrown17:  How about a restaurant? That would be all-inclusive. Bonus: restaurants are already decorated, so you won’t have to buy decorations too.

Also consider a lunch or brunch wedding. 

Post # 10
1068 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

futuremrsbrown17:  I don’t live in the Bay Area but we had our reception at a restaurant and it much more resonably priced than a more traditonal reception venue that we had considered.  We had a dinner but I agree with either having a heavy appetizers or a lunch reception if you’re trying to cut costs.  You can also cut out things like favors, upgraded linens, make cheaper table centerpieces and even have less members in the bridal party.

Post # 12
7681 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

futuremrsbrown17:  I got your message, but I am not sure how to access my old PMs with this new WB site.  If you want to send me your email address in PM, I can send you many ideas to save money and save your budget.  If you or anyone else can help me figure out how to find my old (sent) PMs, I can look up what I’ve sent to other bees in your area.  Sorry-I don’t live in your area, but I am great at Googling around and finding bargains, lol.  So even if I have to “start from scratch” I have saved some venue ideas in my own bookmarks, so let me know what town/cities you are located near.  That helps my search go faster. 🙂

Post # 13
30 posts
  • Wedding: April 2015 - Plantation Gardens, Kauai HI

futuremrsbrown17:   Hi!  Ready for some mega-info? I’m face deep in cheap SF wedding planning ideas, so forgive my over-sharing! 🙂  


I’m also a budget Bay Area bride, and it’s totally doable! Some of my suggestions might not totally work for you since you’re looking for inclusive and I’m a DIY Bride, but hope some of it helps! I really want our wedding to be fitting for me and my fiance, so I decided to find differnet poeple and put the pieces together – this makes it personal and actually cuts down on cost all together!   I’ve done tons of different searches on google for cheap venues in and around the bay area and found cool articles like this http://cityhomestead.wordpress.com/2009/11/03/where-to-get-married-in-oakland/.  Also check out Murietta’s Well in livermore!  Super cool venue, I’m not choosing it bc it does not allow outside catering, which is important to me.  


I’m currently looking into Quail Hallow – it’s in felton, (ranch) and only like $950 for rental fee, including chairs.  They don’t require a caterer, so you can do as you please, but also have a preferred catering list that works with them.  They do have some restrictions and it’s outdoors so possibly not the greatest for your temp sensitive guests.  I am also in love with Moore Family Winery on Cobb Mountain (lake county); if you get married Nov – April the rental fee is only $1500 (including chairs, tables, arbor and staff are only like $50 each for the evening which would be great for a cocktial reception with passed hor’deuvres).  It’s a gorgeous winery with a small pond and absolutely beautiful mountain views.  Their coordinator (who is day of coordinator as well, and the daughter of the winery’s owner) is really great about working with your budget and giving budget friendly suggestions.   I do also recommend looking around the bay area for restaurants that offer buyouts, which saves SO much on the planning and canbe way more affordable since you’re essentially only paying for food and the table decor!  There are some gorgeous outdoor parks and areas around the bay area for a ceremony beforehand. Maybe Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay?  Its so pretty!  The Old Firehouse (I think?) in Sacramento is also gorgeous and is only a $1500 rental with chairs etc and has in-house catering.  Memory Gardens in Monterey is another that I’m considering, they have an awesome catere (grapes of wrath) with some cool and unique menu items and will definitely work with your budget.  The grapes of wrath website also has info on other Monterey venues, but I’m not sure how affordable they are.  Arista Winery in Healdsburg is also a super cheap winery option that offers in-house catering but also BYO options, I do believe.  I’ve heard that the Lake Temescal Beach house in Oakland is cheap and awesome (on a little beach at lake temescal).  Sacramento also has some cool ranches and a place called Crawfords Barn where the rental fee is only $900.  Big space but is 100% DIY.    Also, Linden Street Brewery in Emeryville is awesome, and the site fee is only $500 (plus beer)! This was my #1 choice but they are under construction and won’t know until late summer when they’ll be open again.  That would be a great place to do a ceremony somewhere outside local (Emeryville or Berekley Marina?) and then have the reception there.  Their beer is also fantastic!   Also 12c (I think?) in uptown oakland is a super cool and modern/sort of rustic/industrial venue.  I’m going to check it out in the next week or so.  Rental fee is 1800.  


I’m looking for places under $1500 for rental fee (preferably including chairs), and have an awesome spanish catere for tapas and paella that is cooked on site!  It’s about $30/person.  Food is the most important part of my budget and I don’t really want typical wedding food, so that why I’m going this route!  but really, for my 75 person wedding it’ll only come out to like 2500 including attendants.  Totally worth it. 


I know a really awesome and inexpensive photographer, a good friend of mine, who does weddings and engagements!  Also check out the The Academy of Arts in SF, contact some teachers there and see if they have any students that are looking to build their portfolio.  You can get an awesome deal on that.  I have a friend who is doing the DJing, jsut starting out so his prices are super low as well, but there is nothing wrong with setting up an iPod with a great playlist.  I’ve been to many weddings like that and it was just as fun!  Look for apps that you can download that have “DJ” feature, that fades the songs in and out and blends them together so it flows well.


 For Decor: I’m DIYing all of my decor to keep costs down (have been saving all of the wine bottles that we drink for decor, my fiance thinks I’m crazy!).  Also, DIYing flowers will help keep the budget down a lot!  You can order some in-season assorted flowers from a local florist – I’m honestly just picking up pretty mixed bouquets from a grocery store and arranging myself.  Baby’s breath also makes gorgeous decor and gives a classy/rustic look and is a way cheaper option than flowers!  Consider DIYing the bouquets (just google tutorials), and then only having flowers at the dessert table and keeping the centerpieces to non-flowers.  I’ve also seen some awesome paper flower and pinwheel bouquets and boutinniers.  

For Booze, my best friend is making a delicious vodka infused fruity iced tea (literally steep the fruity tea is vodka overnight, so easy and delicious and you can do whatever flavors!) and serving that mixed with soda water in a pourable pitcher, and some beer and wine at either a self serve bar, or will hire a licensed bartender from my catering company for $100.  You can do a pre-mixed cocktail (experiement and make your own recipes!) instead of the tea! I’m sure whatever caterer or venue you find will have an option to hire a bartender or prvoide booze as well.  

Check out apracticalwedding.com and offbeatbride.com for cool, unique and budget-friendly wedding ideas!  And herecomestheguide.com is the best site that I’ve found for venues, it actually lays out the pricing and all that’s offered!  


For dresses: Gesinee’s bridal in concord is awesome, BB Bridal in San Jose, Bridal Gown studio in San Jose have great, inexpensive options. All have options under 1k, I do believe.  Or at least under 1500.  I recommend finding your dress somewhere and looking around online to see if you can find it gently or new and discounted online!  There are tons of girls who have dress regret or end up not getting married after buying the dress, or even just wear it for the ceremony that want to sell it.  Other places I hear are great are: Elegant Lace, Kates Koutoure, Group USA in Milpitas, Shadows in San Anselmo and Bridal Image in SF.

For invitations,  you can purchase a template on ETSY, they have super cute ones, and print your wedding invites and Save-The-Date Cards and a cheap, local print shop.  Or even forego save the dates and just direct people to your wedding website and then send a formal invitation.  I’ve known some people who even skipped the actual invitation since the world is so digital these days!  I am going to skip menu’s and programs…I think weddings are pretty straight forward and since I’m doing tapas and paella there will be signs near the food and attendents to help with it and paper and postage can end up being a big cost.  I’m lucky bc my sister works for office depot and gets a major discount!  

The biggest help for me is reaching out to people around me for resources and ideas!  If you’d like any info that I have, I’d be more than happy to share.  Just PM me!  


Thanks for reading my novel (lol), hope some of it helped!

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