(Closed) When Cheap is Not Cheap Enough!

posted 5 years ago in Money
Post # 3
361 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

I don’t think you are doing too bad… Our weddings are very similar, except I will be having a mostly full bar, we are doing the food ourselves, and we are having a wedding of 250-300.  However, we are doing both the ceremony and reception at our house in the back yard… our wedding will just be over$10,000. 


So, I don’t want to say get over it.. but at the same time, it doesn’t seem like you are willing to compromise on much.  WHICH, I think is totally fine too!!  We are in a similar boat: have a house, have traveled a bunch, but we have a little bit of debt, not much. We are struggling with spending that much too… We want to have a great party with our friends and family. ๐Ÿ™‚

ETA: I don’t know the price differences between MN and New Zealand…

Post # 4
1299 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

@calmlywilde:  It’s 8K for just the meal, open bar, ceremony, and reception site?  That seems a little high to me but it could be regional… I dunno the costs of things where you are.  Hubby and I had our wedding, rehearsal dinner, my bridal shower, the cost of my dress, his ring, odds and ends all total approximately 15K for about 120 people.  I made a lot, thrifted a lot, read tons of tips, and tricks.  Our reception site was 46.95 per person and it was all inclusive banquet facility with the open bar, cocktail hour, and sit down meals included.  I rented an additional hour too.  I had lots of little extras for the whole day, and if I were to have done it just the bare bones I’m sure we could have easily shaved a few thousand off. 

I guess my biggest advice is to ask around, network, use facebook to look for deals, ask reception sites what kinds of things they could throw in for free if they cant lower their price.  I really like trying to find the best deal, its like a game to me.  And planning a wedding with ample time in advance allows you to get good deals on clearance items throughout the year for things like decor (after holidays for winter, spring, etc), and allows you to really shop around instead of just buying because you really need it at the last minute.  I loved Facebook for coupon codes, and signed up on a bunch of sites to get email coupon codes too. 

Post # 5
3461 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

A meal, open bar and outdoor venue are not negotiable to me.

Hold it at a place where you can do things for yourselves, for example, bring in your own alcohol (pick the right state that permits that – VT didn’t allow it for me).  Offer only beer and wine.  Host a lunch, not a dinner.  Cut the guest list.  Offer open bar only for a portion of the time.

If you search around you’ll find other ideas – you’ll just have to decide what is most important to you.

Post # 6
651 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

Hmm, I’m guessing it’s because you’re in NZ where dollar to dollar costs are higher. What’s the cost division like?

Post # 7
1385 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

I recently went to a wedding where the food was a taco stand. It was pretty awesome, won’t lie. But it sounds like you want something a bit nicer so I don’t know if you can work around it. My BFF’s wedding had 100 guests, ceremony on the lawn of a historical home, reception in the back, buffet, alcohol, dj, photographer tea, cake, etc. Everything ended up costing about 11k. 


I did read this blog entry, though of a wedding that cost 5k. Maybe this will help!

Post # 8
56 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

From a similar budget bride- have you considered a student photographer? I’m getting one at a steal and his work is outstanding. I know this wasn’t mentioned in your original post but it saved us a couple grand!

Post # 9
38 posts

@calmlywilde:  Well I think first you need to be considerate of how many guests you are having. But I’ve been searching online and there are some people who have had their weddings at under 5k. 

Some general tips of theirs were:

  • Do as much as you can yourself

  • Find a place that isn’t known to be for weddings as they are usually marked up

  • Find a place you can bring a caterer of your chice – then hire a cheap restaurant you like to serve the food at the location

  • Find a restaurant you like and just reserve the seats, some have special areas for when you reserve a certain amount and will simply have a minimum for you to spend

  • Don’t have a DJ – just get an ipod and some speakers

As per piece by piece advice:

Centerpieces: yes it’s a good idea to make them yourself, but you can use some different alternatives to flowers. I saw online a couple that bought nice vases and put some emon and lime or others that have put fruit and they’re beautiful. Much cheaper. Also, buying votive candles online at bulk prices – so this way they didn’t use flowers. Another aletnative is to put an orchid stem with blooming flowers in a vase submerged and then some floating candles.

Inviations: you can find some cheap and pretty ones online or you can make them yourself. 

Dress: It’s not always cheaper online. Someone I know got her’s at $200 from the store. She went to the clearance section though.

Wedding cake: cupcakes add up and they can be about the same price. I’m not sure about your prices but here they can be $2.50 to $5.00 while a wedding cake goes at about $3-4 per slice. Just cut the cake yourself.

Wine: we’re not having any alcohol so we actually might order ours from ariel non-alcoholic wine. It’s cheap (about $6 per bottle).

Favors: not always great as some people just throw them out. We’re debating about it but we might just count our place card holder as it. Bud vases.


Post # 11
323 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@calmlywilde:  I know you’re in NZ and things are usually more expensive over there, but around here you can rent out a ballroom with room for about 200 people for around $600. (Chairs and tables included) This area can be “flipped” for ceremony/reception.

There are also caterers that are about 2-3 caterers I can think of that will serve a pretty good buffet style meal for around $11/person ($14 after tax and tip). We’re doing top shelf alcohol for around $2,000 (soda, wine, beer, champagne, liquor), but if we were just doing beer and wine, we’d be around $500 (wine $4/bottle through a bar owner friend). So that is around $1,800 for food, caterer, and alcohol.

Hell, if you wanted a garden, you can rent the city’s community garden (it is LOVELY) for $50/hour (so $250 if you wanted 5 hours) but you have to rent tables and chairs (through them, for garden quality chairs and tables, it would be an extra $200 or so).



Post # 12
1814 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2013 - Pavilion overlooking golf course scenery, reception at banquet hall

I think the open bar is what will kill you out of your list must-haves. Venues charge out the ass for alcohol. I only hosted one keg (~180 servings, had ~100 guests) and a champagne toast, and everything else was cash bar. Just that cost about $700. Including venue rental, meals, gratuities, etc, we still came in under $4000 USD ($5000 NZD) with half as many people as you are planning for. So that’s my 2 cents, I know open bar is a hot button issue on the bee, though.

edit: bad math

Post # 13
27 posts
  • Wedding: October 2012

I am with you… I hate the idea of spending that much money on one day. I didn’t even want a wedding at all, but it was important to my husband to have a party. We compromised and had a super quick local elopment with just our witnesses present, and I told him we could have a party to celebrate this summer.

We are not doing anything expensive or extravagant, and it is still going to come out just under $10k based on our estimate of 120 people. I get REALLY worked up when I think about all the money we are wasting (in my opinon), but I think I need to just get over it because I don’t want to be resentful or angry or not enjoy the party. AND to be fair, we had too many non-negotiables (he wanted live music, I wanted nice photographs, we both wanted yummy food and to provide alcohol, you know how it goes…).

I am trying to resign myself to it and get over it so I can have fun, but I know how you feel.

Post # 14
4656 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

@calmlywilde:  Our ideas are very similar, 50 people, no real flowers (or pretend flowers except a few paper ones my aunt is making for me), bare decor, ipod music, etc. Your priorities seem the same as mine too – I’m splurging on food and drink because food and drink are seriously two of the greatest pleasures to me. Maybe I sound like a glutton, but good food and good drinks are really important in my life and I wanted to share that joy with those closest to me.

I’m getting married in a big city, which also bumps the costs up a little, but I’ve still done well. Wholesale decor items to DIY my centerpieces/decor stuff, incredible deals on attire and accessories (my total for dresses, jewelry, shoes etc. comes to about $500).

So from the POV of someone with similar ideas and priorities… we ended up settling on a 10k budget. It’s been a pain saving for it, but we managed to save it in one year, so it’s not like our whole lifetime for one day. (And not a cent on credit, much as that would be a drop in the bucket compared to our student loans.) 

We’re probably going to look back and feel like it was worth it. At least I hope so. I admit I have days where I have little heart attacks about shelling out that much for one party, and it makes me feel a LOT of pressure for things to go well (what if I spent all that and it sucked? NIGHTMARE OF NIGHTMARES) but odds are good that it will be looked back on fondly. (At least that’s what I keep telling myself lol)

Post # 16
1070 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

I had a friend do a potluck for their wedding. It was in her own backyard and was BEAUTIFUL!

Many people brought their own food to share (family style) and I heard there was plenty leftover.

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