Post # 1
Hi all. I’ve been trying for the last month or so to wrap my head around how I was going to afford a wedding on a very very small budget. Fiance and I found a venue we love that gives the option to either rent the space for the full 4 hours (for ceremony + reception) for $1500, or do just the ceremony there for $900, and do the reception in our backyard afterwards. While the difference in price to rent the space is not a big deal, it’s the catering that breaks the bank with the venue: you have to use one of their 3 approved caterers, for which the ballpark is $100/person minimum, and that would be for hors dourves and champagne toast only (Saturday afternoon wedding)- NOT a sit down dinner. So if we want 40 people, that drives the price up to $5500 before we’ve even considered flowers, rings, decorations, and everything else.
My mother offered to do all the cooking if I wanted to have a party in my backyard following the ceremony. But I’m worried that the headache of planning a party in my own backyard will be so stressful that I won’t even enjoy it, and will end up wishing I had just waited and saved up for a reception at the venue. Even with my mother’s (very generous) offer, I know that a lot of the shopping for the cooking, setting up, and, let’s be realistic here, lots of the cooking (in spite of her offer- of course I will help), etc will fall on me. Plus, if we get a rainy day we will be screwed as we will have no rented tent as a backup plan, and the house really can’t fit that many people inside comfortably (even 15 would be pushing it for inside).
I know all wedding planning is stressful. But I have a pretty low threshold for getting overwhelmed (just being honest about my nature here. I have a very very demanding job and most of the time I feel like it takes all my energy just to keep it together and not have a meltdown about my work-related stress level, even on weekends). Will a backyard wedding be disastrous given that? Or is a catered event at a venue just as stressful?
Sorry for the long post, and thanks for the input
Post # 2
I had a backyard wedding. I’ll start by saying that if you do not have the ability to rent a tent or to have some type of backup shelter for the backyard, do not pursue this idea any further. Just don’t. It would be way better in the long run to rent a venue for a guaranteed rain plan.
One of the things I loved about a backyard wedding is the lack of caterer restrictions. Even though your mom’s offer is very generous, having her cook isn’t the only option out there. You could look into restaurants and food trucks for inexpensive catering packages. We hired a food truck – they brought their truck to our house, did all of the set up, brought servers for cocktail hour and the dinner buffet, did cake service, and cleaned up. They were professionals and the experience was very hands off for me. All we had to do was purchase disposable plates, and rent the tables, chairs, and linens. The best part was the price they charged us for this was way below what traditional wedding caterers were charging. I’m pretty sure that you’d be able to find plenty of caterers just like them in your area who can travel to you and handle the dinner service. Keep an open mind with catering and vendors if you end up moving forward with the backyard plan.
Post # 3
Add to your must-have list: adequate bathroom facilities. Are there at least 3 bathrooms in the house where the wedding would be? If not, then you’ll need to rent a portable one. Bathrooms for 40 people can be a very big deal, and a stressor you would not have to worry about if you opt for a venue instead of back yard.
Post # 4
Yeah, I was thinking this was probably the case with the tent. I need to look into prices to get one.
I never even thought of this! I have one bathroom. Ughhh.
Post # 5
So you’re expecting 40 guests? How big is your backyard? How big is your mom’s kitchen? Does she have experience with large amounts of cooking and prep? Have they had big events at home before?
It could be sweet to have the reception in your backyard. Unless your family has experience with large events at home, I would still try to minimize the extra work on your family if possible. If you did the backyard, you could have an outside caterer that’s more in your price range.You could also get some portapotties if you need.
Post # 6
Aside from the logistic issues I would also be mindful of the stress cooking for 40 people for her daughters wedding will put on your mother. I certainly wouldn’t want to stress my mother out like that.
Add to that the stress of setting up and cleaning up will have on you and any family that help out. I think this is something that brides and grooms neglect to think about when having family set up/pack down their wedding. Oh course family are going to say it is no problem but I think it causes them added stress because they are trying to make it perfect for the bride and groom and they may not be able to enjoy the day as much. When someone tells me their mother is cooking for their wedding all I can imagine is their mum slaving over a hot stove and then washing dishes for days after (think about how many dishes 40 people over multiple courses will make).
Is there anyway to get catering in? That way there won’t be the need to cook, serve and clean up for family members. That would at least lessen the stress and burden.
Post # 7
craigslistgirl and j_jaye: these are good points. While I think the size of my yard will accomodate the people, it would be worth pricing a caterer for it. It would have to be a lot cheaper than the venue’s caterers in order for it to work for my budget, but I imagine that’s totally doable when I have more flexibility in choosing caterers.
As far as the stress on my mom goes, she has cooked for big parties before, but I agree it’s a lot to take on. On the other hand, she HATES seeing me “waste” money (she’s very very frugal, never had a wedding party herself and just married at the courthouse), so I know she will put up a fight if I try to pay someone for something she will argue “we can do ourselves”
Post # 8
What does the venue include as far as tables and chairs. These are going to add costs, which could even out your catering cost to do so on your own. Everyone I have known who had a backyard wedding spent at least a months worth of weekends leading up to their wedding on their backyards making the yard look good.
Post # 9
Tenting is very expensive. Not only do you need a tent but you need lighting for it, table rentals, chair rentals, and basically rentals for everything. I’m all for a backyard wedding, but most people find it to be more expensive than a venue when they price out all the things they have to do for it.
Post # 10
We are having a more laid back reception. Not in our backyard but at a private club on the lake. That cuts the costs for added shelters, bathroom, facilities and even cuts down on us trying to come up with some activities as most people will be swimming afterwards. I am not even worrying about music and dancing, so our biggest expense will be the decorations (still minimal) and the food.
Maybe a local park with picnic shelters and little to no rental fee is something to consider…??
Post # 11
I figured as much. That’s why I was thinking that a tent was not an option, which would mean banking on fair weather– a bad idea, I know.
The venue’s price of $1500 includes 100 chairs and the tables. So we’d have to pay for rentals if we did it in the backyard, but in the venue scenario it would just be the $1500 plus price of food/linens/cutlery (I assume caterers provide those 3 things).
Post # 12
A backyard wedding is the most expensive way to have a wedding if you are trying to do it like a regular wedding. If you are thinking BBQ and just a few chairs and hanging around then great, but otherwise, yes you need to rent everything and it is expensive.
Have you asked the venue if it is cheaper during the week? Would you consider getting married on a Thursday if it saved you $2,000? Or, could you do the ceremony there and have the reception somewhere else that is cheaper to rent and will let you bring in cheaper catering options? There’s lots of options for cheaper weddings, and a wedding planner will actually save you money creating that event for you, as they know how to save you money and know all the tricks to get a cheaper wedding (believe it or not). $100 per head seems rather expensive when you only get appetizers and a bit of champagne … it must be a rather ritzy venue or perhaps you live somewhere quite expensive?
Post # 13
$100 for just snacks and champange? That is way to high. You could have a bbq place cater the backyard wedding, usually they are pretty inexpensive and people love it. You should think of the bathroom situation. what options will people have? Renting would be expensive.
Post # 14
Maybe you should look for a different venue. $900 for a ceremony. We are only being charge for chairs for our ceremony.
Post # 15
Not all caterers provide linens and cutlery, in fact most don’t. In my area that stuff is all a seperate rental through an event rental company. We have a few caterers that include plates, but even for most they don’t do that. You’ll want to check with each catering company and then also price out what it would cost to rent it. And ALWAYS order more than you think you need.
The fee for ceremony only seems really high. However, the fee for ceremony + reception is very reasonable…and I’m sure it’s priced like that to entice people to use it for both rather than just the ceremeony.
I can tell you as a wedding photographer, never rely on things to just work out…..especially with the weather. If you’re planning an outdoor wedding a rain backup plan is a MUST.