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MANDIETERRIER1 Posts: 17,540
3/6/14 5:34 P

I love Costco, you can get so much nice items from there.

LOVE4KITTIES Posts: 4,690
3/6/14 5:24 P

The $250 chicken dinners got me to thinking about Costco. So, having little to do today, I did some looking... I had no idea, but you can order flowers and invitations from Costco. Bet you could get other things there too. I don't know if these things are a good deal, but I suspect there might be some money to be saved using Costco for select things.

3/6/14 5:02 P

We did think about dessert reception only but we want hot food and we're willing to pay $9.50/head but maybe just go with a sound system and downloads for the reception. We know her son would LOVE to be the M.C. he's funny and smart.

We're now talking about getting married at the hall.......lots to think about.

LADYCJM SparkPoints: (57,456)
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3/6/14 5:02 P

You could also check out your local schools.

My high school had a culinary arts program and we ran a small restaurant and provided catering.
There might be a similar program at a school near you.
You could also hire students to prep, serve and clean up and ask one adult to supervise.

MANDIETERRIER1 Posts: 17,540
3/6/14 3:54 P

I wouldn't spend $250 per head either. Not even for surf and turf. The one location, the wedding coordinator told us with a straight face that prices started at $250.

My family would be happy to help that way. I have been told they would. I don't want them too. I have seen how such things wear them out. And they're are working instead of participating. I want my family participate in the fun stuff.

Although IMO a family catered reception is a much better option than a potluck. I know someone who did this 20 years ago. And I didn't get it then. They also registered for gifts. So we had to provide their dinner and bring a present.

It is perfectly acceptable to serve only punch and cake if you can't afford to feed everyone dinner.


Edited by: MANDIETERRIER1 at: 3/6/2014 (16:08)
3/6/14 2:38 P

The best advice I have is to sock away the money you think you'll spend BEFORE you start incurring expenses. My fiance and I set up an auto-transfer to a dedicated savings account and now none of the money we're spending is coming out of immediate cash flow!

LOVE4KITTIES Posts: 4,690
3/6/14 2:10 P

Yes, if it would make your family unhappy to help with your wedding, then they should definitely not be asked to do it!

My family and friends were happy to help with our wedding, as we would be (and have been) happy to help with theirs. They didn't see it as a burden, rather as something nice that they could do for us. My family and friends enjoyed the day. They also probably would have been unhappy with a caterer, thinking that they could have done a better job than the caterer for a lot less money. BUT, my family also had lots of experience with this sort of thing (larger parties for their social groups). We can crank out things like fancy, crust-free, sandwiches (they are actually called tea sandwiches) like no one's business and we've done it lots of times. I could definitely see how it could be overwhelming if you hadn't done something like it before. I think the key to self-catering is people who have had some experience with throwing larger parties and also having enough people so that no one person is overwhelmed/overworked. Don't forget, you can also hire people to help cook, serve, clean. There are lots of people around who need some extra money and are willing to work for a day helping out at a wedding (and, in retrospect, I think we hired two or three ladies for the day to help with my wedding reception and clean up/do dishes afterwards--though not the set-up, we did that ourselves--as well as the family and friends who helped out). It doesn't have to be a caterer. A caterer will require less supervision, though, than someone you hire for the day.

Different people, different preferences, abilities and needs...

I cannot possibly imagine paying $250/plate for chicken, or even $25. emoticon
I mean...they sell cooked rotisserie chickens at Costco for $5!!! The whole chicken! What could possibly make chicken and some side dishes worth $250!?

Edited by: LOVE4KITTIES at: 3/6/2014 (14:55)
MANDIETERRIER1 Posts: 17,540
3/6/14 1:41 P

$9.50 is a fantastic price per person for a caterer. I have had caterers quote $250 a head for chicken.

I like the idea of hiring someone if possible. That way my family doesn't have to bust their butts setting up tearing down the reception space and preparing the food. My family has done family catered weddings and they don't get to enjoy the occasion. It's just another work day for them. I would splurge so that doesn't happen again.

Make a list of the five priorities on your wedding day. And of course share this with the bride.

My number one priority would be, my family gets to enjoy the day. Which means I will probably still head to the court house.

Edited by: MANDIETERRIER1 at: 3/6/2014 (13:45)
LOVE4KITTIES Posts: 4,690
3/6/14 11:35 A

Our wedding cost about $3600 and that was 19 years ago (not including the cost of the wedding rings, but including the cost of my dress which was about $800). It wasn't the most inexpensive wedding, but we did do a lot of things to keep costs down. We had 160 guests.

We rented the church dining room for a meal after the rehearsal dinner and family made the food. Lasagnas, salad, bread, etc.

We got married a week before Christmas, in a church, and used poinsettias (ordered in advance from the grocery store) to set up front to make the church more festive (they come in multiple colors, not just red). It was a LOT less expensive to use poinsettias than to order pieces from the florist. Potted plants also last longer than floral arrangements. We had a lunch reception afterwards.

We rented the masonic lodge for our reception (a good price for a lovely dining room, an attached kitchen that we could use, and they also had tables and chairs to use). I think we had to rent plates/glasses/silverware from the local rental yard. We cleaned the dining room (with help from family and friends), the night before the reception, including waxing the floor. We also (again, with help from family and friends) cleaned up ourselves afterwards.

My mom, my sisters and I made up the favors ourselves. We used poinsettias as flowers for the tables (put ribbons and a nice wrap around the pots, overall, a lot less $$$ than getting centerpieces from a florist) and we made up some other centerpieces/decorations for the tables (e.g. candles in wreaths made up of ribbons, (fake) flowers/tiny birds from the craft store). We made our own tablecloths. If you can sew just a little you can make a tablecloth as it's just cutting and hemming. We had dark green tablecloths covered with white lace (the green showed through and it looked pretty fancy). We put up a garland with lights, ribbons and (fake) flowers around the room (got the garland in bulk from the local craft store). Our best man (!!!!) put together (encouraged by my mom) a lovely arch the night before the wedding using real greenery, flowers (can't remember if they were real or fake), etc. I almost forgot...we had a Christmas tree decorated with white lights and homemade decorations (many were wedding-themed...e.g. clear glass hearts trimmed with pearl-like beads and lace and filled with potpourri). A family friend made the cake. We had a relative play music (no DJ). The photographer was hired to cover the wedding at the church and the first 30 min of the reception (instead of staying the whole time, which would have been more $). We had him take a quick photo of us pretending to cut the cake before he left, lol, and you'd never know he wasn't there for that. We bought the individual photos we liked and family and friends did the same (instead of having the photographer prepare books of photos). The photographer agreed to let us have all the negatives after 10 years (we definitely did not forget to get in touch with him to get them).

We didn't have a caterer. Family helped us make the food. Or, I should say that we helped family make the food. I don't remember everything we made, but it was amazing. Everything tasted wonderful (much better than a lot of the catered wedding food I've had over the years). We didn't do hot food because you have to cook it right before and you've got to keep it hot and that's a ton more work and trouble. You can make cold things the day before and keep them refrigerated, which is much, much easier and something you can do to avoid the cost of a caterer. You really don't need hot food for an afternoon (lunch) reception.

We had sandwiches (chicken salad, egg salad, etc.) which we made the night before. They were the little fancy sandwiches cut into triangles with the crusts cut off. We also had a variety of cheeses, fruits, potato salad (homemade), salad (we bought a GALLON of the Asian dressing from Togos to go on the salad--it's my husband's favorite dressing). Yep, they let us buy an entire gallon of their salad dressing. I think there were also potato chips, crackers, tortilla chips and homemade salsa. There may have been cold (cooked then cooled and sliced) ham and rolls to go along with the cheese (although that may have been my sister's wedding, LOL...time has a way of erasing details, although I do remember making cream cheese stuffed, chocolate dipped strawberries for my oldest sister's summer wedding). Of course, there was a jello mold (or two or three). We had coffee, tea, sparkling cider and fancy punch (ginger ale mixed with fruit juices, including pineapple juice) to drink. I remember discussing whether or not to get champagne for the toast, but, honestly, I don't really remember if we did or if we just poured the sparkling cider. LOL, alcohol is SO over-rated IMO. I wouldn't bother with alcohol, really, as it's just expensive and, if it's there, there's always at least one person who will get drunk and obnoxious.

The ladies in the family and family friends had all sorts (a plethora) of nice crystal and cut glass serving bowls/punch bowls, crystal water pitchers, platters, fancy silver tea services, silver platters, silver punch ladles, silver candlesticks, etc. that we borrowed to make things look really nice. Yeah, we had to spend some time polishing all the silver stuff! Oh, it was a buffet. Family and friends helped out and made sure the buffet table was kept fresh, coffee kept being made, etc.

A fall wedding like you are planning... I would definitely embrace the season to save money. I am imagining a wedding using beautiful fall colors and in-season flowers for the decorations... One nice thing about using potted plants instead of cut flowers to decorate with is that the potted plants last a lot longer. After the wedding/reception, we gave the potted poinsettias that we decorated with to family, friends, delivered poinsettias to homebound folks (e.g. elderly shut-ins who were known to family and friends), delivered some to the nursing home, etc.

Edited by: LOVE4KITTIES at: 3/6/2014 (13:04)
3/6/14 11:30 A

Agreed, LOTS of excellent ideas here. As of right now we looked at a hall yesterday and the price is pretty good for what we're looking for. There'll be about 120 guests. The caterer we're thinking of using goes for about $9.50/plate. We're gonna start buying liquor now when we see what we like on sale and store in the our coal cellar room (very cold in there even in summer)

We're looking at November for the wedding.

I also posted questions on facebook and have received the experienced knowledge that I've been looking for, between here and there this is gonna be GREAT!

ARCHIMEDESII SparkPoints: (200,109)
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3/6/14 11:19 A

Have you considered eloping or would you prefer to have a traditional style wedding ?

If you're looking for things like table centerpieces or decorations check out places like the Christmas Tree Store, Ocean State Job Lots or whatever Big Lots might be near you and even the Dollar Store. I've found some nice decorations at the Dollar Store. Michaels is hit or miss. I feel their prices can be a little high. So, I only buy when something is on sale. But check Michaels for overstock pricing and markdowns.

Edited by: ARCHIMEDESII at: 3/6/2014 (11:20)
GEVANS7 SparkPoints: (311,036)
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3/6/14 9:51 A

Whatever happened to church weddings? To me they are the most beautiful venue and very low cost.

Flowers are a big expense - shop for bundles at wholesale and arrange your own.
Lots of good ideas here.

KKKAREN Posts: 12,754
3/6/14 9:44 A

Have it on the beach or a public park. Serve home cooked food, forget the flowers and get a good photographer in one of your friends. Don't make such a big deal about everything, keep it casual.

LEC358 SparkPoints: (11,135)
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3/6/14 8:15 A

Be unconventional about centerpieces/bouquets.

A friend with a great playlist is *much* cheaper than a DJ.

Plan to sell on a lot of what you buy in terms of decorations and even dresses/clothes. A friend bought her wedding dress from a woman who hadn't even worn the dress to her own wedding yet. The seller had it cleaned after the wedding and sent it on. My friend plans to do the same.

Do *NOT* mention the word "wedding" to florists/photographers/caterers for as long as you can. Once they hear it, they will immediately jack up the price.

I second Kris' suggestion of choosing a wedding time that isn't popular.

Finally, figure out what you want to spend over all, then figure out what is important to you in the wedding/reception, then figure out how to cut the costs. Congrats and good luck!

SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (253,924)
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3/6/14 1:05 A

I was just talking to my daughter about this subject. She said something that I hadn't thought of:

Don't choose a time that is very popular for a wedding because costs WILL be higher - flowers, venue etc.


SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (253,924)
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Posts: 27,154
3/6/14 12:06 A

Try to limit the number of guests to what you can afford.

Think about printing your own invitations. My daughter did this and put stick-on red hearts onto the invite, but buying some narrow lace or ribbon in the same/similar colour as you are planning on having would also do well.

Do you have a friend who can make the cake - perhaps for a gift, OR at cost?

The same applies to icing the cake.

Think about the venue. My daughter's first wedding was at our home in the garden. We had the clothes line decorated in a way that unless you knew, you would think it was a big fancy sun umbrella.

I did all the catering (I was a professional cook for a few years) but paid 2 people to reheat and make sandwiches etc. to go with the various casseroles, soups, savouries and variety of desserts that I had made, as well as pieces of fresh fruit and crudites/dips, and put them out nicely on the table for guests to pick and choose. Some people do a 'bring a plate' and then have pot-luck. That can actually be a lot of fun, too.

Don't think you have to buy loads of alcohol, or in fact, any alcohol. Some just ensure that there is enough for toasts.

You can buy juice and plain soda, mix the two, adding 50% water. That is actually quite nice and refreshing.

I have been to weddings where there were just a hand-ful of various salads, bbq'd meat and buns to put the meat in, with a basic fruit salad, jelly, ice-cream, whipped cream and pavlova for dessert. Inexpensive but enjoyable.

Think about music if you are having it. You don't need a band. My daughter's first wedding we had a big fancy stereo and had a big selection of CD's that we put on. If you have a friend who is a good singer/musician, perhaps they might like to contribute a little to entertainment.

You don't need to spend megabucks on a wedding dress. Look on-line. My daughter's wedding dress wasn't a wedding dress - she bought it from a lingerie party but no-one would have known. She had a Pashmina made to dress it up and it looked really nice.

If you have family/friend you really trust taking photos, ask them to be the official photographer. Get some disposable cameras and put them around for others to take photos as well. Get those printed at a do-it-yourself when there is a good special on offer.

IF you have favours (which you don't HAVE to have) just make up little inexpensive ones.

If you are having children at the wedding, think of something small to keep them happy. My daughter had little colouring books, little pack of crayons, a little tiny toy, and a balloon.

Good luck,

Edited by: SLIMMERKIWI at: 3/6/2014 (00:19)
LADYCJM SparkPoints: (57,456)
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3/5/14 10:25 P

A wedding is supposed to be about the couples commitment to each other. Not about the party or dress etc.

What kind of event do you want?

An affordable wedding could easily be a ceremony at your church on a Sunday after services. The only cost is the gratuity to the minister.

For me, anything more is gravy.

My aunt and uncle got married after the Sunday Service. They wore their "Sunday Best". They invited the entire congregation as well as additional friends and family. There were about 200 people. The church ladies organized a potluck lunch in the community room and the bride and groom supplied dessert in the form of the wedding cake.

My sis got married at the courthouse. Just her, hubby, me and my hubby as witnesses. Then they threw a huge family party when we could all go back to our hometown. No alcohol as most of our family doesn't drink. Lots of food, family barbequed and provided side dishes for about 70 people. Ordered the cake.

Hubby and I spent 900$ on our wedding. Small church wedding with a reception without booze afterwards. Still married after 25 years.

I think the booze can be the most expensive item after the dress. Depending on what kind of service and what kind of party you want there are lots of ways to save money and still have a very nice time.

MANDIETERRIER1 Posts: 17,540
3/4/14 7:19 P

If you go to The Knot they have budget worksheets.

Personally if I was getting married I would skip the big to do and take a couple friends with me to the court house and then go to a nice restaurant with a party room after.

SPARKLEYSHINE SparkPoints: (29,932)
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3/4/14 6:42 P

The bes idea is to join a Wedding message board. There you will find a wealth of information. Many boards even have a local section so you can get information on your regional area.

MEGAPEEJ Posts: 732
3/4/14 6:36 P

To get the most affordable wedding, you'll want to do as much of the legwork yourself as is possible or get friends to lend their talents as well.

For example, I got married 8 years ago, for about $3000-$3500 with a guest list of over 100. That's not how much just I paid, but how much I estimate everyone paid directly for wedding related expenses more or less. The big things were:

$500 - venue (we "rented" an outdoor park with a gazebo, it had picnic tables so we ate at those!)
$100 - flowers (we ordered them in bulk at a grocery store and a friend created the bouquets/centerpieces as their gift to us)
$20 - cake (again, a baker friend made the cake as their gift to us)
$20 - invitations (Target!)
$200 - tuxes
$100 - my dress (outlet shopping is awesome)
$200 - chair rental
$350 - champagne/wine (mom worked at a winery and got these wholesale - also, we only provided enough alcohol for 1-2 drinks per adult guest - no bar)
$500 - photog (family friend, only charged us actual cost of travel, film costs)
$1000 - food (potluck style, lots of people contributed a dish!)

It's important for the couple to identify what absolutely MUST be a part of their wedding, and what they can do without. As you may notice, I didn't mention a DJ or a dance floor - we didn't have one, because we didn't care for one. It was more important for us to provide a meal to a large gathering of people. Your priorities may be different - but the key will be you don't have to do EVERYTHING you've EVER seen at EVERY wedding. Pick what matters to you.

3/4/14 4:39 P

I am looking for your advice on weddings and tips for cost cutting.

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