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717richboy's avatar

Large wedding, low budget. How do we manage this?

Asked by 717richboy (231 points ) December 12th, 2013

I have a very large family. My significant other, however, has very little family members. I will try my best to get the guest list down to 250 or 300, but it may very well exceed that amount, being that I have so many family members. We don’t want to spend a terrible amount, but we want to make sure that everyone has a wonderful time. My cousin will be catering the wedding (African food and Italian food will be on the menu), and she said it’d be close to $1000. I think that is going to be our biggest expense. Any ideas on how to have a wedding that isn’t going to cost us a crazy amount?

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17 Answers

livelaughlove21's avatar

$1000 to feed 300 people seems awfully cheap. I’m not sure how he’ll be able to swing that. That’s $3.33 worth of food per person.

“I think that is going to be our biggest expense.”

I doubt it.

Weddings are expensive. I had a small wedding – 75 people at an all-inclusive venue. The final cost: $10,000. Yes, we could’ve gone cheaper, but it was nothing extravagant even at that price.

You need to get with your partner and make a list. Determine what you’ll need and how you can do it cheap. You’ve got the food covered, though I seriously doubt it’ll be $1000. Then there’s the dress, the tux, the venue, the flowers/decorations, the music, the rings, the photographer, etc. The biggest one is the venue – how to find a cheap place to have the wedding that’ll comfortably hold 300 people may be challenging.

I’d be cutting down that guest list. Even if not everyone shows, that’s a whole lot of people to feed and entertain.

zenvelo's avatar

Pot Luck.

I went to a wedding years ago in which everyone brought food and beer and wine.It was actually one of the most fun weddings I ever went to.

But 250? That is way out of control. You can’t be that close to that many relatives, that means no friends will attend. You have no obligation to invite every cousin and aunt and uncle, just invite your nuclear family.

A wedding is only a day, a marriage is a lifetime, so focus on the marriage. You are getting married, you have no obligation to entertain 250 relatives.

717richboy's avatar

We’ll be married at our church, so the venue won’t be an issue.

filmfann's avatar

African food? Probably Ethiopian, since they are all hungry after meals.

My daughter did her own decorations, which were beautiful, and she got most of the stuff off CraigsList, and had a friend do the catering at a discount, but her wedding was still over $5000 for 100 people.

glacial's avatar

If your cousin thinks she can cater this gig for $1000, you’d better get it in writing that you’re not responsible for anything over that amount. And then have her go over the entire menu and the budget for that menu, with cost estimates based on prices at the vendors she’ll be using. Because that figure is completely unrealistic, and you do not want to have to foot the final bill once it’s too late to negotiate or discover that there’s no food at your wedding if the guests came prepared to eat.

But come to that – do you absolutely need to offer dinner at the reception? If you genuinely can’t afford food for 250 people, let them go eat after the service and come to the reception to party.

717richboy's avatar

Filmfann, I am not amused.

When my cousin and I spoke, she did say between $1000–1200. I think my parents are going to help some, too.

rojo's avatar

@filmfann well, I was amused.

gorillapaws's avatar

You’re going to have to cut that guest list down by a ton to keep your budget reasonable. No way you’re feeding 250 mouths for $1,000—$1,200. Not unless you hunt some big game, or rob a catering business.

anniereborn's avatar

Elope. I’m serious.

ragingloli's avatar

Tell them to bring their own food.
Haggle with the pastor or hire an actor to play one.
Rent a cheap large field. Pay no heed to the occasional horse dung.
Keep the cake small.
No decorations.
Music from your own battery powered CD/Cassette-Player.
Disinvite 250 guests.

Buttonstc's avatar

The daughter of some friends of mine did their whole wedding 70’s style (outdoors on a beautiful hillside with a little gazebo—kind of a hippie vibe) where everything from the food to the flowers to the photography was done by family and friends.

This was followed by a potluck buffet at a nearby community hall which rented for a very nominal fee.

They were still in college (which was their largest expense at the time) so just didn’t have the funds for anything lavish.

Everybody had a great time and they are still happily married to this day and were not burdened by crushing debt from their wedding expenses when their first child came along.

You don’t need to be apologetic for not being able to swing the costs of a HUGE wedding. You just need some creativity and a willingness to pare down that guest list. It’s your wedding and you want to be surrounded by people with whom you have a genuine relationship and who really matter in your life.

And if you just can’t bring yourself to cut down that list, then just elope and go to Vegas and have the theme wedding of your dreams (Elvis, Star Trek, Bungie jumping, whatever floats your boat.)

tobycrabtree's avatar

Well, if you have less budget then I would suggest you to invite very selective crowd. Wedding is an occasion which every parent wants it in a grand way. However, it is absolutely fine to have it in your way.

snowberry's avatar

@Buttonstc And for that matter, the meal could also be served outdoors at the same location. A big shady backyard could suffice (with porta-potties to accommodate the large number of people). I love the idea of asking guests to bring food. To me it sounds much more fun than a typical reception. So if you didn’t rent shelters, costs would be reduced to napkins, plates, etc. and rentals.

Or have it in the evening in the summer so shade isn’t an issue.

Cupcake's avatar

- I bought 3 sheet cakes from a local bakery. Way, way less expensive and people got to choose the kind they wanted. One was chocolate, one white with raspberry filling and one carrot with cream cheese frosting.
– We had the reception in a park, but it sounds like your church will be free or low-cost.
– There are great money-saving ideas on pinterest. You could spend days looking through them.
– You can forego wedding favors or make your own.
– Have the bridesmaids buy/wear their own dresses. You could provide them with a color scheme. If you are not paying a lot for your wedding, they should not pay a lot for their dresses. Same for the guys.
– You can make your flowers out of paper. Or you might have a non-profit agency in your area that teaches people with needs how to arrange flowers that sells them at a discount. For my first wedding, I bought flowers from such an agency that trained people with intellectual disabilities to work with flowers and it cost less than half what a florist would charge.
– There are websites for restaurant supply or craft supply that will sell items at a steep discount for bulk orders. You could order paper plates/serving ware and things to make decorations online.
– We had friends take our wedding photos and give us the digital files without digital manipulation as their wedding gift to us. I don’t know photoshop, so I never printed them to make an album.
– Our wedding/reception was $1000—$1500 (I can’t remember now), but it was very nontraditional. You’ll have to decide what traditions are important to you, if any, and plan accordingly.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

There are a lot of money-saving ideas on here that are great, but you aren’t going to get away unscathed. I had two of my kids get married last summer. One went with a backyard barbeque, and the other went with a Vegas Elvis wedding. Neither used tuxedos or wedding gowns, had bridesmaids or flowers, other than the bride’s bouquet and the groom’s boutonniere, but there was a full meal provided for about 15 people and they got photos and a video. Both weddings still cost about $2,000 each.

717richboy's avatar

Again, the venue isn’t going to cost us because it’s going to be at our church. That is usually the most expensive aspect of the wedding. Food, decor, and the dress and tuxedo is going to be what’s most expensive. I appreciate the feedback, everyone.

hug_of_war's avatar

Don’t do African and Italian food. Choose one and have a small menu. Too many choices means surplus food and a waste of money.

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