Q&A: I am young, engaged and looking for options for an affordable wedding, help?

| June 6, 2014 | 6 Comments

Question by Amanda: I am young, engaged and looking for options for an affordable wedding, help?
I went with my friend to Club Roma yesterday it was a beautiful place but the price was $ 75-$ 95 a person! I wanted 200 people there and it worked out to be $ 15000! This is not including the dress or anything, I am just a college student I can’t afford even half of this. I want to have a cheap wedding that still looks elegant though, I don’t know my options! My requirements are is I want to be able to feed my guests and have an open bar, I want my wedding to be a fun time with good food and even better drinks! I am willing to make the guest-list smaller that’s not the issue but what should I do? Thanks.
Thanks for your suggestions, as for the person who said nix the open bar that is not an option for me, neither is narrowing to 20 people, I have narrowed my guest-list as much as I possibly could and got it down to about 80, which is still a pretty small wedding in my books. I had always figured a place that did it all for you all-inclusive would be the cheapest option but I guess not! Would the best thing for me be to hire my own catering company, and hire my own bar services and rent out a hall? Would that be cheaper? Thanks keep the answers coming!

Best answer:

Answer by Just Because
Do any of the fire houses in your area have reception halls attached to them? If so, check them out. Many times a reception hall connected to a fire house will be affiliated with a ladies’ auxiliary who can do the catering. And many of them have open bar options. All at a decent price.

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  1. Cici says:

    Generally it’s cheaper to rent a reception hall that allows you to bring your own caterers.

    Get a magazine about cheap wedding ideas. Research venues and caterers, and do the math.

  2. Barbara B says:

    Cheap and Elegant do not go together.

    Take a hatchet to your guest list and pare it down to the absolute bare minimum. Opt for just your immediate family and perhaps one very close friend each. Aim for no more than 20 guests if at all possible.

    Big weddings come with few options – hotel ballrooms and the like – and, as you can see, with their huge prices and inflexible terms.

    With a small wedding you can be infinitely more flexible in your venues – Consider getting married at a small museum or art gallery, for example – imagine getting married with a Picasso or Goya – or a luxury hotel suite with a gorgeous penthouse view. Or perhaps a quaint country inn or B&B in some out-of-the-way place.

    The Mast Family Inn in Valle Crucis, NC is first-class – as is the High Meadows Vinyard & Inn in Scottsville, VA – both lovely places with cabins and grounds to accommodate weddings.

    Small private colleges often have their own chapels – Virginia Union University in Richmond, VA, for example, has a wonderful chapel. Oh, and their Faculty dining service is really good – I gained 10 pounds there when I was an adjunct. Great southern food…

    As for an open bar – nix it. For once your guests can go sober. Alcohol is expensive and, well, if your guests HAVE to get tipsy to have a good time, then you need to get new friends. Serve sparkling soft drinks – cider, lemonade, grape juice – for the toasts.

    If you really want more than 20 people – consider holding your ceremony at 1:30 in the afternoon – and serving punch and cake only.

  3. Lauren says:

    Consider an outdoor wedding at a park or clubhouse. Check around for your local restaurants that cater and shoot more towards $ 10 a plate. Usually an all inclusive package that has the wedding, reception, and actually caters for you will be the most expensive.

    Oh for my wedding I had an all you can eat bbq dinner ($ 10 per person which included a full meal, plastic wear, and drinks), and paid a certified bartender a flat $ 100 all night to serve the margaritas or beer which I bought and provided the bartender with

  4. Tricia says:

    For both our son’s wedding and our daughter’s wedding, we had just beer and wine. It’s far less expensive and reduces the chance of a guest getting a DUI on the way home. We had one at our house and one at a B and B.
    Definitely contact your college. I have been to many wedding receptions at colleges and universities. They have various venues which are appropriate for receptions. And sometimes they have connections with vocational schools who can do low cost catering.

  5. amyhpete says:

    Nixing the open bar is an option if you bring in your own liquor, bought at a discount, have just an hour cocktail hour before dinner, then have just beer and wine, and champagne for the toast, and one signature cocktail the rest of the night. The bartender won’t have to keep numerous bottles of every kind of thing going for more than the hour. Essentially, get your own alcohol at a discount, and hire an acquaintance, or someone over Craigslist (ideally an off-duty bartender) to tend your bar and get them a big tip jar, but agree upon a base minimum in which you make up the tips as necessary.

    You could wait until you graduate and get a job to get married; you’ll probably have student loans, but you will also have more time to work and earn and save more money.

    Also go on Craigslist to see if you can get wedding decorations, gently used or remnants, from another bride — either to borrow or to own super-cheap. You’d be surprised at how many brides buy too much.

    Advertise at a nearby vocational college for culinary students. They may be able to come up with a menu with you that’s elegant, but simple enough they have little chance of screwing up (and there’s no 100% protection even from really experienced caterers anyway), and that’s far more affordable. Get the ingredients wholesale, or go to your local grocer (NOT Wal-Mart or a big chain) and ask if you can get certain non-perishable ingredients in bulk now, or at some ideal time to buy, and then ask about timing to get fresh ingredients in bulk.

    When we had a big dinner for our nonprofit, they gave the elements of the meal to us at cost, so you just have to ask.

    Also go on Craigslist to see if you can get a seamstress to make your dress from a pattern you find at the fabric store. If you, again, get the fabric, lace, trim, etc. that you want on sale, you will have far less cost, and it will be made just for you.

    Better than going to a bridal shop.


    Also do a search for brides who used their time and talent to barter for the things they needed for their wedding. It’s a growing success story, along with barter in general.

  6. Keating-Mariee says:

    I’m going to be very honest and blunt here, because frankly, you need a reality check.

    First of all, I’m also a young college student. My fiance and I also have a very small budget of no more than $ 5,000 and I’m not having a problem whatsoever in the planning process. When you’re younger and on a budget, you need to learn how to pick and choose what you want for your wedding day. There’s going to have to be sacrifices. And if you can’t find things to give up then you’re not marrying for the right reasons. It’s not about the wedding and what it looks like. It’s about the man you are marrying and your commitment to each other.

    So here are some ways you can save on your wedding:

    Guest list – You need to cut down the guest list. 200 people is an insane number of people. Only invite close family and friends that you’ve had for a long time and are super close with. Keep it under 100 people.

    Venue – Don’t go to a full service hotel or restaurant. Yes, it can be cheaper and easier since they’ll do a lot of it for you, but it’s not going to be helpful to someone who already can’t afford it. You need to find a venue that either offers cheaper catering (under $ 50 a person – including taxes) or find a venue that allows you to bring your own food. You need to find a venue that is flexible and able to work with you, your needs and your budget.

    Food / Alcohol – Now here are your options with food an alcohol. The cheapest solution is to find a venue that will allow you to bring your own food. And when I say bring your own food, I mean your friends and family cook you food for your wedding, not bring your own catering service. A caterer is going to charge you an arm and a leg for food. And even for just 100 people at $ 50 a plate, you’re looking at $ 5,000 for food. It gets expensive. So we’re doing a potluck type of wedding reception. Our friends and family are making our favorite meals and bringing them to our wedding. It’s also much more personalized that way. Another option would be to find a caterer who offers custom menus or a caterer who has cheaper options for food as well. Usually a buffet will be cheaper than a plate meal. Also, a full service open bar is very very pricey. If it’s a must, then only serve beer and wine for a few hours. Skip the liquor. It’s not the important part of a wedding day and if you think it is then again, you’re marrying for the wrong reasons. Another option, would be to do what we’re doing and get married at a friend or family member’s house and have people bring alcohol as well as food. Friends and family would be more than willing to help you two out and again, it’s the cheapest option. This alone would save you thousands of dollars.

    Those are the big ways to save money so here are some smaller things:

    Stationery – Don’t spend an arm and a leg on paper. Do as much as you can electronically. It’s not the most polite way to get information out when it comes to a wedding, but if you don’t have the money to pay for it all then it really doesn’t matter. Send out actual paper invites. When it comes to the save the dates or the information on the venue and directions and all that, then put it all online and make it easy for everyone to access it.

    Dress – Wait to buy your dress when it’s on sale or buy dresses that are from a previous season’s collection. You don’t need an expensive wedding dress. You’re wearing it once and then it will just be packed up and put into a closet or storage bin for the rest of your life. Dont let your dress take up a huge chunk of your budget.

    Photography – A lot of people will disagree with me on this one, but if you can’t afford to spend a few thousand dollars on a professional photographer then either have family members take a million photos of your wedding day, or find a student photographer who is looking to build their portfolio. I’m a professional photographer and I got all my wedding experience from shooting weddings as a student photographer. I was very fortunate to find couples who wanted to save money.

    Flowers – Dont pay for a florist. Order flower stems and create your own bouquets and centerpieces. It’s much cheaper than paying someone else to do it.

    There are so many other ways you can save money on your wedding day. I recommend you sit down with your fiance and pick three things that are the most important to you and worth spending money on for your wedding day. For everything else, find cheaper solutions. You can’t have everything you want if you want at this age and if you can’t handle that, then you need to wait until you’re older to get married.

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