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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: lax4life93 on February 09, 2015, 09:54:20 AM

Title: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: lax4life93 on February 09, 2015, 09:54:20 AM
Hey guys, we need some help.  We are planning a wedding, and we are being blown away by much of the costs.
How do we bring down the bill?

Background:
- We are from Edmonton, AB, Canada. (winter from Oct-March, mosquito's in summer, etc etc)
- Guest list is approx 62 people; only 52 adults (This has been cut down a lot already.  Its just close family and friends, many +1s cut out.  We dont see this getting any smaller)
- Location not imperative: could be in the city, or a close destination such as Banff, jasper, Canmore, Waterton etc because the guest list is travelling from all corners of the province
- We do not have any family that can host the event, no farms, no acreages, etc.
- Our group size is difficult to do anything in the public parks in the area

What we have reduced already:
- Guest list is narrowed down quite a bit.  hopefully some wont show up?
- Invitations / save the dates are going to be DIY craft time or electronic (cost is negligible)
- Dress/suit is going to be minimal: She is going to get a cocktail style dress she can wear again, and I will be ordering a Navy suit online (I need one for other reasons, so might as well use it for the wedding too!)
- Desert/cake is going to be us/family making cupcakes or picking up some M&M triple chocolate cakes and cutting them up.  Cost again is minimal
- Decorations are going to be almost none.  We will likely DIY a centerpiece out of craft supplies, but nothing extravagant
- Flowers: few and far between: Whatever we decide to go with will be from Costco because they are great quality and cheap! We will make our own arrangements or whatever we need
- Wedding bangs: Going with something simple, on sale through a family friend at a discount
- We are not doing a rehearsal dinner or anything like that
- Ceremony site will likely be outdoors and FREE!
- DJ will be a iPod.

Where we are having trouble:
- Venue costs: Typically $500-$750...
- Meal costs: Buffet at $45 per person (This is insane.  We are starting to look for other caterers, but then we loose many of the venues we looked at, because you must use their kitchen)
- If we go with outside caterers, then we have to investigate table, chair, table cloth, etc etc rentals, tear down and set up, because everything was included in the other costs.
- Drinks: We are feeling pressured/obligated to supply at least 1 drink ticket, and then cash bar from there.... but that is just added cost.  Corkage is more expensive than getting them to supply wine, but we are not sold on the supply wine idea.
- Commissioner is more or less non-negotiable... and they all work together to set prices
- Photographer: I am pushing to just have our friends take pictures and such, but she wants a professional for at least an hour, and we seem to be at a stale mate.

 As much as we want to have this social gathering of the families and such, if its going to be this expensive, maybe we will just go down to city hall and sign the papers.

Anyone have any experience/ideas?
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: netskyblue on February 09, 2015, 09:59:47 AM
The cheapest reception is going to be a morning or afternoon "cake & punch" reception. 

Dinner & drinks is always going to cost more - you can eschew alcohol, but I get the impression that won't be well-received among your guests?  The only real way around that is to have the reception at a time of day where alcohol would be out of place.  Or suck it up and don't serve it.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: I'm a red panda on February 09, 2015, 10:03:51 AM
Quote
- Drinks: We are feeling pressured/obligated to supply at least 1 drink ticket, and then cash bar from there.... but that is just added cost.  Corkage is more expensive than getting them to supply wine, but we are not sold on the supply wine idea.

Honestly, I think the idea of a drink ticket, unless this is common where you live, would not go over well with most guests.  Work functions have drink tickets.  I've been to a few weddings where there was a hosted bar only for certain drinks (house red, house white, and a beer) and all else was a cash bar, so that is one option if you don't want to go full open bar. Otherwise, just go cash bar.  Most people grumble about a cash bar, but the weddings I've seen with no bar have been a lot more grumbling...  (unless both sides of the family are into that...)



How fancy of a wedding do you want? A $45 per person buffet sounds really high, I had a multi-course plated dinner for $25 a person (and my wedding was anything but budget, quite honestly).  But my SIL had a cold cut sandwich platter that the family set out after buying the ingredients at a grocery store- saved a ton of money and was still a very nice wedding reception  (she also provided wine and champagne for her guests, she bought it all and family members took shifts to serve; that might not save you if corkage was high- her site did not have one). She had over 100 people at the wedding, so it wasn't a small thing.

A sampling of appetizers can also be less expensive than a full meal. 

A family friend had punch bowls, one spiked, one not as the only drink option at her wedding.

The only real way around that is to have the reception at a time of day where alcohol would be out of place.

What time is that?

<--- I don't drink, but I can't think of a time of day where my family wouldn't expect a drink for a reception :)
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Mom of Boys on February 09, 2015, 10:07:30 AM
Would eloping be possible? When my husband and I decided to get married, we had little time to plan (upcoming deployment) and little money. We found a cute chapel in our town and were married for just $100. The minister took all the pictures and we went out to eat afterwards. My husband wore a suit and tie while I wore a simple dress I could reuse for any occasion. It was simple but the venue was quite nice. Having been engaged previously to someone else who wanted a "traditional" wedding, I found the time, effort, and money it took to make such an event happen was just not worth it. I do not regret eloping at all. It was very romantic!

Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Greg on February 09, 2015, 10:08:41 AM
My wife and I had a structured potluck reception dinner.  We provided a nice venue, adult beverages (and others) tableware.  Folks really outdid themselves and it was one of the best receptions I've been to.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: The Taminator on February 09, 2015, 10:11:41 AM
I'm in the midst of planning a wedding as well. And we are in Toronto so I feel your pain regarding the expenses.

I agree that the best way to save is to have a cash bar. Or just do a cocktail reception since food is a huge expense. Also, a weeknight will cut your costs by a couple of grand but it's challenging to get people to attend. Skip the favours. People don't need any more junk. We'll be making a donation to a charity instead. Not sure if this is a savings or not but if you totally skipped it, that would definitely save you a bit.

Otherwise, I think you're on the right track.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: sugarsnap on February 09, 2015, 10:12:44 AM
I would fight for a photographer as well. I had a very small, inexpensive wedding 15 years ago and still regret not having nice photos. Of course now says folks have nicer cameras and perhaps you can find a somewhat skilled friend from your guest list to take some nicer photos?

It sounds like you have cut down everything you can besides food and drinks.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Riff on February 09, 2015, 10:19:28 AM
- Photographer: I am pushing to just have our friends take pictures and such, but she wants a professional for at least an hour, and we seem to be at a stale mate.

If photography is not a priority/not important to you, by all means just have your friends do it because you won't be disappointed.  Photography is one of those things where more often than not, you get what you pay for.   If you want awesome photos and go cheap, you're going to be disappointed (YMMV, of course).

Full disclosure, I am a photographer and I do photograph many weddings.  Often when I meet someone and they ask what I do, they immediately go into their horror story about their awful wedding photos and how they regretted hiring their friend's cousin with the "nice camera." 

Wedding budgets are all about setting priorities.  For some it's the food or the dress, maybe the photography, often the booze.  Put the money where the priorities are, and you won't regret it.  So if photography isn't a priority, don't spend.  If it is a priority and you don't spend, this is where regret comes in. 
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: I'm a red panda on February 09, 2015, 10:24:48 AM
My wife and I had a structured potluck reception dinner.  We provided a nice venue, adult beverages (and others) tableware.  Folks really outdid themselves and it was one of the best receptions I've been to.

This sounds awesome! 
It could be difficult to pull off on a wedding where most of the guests have to travel to reach the location though.

I totally agree with the person who said skip the favors.
I'd also skip any sort of "exit"- bird seed, bubbles, sparklers, whatever.  I never understood the point of those. Though my own wedding is the only time I can think of that not happening at a wedding.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Riff on February 09, 2015, 10:31:17 AM
Of course now says folks have nicer cameras and perhaps you can find a somewhat skilled friend from your guest list to take some nicer photos?
The nice camera myth.

"Oh, what a wonderful dinner you've prepared here!  This is one of the best meals I've ever had!  You must have a really nice stove."

Don't hire someone because they have good tools :)
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: AlwaysBeenASaver on February 09, 2015, 10:36:03 AM
I've attended a potluck wedding reception and it worked very well. I don't know the costs, but it was a in a park with a large reservable room that I think had a kitchen too. I'm sure the cost wasn't high. Guests could be asked to let you know with their RSVP what type of dish they'll bring (salad, main dish, whatever) so you can make sure everything is covered. Close family can be asked to bring whatever is missing. You can suggest out of town guests pick up beverages (soda, wine, juice, water) or easy snacks (chips, dip, cookies) on their way to the reception.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: sandandsun on February 09, 2015, 10:37:54 AM
Several years ago, my wife and I started planning our wedding, got overwhelmed, and decided to elope.  Best decision we ever made.  We spent maybe 2000-2500 total - that was travel, VERY nice accommodations in a major city (where we also held the wedding), etc.  I think about 800 of that was for a professional photographer- probably the most well-spent money of all.
Go as cheap as you want on everything else, but do pay for quality pictures- you'll never regret it. 
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: I'm a red panda on February 09, 2015, 10:38:50 AM
Of course now says folks have nicer cameras and perhaps you can find a somewhat skilled friend from your guest list to take some nicer photos?
The nice camera myth.

"Oh, what a wonderful dinner you've prepared here!  This is one of the best meals I've ever had!  You must have a really nice stove."

Don't hire someone because they have good tools :)

But they also said "somewhat skilled friend".  Which isn't the same as "guy who bought a DSLR and has never moved it off green square".  Sadly, there are way too many people out there who call themselves professional photographers without having much skill. You have to be really careful hiring photographers.




Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: canuckie on February 09, 2015, 10:48:34 AM
I think that drink tickets/cash bars are pretty common in our area. I wouldn't bat an eye at either. I was thinking of doing something similar. Include a drink or two with dinner, and then cash bar after that.

In terms of reception venue, I suggest looking around for a local community hall. We booked ours for $125 plus liquor licence and insurance (so around $300 all in). Some community halls require you to be a resident of the neighbourhood (we booked ours through my grandparents), but others don't. We get the hall from 9 am day of wedding to 9 am the next morning. This means we have a lot more freedom and flexibility than at a traditional "wedding venue". We can buy our own alcohol, which will save a ton compared to going through the venue. We are thinking about self catering (fiancÚ's mom is a kitchen genius), or perhaps hiring a local food truck as a fun and inexpensive alternative to the traditional catering route.

Photography is a sticking point for us too. I can offer no help here.

I've also found a lot of good sensible resources on apracticalwedding.com (http://apracticalwedding.com)
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: eae550 on February 09, 2015, 11:05:03 AM
I think it's very rude to have a cash bar. You are hosting the event and if you wouldn't charge someone for a drink in your home, don't charge them at your wedding! One idea is to do a morning wedding with appetizers/brunch/coffee and cake, etc...(something within your budget with or without alcohol) then you could choose an "after party" bar that evening for people who stick around and want to continue the partying...and you wouldn't be obligated to pick up the tab for that.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: MayDay on February 09, 2015, 11:19:22 AM
We had an 11 am wedding and lunch reception. Free red wine, coffee, tea, and milk. Since it was lunch most people had zero or one glasses of wine so cost was reasonable. Lunch food was cheaper, too, and a plated meal was cheaper than buffet as there is no food waste.

Either serve alcohol or have a cake and punch reception would be my vote. Cash bars are so so rude.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: caliq on February 09, 2015, 11:23:01 AM
I don't think cash bars are rude -- but I'm young and it's much much more likely that my peers who are getting married have significant student loan debts or aren't making the big bucks yet.  I think we all understand that and at the end of the day, it's about enjoying yourself, your new spouse, and your friends and family.  If your friends and family would rather you put yourself in a bad financial situation than pay for some drinks (or *gasp* not drink at all!)...meh.  Maybe they aren't close enough friends or family to have been invited in the first place ;)
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: lax4life93 on February 09, 2015, 11:29:29 AM
All very great input.

ELOPING will be tough, this will be the only wedding for either of our parents, and although they say "do whatever you want" they want to be part of some kind of ceremony.
I'm starting to realize our priority isn't to have a big fancy "wedding" but rather just a family get together and dinner.  What I said we should do is just get married where ever, then have a HUGE multifamily potluck celebration somewhere to celebrate it and just tell everyone that we are now married.  This might be plan B.. or plan C.  She isn't sold on the idea.... YET

TIME OF DAY: This is something awesome I have never considered.  Maybe we can do it over lunch to keep costs down as suggested! AWESOME.  We are already having it in the "off season" to keep costs down and give us the ability to negotiate with the venue if we decide to go that route

VENUE:  The Community hall is a great idea... we need to look into this further! I just hope this doesn't become a logistical nightmare with chairs and all that jazz.  Does anyone have any experience with this to let me know how it worked for them?  Please and thanks :)

BOOZE: Drink tickets are very common here, and it gives you control over what happening.  IMO the open bar weddings I have been to just get messy haha, we want to avoid that.
If the idea like the community hall presents itself, we know a couple bar tenders and we could buy COSTCO booze for next to nothing.  This could work out well together.

FOOD: Currently, venue catered $45 per person is the cheapest we have found, and its not overly fancy, but its not bad either.  Plated meals will cost us more.  I think we will find trying to go the route of the community hall and getting our own caterers will be much cheaper as canuckie mentioned.  We are persistently looking into this
Potluck with be very difficult with the distances people are traveling currently, I am not sold if this would work.

PHOTOGRAPHER:  Most of the comments have been around this because its a tough one to figure out.  This is where I think we will compromise, and please let me know if you have any experience with what my "plan" might turn out like.  FIRST, we hire a photographer for a half hour or so to shoot us in our formal dress at the ceremony location, and then have our quick 15 min ceremony with a couple photos.  SECOND get the family and friends to shoot some photos throughout the night.  We don't really have any photography friends, but we don't care too much about the reception photos.  This way we get great photos when they matter for a price, and then misc photos throughout the night.  I keep telling myself this will work.

PARTY FAVORS: I never liked these things, unless you can eat them.... and then I eat them that night at the wedding.  If we do anything it will be something for the kids not the adults, like little bottles of bubbles, and they can play with it at the wedding, so this would be dollar store cheap!

KEEP THE COMMENTS COMING!!! They are all awesome, thank you so much :)
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: seattlecyclone on February 09, 2015, 11:30:24 AM
Try to find a venue that doesn't charge a corkage fee for bringing your own alcohol. At our wedding we had to pay an hourly rate for the venue to supply a bartender, but we brought all the alcohol (a keg of local beer and a couple of cases of wine) and only spent a couple hundred on drinks for everyone. I don't know your family and friends, but mine didn't go crazy on the drinks so I doubt we would have saved any money by offering tickets (and it's much classier to go without).

The real big cost seems to be the food, though. I don't know of much of a way around that other than to rope a bunch of family members into cooking stuff.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: BonBon on February 09, 2015, 11:33:17 AM
As far as venues go, I don't know how fancy you want things, but consider checking out community leagues. Your wedding sounds like it will be the size that could be easily housed by one. My local one holds 65 people and is one of the smaller ones in the area. I'm actually not sure of rental costs but I don't think they are too bad. I would then look into getting a liquor licence and buying booze and doing a cash or twoonie bar (I've done this for a number of events I've hosted before (although never wedding) and you can often end up making money on liquor even if you offer a few drinks free... Unused liquor can often be returned to the place of purchase so you don't have to worry about buying too much). I also don't think it is tacky to do a twoonie bar at all (or even more).  Get a friend or friends to run the bar for you. 
Community League rentals will also open up the fact that you will have a kitchen available to you typically so you could do food yourselves to really cut costs (or will a few helpful friends).
I think a photographer would be worth it but at least with a lot of my friends (when I was on facebook) it seemed like a lot of people were really good so you might be able to again work with friends for it. I also have friends who DJ so they have done a number of my friends weddings. See what talents exist in your friend group. Inviting a few of them might pay off in other ways.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Static Void on February 09, 2015, 11:34:55 AM
- Guest list is approx 62 people; only 52 adults (This has been cut down a lot already.  Its just close family and friends, many +1s cut out.  We dont see this getting any smaller)
...
- Our group size is difficult to do anything in the public parks in the area

...Just to be sure, I would definitely encourage second-checking the public parks option. 62 people in a park isn't that many.

(Obviously, I don't know your area. We had a very nice brunch-picnic-wedding at our local park, ~100 guests. We chose the one that had bathrooms, and put some better soaps in 'em. :) Guests brought blankets & lawn chairs. And other park users were quite tolerant and even slightly tickled. We're in California, so that helped with the weather and the availability of excellent and economical catered Mexican food.)

Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: BonBon on February 09, 2015, 11:39:26 AM
Also I was at a wedding once where their were disposable cameras on the tables for guests to use and take pictures so that the bride and groom ended up with photos from the evening (I think you can get disposable cameras for around $5) so if you want pictures from the party without having a photographer there that can be a fun and relatively cheap way to do it.  I also was at the wedding recently where the couple had photographer for just one hour after the ceremony and did all their pictures in that time. Afterwards they had a friend with a digital polaroid walk around and take pictures of everyone as part of the guest book which was a fun way to get pictures of all the guests too.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: I'm a red panda on February 09, 2015, 11:48:41 AM
Quote
Also I was at a wedding once where their were disposable cameras on the tables for guests to use and take pictures so that the bride and groom ended up with photos from the evening

Did they get good pictures?

The few friends I've known to do this said that it wasn't worth it. Maybe there were a couple cute ones, but mostly kids took the cameras, or really drunk friends...


The cost of developing film, I'd consider this an extra, not a frugal measure.
I like the polaroid guest book idea, but again- not that frugal.


I do have great pictures guests took though- so I think getting the word out that you need pictures of the ceremony and reception to your friends and family, ahead of time, means you're likely to get a few nice ones in.  (I do think the compromise of at least an hour with a professional is a good one.)
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: lax4life93 on February 09, 2015, 11:52:12 AM
DISPOSABLE CAMERAS:  I was at a wedding once where they did this, and it was OK.  some good some bad, etc.  But another I have been to they encouraged people to use their smart phones and such and setup a twitter account and get everyone to #wedding their photos and share them, so then everyone could use them! you could do it with instagram too!

I love the idea of the photo guest book, and I'm sure we could wrangle up a few of the friends to go around taking pictures of all the couples, or even set up an "informal photobooth".  We have had these at company events and they are always a blast!!
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Fodder on February 09, 2015, 11:55:10 AM
I think your drink ticket idea is likely fine.  Open bar seems to be more of a sticking point in Toronto (in Canada) and in the States.  I'm in Ottawa and very few of the weddings I've been to here have been open bar - it's not a big deal here.

Meal cost does seem high, but you are right that is often attached to the venue, and when you bring in outside food, you do have to figure out all of the table/chair/linen situation stuff.  Does the $45 include all the taxes and gratuities?  Because if it does, I would leave it at that because by the time you take care of the nitty gritty, I'm not sure you'll end up much lower.

I would absolutely 100% recommend against a potluck reception.  That's not a fair thing to ask of your guests, especially if they are travelling.  Plus then you have the complicating factor of making sure hot food is kept hot and cold food is kept cold. 

As for photos....I'm with your FW.  10 years down the road, the food will be pooped out, the drinks peed out, the clothing long-gone....the only thing you'll have to remember are photos.  I don't know if you need a professional, but you do need someone who is designated to do some photos for you.  I wouldn't go the disposable camera route - film is stupid expensive these days, hard to find places that develop, and then most of the pictures will be crap because the camera quality is crap.  I've been married almost 9 years and have not yet regreted what we spent on wedding photos.  You should check your local college to see if there are photography students getting into wedding photography - you might be able to find someone new, enthusiastic and inexpensive.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: BonBon on February 09, 2015, 11:56:56 AM
So because I know the general area you are in check out secla.ca (I don't think it directly covers your area but close) and it will link to all the community leagues.  Lots of the halls are larger than you need (150) and I think they are around $750 for the rental but then it frees you up for booze and food to do whatever. I know that the forest terrace heights one is much smaller 65 people and I assume it would be cheaper but I actually don't know.  Chairs and tables exist at the site so that shouldn't be a problem. Lots of them don't list rental costs but a phone call is all it takes to know.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: mlipps on February 09, 2015, 11:57:41 AM
We had a brunch wedding and it was lovely. Ceremony was at 10am, then the meal was steak, crab eggs benedict, or french toast. We didn't serve alcohol for other reasons, and a brunch wedding was a good way to make sure it wasn't missed, but just serving bloody marys & mimosas would be cheaper than a full bar too. I think our meal was about $25/person. We had it at a Bed & Breakfast and they had an all inclusive package that we used because we were planning the wedding long distance, so I can't remember exactly how much of the cost was attributed to the meal. ETA: This was a waiter served (guests did not have to tell us in advance what they were eating) plated meal. We had about 40 guests.

After the reception, everyone left by 2:00pm. We cleaned up the venue, went for a hike to a scenic spot for a few pics in our wedding garb (totally priceless, worth the hassle!) and then had dinner w/out of town friends who came to the wedding at 6:00. It was perfect in so many ways!

And for what it's worth, I think you're nuts to cheap out on the photographer completely. Instead, why don't you contact local arts college & see if there is a junior or senior who might be willing to do it for a reduced fee, like travel costs + $500 or so, so that he or she can get some portfolio work.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: rubybeth on February 09, 2015, 12:03:21 PM
I'll chime in with the other person who mentioned just doing the reception at a restaurant, with a set menu or a buffet. We did this at a beautiful local restaurants, and there was no charge for the space, they charged us the regular price for the meals we got (which was under $20/person), plus they had a very minimal corkage fee since we wanted to bring in our own wine (my family aren't big drinkers, but to save on alcohol, just pay for wine/beer, and anything above and beyond that, guests are on their own).
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: happypup on February 09, 2015, 12:04:20 PM
We did a mid-morning wedding with around 45 guests in a public park. I wavered back and forth about renting chairs vs just doing a short enough ceremony for people to stand, but in the end we got chairs. The cost of chairs + the park fee was still way cheaper than any hall we could have gotten. I was worried about logistics, but the chair guys had done weddings at the same place before, so they knew right where to go and did the setup/takedown in no time.

For food we did a buffet at I think $20 / head, and since the restaurant was BYOB we just bought a bunch of bottles of wine and champagne. Two things may have contributed to the buffet cost being on the low side: the restaurant wasn't usually open for lunch, so there was no chance of losing sales in favor of our party, and we went pretty light on meat -- a couple pasta dishes and some sort of chicken. It was delicious stuff, though, and filling, so no complaints from the committed carnivores.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: BonBon on February 09, 2015, 12:06:27 PM
Oh and I just thought I'd throw this link out in case you don't know about getting a liquor licence for an event in Alberta.
http://www.aglc.gov.ab.ca/licences/specialevents.asp
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Yankuba on February 09, 2015, 12:12:05 PM
You should be able to do it at a restaurant or hall (at an off time) for less than $45 pp.

If you don't create a gift registry the guests will bring cash gifts and that will offset a lot of the cost. Or if you have to register you can bring the gifts back to the stores and get store credit which you can sell on eBay for 95 cents on the dollar.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Yankuba on February 09, 2015, 12:14:53 PM
You can find a newbie photographer looking to build their portfolio via CraigsList. They may charge you a nominal fee - like $50. A couple of friends did that for their engagement photos.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: mm1970 on February 09, 2015, 12:17:35 PM
I've been to a couple of brunch weddings, and they were lovely.

Many of my family members had receptions in church halls or fire halls (where there are already tables and chairs, albeit not nice ones) available.

As far as catering goes:
I second the restaurant idea.
Or, don't mention wedding.  Call it a "party".

My friend got married about 4 years ago, and her fiance was planning the wedding.  The costs for the food were pretty outrageous - $75 a person.  So she separately called a few of the caterers and asked for a quote for a "garden party", and the price quoted was HALF the wedding price quoted.

So, there's that.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: CheapskateWife on February 09, 2015, 12:24:47 PM
Near where we live, there is a old train station that has been repurposed into a museum.  They left the waiting area open and rent it out for events.  The turn of the century architecture and wood make it an interesting enough space that decorations really aren't required.  Try thinking outside the box on venue...

How about a local art museum, historical society structure, or sculpture garden?
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: MandalayVA on February 09, 2015, 12:34:39 PM
As someone who got married in a morning ceremony I can highly recommend it for keeping costs down.  No one's going to complain about the lack of booze, and food can be sandwiches and salads.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: canuckie on February 09, 2015, 12:46:10 PM
I REALLY pushed for the early ceremony/cake and punch reception. Having the whole thing wrapped up by 4 or 5 would be awesome. You can spend the rest of the day relaxing with your new spouse, or you can join the more party-oriented crowed for whatever festivities inevitably develop that evening (Pub night anyone?). Sadly, FH wouldn't go for it. He really wanted the afternoon ceremony + evening dinner and reception.

RE : Community Hall - I believe most have their own tables and chairs. Ours does. I think we just have to rent or buy some tablecloths and assess the flatware situation. The hall has some, but I'm not sure if it's enough. As far as I know, if you bring in an outside caterer, they can usually provide the flatware. I'm not positive on that though.

If your looking to have your ceremony outside, check out the City of Edmonton Gazebos. We looked into it and you can rent them for $37/hr http://www.edmonton.ca/activities_parks_recreation/parks_rivervalley/gazebos.aspx (http://www.edmonton.ca/activities_parks_recreation/parks_rivervalley/gazebos.aspx).

Ultimately our guest list ended up being too big for that kind of thing, but with a wedding your size it might work well.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Jouer on February 09, 2015, 12:58:44 PM
Tip if using ipod for the music: make sure there is proximity to an outlet or have some battery powered charger available. I attended an outdoor wedding last summer - the battery from their iphone, which they were using for music, died part way through the reception. My wife and I jumped in to save the day but we didn't have a set list made up so had to DJ for a while. A few others took turns DJing though and it ended up being fun.

I second the drink tickets followed by cash bar being ok in Canada. Get your best man to do the dirty work on spreading the word about cash bar and cash gift preferences, if that is indeed your preference.

For our wedding, wife and I got married on a beach down south but threw a giant party here in town afterwards. Live band, catered cocktail food, ridiculous cupcakes, professional photography, etc. But we used a community centre where my wife attended dance class as a child as our venue. $200. We knew the band so got a steep discount. Friends with the owner of the cake company so got that as their wedding present to us....ditto for the photographer. Food was expensive but less than $45 per head. All this to say: do you have people in your life that provide these kinds of wedding services? It's a great way to cut down on costs.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: lax4life93 on February 09, 2015, 01:14:58 PM
Wow, all these possibilities really give us something to think about.

The parks/gazebos would be nice but there is no alcohol permitted, so the community centers might be a better fit. 

I will have to make some calls trying to good a "party".  I didn't even realize the mark up on a gathering once someone knows it is a wedding! this could yield some more possible venues.

As for historical/museum type places, from our research so far, all of these type areas have reception halls and are not cheap here in the big city, but it doesn't mean they don't exist.  I will continue to dig into these "off the beaten path" venues.

Seems like everyone has had great success with brunch weddings.  We will have to take a good look at this :)

For our wedding, wife and I got married on a beach down south but threw a giant party here in town afterwards. Live band, catered cocktail food, ridiculous cupcakes, professional photography, etc. But we used a community center where my wife attended dance class as a child as our venue. $200. We knew the band so got a steep discount. Friends with the owner of the cake company so got that as their wedding present to us....ditto for the photographer. Food was expensive but less than $45 per head. All this to say: do you have people in your life that provide these kinds of wedding services? It's a great way to cut down on costs.

As for people who could help out with parts of the wedding, no one we know does any of these wedding things formally, but it doesn't mean we cant rope people into certain things.  We will likely try to get some of the ladies to bake the cupcakes/cakes and decorate and all that.  Depending where/when we have it, we might have someone who can take our evening photographs and everything else, but not much beyond that.  Sounds like you had quite the social network to help our with everything!
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: I'm a red panda on February 09, 2015, 01:24:12 PM
The parks/gazebos would be nice but there is no alcohol permitted, so the community centers might be a better fit. 

A good reason to not have to serve it.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: asauer on February 09, 2015, 01:31:31 PM
We also did a potluck.  We had people sign up through an online registry portal and asked that their dish be their gift to us (no other gifts).  Wow.  People REALLY did a great job.  WAY better food than dry old chicken or fish and it gave people a conversation piece.  PLUS, we took home the leftovers and ate off of them for like, a month.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: minimustache1985 on February 09, 2015, 01:49:55 PM
+1 to the Brunch/Lunch suggestions and looking at a restaurant.  I'm in the "cash bars are rude" camp, because it creates a class differential between your guests- your friends/family with good jobs are partying it up while others are wishing they could.  A dry wedding would not be out of place at brunch, or you could only offer champagne/mimosas.  +1 also to the gazebo/park idea.  I am not a fan of potlucks between out of town guests, food allergies, etc they are rarely executed well and even when they are it's essentially asking your guests to host.

Also on the guest list make sure the +1s you've cut are actually +1s and not significant others.  The truly single don't need a +1, but once someone has a bf/gf it's pretty crass to invite them to a celebration of love and commitment without the person they love.

For photography is there an art college local to you?  An upperclassmen photo student could do a great job at a college-student price.  To get the best students locate a professor's contact information and ask them for recommendations.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Unique User on February 09, 2015, 03:40:18 PM
Hi there,

 I didn't read other responses, but wanted to quick pipe in -  Our wedding was a similar size and we found it to be much more economical to have the wedding at a small restaurant (local, on the river, organic, quality place - we could have gone "cheaper" but we love this place) with a set menu.  Now, mind you, we did brunch.  But we did a multiple course plated brunch including  local organic sausages, bacon, quiches, salads, stuffed strawberry French toast, yogurt parfaits, and flourless chocolate cake...maybe other stuff? Can't even remember.  We did host a limited bar including mimosas, bloody Mary's, and espresso beverages (plus juice, tea, water, coffee). Other beverages (beer) were purchased, but I am pretty sure no one did that because hello, brunch/blood marys.  For 55 guests, we were at 3k which included gratuities, all food/bar, dessert, the venue (there was no additional fee for this because it was a restaurant) and the place was cute enough (exposed brick, etc.) that we didn't decorate (just star fern stems which I got for $54 total).  So yes, we ended up at $55 per person, but that was the total cost and people raved it was the best food they had ever had at a wedding (maybe just being nice, but seriously, I am a foodie and it was so good).

Our other expenses were similar to yours, we just pulled everything back that we didn't "care" about.  Friend photographed (did a great job), friend married us (meant more that way anyway) no dance, because we just aren't dancers.  The TOTAL wedding for us was 5k (my dress and his suit plus flew in a couple people we love) and having most of it outsourced to the restaurant made it stress-FREE.  Spendy? Sure. Better than 25k? You bet. Worth the spend to us? Yup.  It was just the right balance and Everyone was happy.  Moms. Us. Friends. etc.  And that in and of itself is worth quite a bit of money.  Saving money is important, but for these once ever events, make sure you don't cut so much you no longer feel good about it (which is not an excuse to over spend, but to spend in the most thoughtful ways).  Walk away feeling balanced and like everything meaningful was covered and nothing you didn't care about was there. Then whatever your total, you will feel great.

Good luck!

Very similar to what we did.  11am ceremony at church, reception at a restaurant from 1pm to 5pm.  Friend of DH's owned the restaurant and we had bloody marys, mimosas, juice, coffee and a brunch buffet.  The restaurant had french doors to a private patio with tables outside, it was awesome.  We ended up spending about $5k for 75 people, but that was 20 years ago.  We had a photographer, it was a commercial photographer I had run into at work and she was game to do a wedding, think that was around $500.  I did go a bit over the top with the cake, but we did the flowers ourselves and invitations were done by a graphic artist friend.  Only other expenses I remember were tip for the altar servers and his suit. 
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: halftimer on February 09, 2015, 04:53:29 PM
My wedding (in Edmonton, more than a decade ago) was a frugal Friday night restaurant dessert reception. We had super low decorating costs due to the venue, fabulous foods, and out of town guests had supper in the restaurant while the wedding party had our pictures done. It was loosely based on a friend's wedding that is still legendary for it's beauty and simplicity: they had a brunch reception at the Hotel MacDonald and had someone serving crepes on the patio. I'm not sure if theirs was frugal (based on the venue, probably not) but we used that as inspiration to challenge having a 'traditional' wedding.  Know what is important to you - and remember that EVERYTHING is optional.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: YellowCat on February 09, 2015, 05:24:16 PM
Not sure if anybody has posted this yet, but you could check out www.apracticalwedding.com (http://www.apracticalwedding.com) They've got some pretty good responses to inquiries similar to yours (just use the search function). It's a fairly not-crazy approach to wedding planning, at least compared to the rest of the internet...

In fact they just ran a post on 11 or so sample $2k budget weddings: http://apracticalwedding.com/2015/01/creative-sample-wedding-budgets/ (http://apracticalwedding.com/2015/01/creative-sample-wedding-budgets/)

Congratulations and good luck!!
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: midweststache on February 09, 2015, 05:42:21 PM
All very great input.

ELOPING will be tough, this will be the only wedding for either of our parents, and although they say "do whatever you want" they want to be part of some kind of ceremony.
I'm starting to realize our priority isn't to have a big fancy "wedding" but rather just a family get together and dinner.  What I said we should do is just get married where ever, then have a HUGE multifamily potluck celebration somewhere to celebrate it and just tell everyone that we are now married.  This might be plan B.. or plan C.  She isn't sold on the idea.... YET

TIME OF DAY: This is something awesome I have never considered.  Maybe we can do it over lunch to keep costs down as suggested! AWESOME.  We are already having it in the "off season" to keep costs down and give us the ability to negotiate with the venue if we decide to go that route

VENUE:  The Community hall is a great idea... we need to look into this further! I just hope this doesn't become a logistical nightmare with chairs and all that jazz.  Does anyone have any experience with this to let me know how it worked for them?  Please and thanks :)

BOOZE: Drink tickets are very common here, and it gives you control over what happening.  IMO the open bar weddings I have been to just get messy haha, we want to avoid that.
If the idea like the community hall presents itself, we know a couple bar tenders and we could buy COSTCO booze for next to nothing.  This could work out well together.

FOOD: Currently, venue catered $45 per person is the cheapest we have found, and its not overly fancy, but its not bad either.  Plated meals will cost us more.  I think we will find trying to go the route of the community hall and getting our own caterers will be much cheaper as canuckie mentioned.  We are persistently looking into this
Potluck with be very difficult with the distances people are traveling currently, I am not sold if this would work.

PHOTOGRAPHER:  Most of the comments have been around this because its a tough one to figure out.  This is where I think we will compromise, and please let me know if you have any experience with what my "plan" might turn out like.  FIRST, we hire a photographer for a half hour or so to shoot us in our formal dress at the ceremony location, and then have our quick 15 min ceremony with a couple photos.  SECOND get the family and friends to shoot some photos throughout the night.  We don't really have any photography friends, but we don't care too much about the reception photos.  This way we get great photos when they matter for a price, and then misc photos throughout the night.  I keep telling myself this will work.

PARTY FAVORS: I never liked these things, unless you can eat them.... and then I eat them that night at the wedding.  If we do anything it will be something for the kids not the adults, like little bottles of bubbles, and they can play with it at the wedding, so this would be dollar store cheap!

KEEP THE COMMENTS COMING!!! They are all awesome, thank you so much :)

If you do an earlier event, guests will likely moderate themselves. We're doing a brunch reception after a city hall wedding. We're renting out a room at a local brewery that serves brunch, and we're just letting our guests order from the regular menu/bar, rather than catering. We figure that's about the same cost per person ($45) and people get what they actually want.

A girlfriend got married in a community hall (American Legion--do you have something similar in Canada?). The veterans cooked and manned the bar as part of the venue costs, as fundraising. It's a fairly popular thing to do for Midwest weddings, and pretty frugal. They also gave us access the day before to decorate, and it looked very nice. 

Our photographer is an acquaintance who wants to break into the wedding photography industry. I've seen his work in non-wedding contexts and its good. Photography isn't a huge deal for us--I said I want one picture of my without three chins (I'm not photogenic)--so it's a win-win situation for us. If you can find a similar situation, you can get a pretty deep discount and still get a skilled photographer.

Fuck favors. Outdated tradition. The favor is the party (to be fair, we're also driving home a no-gifts policy for us as well). The BF asked me about these when we started planning; I said if it was important to him, he could plan, organize, and enact the favors. It got nixed real quick.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: LadyMuMu on February 09, 2015, 06:06:44 PM
Have your wedding on a Friday morning like we did. Only those who REALLY want to see you get married (as opposed to just go to a wedding) will happily take the day off of work. Do it in the morning and don't worry about music or alcohol beyond a champagne toast. We ate a sit-down brunch at a 4-star restaurant with 32 guests for about $30 per person including tip, cake, etc. 
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: wordnerd on February 09, 2015, 06:55:01 PM
Some ways DH and I saved when we got married 3 years ago: getting married on the Monday of a holiday weekend (we didn't have to pay weekend rates for food), using cheap/free venues (ceremony on the California coast, reception at a church his family ran), alcohol-free (though cheap wine and beer for 50 people wouldn't have run the total up too much, a bar certainly would have), pie (which we prefer) instead of overpriced wedding cake, no flowers (bridesmaid carried non-traditional bouquets from Etsy), prioritizing the guest list. Our major splurge was photography (about half of the wedding budget), but we decided to prioritize that from the outset, and we're very glad to have such beautiful pictures of the day, the coast, and our family and friends
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: kpd905 on February 09, 2015, 07:39:00 PM
That cost for the buffet is pretty crazy.  We are getting married in July and the cost for food, beer and gratuity is about $20/person.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: gimp on February 09, 2015, 07:41:14 PM
My opinions.

1.

Go to jasper. It is fucking beautiful. It's also less known than banff, despite being part of the same national park.

2.

My advice as a hobbyist photographer. You know those boring formals with everyone dressed up, looking happy but sorta somber? Those are pretty much the ONLY photos most people choose to print and display. Wacky faces, guests, etc... nah. Everyone looks at those once on facebook then ... nothing ...

So. If you want to go cheap but not sacrifice quality. Hire a photographer in edmonton. Hire the photographer for, like, a half hour to do the formals. Do it wherever they recommend - they know the best spots. Ask in your contract for the following things:

- Digital full-resolution JPEGs (you won't get RAWs - don't ask), on a flash drive or DVD, within a reasonable amount of time.
- Release to print your own photos from those JPEGs, however, do ask and pay for the photographer to get you one or two prints. Printing photos is much more difficult than you think - to do it right, you need to: calibrate/profile your monitor, figure out who to trust to print this in high quality, figure out the material (canvas, aluminum, or simple paper) and framing and mounting if any, get a printer profile from them, run the jpeg through a profile matching program, and hope it comes out right. Printing photos at your local walmart is easy, you just upload jpeg and hit auto, but you have no guarantees it'll be good and no way to fix any mistakes.
- Deliver no more than 10, maybe 20 max photos from the formals, or as few as 5. Quality over quantity. The best wedding albums might only have 60 photos from the entire event, or even less (even 20 for an 8-hour shindig.)

For photos of the event itself... well, decide if the traditional photos are worth it to you. First kiss, first dance, blah blah. If they are, decide if you need them perfect. If so, disregard what I said above and hire a guy for the full day and pay around three grand. If you can live without some of those - well, there are plenty of people just starting out weddings for money but have decent experience; this will be way cheaper, but also will have no guarantees of it being perfect.

(As the saying goes: a hobbyist practices until they get it right, a professional practices until they never get it wrong.)

Definitely do not try to hire your friend with a dSLR - weddings are stressful as fuck, and ruin friendships.

If you want to go super cheap, then simply ask everyone to take photos of the main things (kiss, dance, etc) with their phones and send you the results. You will probably find at least a couple decent photos, for free.

But make sure you understand your expectations. Cheap out if you are 100% sure you are okay if you get no "perfect" photos of the event. Since photos are pretty much the only thing that last, other than memories, do be careful.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Dimitri on February 09, 2015, 08:36:22 PM
Frugal wedding in Marriage Capital of the World (aka Las Vegas, Nevada):

Marriage License - To apply for a marriage license - $60
Civil marriage ceremony - To have a marriage ceremony at the Office of Civil Marriages - $75
http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/depts/clerk/Pages/Fees.aspx

If you want to spend a bit more - instead of getting married at the Office of Civil Marriages you can have Elvis take care of the nuptials.  I'm sure you can find something similar where you live (maybe not Elvis but at least the first two parts).

Take the savings and invest it in your future.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: henrysmom on February 09, 2015, 09:07:55 PM
I am posting here as an older member of MMM community (mid 50s).  Been married twice, first time was a big extravagant event with catering, open bar, band, professional photographer.  Marriage lasted only a few years.  Next marriage in Las Vegas  at a chapel , off the rack dress, and dinner later for everyone off the strip at a restaurant.  Still married 25 years later.  My opinion is that waaayyy too much is spent on weddings nowadays.  When I was growing up weddings were at churches or small chapels, and receptions were punch, (sometimes spiked), cake, candies.  Whole reception over in 1-2 hours, which was appreciated by everyone!  No one went broke, and it must have worked because people stayed married! A few years ago I went to a similiar wedding, that was held at the chapel of a local university here in Southern California on a Sunday afternoon.  There was a small meeting hall to the side of the chapel, and afterwards we went in there (it was beautiful with a fireplace and old, dark wood), and had champagne, punch, and a variety of desserts.  Everyone was gone by 4 or 5 and the groom told me they spent under $800 for everyone. (The venue was free to them as employees).  It was frugal, intimate, and the guests, including me, appreciated that it was simple, didn't last all day into the night and I didn't feel the unwritten need to give a very expensive gift to somehow make up for the cost of a the normal catered meal with alcohol.  Also went to a early morning wedding on a beach here in So Cal and we all went to a buffet brunch at a local restaurant, which was certainly less than $45 a person and even including mimosas!  Good luck to you!
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: JustTrying on February 09, 2015, 09:10:57 PM
I can support the elope comments, unless you really want a wedding. If you do, I am telling you: The BEST way to save money is to pick a venue in which they don't have any rules regarding what food/drinks you bring in. Costs get crazy when you have to use their caterers. We found a venue that allowed us to do whatever we wanted, used a caterer who is not typically a "wedding" caterer (so cheaper), and bought wine a costco and let our guests serve themselves. It was fantastic.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: MBot on February 09, 2015, 09:13:00 PM
Two ways I've seen the food done deliciously for a cheaper cost:

- We got an Italian catering company to cater TRAYS of meat, pasta, etc and hired a couple people to serve it. Sheet cake from Costco and apps from costco, including on each table bread and a bowl of salad. Under $1k for 120 people.
- Brunch buffet reception at a country club. Amazing wedding, great setting, cheap meal. Awesome, delicious, fun. Morning wedding, brunch reception and just mimosas available to drink (included).
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Spondulix on February 09, 2015, 09:59:42 PM
A couple ideas from weddings I've been to:

- Food truck. That's actually a trendy thing in SoCal right now to have a food truck cater an outdoor event (even if it's burgers and fries). Could just get some bags of lettuce and do an easy salad alongside
- dessert pot luck. That works well for out of town too cause people can pack homemade desserts and such. It made for adorable pics
- Cupcake tree or pie. Cupcake tree is cute. Pie was cause the couple didn't like cake. It got rave reviews
- 1-800 flowers. The bride bought 2 dozen tulips and only used one or two in each centerpiece (in addition to wheatgrass they grew in their backyard)

Just keep in mind that DIY takes time. I planned a bunch of stuff to make myself to save money, but the week before the wedding there's a lot of people who will want to spend time with you. The last thing you'll want to be doing is making bows. Local friends will probably ask if you need help, so have tasks ready to delegate as you get closer to.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: iris lily on February 09, 2015, 10:16:37 PM

...ETA: to make the whole thing more relaxed and more "us", we were at the venue greeting everyone as they arrived.  The open bar started BEFORE the ceremony so people could grab a mimosa or a latte and settle in/chat while everyone arrived.  Then people sat down, beverages in hand, and we did the ceremony. Then food.  We loved it that way. Felt like a big cozy get together.  Just to extend the thought in case it caters as well to your personalities as it did to ours.

This. A thousand times this.

Please set a mimosa in my hand to enjoy the festivities of your nuptials, thanks so much!haha.

Big White Weddings are a giant bore. Intimate, casual, with drinks--that's the ticket!
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: frugaldrummer on February 10, 2015, 11:10:03 AM
The key to controlling costs is to find a free- or-low-cost venue that doesn't require you to use their caterer.  At my wedding, we then got large trays of lasagne from a local restaurant (you could also make these and freeze them in advance yourself, and cook them the day of), salad, and a sheet carrot cake with a gingerbead cookie bride and groom on top.   The food was delicious and plentiful at a fraction of the cost of catering.

We picked wildflowers from the side of the road for the tables (upstate New York, wild lilies were in bloom).  My spouse's tux came from a thrift store, I made my dress.  I do regret not having a professional photographer, the amateur photos were just that - amateur.  We spent all our money on a live band.

I once went to a potluck wedding and that was great too - they divided the guest list into sections alphabetically - one group brough salads, one brought
breads, one brought appetizers - the wedding couple provided grilled salmon and chicken prepared on the BBQ at the site they were using (a community house in a park.)  The food was awesome because everybody put extra effort into it - the only time I ever carved a watermelon basket for a fruit salad.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: socaso on February 10, 2015, 01:38:30 PM
I didn't read the whole thread so if I am repeating someone's advice I apologize. For our wedding we had a restaurant we like cater the buffet and it was more reasonable than the catering companies we spoke with. We didn't do a full bar but we did have white and red wine a couple of types of beer and that was it. We had a little inexpensive wine tasting with some stuff available at Trader Joe's and picked a couple of things we thought tasted good and bought a few cases. The wine was less than $200 and we had leftovers and the beer was probably less than $100. I've heard people say that they JUST CAN'T not have a full bar because their families will flip but I say to hell with that, if you are old enough to get married then you get to decide what to serve at your wedding. As far as I know no one complained about what we served and we even had several people comment that the wine was great.

As far as the photos go I don't regret hiring the pro photographer one bit. I did a ton of DIY projects for my wedding and a good friend of mine did all the floral arrangements and I'm so happy to have beautiful photos of those and our guests. The photographer took so many more pictures than I ever dreamed he would, 1500 to be exact. Plus he was a pleasure to work with and even though I don't typically think I photograph well he took some amazing photos of the two of us.

I found several books at the library with terrific advice about cost cutting for weddings. You might check there. The best advice I got was to find a venue that can do three things, host the ceremony, reception, and not have restrictions about caterers or bringing your own spirits. Also if you can find a place that is already gorgeous you save a ton on decor. We got married in a historic hotel that was filled with beautiful antique furniture. I really didn't need flowers at all.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: spruce on February 10, 2015, 02:56:30 PM
I am in the same boat - trying to pull off a somewhat traditional wedding with around 50 people, most of whom who are coming in from out of town, for less than $5000.

Here are the tips I've found so far...look at non-wedding venues, like others mentioned, parks, restaurants, retreat centers, etc.  We ended up renting a retreat center for three days with cabins for out-of-town guests to stay at for less than any "wedding" venues charged for one afternoon.  This lets our relatives save money on lodgings too, so we're hoping it will encourage more of them to come than might otherwise. Plus, they have a big kitchen and no rules on noise, alcohol, caterers, or anything else, so it keeps it easy for us.

Same for food - we went with a local restaurant that typically serves company lunches and things like that. We're doing it buffet-style, they're delivering it, setting it up, and picking everything back up for less than $18 per person.  For drinks, we're just doing beer and wine, water and tea (included in the catering). A bar with too many options is too complicated, and most of our guests generally aren't liquor drinkers.

Two things I was big on were flowers and a photographer (it's important!). A local farm sells DIY buckets that make 5-7 centerpieces, so we'll do the arrangements ourselves.  I emailed a heck-ton of photographers (I think the count is up to around 20). Most scoffed at my low budget (~$500) and only needing them for 3 hours, but one finally put a post on a photographers listserv for me, and I got five responses with photographers willing to do less than a full day in my budget range.

In the end, I'm hoping our families will have the weekend "wedding" they want, and we'll have the family gathering and good food that we want.

Best of luck to you!
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: h2ogal on February 10, 2015, 03:53:41 PM
Hello
I think you can do better on the food cost.

I would suggest you check out some small, local venues instead of the big caterers or hotels or party houses.

DH owns a rustic country restaurant in a small town setting.  We recently hosted a small (60 person) wedding at the restaurant, on an evening we are usually closed. The bride and groom were a young military couple on a strict budget.

They did a country rustic theme.  Brides friends and family came in early and rearranged tables and decorated with home made centerpieces and candles.  They married outside, and decorated our outdoor patio with strings of lites, candles and rustic hay bales and quilts.  Extra chairs and tables were borrowed from church. 

We served a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  They were not a drinking crowd so they brought sparkling grape juice and we had a cash bar for any who were interested.  Brides aunts baked desserts and a talented friend brought a wedding cake.

Her cousin was the DJ and they hired a pro photographer.

I think the whole thing cost the bride less than $3K and everyone had a great time.
   



 
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Zora on February 10, 2015, 04:18:52 PM
I haven't read the whole thread, but speaking from my own experience at semi-frugal/DIY wedding plaaning -- don't cut +1's.  People will be confused.  Wouldn't you be weirded out to be invited to attend?  It should be all or nothing.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Goldielocks on February 10, 2015, 04:54:50 PM
If you are simply nonpracticing and not Anti- religion, ask at a couple of local churches.

Chances are in Edmonton, you will get a ceremony space plus officiant for about $200.

Then break for formal pictures and have guests meet up at a restaurant at a certain time.  50ish is very easy to find restaurant private room for your party.

This way people can come or not to reception, granny gets a seat without extra effort or cost.   Guests can buy drinks at restaurant bar before your private room is ready.

Set menu controls price, offer free yo your guests beer and bottles of wine.  Drinkers can buy at the public cash  bar in the main space.  Almost no decorations or flowers.  And you get table servicr. Instead of buffet.

No dancing or anything, just a few toasts and a party.

So nice, easy, pretty affordable.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: madamwitty on February 10, 2015, 04:58:48 PM
You should check your local college to see if there are photography students getting into wedding photography - you might be able to find someone new, enthusiastic and inexpensive.

I second this. We got someone from a local art college who wanted to expand her portfolio and got a great deal on a couple hours at the wedding and lots of time spent doing photo touch ups, plus she gave us the full set of digital photos and rights to print our own photos at Shutterfly or whatever. (This can be a problem with professional photographers - they charge am arm and a leg for each print).

If you go this route, or if you use a friend, I suggest having a clear idea of what poses you want to do and a checklist of things you want them to photograph (in addition to letting them use their artistic judgement). Don't want them to forget a picture of the cake, bouquet, etc.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: mlipps on February 10, 2015, 10:11:41 PM
For prints, MPix does pro quality at affordable prices. If you sign up for their emails they give  frequent discounts. I wouldn't pay their prices for everyday pics but it was worth it for the few wedding shots we had printed.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: NYCMiniBee133 on February 11, 2015, 10:01:03 AM
I used this:

http://www.amazon.com/Wedding-Industry-Secrets-Tips-Tricks-ebook/dp/B00I7BDA1K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423674026&sr=8-1&keywords=wedding+industry+secrets
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: WESTOFTHEHUDSON on February 11, 2015, 10:21:54 AM
Could you use a bar or even a place like the legion? We held ours in the basement of a nice pub in Manhattan and gad finger food and it was minimally decorated and  super inexpensive.  I too wanted nice photos and net perked with friends on a knitting site to get an amazing photographer for super cheap, same thing with our baker and makeup/ hair for me. Manhattan wedding for 75 people
for under $4,000.

I love Canmore too.

What about outdoor reception with BBQ theme?
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: HopefulMustache on February 11, 2015, 11:13:17 AM
There's a of great advice already mentioned, but my biggest suggestion for cutting costs is going with a venue where you can bring your own caterer and alcohol.

The cost of buying a few cases/handles of your favorite beverages from a liquor store and hiring a single certified bartender for a few hours (keep it to one, it's an easy way to moderate) is insanely less than any pre-arranged bar costs will be - run the numbers between one "bar cost" drink ticket and the cost of providing an average of a few drinks per guest yourself and see how it adds up. Acquiring the alcohol is also a task that's super easy to outsource to a friend with a truck. As others have said, another way to easily moderate alcohol is to have the event earlier in the day... maybe you have some friends that will blow by "a few drinks" at night, but at lunchtime they will be less likely to. You can also do something like buy a single special "signature" bottle for yourself and close friends this way, paying perhaps ~$40 for a liter of your favorite whiskey that you get to take home after, rather than $10 for a shot of "whatever's on the top-shelf".

Similarly, the costs from providing your own caterer tends to be dramatically cheaper than any pre-arranged catering. I imagine you can beat that $45/head even if you do want a professional caterer rather than restaurant catering. Costs do add up putting it together yourself, needing to rent plates, silverware, and all the rest... it was all a shock to me too when I first saw the prices, even at places that proved reasonable. Unless you want to setup/serve yourself, you do the best you can though, and I think it's worth it to lower costs by arranging as much as you can yourself ahead of time. You get more control that way too, which is an added plus.

Unless you've fallen in love with a dream place, I'd keep this a top priority. I also agree with those who say to get some sort of photography for some well-shot memories, but there's no need for the "generic full wedding package" if you want to keep your budget intact.

Wedding planning is stressful but also remember to enjoy yourself during it, and that most of your guests will have fun almost no matter what you do, because they're happy to be at your wedding. Good luck!
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: desrever on February 11, 2015, 11:31:50 AM
Just one small word of caution: if people are coming in from all corners, think twice brute you compromise on day of the week -- you should balance the amount that you'd be saving on venue fees against the fact that your out of town guests will have to take extra days off of work.

People will be more understanding of a frugal wedding if you don't make it super inconvenient to attend.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: LucyBIT on February 11, 2015, 12:56:14 PM
I got married last August for ~$3k.

- Venue was a state park (not sure if there's a Canadian equivalent), $200 for an entire Saturday. Picnic tables, gorgeous mountain location, volleyball pit, huge meadow for horseshoes and such
- We took advantage of the meadow and asked friends and family to bring games/volleyball net
- Pig roast for ~60 was $16/person, and that included plates etc. plus iced tea and lemonade
- Bought our own beer, and we bought too much; people really do drink a lot less during the day. Borrowed a crapload of coolers from friends and relatives.
- My dress was $150, we bought DH a nice suit that he's worn several times already
- No flowers, DIY/upcycled/cheap decorations. Saved beer bottles for months and stripped off the labels, my sister donated a crapload of scrapbooking paper for paper flowers, foraged for pinecones, borrowed centerpiece elements from a family friend.
- Friend is a professional sound engineer, volunteered to DJ
- We splurged somewhat on the photographer, but she charged by the hour so we booked her for 3 hours, which was $1000 and enough time for the ceremony, group photos, and the beginning of the reception/lawn games
- In Colorado, you don't need an officiant, so I wrote our ceremony and we had a friend "MC"
- My sister did my hair, and her professional makeup artist friend did my face for $20 and a few mimosas
- Invitations on VistaPrint, RSVPs on free wedding website
- Standing ceremony (no elderly guests)

It was a great wedding. Everyone told us "This was such a fun wedding!" and seriously, people don't say that unless it's true ("Beautiful wedding!" is a much more common platitude lol). It was relaxed, fun, and once the caterers left, there weren't any strangers around, just us and our friends and family.

My only regret is that I had to get up at 5am and we were rushed getting ready. It was a combination of the venue being far away from our house and the fact that we wanted to get the ceremony done early to avoid afternoon mountain rains (and it didn't rain a drop! all day! beautiful and sunny! all day!), but it could have been mitigated better.

I don't regret anything else, except not inviting a few friends (because reasons, whatever). Everything else was perfect. I loved (and still love) my $150 dress, the pig was delicious, it was just fun and awesome.

One of the weirder things we did was not having any music at the ceremony. For recorded music we would have had to run an extension cord out about 50 feet or use something battery-operated, for live music we would have had to pay someone and risk instrument damage, so in the end we just didn't do anything, and it was one of the most memorable things about the whole day.  Walking together into the aspen grove with loved ones standing on either side of the "aisle", listening to the birds chirp and the wind rustle in the aspens was awesome enough, but when we entered, the guests spontaneously broke into clapping and cheering. It was beautiful, and we both cried.

So the moral is, maybe something seems odd, but it could turn out completely awesome. My centerpieces were made primarily from, well, rubbish (beer bottles, paper, and dirt figured heavily), but they were beautiful.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: rocketman48097 on February 11, 2015, 01:04:03 PM
Have you thought about doing a private ceremony followed by a public reception?  One where there is just fruit trays, cracker and cheese?  I have seen this done before.

My wife and I went to the DR to get married, still had a Catholic wedding, followed by our honeymoon right there at the resort.  True, our guests had to pay for themselves, but our actual ceremony expense, from the resort, was only 1k US.  That included the gazebo, music, flowers, and wedding cake.  I think my wife's hair being "done" was only $50, and it looked PHENOMENAL (her comment, and she's critical). 

Right after the wedding, our guests went up to the "all inclusive" bar and drank as they pleased.  They also ate on the resort, and this was no charge to us, as all inclusive means they already paid for their meals.  Sure, they basically paid for their portion of the wedding, but this was far cheaper than the plan you have designed.

Also, go cheap on the wedding rings, we didn't, and I regret it still.  Should have invested instead. 
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: lax4life93 on February 17, 2015, 08:12:00 AM
Well thanks to much of the great input from this post, I think we managed to wrangle the budget in without much compromise.

- Community Hall which is actually really nice we can rent in one of the national parks ($500) and we get it for the entire weekend! we might infact use it on the Friday for some activities as well
- Local caterer ladies @~20$/plate (70 people max = $1400) for a solid farm house meat and potatoes meal
- Photographer: We are wrangling up our cousin who is a very talented amateur (FREE!), and well as a good friend will get some of the casual photos throughout the night.
- We decided if the photos don't turn out how we like them, we will jump back into our wedding get ups and get a pro to shoot us for an hour some other day. We wont have a wedding party or anything so we are just looking for a few pics of us outdoors that need to be good, the rest are not a priority.  We found this to be a great compromise, especially since no one but us will know it is taken a different day. 
- Booze: Toonie bar, with a Costco liquor run (should come out pretty much even since beer <$2 per can and win is a little more, and liquor is much less so we might even make some money)
and the rest is minor details.
- Ceremony site outdoors (FREE) and absolutely gorgeous.

The thing we are the happiest about is that we can have it in our preferred location without sacrificing cost, and It just happens to turn out that its the same price regardless of what day of the week or time, so we can have it on a Saturday night and make it easy for all of our out of town guests.

Thanks again for everyone who helped out! We managed to cut our costs by almost 70% so far.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Goldielocks on February 17, 2015, 03:01:15 PM
Well thanks to much of the great input from this post, I think we managed to wrangle the budget in without much compromise.

- Community Hall which is actually really nice we can rent in one of the national parks ($500) and we get it for the entire weekend! we might infact use it on the Friday for some activities as well
- Local caterer ladies @~20$/plate (70 people max = $1400) for a solid farm house meat and potatoes meal
- Photographer: We are wrangling up our cousin who is a very talented amateur (FREE!), and well as a good friend will get some of the casual photos throughout the night.
- We decided if the photos don't turn out how we like them, we will jump back into our wedding get ups and get a pro to shoot us for an hour some other day. We wont have a wedding party or anything so we are just looking for a few pics of us outdoors that need to be good, the rest are not a priority.  We found this to be a great compromise, especially since no one but us will know it is taken a different day. 
- Booze: Toonie bar, with a Costco liquor run (should come out pretty much even since beer <$2 per can and win is a little more, and liquor is much less so we might even make some money)
and the rest is minor details.
- Ceremony site outdoors (FREE) and absolutely gorgeous.

The thing we are the happiest about is that we can have it in our preferred location without sacrificing cost, and It just happens to turn out that its the same price regardless of what day of the week or time, so we can have it on a Saturday night and make it easy for all of our out of town guests.

Thanks again for everyone who helped out! We managed to cut our costs by almost 70% so far.

Looks like a great plan.... just...   your guests are likely giving you a generous wedding gift, and you are asking them to fork over $2 for a beer or glass of wine?  This is not a frat party, is it?   If you have guests over the age of 30, it won't be taken well, but no one will say anything.   Yes, cash bars are not unusual at hotels, where the cost of drinks average $7 each... but to not pay for $300 worth of beer for your guests is not frugal, it is cheap...   I had this experience last summer and it really left a sour taste in my mouth -- volunteer bartender, beer / wine purchased from liquor store, plastic cup, and a request for $3. 

It may be better to ask for "by donation" or just "tips" jar.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Tapp on February 17, 2015, 03:06:01 PM
I didn't read all the replies before this.
BUT,

My sister has her Wedding this last december.
She had it at a very nice and trendy restaurant in downtown Raleigh. Had the ceremony in the a covered and heated courtyard (50 people) and the reception was in the restaurant with courses served "family-style". The entire event with food was $2500. I payed for my own tux as part of the wedding party.

Ask your family and friends to help you, because they will. Its easy to do it frugal.

Better yet, do it in a forest. It's kick ass and free. Robin Hood style.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: green daisy on February 17, 2015, 03:40:55 PM
I just wanted to chime in with an edible frugal favor idea.  I generally don't like wedding favors that are trinkets--I feel obligated to hang onto them for sentimental reasons.

I made these bride and groom chocolate covered pretzel rods for my sister's bridal shower.  They came out great, were cheap to make (I think it cost about $20 for the supplies), and they were easy!  They took a few hours to make since you have to wait for the chocolate to harden.  You could probably make them a week ahead so you're not scrambling at the last minute. My sister requested them (she's not frugal) and she expected me to order them from a bakery for $2/set for 60 guests.  Umm, no. 

They probably won't work outside on a hot day though!

Here's a blog link (not mine).

http://www.garnishandglaze.com/2014/06/06/bride-groom-pretzel-rods/

ETA. If you change your mind on the cupcakes, for my sister's shower, I also did a plain white sheet cake from Costco.  I asked them not to decorate it except for white icing and white piped frosting around the edges.  I then decorated it with fresh flowers (also from Costco).  It was cheap, tasty and very elegant looking!
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: mhovancsek on February 17, 2015, 04:39:48 PM
Where I live, the local food bank has a catering off shoot- and is willing to cater weddings.  They're closer to $12 and that is in my big expensive American city- and their food is good.

Also, I found a non-profits in my urban area that support affordable weddings. The one in Washington DC is called St. Anthony's bridal. They sell used wedding dresses for $100 or less, sell table linens and used wedding decor for thrift store prices. Check it out to see if there is something similar in your area.

I found a lot of other helpful hints in the book BridalBargains.  Worth my $15.

Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: couponvan on February 17, 2015, 08:21:51 PM
We had friends that did a tiered cheesecake for their wedding cake. I think they did Costco large cheesecakes and bought 4 large cheesecakes - they made it look like a big tier by cutting three into progressively smaller cheesecakes. They added more graham cracker crumbs and edible flowers to the outside so they looked good.  They actually used the outside pieces for precut extras that came out on a cart.  It was so yummy, and did not look like Costo food at all.

Also I had a friend get married in the pub at a very nice golf course on St. Pats weekend in the Midwest.  There was still snow on the ground, they got a great deal on the location and served corned beef and cabbage (talk about cheap).  It was AWESOME - they had an old bagpiper too....
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: MrsCoolCat on February 17, 2015, 08:48:43 PM
Good luck. My wedding was about $8-$8,500 for 28 people and that did not include the honeymoon and I don't believe the wedding bands. My only regret was inviting this one cheapskate family out of pressure and how they behaved was worst than the $50 they gave me for 4 guests.

Venue and food is always the most. Keep looking at places for your venue that are not necessary labeled "for a wedding". Anything marked wedding is going to be overpriced. Pictures are forever. MANY people regret their photo and video, so consider that. Skip the favors. I liked mine but you can go without. I was also going to say do the potluck but you're right. It will be hard for out-of-towners. Also, offer a signature drink or no drinks at all. Agreed to having it during an hour alcohol is out of place, like breakfast or brunch. It's your wedding. Screw the guests that disagree because they can bring their own! Seriously, if I had an open bar the $50 family would have made out like bandits but I personally don't even drink that much.

Yes, flowers and everything adds up just because it's a wedding. I like your ideas so far. I would say do a destination elope but that might be rude for guests that truly want to be there and would otherwise not be able to if you did that. You're going to have to do a lot of DIY. Every little bit counts. Good luck!
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: gimp on February 18, 2015, 01:06:58 PM
Quote
- Photographer: We are wrangling up our cousin who is a very talented amateur (FREE!), and well as a good friend will get some of the casual photos throughout the night.

- We decided if the photos don't turn out how we like them, we will jump back into our wedding get ups and get a pro to shoot us for an hour some other day. We wont have a wedding party or anything so we are just looking for a few pics of us outdoors that need to be good, the rest are not a priority.  We found this to be a great compromise, especially since no one but us will know it is taken a different day. 

Be very, very careful on point 1. I'm telling you from other people's experience so you don't make the same mistake. Make sure that your cousin is totally on board, doesn't spend too much time taking photos, and - super importantly - if you don't like the photos (or even if you don't get the photos for whatever reason) you don't blame or get mad at your cousin. Seriously, lifelong friendships end over shit like this. People get very emotional and invested. Your cousin might take 20 hours editing the photos... remember that they're doing half a week's work for free.

Point 2 is pretty much what I recommended so I obviously think it's a great idea!
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: LiveLean on February 18, 2015, 03:05:20 PM
At the end of our street we have a beautiful waterfront county park nestled among live oak trees with a number of shelters that seat -- at picnic tables -- anywhere from 40 to 200 depending on the shelter. The park closes shortly before dark and does not allow alcohol or music, though people will set up a small speaker with an iPod for soft ambiance music. Rarely is there a weekend where at least one reception is not held there (this is Central Florida) and the photos are spectacular. Though we've never been invited to a wedding there -- we're in our mid-40s, the time of life where you don't get many wedding invites -- we've walked by dozens of weddings over the years.

I've always marveled at what bang-for-your-buck you get. You eliminate venue, alcohol, and band/DJ costs, and can bring in your own catering. You can rent a shelter for free (reserving 6 months in advance) and you have a spectacular setting. Sometimes the ceremony is there, but often it's at nearby churches.

I was thinking of this as my sister plans her April wedding in NYC, where nothing is cheap. I told her "you're basically paying $35,000 for a photo album." Which means you should not cut corners with photography. I have some pro photographer friends who shoot often in this park at the end of our street.



 
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Spondulix on March 05, 2015, 04:02:16 PM
Quote
- Photographer: We are wrangling up our cousin who is a very talented amateur (FREE!), and well as a good friend will get some of the casual photos throughout the
Be very, very careful on point 1. I'm telling you from other people's experience so you don't make the same mistake. Make sure that your cousin is totally on board, doesn't spend too much time taking photos, and - super importantly - if you don't like the photos (or even if you don't get the photos for whatever reason) you don't blame or get mad at your cousin. Seriously, lifelong friendships end over shit like this. People get very emotional and invested. Your cousin might take 20 hours editing the photos... remember that they're doing half a week's work for free.
I completely agree. We asked musician friends to play our ceremony, they did nothing to prepare, and a couple weeks before we had to frantically find (and pay) some pros. We also had a friend agree to officiate, and he backed out a few weeks before. In retrospect, it was not worth the stress to be that cheap.

The flip side is that we hired a pro photographer who lost an hour of our formal photos! It's so silly cause we even had friends taking pics off to the side. I really regret not telling them to jump in for a couple mins to shoot a couple shots (which I'm sure they would have loved to do.)
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: partgypsy on March 05, 2015, 04:41:40 PM
Gosh, there is a lot of really good advice on this thread, so much so that it almost makes me want to throw a big party, just because. Frugal weddings I've attended have been at:people's houses with seating outside (3), potluck weddings, bbq catered, church weddings catered by the church members for fundraiser (ok may not be best food, but campy fun), Moose lodge, and for us as we eloped, marriage and honeymoon in one, with a party afterwards at our house where we grilled outside with some items catered by a Mediterranean restaurant.

What I want to say, is that a wedding is not something "outside" your life. If you don't normally go to a hall and eat dry chicken, why would you do it for your wedding? Do something that symbolizes the kind of life you and to be wedded already live? For me if you can find a restaurant you both like (food is good) and has say a good back room, then having a wedding at that restaurant may be the most cost effective, especially if you can negotiate corking fees. Or having it during lunch, and say a red and a white wine, and a toast included, rest people have to purchase themselves (cash bar). Our wedding wasn't like that but I have been to funerals and baptisms where it was all done at a restaurant, for not unreasonable amount for the amount of service included. Maybe you don't even have to say it's a wedding, just a family get together, etc. 

oh, and my 1 regret for getting married, is lack of pictures. We had 1 disposable camera, which happened to print with distorted pictures (maybe it got wet?) so while I have a few not ones I will display proudly. 
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Krnten on March 05, 2015, 07:26:38 PM
I agree with the brunch/lunch suggestions and having it at a restaurant.  That's what we did and it was low cost (for NYC area!)

I will say this: go easy on your guests.  You're hosting them so make it comfortable for them.  Like someone else said, rent chairs so they don't have to stand during the ceremony.  Make sure there are hotel options nearby.  Don't have it in a field in the middle of nowhere that's hard to find and has no parking.  If you're doing it in a cold off season, make sure people don't have to do a lot of walking.  Don't have the ceremony and reception far apart.   Just think about your most elderly/infirm relative attending and make sure that person will be comfortable.

And YOU don't want to be DIY-ing the day of!  You want to be enjoying your guests, not setting up chairs, figuring out where the iPhone speakers are supposed to be, etc.

My brother is planning a cheap wedding and it can be a touch annoying.  He wanted to use our apt, which was fine, but he he wasn't interested in our pretty basic requirements like have the place professionally cleaned after, don't use our kitchen for heavy cooking.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: queenie on March 05, 2015, 08:38:10 PM
Also I was at a wedding once where their were disposable cameras on the tables for guests to use and take pictures so that the bride and groom ended up with photos from the evening (I think you can get disposable cameras for around $5) so if you want pictures from the party without having a photographer there that can be a fun and relatively cheap way to do it.  I also was at the wedding recently where the couple had photographer for just one hour after the ceremony and did all their pictures in that time. Afterwards they had a friend with a digital polaroid walk around and take pictures of everyone as part of the guest book which was a fun way to get pictures of all the guests too.

You'll likely get better photos from people's cell phones. Ask a few to bring their cameras.  At my brother's wedding, they hired a professional for formal photos only - maybe an hour. We printed up business cards on vistaprint with the link and password to a photobucket gallery and instructions on how to upload photos there. They received over 300 photos this way from guests, and it was pretty much free (I can't remember if the business cards were a small cost).

We had our wedding at a music camp in the country. Found a great caterer for a great price and brought our own wine and beer. We could have gotten a legion for cheaper but I really loved the camp.

As an aside, I shot my first wedding (10 hours) for $500 and my second (a small one for 3 hours) for free. People looking to get into it will cut you a deal but just be careful that you've seen their other work and you're happy with it.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Camper on April 17, 2015, 07:43:44 PM
This thread is a couple months old at this point so I hope I'm not chiming in too late. My wife and I recently pulled off a frugal wedding for around $5000 or so. We had about 50 people in attendance. This was my second wedding. For my first wedding my former father-in-law spent an ass ton of money, probably like $15,000. These days a similar wedding is probably $25,000 (that's about the average cost for a wedding these days according to the internet). This time around we pulled it off for approximately $5000 and you probably could not tell the difference between the two. We rented a great big house with a large amount of land on VBRO for a week for $1500. This housed myself, my wife, and probably 12 family members. We paid for it, but you could probably get the family members to chip in for the room and board if you wanted to. Then we rented a tent, tables, chairs, dinnerware, tablecloths, etc, for another $1300 or so. Rental company pitched the tent, we setup the rest. I bought a cheap PA system off of Amazon for $100 and plugged by iPod into it for the "DJ". I bought a few cases of beer and wine, and some liquor for mixed drinks for probably $500 or so and still had enough left over afterwards that I was giving it away. So we basically had an open bar, for $500 or less. We also paid about $1000 for a photographer.

That totals around $4400. Here's where we saved a lot of money. We cooked ALL the food. A lot of it was prepared ahead of time, and frozen. The rest our family and friends helped prepare the day before or the day of. We just made yummy food people would enjoy at a cookout, except we had fancy rented plates. Burgers, chilli, salad, sandwiches, pasta, whatever. Most people are more focused on the booze anyway. The total grocery bill plus other random miscellaneous expenses brought the grand total to just over $5000.

Everybody who attended thought this was a professionally organized and catered wedding. In my mind, we saved $20,000 and still gave everyone the wedding experience they expected. If you factor in the monetary gifts we received it cost us almost nothing out of pocket. So, I guess my point is you can still have a kick ass wedding on a budget of $5000 or less if you're willing to do a little preparation and work instead of paying someone else to do that for you.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: MrsPete on April 18, 2015, 06:35:54 PM
Pick three things that matter to you, and don't skimp on them.  Everything else becomes optional. 

For example, I have a friend for whom the dress WAS the wedding.  Even though she eloped (parents disapproved of the groom), she spent over $1000 for a dress -- and this was in the 1980s.  I thought it was a stupid choice, but she wanted the dress more than anything else.  Not my money.  I don't think she even had pictures made.  Incidentally, her parents were totally right about the groom:  They only stayed married about two years.  Turns out a rich girl who marries a paycheck-to-paycheck man her father's age is, well, setting herself up for trouble.   

In contrast, I've known a few people for whom the music was everything.  For quite a few people, it's the decorations and the food.  I think a whole lot of people care about the photography.

But, seriously, putting aside the real important things -- marrying the right person, etc. -- pick three things that really matter to you on your wedding day, and make sure you get those things.  You can't focus on EVERYTHING, but you probably can have those three things. 

I totally agree with picking an off-time:

- A 10:00 am wedding followed by a breakfast, for example, will be less expensive than a Saturday night wedding.  And if you feel it's necessary to serve alcohol (I don't), at a breakfast you can serve pitchers of Bilinis or Bloody Marys ... and when the pitchers are gone, they're gone. 
- A Friday night wedding will be less expensive than a Saturday wedding.
- I once attended -- by surprise -- a super-simple wedding:  We were at Sunday morning church service, and the pastor announced that a certain elderly couple (both long-time church members, both widowed) was going to be married at the end of the service.  The two were sitting in the front row, dressed a little more nicely than for a typical Sunday.  The service ended as usual, and as he dismissed us, the pastor said, "So-and-so's wedding will begin in 15 minutes.  Anyone who'd like to stay is welcome." 
- Consider a Christmas Eve wedding.  The church will already be decorated -- probably with poinsettas, etc. One of my siblings married on a major holiday, and he swears it was a great choice:  A good number of people didn't attend, but he and his wife ALWAYS are off work /can take a weekend trip for their anniversary. 

You might come out cheapest of all (assuming you're going to have some celebration) by doing a ceremony whereever ... and then taking everyone to a restaurant afterward.  Seriously.  You don't need to decorate, though you could toss some appropriate-colored candies up and down the tables, and perhaps get some wedding-colored balloons for your chairs.  You can go in ahead of time and arrange with the manager to have a private room ... and you can pick out perhaps 3-4 entrees from which the guests can choose (you don't have to offer them the whole menu).  This could be done for less than $20/person, including tip and drinks. 

A punch and cake reception is FINE, though they are somewhat out of favor these days, and they're typically only seen in a church wedding. 

Though it's inexpensive, think twice about an outdoor location.  Oh, they are LOVELY when the weather cooperates, but I worked briefly in the wedding business ... and when outdoors goes wrong, it goes way wrong.  And if you choose outdoors, you will worry and worry and worry as the dates approaches about whether you're going to have a beautiful sunny day, or rain.  Outdoors is setting yourself up for trouble, and you have zero control over it.  IF you plan something outdoors, have a backup plan.

For what it's worth, I attended a wedding last summer that I thought was a VERY NICE mix of splurge-and-budget.  The bride's father (my husband's cousin) paid, and he can definitely afford it.  The bride's dress was nice but simple, and her six bridesmaids wore dresses that were nice ... but looked as if they might've been purchased at JC Penny's.  They're definitely dresses that the girls could wear again (to a nice dinner, even to work with a jacket).  The guys all wore suits, not tuxes.  The dinner was served in an old barn location, and the meal and cake were simple.  Alcohol was not served, and I heard no negative comments.  The flowers came from Harris Teeter, and they were lovely.  Music was played from a stereo that was probably provided by the best man.  The couple drove away in the groom's car.  Maybe 100 people attended.

You don't have to have alcohol.
You don't have to have dancing -- I'm not sure how many people consider dancing to be the height of fun anyway.
You don't have to have favors.
 

Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: chouchouu on April 18, 2015, 09:26:06 PM
All very great input.

ELOPING will be tough, this will be the only wedding for either of our parents, and although they say "do whatever you want" they want to be part of some kind of ceremony.
I'm starting to realize our priority isn't to have a big fancy "wedding" but rather just a family get together and dinner.  What I said we should do is just get married where ever, then have a HUGE multifamily potluck celebration somewhere to celebrate it and just tell everyone that we are now married.  This might be plan B.. or plan C.  She isn't sold on the idea.... YET

TIME OF DAY: This is something awesome I have never considered.  Maybe we can do it over lunch to keep costs down as suggested! AWESOME.  We are already having it in the "off season" to keep costs down and give us the ability to negotiate with the venue if we decide to go that route

VENUE:  The Community hall is a great idea... we need to look into this further! I just hope this doesn't become a logistical nightmare with chairs and all that jazz.  Does anyone have any experience with this to let me know how it worked for them?  Please and thanks :)

BOOZE: Drink tickets are very common here, and it gives you control over what happening.  IMO the open bar weddings I have been to just get messy haha, we want to avoid that.
If the idea like the community hall presents itself, we know a couple bar tenders and we could buy COSTCO booze for next to nothing.  This could work out well together.

FOOD: Currently, venue catered $45 per person is the cheapest we have found, and its not overly fancy, but its not bad either.  Plated meals will cost us more.  I think we will find trying to go the route of the community hall and getting our own caterers will be much cheaper as canuckie mentioned.  We are persistently looking into this
Potluck with be very difficult with the distances people are traveling currently, I am not sold if this would work.

PHOTOGRAPHER:  Most of the comments have been around this because its a tough one to figure out.  This is where I think we will compromise, and please let me know if you have any experience with what my "plan" might turn out like.  FIRST, we hire a photographer for a half hour or so to shoot us in our formal dress at the ceremony location, and then have our quick 15 min ceremony with a couple photos.  SECOND get the family and friends to shoot some photos throughout the night.  We don't really have any photography friends, but we don't care too much about the reception photos.  This way we get great photos when they matter for a price, and then misc photos throughout the night.  I keep telling myself this will work.

PARTY FAVORS: I never liked these things, unless you can eat them.... and then I eat them that night at the wedding.  If we do anything it will be something for the kids not the adults, like little bottles of bubbles, and they can play with it at the wedding, so this would be dollar store cheap!

KEEP THE COMMENTS COMING!!! They are all awesome, thank you so much :)

I am a caterer and have done a community hall venue. I only hosted one sit down wedding, the rest were cocktail parties. My suggestion would be to hire a bunch of college students to waiter and do a cocktail style reception or a brunch. I would not have a sit down reception because they take longer, are expensive to decorate and take a lot of organising on an otherwise busy day. There are two ways you could do it. Have waiters walk around with platters with food and drinks. This keeps people mingling and stops people over eating and drinking. Usually I would serve six different choices of food and have 2 serves per head.

So an example menu would be;
Peking duck rolls
Seared scallops
Fresh oysters
Hokkien noodles
Vietnamese rice paper rolls
Champagne and strawberry sorbet

Of those items the Vietnamese rice paper rolls were bought from a Vietnamese bakery, the oysters require next to no prep and the sorbet was made to order from a restaurant $50 per tub, so two flavours for $100 plus the bottle of sparkling. So my suggestion is to check out what items you could have pre made to serve cocktail style.

If that seems like a little too much work you can go the way of the buffet brunch. Three oblong tables set up against a wall with white table cloths. Large white platters along the tables filled with bakery items, smoked salmon, fruit platters and one or two cooked patters such as kedgeree. Glass dessert cups filled with fresh berries and yogurt topped with granola look fancy. At the end table set out mimosas and coffee and tea. People tend to not drink early in the day yet mimosas are festive enough and the orange juice can hide the taste of cheaper sparkling. Have a few seats out but not too many. When people are seated they stay forever. Also check if your liquor store will buy back unopened alcohol and if they can provide free glass hire and ice boxes.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: KBecks2 on April 19, 2015, 06:15:50 AM
I would look for a restaurant or hotel location that has a small banquet room with patio attached.   Then you can eat inside and party on the patio, and you get a little indoor / outdoor experience.   

Or you could look for a church that has a reception room.  Ceremony in church, reception in church hall and boom you're done.  Very inexpensive.

Or a bar with a patio. 

A park will have logistic issues with tables and chairs, unless you can get a place with a picnic shelter and picnic tables..  You can save by self-catering or pot luck. 

Have fun with it! 

You could get married at the courthouse and have a party almost anywhere.  Be creative. 
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: KBecks2 on April 19, 2015, 06:17:14 AM
Find an inexpensive non-pro photographer, you will find one easy.  Not "just friends" but not a wedding photographer.  Someone with a day job or a SAHM who works from their home and will give you digital images.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: brycedoula on April 20, 2015, 12:06:33 PM
I'm in Winnipeg MB. My husband and I were married in September 2014. We were able to keep costs down a few ways:

-went to local Party Stuff store and bought blank invites & thank you cards; printed them on FIL's printer. Fifty invites were maybe $30, and $50 to replace FIL's ink cartridge afterwards.
-married on a Sunday afternoon w/ appetizers/drinks/dinner following (although we were covering all costs of food/drinks, guests didn't go too crazy as most had to work in the morning).
-had both our ceremony/reception in a private room @ a local restaurant. They offered us several menus(with 4-5 options on each) @ several price points, with rolls/salads/entrees/coffee included. Brought in our own wedding cake & restaurant charged a plating fee per guest.
-my best-est male friend was our officiant. In Manitoba you are able to do this 1x only, as long as the proper paperwork is completed. We still had to pay the $100 for the marriage license, but not the extra $250-$350 for the marriage commissioner.
-a co-worker & her mum do wedding flowers as a side gig. Ended up with BEAUTIFUL bouquets/boutineers/corsages & centrepieces for a fraction of what a florist would have charged.
-another co-worker does photography on the side. Hired her for just ceremony & formal family/couple pictures. Again, ended up with lovely shots for a fraction of what an all-day/all-night shoot would have been.
-husband & 2/3 brothers opted to rent tuxes, but 1/3 brothers wore his own nice suit; SIL wore a dress she already owned; I brought a $149 dress @ David's Bridal, currently trying to re-sell on kijiji.ca
-we didn't do favours but instead made a donation to the local Humane Society ($5/person); they gave us little cards to put on the table explaining "in lieu of favours blah blah blah". Quite a few people came up to us & said they were really touched by this. Bubbles for the kiddos are a really good idea, or maybe dollar-store colouring books, stickers, etc?

A word of caution about all the DIY stuff: be SUPER-realistic about how much time/inclination you & fiancee have for this. I originally thought that I would do stuff like that, but quickly realized a) no time and b) no skills. Pinterest can be your WORST enemy...
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: lax4life93 on April 24, 2015, 08:54:09 PM
Keep the suggestions and comments coming!!
UPDATE: As of right now, since I was laid off from work, we are post posing the wedding for a bit, which is giving us more opportunity to fine tune everything and figure what we really want out of it.

I love to hear about everyones past experiences though!!
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: myrax on April 26, 2015, 03:42:20 PM
We went super casual and frugal by ordering takeout out from all of our favorite restaurants instead of getting catering. Our guests ate so much they didn't have room for dessert!

My brother and his wife rented a hall in a state park that had a kitchen in it. As the rental was for 48 hours, they prepared all of the food the day before and had family members set up the buffet and watch over it. It only cost a few hundred dollars and the food was better than at most weddings.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: FatCat on April 26, 2015, 04:03:56 PM
I would go for potluck meal. It gives the feel of a family gathering. Using a caterer would make me think of a work place party.



Of course now says folks have nicer cameras and perhaps you can find a somewhat skilled friend from your guest list to take some nicer photos?
The nice camera myth.

"Oh, what a wonderful dinner you've prepared here!  This is one of the best meals I've ever had!  You must have a really nice stove."

Don't hire someone because they have good tools :)

But they also said "somewhat skilled friend".  Which isn't the same as "guy who bought a DSLR and has never moved it off green square".  Sadly, there are way too many people out there who call themselves professional photographers without having much skill. You have to be really careful hiring photographers.

Do people tend to judge the skill level of a photographer based on how expensive their camera is? I would want to see a portfolio. That would be the main thing I would care about.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: elaine amj on November 25, 2018, 06:17:57 PM
We had our reception pretty cheap by renting a community hall that allowed us to bring in our own caterer. Then we got a local Chinese restaurant to cater a full 12 course meal with servers, dishes, cutlery, everything for way less than regular wedding caterers. We had a crazy amount of food and our guests left with plenty of takeout boxes :).

We are dreaming of hosting a 20th wedding anniversary party (incl a simple vow renewal) for about 50+ people in a couple of years. Our current thoughts are to rent a really gorgeous picnic pavilion on a beach in our local national park. It even has retractable side walls in case of bad weather. And either do potluck, cook ourselves, or cater simple stuff (probably a mix). And an ipod or a DJ (we do like to dance so are willing to spend on it). Alcohol is prohibited so that might help our drinks dilemma. DH and I rarely and usually host dry parties so this would suit us well and in general anyone who spends time with us are used to hanging out with us with no drinks in sight (including on NYE)...so I actually kind of like it as a reflection of us. I would also love to rent a few campsites at a different park a few mins away to camp out with any friends who would like to join us (since camping is my favorite vacation).
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: frugaldrummer on November 25, 2018, 11:18:24 PM
At my wedding (many years ago) we got trays of lasagne from a local Italian restaurant, with salads, and a carrot cake sheet cake with a gingerbread cookie bride and groom on top from a local bakery. Everything was very inexpensive that way.

I also once attended a potluck wedding. The bride and groom provided ? Grilled salmon I think, and they divided up the alphabet for everything else. As mentioned in a previous post, people put extra effort into their offerings because it was a wedding and the food was great. I made a fruit salad in a carved watermelon basket!

Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Jouer on November 26, 2018, 09:13:19 AM
I think it's very rude to have a cash bar. You are hosting the event and if you wouldn't charge someone for a drink in your home, don't charge them at your wedding! One idea is to do a morning wedding with appetizers/brunch/coffee and cake, etc...(something within your budget with or without alcohol) then you could choose an "after party" bar that evening for people who stick around and want to continue the partying...and you wouldn't be obligated to pick up the tab for that.

Nuts to all this. If you aren't from old money, go ahead to have a cash bar.

Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: I'm a red panda on November 26, 2018, 09:30:27 AM
I think it's very rude to have a cash bar. You are hosting the event and if you wouldn't charge someone for a drink in your home, don't charge them at your wedding! One idea is to do a morning wedding with appetizers/brunch/coffee and cake, etc...(something within your budget with or without alcohol) then you could choose an "after party" bar that evening for people who stick around and want to continue the partying...and you wouldn't be obligated to pick up the tab for that.

Nuts to all this. If you aren't from old money, go ahead to have a cash bar.

Totally disagree. If you invite people to an event, they shouldn't be expected to pay. If you have a cash bar, might as well make them pay for their meal too.  Just go to a restaurant and have everyone order and pay their own way.

If you can't afford a full bar, limit to a few wine or beer options. But it is extremely tacky to make guests pay themselves.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: Maenad on November 26, 2018, 09:40:49 AM
This thread is almost 4 years old, I think the wedding is done.
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: I'm a red panda on November 26, 2018, 10:09:10 AM
This thread is almost 4 years old, I think the wedding is done.

other people are ALSO trying to have frugal weddings though. 
Title: Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
Post by: rubybeth on November 26, 2018, 11:45:19 AM
Posting to bookmark this

My wedding venue was free. Yes, free. It was a local restaurant and they blocked off tables for our 50 guests. If you don't have a restaurant that will do this, sometimes they will close for private events and they whole place can be yours. All we paid was the meal costs. We gave our guests a few different meal choices, told the venue in advance, and they cooked a bunch of the three different pasta dishes, and then served them all at once. I think we paid a small corkage fee for the wine we brought in to toast. If people wanted extra drinks, that was on them. They also made us a giant tiramisu and that was our "wedding cake" and it fed everyone.