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Topic: Question about DIY wedding budget  (Read 6630 times)
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« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2010 04:58:29 PM »

Success!  I have booked a caterer (A friend of a friend) who does catering on the side!  We're having build your own pasta, with a marinara sauce or a white sauce with chicken, and two types of Salad, and a build your own Sundae station!!!  $2,100 for 150 people, including set up and clean up!  She's such a blessing!  I'm so excited!  Just had to share Cheesy
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2010 01:41:46 PM »

Congratulations!  That's a fantastic idea too  Smiley  That way everybody can pick what they want.

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« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2010 04:08:27 PM »

Hubby can help you make some food the day before if you diy. Salads, mostacoli, and anything cold can be done the day before and then thrown in the oven at the last minute. I like the pulled pork idea! You could even shape hamburger patties earlier on and have friends help you throw them on the grill when it's time to eat.

Buffet-style catering shouldn't be too expensive, but even if you get the meats catered you can do the sides yourself in advance.

The mis-matched idea sounds like fun! it would match your vintage idea very well.
Now I want a picnic wedding...
« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2010 12:44:57 PM »

Just my $.02

I got married in LA (one of the most expensive cities to get married in) 5 years ago.  We pulled it off on a $5,000 budget and it was totally DIY.  You seem to have a lot of good ideas already, so I'll just add some of the big money savers.

-Location- Your "at home" idea is perfect.  Our reception was at a friends house who had a huge yard full of fruit trees that made a natural barrier between us and the neighbors and made it seem more of a private location than someone's house.  Keep in mind the cost of renting tables and chairs, dining items, and possibly heat lamps or extra lighting.  Also, the parking situation can get a little hairy.  And give your neighbors warning that the event is going to take place so that no one has any issues with the extra noise and traffic.

-Flowers and centerpieces- All of the flowers were silks, and were put together my me.  We saved money by not having floral centerpieces.  We had a wine/vineyard theme and our centerpieces were charger plates full of fruit with wine bottles to hold the table #'s.  Each bottle had been consumed with friends over our engagement and the story of who we drank it with and what we did that night, ect. was on the back of the table number.

-Food and drink- We ordered the food from a local Italian deli.  We had a seated dinner of salad, garlic bread, stuffed shells, and chicken parmesan for 80 and it was only $500 dollars.  We hired some people we "sort of" knew from the local college to serve and clean up.  We probably should have hired a couple more (we had three) because the woman whose house it was did more work that we would have liked on the day.  Because it was wine themed, we didn't have a full bar, but opted for only wine.  We served about 5 or 6 different varietals so that everyone could find something that they liked.  Trader Joe's was a big help for keeping the wine budget down, as was BevMo wine sales.  We also served iced tea and coffee for the non wine drinkers.

-Music/dancing- We had one of our friends who is an excellent public speaker, but who hates to dance be our MC and we pre-arranged all of the music in itunes and hooked a laptop to a sound system.  No need for a DJ or a band.

I hope some of that helps.

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« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2010 06:12:02 AM »

- Food. My fianc is an excellent cook and people always love the stuff he makes for our parties. However, I want him to be able to relax and socialise on this occasion, which he rarely has time to do. We could make some things in advance (like I'm planning to make the cake), but can't possibly make everything. I think I read that Molly of orangette had people bring stuff to their wedding dinner and it was great. However, she probably knows people who are all chefs and stuff. People will probably be only too happy to bring food to a garden party but I'm worried that (a) they'll feel a bit cheated by having to bring stuff to a wedding (once they find out), (b) the food may not be stellar and/or go together very well and give a shoddy impression, (c) people do like a good sit-down dinner at a wedding, don't they? So I'm not sure what to do about it. If we have to order catering, it will be a big chunk of the budget. And it's not always great anyway.

Food and beverage is always going to be a wedding reception's biggest expense.  I agree with the PP that the best way to ensure capping the expense here is to control the guest list.

Other ways to cut down on the cost would be to have a reception when it's not meal time, and serve foods accordingly.  A mid-afternoon reception with only heavy hors d'oeuvres or a dessert reception later in the evening?  If you feel like doing passed hors d'oeuvres or having someone cut food for you, hire some local college kids (over 18+ so they can sign a contract) or high schools you know well to help out. 

Re: expectation of a sit down dinner: no, I don't think people expect that, thankfully!  By not having the reception at a traditional meal time, and letting the guests know with something like "Dessert reception to follow" on your invitations, they'll know what to expect.   

As for guests bringing food--IMHO, I'd avoid creating a situation where this might arise as much as possible.  The guests shouldn't be subsidizing my wedding, you know?  (OP, I realize that you are trying to avoid this situation.)  Have you thought about straight up letting your guests know they are attending a wedding?  Then they won't feel obligated to bring food.  The flip side is they may feel obligated to attend, which will increase your headcount and cost.

Re: beverages.  To reduce cost, have a dry wedding with some festive, non-alcoholic punches if you like.  Or, serve beer and wine only.  Definitely get from your local membership warehouse!

Re: at home location.  Check to see if there are any permits necessary for this.

Happy planning!

« Reply #15 on: October 25, 2010 07:10:11 AM »

Just my 2 cents here:

I think the DIY ideas you have come up with so far are great, but I wonder about not telling people your party will also be your wedding.  People who genuinely love you and would make it a major priority to celebrate this special event with you might have something else relatively minor going on that weekend, etc. and will not RSVP to the supposed "garden party."  If that were me, I would feel terrible when I found out I had missed my friend's wedding. 

I have been invited to several weddings that made clear from the get-go that they were relaxed and informal events.  People showed up in casual wear, passed food, and had a great time.  Just some food for thought.  No one here knows your guests like you do, so you should definitely do whatever feels right to you. Just wanted to make it known that it is possible to get the relaxed vibe you're looking to create across without the surprise.

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« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2010 01:29:11 PM »

I'll re-post what I posted to the weddingplans community on LJ:

I just finished adding in all the figures into Excel. Final number does NOT include dinner on Thursday night (as that was paid for by my aunt) or the hotel room for Tim and I on Thursday and Friday nights. Total also does not include Tim's airfare from the UK or my upcoming visa and moving expenses (however those are the reasons we tried to keep costs down!). total includes: attire, marriage license & judge fee, reception venue, food, invitations, decorations, favours, & misc expenses.

Are you ready for this? I'm truly SHOCKED that we managed to pull off the most perfect wedding for this amount.

Here we go....


That's right. The wedding cost less than $1500!

If we add back in Tim's plane ticket over, my visa fee, our hotel room, my new passport, and my moving fees, our total still comes in at less than $5,000 ($4,062.82 to be exact).

Ways we really saved money:

My Dress - My mom, aunt and I made my dress. I managed to score the pattern while Joann's was having a 50% off pattern sale, and we bought my fabric (something like 7 yards of crepe backed satin) with a 50% off one single cutting coupon. Tim wore a suit he already owned, and I made his matching tie. My dress cost less than $50! I bought my shoes on eBay, and after finding out they were scuffed, the seller refunded me the entire cost of the shoes (yay free shoes!), but I still had paid less than $30 for the shoes. My earrings also came from eBay. All my other jewellery I already owned. I spent about $30 on my bra/underwear at Target of all places.

Flowers - A friend of mine who has experience offered to help me, and we picked silk flowers. I spent less than $100 on my bouquet, 3 corsages, 2 single flowers, and 2 button holes.

Invitations - I had several people saving their AC Moore, Michael's, and Joann fliers for me so each week I had multiple coupons. I managed to get a box of 100 invitations for 50% off and the butterfly stamp for 50% off. I deliberately picked a stamp pad from the $1 bins and .50 ribbon. My invitations (pre-postage) cost $21 in supplies.

Favours - I went online and purchased the organza bags through http://www.jewelrysupply.com/ and got them for less than half of what the brick and mortar stores wanted, plus I was able to get the colour I wanted. Tim's mum picked up the chocolate for me when Tesco had the big tins on offer for buy 1, get 1. I made the tags using a label template and sliced them apart, punched a hole in the tag, and tied it to the bag. My mom ordered personalized napkins and matchbook notebooks through an online company (I can't remember the URL right now) at a discounted rate.

Thank You Gifts - I made baskets for the attendants and used coupons and other deals to get the items for the baskets. I spent less than $25 total on all the thank you gifts, but you wouldn't really know it by looking at everything. I utilized gift certificates from http://www.restaurant.com, where you can purchase $25 gift certificates for a fraction of the cost. I got really lucky and scored gift certificates when they were having a discounted sale beyond their normal discounts. The baskets for my attendants contained: bath & body products, a small candle, tea & coffee, chocolate, a handmade necklace, and a restaurant.com gift certificate. The small gifts for my friends who helped in the kitchen contained jewellery and a restaurant.com gift certificate. We gave our waitresses $30 each, plus I gave them each a bracelet.

Reception site - We rented out an indoor pavilion at a local park for a fraction of the cost of renting a banquet hall. We could have had a reception site for free, as my aunt offered us her backyard/basement/garage, but we didn't want to impose on her.

Food & Drink - alcohol was prohibited at our site, so that cut costs. We also made all the food and utilized my mom's office's membership to BJ's Wholesale Club to purchase most of the food and I comparison shopped Wal-Mart and the other local grocery stores to make sure we were getting the best deal on everything. I purchased plates, cups, napkins, and utensils either in bulk at BJs or over at the Dollar Tree. I also got the tablecloth's at the Dollar Tree. A friend gifted us the cake.

We didn't set out to deliberately have an inexpensive wedding. Due to my ability to find good bargains and my love of DIY we just happened to save ourselves a ton of money and not go into debt over our wedding. Anything missing was missing because we chose to not have it. If we had wanted something badly enough, we would have found the money for it.

(formerly AnnaOnTheMoon)

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« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2010 04:55:08 AM »

I love the picnic idea, if you did decide to tell people it was a wedding in advance and that it was a picnic I think that would make it really relaxed and people wouldn't go too overboard with everything... Maybe you could serve your wedding meal to your guests in a picnic basket, maybe some sort of deli platter per 4 or 6 guests. If guests think they're coming to a garden party they will probably bring their own drinks anyway so I wouldn't worry too much about the alcohol thing, you could just put a bottle of champaigne in the baskets for the wedding toast... and what about "mini" baskets, like the kind you get at easter with a few chocolates in them on top of a cute fabric scrap as a "blanket" I have no idea how much any of that would cost, but in my head it doesn't sound too expensive... haha but maybe I am delusional Smiley August is the middle of your summer right? Some plants that are amazing here in summer and that could be very showy in just a year could be hibiscus and one that doesn't have stunning flowers but does have an amazing scent and beautiful leaves is a port wine magnolia, def. take into account scent as you plant! You don't want your guests to have major hayfever or not enjoy the taste of their food because scent is over powering... what about Gardenias? Beautiful flowers and smell Smiley

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« Reply #18 on: November 03, 2010 10:36:09 PM »

(a)they'll feel a bit cheated by having to bring stuff to a wedding (once they find out), (b) the food may not be stellar and/or go together very well and give a shoddy impression, (c) people do like a good sit-down dinner at a wedding,

Soooo, it sounds like you have your food dilemma solved, but for those pondering the same questions, I have this input:
(a) I would never feel cheated about having to bring food to a friends wedding, I know I like the food I make, not so much with catered food I've had before.  Besides, then I feel like I've been able to contribute to my friends celebration.
(b) if you are worried about the food going together, offer a theme to your invitees, so that the food they bring will kind of mesh
(c) Sit down dinners are restrictive.  keep your guests moving, interacting, and having a great time with each other.  It makes things fun.

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« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2010 12:12:52 PM »

I don't think it's been mentioned yet, but something you definitely need to think about when having an at-home wedding: bathrooms.  You certainly don't want to leave your guests without one, but you also gotta remember that home septic systems typically can't handle a whole lot of people all at once. 

Certainly the least glamorous part of planning any event, but still necessary.
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