A "simple" (i.e. cheap) wedding with 150+ guests?! Is this possible?

(59 Posts)
threeleftfeet Fri 13-Jul-12 01:41:18

DP and I are getting married!

We're not into the whole white wedding thing, however we do want to have a celebration with our family and friends.

I've had a go at doing an initial list and I reckon it's at least 150 people (including 30 DCs).

We've got musician type friends so that bit of the wedding is sorted. I've seen type of the dress I want and it's about £250.

I'm guessing the biggest expense will be catering for everyone?

Is it possible to do a wedding for so many people without spending an absolute fortune. Has anyone got any tips? Perhaps on a venue with reasonable proces. We're definitely open to alternative suggestions!

How can you cater for so many people, nicely, without spending an arm and a leg?

TIS smile

joanofarchitrave Fri 13-Jul-12 23:28:49

tables and chairs. May or may not be included.

Table numbers if you have a sit down meal (have a buffet!).

Corkage if you want to take your own drink.

threeleftfeet Fri 13-Jul-12 23:29:10

"Bring and share meal." it's a lovely idea, but as at least half the wedding party will have traveled over 500 miles to be there, I'm worried that it seems a bit impractical to ask them to travel with food in their bags! What do you think?

threeleftfeet Fri 13-Jul-12 23:32:55

Buffet probably does make more sense doesn't it.

I remembered something else we need, a room for the DCs. I went to a wedding in a big manor house where there was a games room with lots of cool stuff for the DCs to play with. It wasn't that they weren't welcome at the wedding - they were - it was just somewhere for them to retreat to when it got too boring, where they could play and let off steam if they wanted to. It worked really well.

threeleftfeet Fri 13-Jul-12 23:35:51

"Buffet probably does make more sense doesn't it."

Sorry, I mean it makes more sense than sit-down, specifically.

If this is too pricey, we're going to have think about other things like maybe "bring and share"

joanofarchitrave Fri 13-Jul-12 23:37:56

'impractical to ask them to travel with food'

Depends what you ask them to bring, and also what transport they will mostly be using. Also if there's a kitchen on site where they could assemble something that was easier to transport separately (such as a salad).

If they'll mostly be on public transport, I do see your point grin You could look at supermarket party catering? The only caution there is that IME they are tight on quantities, whereas any hired caterer is so expensive that they tend to over-cater with no risk of running out.

threeleftfeet Fri 13-Jul-12 23:46:12

People will be coming by a mixture of methods I imagine: car, train and plane. A fair number of them have DCs.

I feel like it's a bit much to ask really, isn't it?

joanofarchitrave Sat 14-Jul-12 00:04:17

You could ask a few of the more distant ones what they think.

If it's a choice between making a pudding (i.e. buying 4 punnets of strawberries and a pint of cream and shoving them in a cool bag on the day) or a main course (i.e. boiling a ham joint or baking a tray of sausages) and buying a wedding present, which costs more and requires more thinking time/traipsing about? It means you know there is something that you and your children will eat at the wedding, and tbh the meal is usually MASSIVELY better than most caterers' food, and lavishly over quantified.

You would need a food team at the reception to 'receive' and set out the food I think.

joanofarchitrave Sat 14-Jul-12 00:05:29

I do see that the ones who are flying in would need to be excused! Sometimes people provide the main course and ask people to bring a pudding or a salad/vegetable?

threeleftfeet Sat 14-Jul-12 00:17:24

We do have several foodie friends, including some chefs. If we're going to go down a DIY route, I reckon I'd rather see if a group of our friends are up for doing catering instead of presents, instead of involving the whole party of guests.

I really wouldn't feel comfortable asking them all to bring food.

threeleftfeet Sat 14-Jul-12 00:17:57

Hmm, that could work actually ... smile

threeleftfeet Sat 14-Jul-12 00:18:12

Thanks everyone, this is really useful!

threeleftfeet Sat 14-Jul-12 00:23:21

twolittlemonkeys your wedding sounds lovely!

<wonders which kind friend has a house large enough to lend us grin>

DonkeyTeapot Sat 14-Jul-12 00:28:28

aufaniae we are in a similar position to you, in that a lot of our guests will have to fly (only approx 2 hr flight, but with waiting time plus travel to airport, etc etc) or get on the ferry (3 hour journey plus travel to port). I agree that asking people to bring food is not really practical - ok so they could go to a supermarket once they're here, but how many trays of sausage rolls and mini scotch eggs can one wedding handle?

We are still in the very early stages of planning, but I had been thinking of a 4pm (or thereabouts) wedding with evening buffet in a function room of some kind. We also expect quite a few children, so I thought of buying loads of board games from charity shops etc, have a wii or similar set up with that dance game on, and just get everyone to have FUN. Its not really the wedding I would like if money were no object, but I feel that trying to cobble together the wedding we would like with the budget we have will just look terrible, so the only option is to go for something totally different (as a prior poster said).

CointreauVersial Sat 14-Jul-12 00:28:54

Some cost-cutting ideas (used at our wedding):

Wedding lunch just for small group of immediate family/friends.
Evening party for 100 held in a barn at a local farm.
Camera-mad mate recruited as photographer.
Mate with flash car recruited as wedding driver.
Wine from Calais booze-cruise.
High street dress and shoes.
Cake made and decorated by arty aunty.
Local pub doing simple buffet in the evening and providing kegs of beer.
Flowers from local market, arranged in cheap IKEA glasses.

It was fab, and didn't feel "cheap" at all.

joanofarchitrave Sat 14-Jul-12 00:29:12

Ooh getting friends to do the catering sounds ideal!! Probably a lot easier to organise all round.

threeleftfeet Sat 14-Jul-12 00:38:55

OK, really naive question here! What are the flowers for?

Do you mean button holes? Or the posy? Or flowers to decorate the venue? (I'm guessing that's the pricey one!)

Are all of these essential?

joanofarchitrave Sat 14-Jul-12 00:47:50

Flowers at a wedding I guess are at bottom (so to speak) a fertility symbol. They survive as a tradition because they look nice and because wedding flowers are potentially profitable. But it's very personal.

I was very pleased to carry flowers at both my weddings, I liked both the symbolism and the reality; a tied posy or something like that isn't all that expensive. I had a hand-tied round bouquet of yellow roses at my first wedding that cost ?£30 - I ordered it to be done by phone at a florists' down the road from the register office and my mum popped in to collect it on the day. Carrying a single gerbera looked pretty cool on ER and is a bit 90s generally but still nice IMO. A flower in the groom's buttonhole I think is also nice. If professionally done they do last longer as arrangements but it's also possible just to pick or buy loose flowers if you choose a flowery time of year (hence June's popularity). Buttonholes for other people I think are an unnecessary expense - personal again. Flowers in the venue are very expensive indeed, hence the popularity of balloons, ribbons, shells, pebbly shit etc. Again you could probably get a team of guests with gardens to help out here??

CointreauVersial Sat 14-Jul-12 00:58:35

We bought flowers mainly to decorate the venue (it was a barn, after all). I don't think we spent more than £20 for the whole place, and we supplemented the market flowers with ivy and stuff from the garden and just a little pebbly shit.

threeleftfeet Sat 14-Jul-12 01:02:54

grin pebbly shit

pookamoo Sat 14-Jul-12 01:14:16

All the flowers at our wedding came from friends' and family's gardens.
As much as we could, we did ourselves.

It was a lovely day.

Flowers for me were a boquet, button holes and a long and low for the registry table which then got put in front of me and dh on the dining table.

scotgirl Sat 14-Jul-12 08:20:47

I would try to look elsewhere for a venue too - we found hotels just could not offer the flexibility and value for money we wanted i.e so we could bring in our own caterers, have free booze ( bought at great prices from the supermarket) all day and all night..

HeadsShouldersKneesandToes Sat 14-Jul-12 08:28:46

It's perfectly possible - lots of "traditional" things are utterly unnecessary

- late afternoon ceremony so you only need to supply one meal
- buffet style meal is MUCH cheaper - a lot less manpower for the venue, no elaborate table laying
- we saved a lot by just using taxis instead of hiring posh cars
- keeping the clothes dress simple - the £250 you mention is much more sensible than the thousands people will spend on a fantasy dress.

It's much more important to have all the people you love there, than that every luxury is provided.

threeleftfeet Sat 14-Jul-12 10:48:13

"It's much more important to have all the people you love there, than that every luxury is provided." I agree, absolutely!

It has occurred to me that many of our lovely friends are partial to a drink or eight two. I'd feel mean not supplying at least some alcohol. But putting money behind the bar at a wedding-type venue, no matter how reasonable, would cost a bit, wouldn't it? Let's see. 120 (adults) x £3 x 3 = £1080. Hmm. I wonder what they'd charge for corkage ...
Reckon DIY definitely wins as far as booze is concerned!

ViviPru Sat 14-Jul-12 11:53:58

I'm like you, OP in that my main wish was to have as many friends and family there as possible, which was more important to me than traditional wedding trimmings.

We're hiring a barn and a field at a working dairy farm just outside our village. A local catering company is doing a BBQ which works out very reasonable, particularly since they are just providing the meats & BBQ food, friends and family are all making the salads and other accompaniments. We're having a capri tent marquee which are more affordable than standard clearspan or pole marquees. People are able to camp onsite if they like too.

We'll be having Pimms reception drinks as this works out much more affordable than champagne, and I've bought wine to accompany the meal in bulk from Ocado with their various discount vouchers. My favourite wine is Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc, it's usually around £9 a bottle, but I've managed to get it all for £4.49 a bottle. We're buying some barrels of cider form the local cider farm and friends are making homebrew, my BiL has promised elderflower fizz for the toasts.

I'm lucky to have talented frinds and family pitching in with decorations and my Mum and MiL are growing all of the spring flowers from bulbs and plugs. I'm making the cake myself.

It's part budget-friendly, part control freakery. I'd much rather source and orchestrate all this myself than leave it in the hands of a venue to whom I'd pay through the nose while it wouldn't be exactly what I want.

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