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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

Kavina Fri 03-Aug-12 14:00:59

I found this thread interesting as I too am planning a very tight budget wedding. I have most things sorted through friends and making things myself, plus finding a wedding dress for £40 on ebay! Haha!
I was wondering about asking the local colleges for photography students to cut costs on photo's, I'm happy to print them myself.
The only bit I'm struggling on is finding a venue to get married at and having the party at after (to cut down on travel costs.) I'm happy to cater but I've not seen a venue that holds the wedding but doesn't cater. Anybody know anything?!

threeleftfeet Sat 14-Jul-12 14:45:30

Some good tips here, great food for thought thanks smile

threeleftfeet Sat 14-Jul-12 14:44:13

Ooh yes, definitely Cava or Prosecco! I love both smile

MrsKwazii Sat 14-Jul-12 12:49:25

Yes, prosecco or cava can be just as nice as champagne at a fraction of the price. And if you make bucks fizz it goes even further (and counts as one of your five a day ;) )

catinboots Sat 14-Jul-12 12:42:46

Oh and Prosecco instead of Champagne (I personally prefer it!)

catinboots Sat 14-Jul-12 12:42:17

Ok. Ways we saved money:

Cheap booze from france

Friend made carrot cake for our dessert (as a gift to us)

Wedding cake made of cheese that was served in the evening so no extra buffet costs

Bridesmaids paid half for own dresses (all chose different styles they could re-wear)

Bridesmaids paid for own shoes

Got flowers from local farm and DM and DMIL arranged them for the tables/marquee the day before

Got church flower ladies to do church flowers

Table runners/scatter crystals/name tags/seating plan off Ebay

Didn't bother with favours. Just cheap crap that people leave behind.

Friends provided sound system and DJ'd for free

Cheap cars - local 'posh' cabs. Only went 5 mins round the corner and no one saw it anyway!

Hunted around to find a cheap photographer. Found an amazing one who was not a 'wedding photographer' as such - but took fab pics at a fraction of the price.

Ummm. I'll come back if I think of any more!

AngelsWithSilverWings Sat 14-Jul-12 12:26:33

The best and most enjoyable wedding I have ever been to was a really simple one.

Ceremony in church followed by reception in church hall.

The flowers - with permission and a very small payment ( £25 I think ) to a local farmer who had a field full of daffodils they collected enough to make bouquets and. To give one to each guest and decorate the church and hall.

The bride and bridesmaids wore daisy chains as head dresses.

The church hall was decorated with home made bunting.

Guests welcomed into church hall with a glass of pimms

Then everyone sat down to pots of tea and home made scones ( all made that morning by friends of the bride)and clotted cream. We had been told in advance what the plan was so we all made sure we had a full cooked breakfast late morning!

Evening buffet was prepared by loads of local friends who all brought something - the spread was amazing!

They also had musical friends who entertained us while we enjoyed the cream tea.

A folk band kept us dancing all night.

Very fond memories of that wedding and a lovely couple who made us feel very relaxed and welcome.

MrsKwazii Sat 14-Jul-12 12:06:25

If you had it at a school, you could also perhaps find out if the kitchen staff would be willing to help on the day. If you can get a Costco or Macro card you could buy finger-buffet items in bulk and get the kitchen staff to prepare and lay it all out for you perhaps?

MrsKwazii Sat 14-Jul-12 12:04:32

Do you have any old-build schools near you that hire out their dining hall/assembly rooms? They often have kitchens attached so you could perhaps have a local caterer provide food. Then you can also supply your own bar. Or have fish and chips delivered and hire an ice-cream van for puddings? Depends on the kind of wedding you want though really. Good luck with the planning and congratulations grin

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.

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!

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.

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..

GnocchiNineDoors Sat 14-Jul-12 08:14:17

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.

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.

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

grin pebbly shit

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.

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??

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 00:29:12

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

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.

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).

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>

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

Thanks everyone, this is really useful!

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

Hmm, that could work actually ... smile

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