Look for places that will require minimum expense. While you want to preserve the solmenity of the ceremony itslef, also recognize that this is where a maximum of 45 minutes will be spent of the entire day. Of course talk to your pastor or administrator at your place of worship. They may be able to give you a deal that is within your budget. Research places owned by your county, city or state. Depending on your area, you can get a very nice site without breaking the bank. As your officiant’s fee also has to come out of this section, you may be best suited in finding free locations. Think of public parks with scenic fountains or nooks; you could also try for beaches or municipal buildings. Consider cutting the time of your prelude—you won’t be having that many guests (remember, we agreed on a small number) and it will help cut down on the time of your rental.
Whatever you do, don’t think you’re going to go to any location and accidentally on purpose get married. It does happen, and those couples do get kicked out. Don’t think you can just show up at a private location (hotel lobby, for example) and get married with your guests in tow. Some locations require a permit, so be sure to take this into account when budgeting. If you decide to use a justice of the peace, they too, can offer suggestions in your area for low-cost, but meaningful locations.
For your reception, look for a private room at an exclusive restaurant. The ambiance is already there, it may need just a little extra—like candles, linens or flowers. Depending on whom you choose, some of these may be made available to you. You will find the service personalized and the setting extremely private and intimate. Most will have a minimum of $2000 in order to take your event, but with your current budget, it is doable. Since we are looking to accommodate a max of 50 people, we will be able to do more for them than 100+ family and friends at the VFW.
Look to negotiate your hours; with minimal people in your party, try to roll in the pricing for alcohol. Pay by the drink if you do not have heavy drinkers, otherwise, negotiate one drink per person that is served with dinner (if they ask for additional libation, instruct your servers to announce that “Unfortunately, the bar is closed”). Another option to handling the alcohol issue is to print up menus (the cost of these can be rolled into your dinner or into your miscellaneous budget). Some restaurants are happy to do this gratis, so be sure to ask. Of course, you can save even more by eliminating alcohol altogether. To avoid any confusion with food choices or extra expenditures, your menu should list the items you have chosen for the meal. Consider if you would like to offer a dessert after your dinner or just use your cake instead.
Let’s total it out for a dinner offering no dessert or alcohol(note these are prices averaged from different establishments that offer private dining):
Soup or Salad– $4.95
Total(including a tax rate of 6% and gratuity of 30%) : $40.32 per person
$40.32 per guest @ 50 guests: $2015.88
You still have some money to play with (almost $5 per person) to upgrade something on your menu.
Next week, we’ll talk flowers!