Cashing In At the Venue
Now that Maddy, our budget savvy bride has said, "Yes", the first thing to do is to determine a date. However, as I've said before, it's not based on when they met, where they met, whose birthday it is or their parent's anniversary. The date is selected by the availability of the ideal venue for their wedding. Customarily, the wedding is held in the hometown of the bride, however in recent years, it could be somewhere altogether different. Also, destination weddings have become pretty popular which we will discuss at a later time.
Before visiting possible venue options for your reception, decide on how many people you are going to invite. Meals are priced per person, additional expenses may include special lighting, AV equipment, drop down screens, special linens, etc. Online shopping for venues is a great way to narrow the list when setting up appointments. You can view the facility, the menu selections and determine availability in some cases where they allow you to view the schedule.
I promised you on our Youtube channel, The Virtual Wedding Coach, that I would share how to save big at your reception venue. Here's how:
#1 - Ask for the Lunch or Dinner Menu
The catering manager will present wedding packages that will include alcohol, a wedding coordinator, centerpieces, maybe a free hotel room, up to 5 or more hors d'oeuvre choices, up to three entrees (depending on what is included) and etc. The price will range anywhere from $75 up to $150 per person.
On one occasion, we were presented with a $100 wedding package, but politely decline and asked for the lunch selection, which included salad, an entree, a starch, vegetable, and dessert & beverage. Yes, that's right, we did away with the "wedding package". The final cost was approximately $21.95 per person (including gratuity). The location was a beautiful golf club. There were approximately 135 guests in attendance for a savings of over $10,000. WOW! That's a down payment on a house!
However, you may have to compromise a bit. The bride and groom were okay with an early morning wedding at 10:00 am, which put their reception around lunch time. That worked great for the venue, because they hardly ever hosted weddings in the morning. Might I add, this was a Saturday. The morning ceremony was a better option because the bride and groom had to catch an early flight the next day. Hey!...a Win Win for everyone.
#2 - Marry During Off Season
The most popular months for weddings recently has been May, September and October. If you schedule away from the busy months you may get a better deal. We were able to secure Maddy's wedding venue for half off of the normal price because weddings at that particular venue were typically low during the month of August.
The reception will probably take up three quarters of your wedding budget. That is where all the centerpieces come into play, the specialty linens & chairs, the additional food, the favors, the photo booth and all the trimmings.
Consider having the ceremony and the reception in the same location. Logistically speaking this is the most ideal situation. No one has to drive to the reception and risk getting lost or running into heavy traffic. It also eliminates the cost of hiring a limousine service to transport the bridal party.
#3 Skip the Alcohol
I know that may not be a popular option, but if you do not have the money...DON'T DO IT! A large portion of your reception budget goes towards the open bar. Of course I do not advocate alcohol at any function, but that is my personal preference. Some guests tend to get out of control, turn belligerent, get into fights, damage the venue, etc. There are those who are of the opinion that a cash bar is tacky (I agree), however, that is a personal decision that you and your fiancee will have to make. However, if you would like to save money in this area, but still have spirited beverages, discuss those options with your catering manager.
There was a time when wedding receptions included punch, cake, peanuts, mints and perhaps some little finger sandwiches. That all begin to change somewhere around mid to late 80's. BIG FOOD and BIG DRINKS took the spotlight! I am sure the guests were delighted to witness the marriage ceremony and were not focused on what or how much they had to eat or drink. So with that in mind consider, what is the most important aspect of the day. Marriage is a time of celebration along with family and friends of two people pledging their love and commitment as one. That is the objective!
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