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Big vs. Small?


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#1 kramer

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 01:52 PM

I guess the biggest thing we have to figure out right now is do we want a big wedding or a small one?

Big would = much less expensive food, decorations, flowers, etc., but we could invite more people.

Small would = only our very closest friends & family members (probably some hurt feelings) but a more formal event.

What have you ladies done? How big is your guest list?

I can't afford these fancy places that charge $120 a head, but I know there is a big difference between spending $15 pp on a barbecue vs. $75 on a formal dinner, and plenty of options somewhere in between.

This is going to be the hardest part of the whole thing, I think. Flowers? easy. Dress? no problem. GUEST LIST?!! oh help me god.

#2 TEO

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 02:00 PM

My Dad always told me, that if I eloped he would buy me a color television.

I don't think he was figuring on the leaps and bounds in technology since he
put that offer on the table.

All best in your decision making process.

Remember, the purpose of your ceremony is to have those you choose, share in the celebration of your
love and bear witness to your committment to each other.

#3 georgi

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 02:01 PM

Yeah, we're in the same boat. I don't want big, Rich doesn't want big. My parent's have already told us to elope, his parent's want to see their son get married (since Rich's other brother most likely isn't getting married and is content in his relationship with his gf in that).

I've always dreamed of a beach wedding on our beach at the Cape. I'd be happy with just our immediate families there, spending the day on the beach, either going to a nice restaurant down the road (that has bbq on the beach options!), or having a clambake right on our beach. We'll stay in my family's house, and we'll either rent a house for our families to stay in, or there are plenty of hotel options down the road. I still want a nice dress, I told Rich he could wear his cute patchwork shorts, a blue dress shirt, and maybe a blue blazer over that. I want hydrangeas. I want bare feet.

BUT...

Sometimes, I still want to do a nice big beach wedding, with a bridesmaid or 2, nice dinner, I want to make cute little favors and have a nice cake with sea stuff on it.

BUT...I can't afford to have a $20,000 wedding.

With everything going on with my parent's, I really just want to do something small. I want my Dad to walk down the boardwalk with me. :heart:

I don't feel like I have to have some big ritzy thing and spend thousands of dollars on food. This day is about Rich and I getting married, and other than that, the most important thing to me is my family and his family being there to witness it. :heart:

#4 georgi

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 02:03 PM

(Also, I'd rather put the $ for a big wedding towards a house and house stuff anyways. )

#5 kramer

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 02:10 PM

i agree w/ everything you said... but i know my parents will want my thousands of cousins to be there, and i want my thousands of friends to be there :)

however, i'm not prepared to spend (or ask our parents to spend) $20k on a ONE DAY event. it's just insane!

*sigh*

#6 sure-ur-rightdancer

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 02:15 PM

I really like the combo type wedding that I am seeing more of (kinda like wende & todd's) - small ceremony & private dinner then big party either directly after or the next day (ie real wedding on fri night w. dinner and then BBQ outside all day saturday w/ basically everyone you know - friends, family, kids etc - invited) .... though from the money stand point I don't know if that actually saves since you have 2 parties to finance?

#7 georgi

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 02:18 PM

See, that's the annoying thing. My family is small, and I think his family is large. I was all about having my Aunt & Uncle come, but then he was like, well all my Aunt's and Uncle's would have to come. I know it would only be fair. I dunno. So it's just annoying, and I don't want my wedding and the planning of it to be annoying. I'm dealing with so much stress now, that I can't even begin to add wedding stress into the mix. :lol:

#8 georgi

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 02:19 PM

Carla, that's what we were thinking. Small wedding with our families, and then having a big party with family and friends. :) Hopefully our new house will have a big backyard and deck so we can do that. :dance:

#9 kramer

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 02:21 PM

i like that idea too and we will prob have a big BBQ for all of our friends maybe the next day, or something.... but then they miss the vows and the ceremony and all that cool stuff just bc. we can't afford to pay for dinner for everybody? that kind of stinks!

#10 georgi

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 02:24 PM

Rich's best friend is getting married in September, and her parent's are shelling out $14,000 for food alone!!!! :eek: :bolt:

#11 kramer

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 02:25 PM

ugh...

#12 georgi

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 02:26 PM

Yeah. No way in hell would I ask my parent's to do that. I wouldn't want them to do that. :lol:

#13 kramer

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 02:27 PM

i think we'll just have to meet with some caterers and see what kind of pricing we can get, and then find a place that will let us bring a caterer. it seems to be the less expensive way to go, rather than renting a place that provides their own food. these places have their "wedding packages" listed at astronomical rates...

another thing my friend suggested was to go to a reception hall or B&B or whatever it is, and ask them about event pricing w/o ever mentioning the word "wedding". lots of times they'll have less expensive packages for company meetings or birthday parties w/ less bells & whistles than the full wedding package (and we don't want a 7 course meal with lobster bisque and caviar anyway! :lol:)...

it's all so silly. freaking wedding industry.

#14 georgi

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 02:28 PM

Ew...give me hot dogs over caviar. :lol:

Seriously...I still want to go to Vegas or do something in the Caribbean, but my Mom won't fly. :funny1:

#15 sure-ur-rightdancer

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 02:41 PM

i think we'll just have to meet with some caterers and see what kind of pricing we can get, and then find a place that will let us bring a caterer. it seems to be the less expensive way to go, rather than renting a place that provides their own food. these places have their "wedding packages" listed at astronomical rates...

another thing my friend suggested was to go to a reception hall or B&B or whatever it is, and ask them about event pricing w/o ever mentioning the word "wedding". lots of times they'll have less expensive packages for company meetings or birthday parties w/ less bells & whistles than the full wedding package (and we don't want a 7 course meal with lobster bisque and caviar anyway! :lol:)...

it's all so silly. freaking wedding industry.



I think thats a great idea..... you guys (and georgi) still have a lot of time to plan and decide what you want to do. Also now is kinda a good time to get married - lots of places are offering deals cause there is a lot less business.... you might not have to pay as much as you would last year for an event / they might be more flexible about outside food etc .

I think a lot of places play up to the bride wanting the whole princess fantasy and that if you have realistic ideas on what you want you can probably fiqure out something that meets your budget. Just be firm and don't let them rope you into a whole bunch of extras that aren't important to you.

#16 bsktcase

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 03:51 PM

I think the double party plan is great.

Locally, we're having a relatively small ceremony. About 70 people will be invited and that includes grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and close friends (mainly from my side). The whole ceremony will be at a state park overlooking the little beach and then the reception is literally across the street at a big pavilion.

For food we're hiring Muddy River (bbq...SUCH good food) to cater and allowing everyone to byob.

I want it to be a semi-formal thing but most important to me is that everyone have a good time. I want it to be a real celebration and not just a bunch of people in uncomfortable clothes acting on their best behavior.

The blessing will be a different story. Who knows how many people he's already invited to THAT thing that I'm not aware of.....:rolleyes::lol:

#17 georgi

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 03:56 PM

OMG...I LOVE MUDDY RIVER BBQ (from Portsmouth, right?) I had the muddy pie and omg...I almost died. Shepard's pie but made with bbq pulled pork. :drool:

#18 kramer

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 03:57 PM

that sounds amazing!

i want mostly vegetarian food/fish at ours, but BBQ would be GREAT :)

what do you mean--blessing?

#19 georgi

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 03:58 PM

(and I hear ya on the everybody not wear uncomfortable clothes thing. I'd rather my people be in a sundress and bare feet, and shorts and button down shirts! :))

#20 bsktcase

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 05:05 PM

OMG...I LOVE MUDDY RIVER BBQ (from Portsmouth, right?) I had the muddy pie and omg...I almost died. Shepard's pie but made with bbq pulled pork. :drool:


Yes, them. Their food is SO good and the guy who runs catering is awesome.

that sounds amazing!

i want mostly vegetarian food/fish at ours, but BBQ would be GREAT :)

what do you mean--blessing?


The blessing is because he and his family are from the UK. Most of them won't be able to come over to see our wedding (with a JOP) at the park so we're going to have a blessing in England so his whole family can attend. We're also having a reception at a hotel afterward so...it's kind of like we're having two weddings. The blessing will be a bit more formal though. :)

#21 georgi

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 05:19 PM

I wonder if they would travel to Cape Cod? :funny1:

Muddy pie and clams. :lol:

#22 HoopsTer

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 05:54 PM

My family is huge. There's no way I could get away with having a small wedding. I would never hear the end of it. :undecided:
My goal is just to keep it under 175 :lol:


#23 kramer

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 06:01 PM

yeah. even if i just invited my aunts, uncles, first cousins, and my parents' first cousins, that's already like 80 people :lol:

#24 georgi

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 06:30 PM

We made a fake wedding guest list the night we got engaged when we were celebrating with drinks, and it was hilarious the next day. :lol: We were like, this isn't even a lot of people and we are already at 80. :lol:

So yeah. House first, then wedding plans. :tongue1:

#25 deadheadskier

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 06:33 PM

The size was and continues to be a challenge for us. Reveur's mom wanted to invite everyone and their third cousin to come, could've been in the 150 range.

We didn't want to for one because we're paying for 90% of it and for two we just don't want that many people.

So, we rented a house for a weekend on Weir's Beach on Lake Winnepasuake and capped the number at 50, probably end up being more in the 40-45 range. That's all the house can handle. It was tough putting our foot down, but at the end of the day it's OUR wedding.

As for saving on the food, there are a few ways of going about this. Are you friendly with any chefs?

I work in meat distribution, so I can purchase some of what we need about 20% below restaurant cost (not retail, but their cost). Everything else I will purchase at cost through a restaurant my friend is the chef at. The owner agreed to allow us to do this by just paying him when it comes in.

After this I hired one of my other chef friends to do the food with me and a few others helping prep the night before and in the morning for a couple of hours. I then hired a banquet manager from a hotel that I worked at to handle serving. The two together are pros and can easily handle a party of 45. Total cost for all food, beer and wine, rentals, everything but the cake will be roughly $1600 for 45 people. The caliber of the food and the beverage service would cost probably $100+ per person had we not gone this route.

If you have any questions on how to save cash, feel free to bounce them off of me. I have professionally hosted over 300 weddings in my life in a previous career. I know every trick caterers try to ring every last cent out of brides and grooms, because I used them for the benefit of my employers :lol:

As for the size, just remember it's YOUR wedding, should be about what YOU want on that day.

#26 georgi

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 06:48 PM

As for the size, just remember it's YOUR wedding, should be about what YOU want on that day.


:thumbup: :)

#27 kramer

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 07:35 PM

yeah, we def. need to start thinking creatively. i'm not going to spend all this money on mediocre banquet food when it's just as practical to have Costco cater the whole thing :lol:

oh, man. good thing we are giving ourselves a year to plan.

baby steps!!!

#28 reveur

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 11:00 PM

OMG...I LOVE MUDDY RIVER BBQ (from Portsmouth, right?) I had the muddy pie and omg...I almost died. Shepard's pie but made with bbq pulled pork. :drool:


they have another (the original probably) just over the border in Maine on rte 236. they did my sister's one year anniversary party (they eloped so this party was the "reception" with 100+). their food rules! :Phishfolk:

if dhs didn't know so many people in the hospitality biz I'd be pushing for them to cater

#29 Sunny Sunshine

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 11:22 PM

Travis and I invited 150 people. We're ending up with 94 adults and 14 kids, plus feeding the DJ, JP and day of coordinator, so a total of 111 people. We're doing the whole she-bang for about $8000. It's still a lot, but we've been saving like crazy for it, so we have the money.

We're doing shish-ka-bobs of steak, chicken, lamb and veggies. And burgers and hot dogs for the kids.

We're not doing favors really, we're going to have those little red and white mints out in memory of my pepere.

My uncle is a florist so only charging us the cost of the flowers.

Brody is doing our photography.

Our DJ gave us an AMAZING deal.

My Day of Coordinator is a friend from my old job, and is doing it cheap so I don't have to deal with the pain in the ass details the day of.

We're using a JP and he's charging $100.

We saved a lot on paper things, like the save the dates and invites.

Trav's tux is free because he has so many guys in the wedding party. My dress was massively on sale.

#30 mamapajama

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 03:02 AM

It seems to all come down to how many people you can afford to feed.
We based our guest list on that and it was his family that paid for that part so they gave us a number. So we had 25 invited to our little ceremony in the woods with dinner afterwards and invited others up to our house after that. Some of those folks even crashed the ceremony. :lol: It was pretty informal but it'll be 17 years next week.

We were married in WV and had hardly been to any weddings before that. We have learned quite a bit since. One of the neat things I saw there, in WV, was how people got around the food issue...I saw potlucks :), family catering and weddings that had just hors devours and happened early afternoon or in the evening (after "dinner").

#31 HoopsTer

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 12:26 PM

yeah. even if i just invited my aunts, uncles, first cousins, and my parents' first cousins, that's already like 80 people :lol:


this. :lol:

#32 Dr. Lostreality

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 12:45 PM

we had a small wedding- 18 guests, 2 photographers and us two, and I totally loved it. There were a ton more people we could have invited, and wanted to invite, but we decided very early on that we didn't want this to become a huge crazy thing, so we limited it to 20 people. It was easy not to invite all kinds of work friends and less close friends, since it was so small. We invited immediate family only (my brother, his parents, sister and grandmother) and some very close friends.

It was also not very formal- we had it in a state park, dress was "smart casual", and it was catered by a local awesome italian specialty market place (so fancy cheese, fancy sandwiches, some salads and fancy cakes- less than $500 to feed 22 people, and we had tons of leftovers). The whole thing cost about $2500, including the cost of our rings ($500).

I heard a lot of comments about how it was so much nicer than a huge wedding...i got to hang out with everybody at the wedding for at least a couple of minutes which was really nice. And as we are low key and very informal people, it felt more like "us' then a big fancy wedding would have.

#33 vinandtonic

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 04:26 PM

When we got engaged we started making a guest list and it was over 200 people. Our original plan was to get married in October of 2010, but trying to plan that around work schedules, etc just wasn't going to work for us.

So we decided to make it much smaller, family and a few friends only, and get married last fall. That gave us only 3 months to plan it but it was very casual. We looked into arboretums and other outdoor places around Philly (most of which were cheap or free) and even discussed getting married at a friend's house. The catering prices around here are really expensive though.
Ultimately we got married on the beach in Cape May, which is about 2 hours drive from us. We looked into renting a room at restaurants down there but a lot of them were either too expensive or didn't have enough room for the 45 people we had. We ended up getting an entire restaurant for much less than we anticipated. The food was awesome (buffet) and instead of paying for open bar for every person we just had a bar tab. A lot of our friends and family don't drink or were only going to have a couple of drinks so it made more sense economically than $15 a person.

Everyone told us it was one of the best weddings they ever attended because it was so informal. We told people to wear jeans or whatever they wanted. I wish we had been able to invite more people but we just didn't have the $$, as we were paying for it all ourselves.

#34 vinandtonic

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 04:30 PM

I also want to add that we did not do a lot of the extras that would have made the wedding a lot more expensive. We did not do favors (my ma-in-law made bookmarks, which were a surprise). I bought 2 bunches of flowers from Trader Joe's and some ribbon and my friend made the bouquets. Her husband took the pictures for free as our photographer backed out 2 weeks before the wedding, which saved us about $1k.

#35 kramer

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 04:39 PM

last nite my parents told me they are totally fine w/ paying for "most" of the wedding... his parents will help a little, we will contribute what we can, but BOY does that take some pressure off. i figure, if they are inviting the most people (they insist on inviting all of their 1st cousins and there are so many of them!) then it's cool that they are footing the bill for food. still, we want to keep it as inexpensive as possible while still maintaining a certain level of awesomeness :D i voiced my concerns about the cost of feeding all these people & my parents told me i'm allowed to be a princess for one day. YAY :)

i still think we're going to do casual buffet-style, maybe in a restaurant or something, but oh MAN, it's like a weight has been lifted off my chest :) i am glad i can invite the people i want and have my friends and family share in this special day with us :) <3

#36 kramer

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 04:40 PM

I also want to add that we did not do a lot of the extras that would have made the wedding a lot more expensive. We did not do favors (my ma-in-law made bookmarks, which were a surprise). I bought 2 bunches of flowers from Trader Joe's and some ribbon and my friend made the bouquets. Her husband took the pictures for free as our photographer backed out 2 weeks before the wedding, which saved us about $1k.


it's crazy how those extras really do add up. i think we are goin to go minimalist style too... it's really all about the moment, sharing the experience, feeding people GOOD FOOD and having nice memories to look back on... i don't need fancy schmantzy flower arrangements or a big expensive band or DJ and tons of favors and extras. bleh! so not me!

#37 georgi

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 04:43 PM

Rich told me "whatever we do, NO DJ!" :lol:

I said, aww you know you want to do the macarena! :lmao:

#38 kramer

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 04:47 PM

oh man. NO macarena.

i think we are going to do the double-party thing... party in the woods saturday night with beers, food, and a campfire... then sunday AM ceremony and lunch for family & friends. no need for a DJ, and people who need to travel can hit the road relatively early. YAY :)

#39 georgi

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 04:56 PM

Chicken dance? Cha cha slide? The limbo? :lmao:

So freakin' corny. :funny1:

#40 kramer

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 05:03 PM

ooh, the cha cha slide. my favorite new version of the old classic :D

#41 georgi

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 05:22 PM

I do all those songs on cruise ships. Rich just stands there like, "I don't know her". :funny1:

#42 Wende

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 06:19 PM

I'm such an old fashion girl. I like the big flowers and the pretty candle light. I tried to go with no favors but just couldn't do it. We spent soooooo much money on those favors.

Randy, whatever you do, you'll be married to a diddy. Awwww, and then we'll be sister-in-laws-by-friendship :lol:

#43 kramer

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 06:26 PM

yay!!!! :) :) :) <3 <3 <3

#44 bsktcase

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 06:58 PM

To keep costs down as far as decorations go, my centerpieces are tall cylindrical hurricane lamps with those thick white pillar candles inside. At the very bottom of the hurricanes I'm putting a couple inches worth of dried split peas (to stabilize the candles and add some color). I got everything but the peas at the X-mas tree shop. The peas can be bought at the grocery store relatively cheap.

In keeping with that theme (and not necessarily the colors), you can buy different kinds of dried beans to add reds or browns, even blacks. Plus you can buy those candles in almost any color you want.

To spice the centerpieces up, you could go out and pick wild daisies, black-eyed susans or clovers, etc, and make daisy chains or little wreaths around the centerpieces. What is better than free flowers? ;)

#45 Dr. Lostreality

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 07:39 PM

To keep costs down as far as decorations go, my centerpieces are tall cylindrical hurricane lamps with those thick white pillar candles inside. At the very bottom of the hurricanes I'm putting a couple inches worth of dried split peas (to stabilize the candles and add some color). I got everything but the peas at the X-mas tree shop. The peas can be bought at the grocery store relatively cheap.

In keeping with that theme (and not necessarily the colors), you can buy different kinds of dried beans to add reds or browns, even blacks. Plus you can buy those candles in almost any color you want.

To spice the centerpieces up, you could go out and pick wild daisies, black-eyed susans or clovers, etc, and make daisy chains or little wreaths around the centerpieces. What is better than free flowers? ;)


we did something similar for our center pieces- candles in mason jars, with a ribbon tied around the neck, held in place by about an inch of river rocks (we got the rocks at michaels in different colors- some more brownish, some more greenish...spent around $100 for around 30 centerpieces). If you go the mason jar route, thirft stores sell them for super cheap.

you can kinda see them here:

Posted Image

#46 Dr. Lostreality

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 07:44 PM

oh Kramer, also, if you decide to do an outdoor wedding, I have a whole bunch of clippy things to clip the tablecloths to the table so they don't fly away if it's windy- let me know if you want them, cause I totally don't need that many. :)

#47 bsktcase

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 07:53 PM

we did something similar for our center pieces- candles in mason jars, with a ribbon tied around the neck, held in place by about an inch of river rocks (we got the rocks at michaels in different colors- some more brownish, some more greenish...spent around $100 for around 30 centerpieces). If you go the mason jar route, thirft stores sell them for super cheap.

you can kinda see them here:

Posted Image


Those jars look so pretty!

My wedding and reception are also going to be outdoors so the candle light just really sets the mood, I think. :)

#48 kramer

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 08:06 PM

cool, thanks rel! i will let u know as we figure shit out...
:)

#49 kramer

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 08:06 PM

my friend who got married this weekend is lending me her veil. i totally fell in love with it :) she offered it to her sister, who is getting married in august, but she wants something different... so , score for me! :)

#50 vinandtonic

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 08:26 PM

well, in a way I wish we had done favors..we looked into getting some coozies made with our names and the dates on them b/c who doesn't use a coozie? but then decided against it.