Ideas For Inexpensive, But Large, Wedding Reception

Lounge By SecretAgentCakeBaker Updated 11 Jan 2010 , 11:43pm by indydebi

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SecretAgentCakeBaker Posted 5 Jan 2010 , 4:31pm
post #1 of 21

A family friend is getting married in 2011. They have a huge family and will need to invite about 200 guests. They don't have a lot of money, and do not want to exclude anybody. I'm trying to help them come up with interesting reception ideas. Do you know of any ideas, or good websites?

They won't have a cake expense, as I will be giving their cake as a gift. Well, as long as whatever venue they choose allows it (I only make cakes for fun.)

Thanks so much!

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TexasSugar Posted 5 Jan 2010 , 4:54pm
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Are their friends and family good at anything? Crafty and willing to help out?

My brother and SIL had a smaller wedding that was just family and friends but they were on a budget. We are lucky enough to have people in the family that were willing to help out. I did their cake, for the cost of ingredients, my cousin did a bueatiful fruit display with the fruit swan and stuff, his wife did the flowers, and my uncle did bbq. The rest of the family pitched in by coming over and helping to make anything else that we needed food wise.

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sherrycanary62 Posted 5 Jan 2010 , 5:27pm
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Here are the links to various super threads with recipes and ideas..


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saffronica Posted 5 Jan 2010 , 6:32pm
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Try checking with the city or county to see if there are any decent venues available for cheap. If they're religious, their church might be a good option as well. I've been to some very well done, low budget weddings that were held in church rec halls, city parks with pavilions, community centers, etc. The rental fees were low (anywhere from free to $300), and they could bring in whatever they wanted, no need to stick to preferred vendor lists.

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michellenj Posted 5 Jan 2010 , 7:04pm
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A farmers market near us has super cheap, nice flowers-if anyone has talent in that area. They sell roses for $3 per dozen. I would not go cheap on the photographer, though. I've seen a couple of disasters with amateurs who do it on the side and pictured get missed/messed up.

Also, plan it for a time of day when people don't expect to be served a meal, and just serve finger foods. My SIL tried to go the cheap route and had finger foods for a 1 PM reception, and everyone was starved and totally demolished the food in like half an hour.

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Rachie204 Posted 6 Jan 2010 , 1:17am
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When we got married 4 years ago we had to invite a lot of guest. I think we ended up with around 200 people total. My dress was a splurge and my parents bought it, we paid $400 for our cake and everything else we did fairly inexpensive. We had family members bring food, Chicken wings, Strips, and other wedding type foods. My grandmother had tons of silver and china so we used that for the food. We did fake flowers for everything except my bouquet. Had the wedding at our church and reception there as well in the gym. Luckly our church had tons of nice tables and chairs, table cloths and centerpieces. We went to the beach for our honeymoon.

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prterrell Posted 6 Jan 2010 , 1:36am
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Your budget determines how many guests you can invite.

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hallow3 Posted 7 Jan 2010 , 8:05pm
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I did most of everything for my own wedding of 100 guest, it was cheap but nice. I had mine at the Holiday Inn. We had finger foods, fruit and veg's tray, meat and cheese trays and ect. The hotel provided the tables and chairs and had linens, hurricane globes and table mirrors. ( 2 baquet rooms, food, chairs, linens, globes, mirrors and 3 night stay for $1100)

I bought new candles at Hobby Lobby with 40 - 50% off coupons (had to go everyday to get all I needed) I bought a lot of misc stuff online like the ribbon, tulle and tulle bags for rice I think I paid $10 for 100 of them. I made my own invitations off my computer. (Office Depot- found discounted box of 50 invitation kits for $3.88 each)I bought my flowers for the tables at Sam's Club 2 dozen roses for $12 and bought about 10 dozen. and extra greenery there.

My sister in law and sister made the table arrangements and flowers for the bridal party. My dress was $32 at a no tax holiday but it was a formal I found at Dillards, shoes $25 and bought a tiara online for $11 that looked absolutely perfect.

There are a lot of deals out there, you just have to make sure of what you want, and how much you are willing to pay. Ebay was my friend and so was coupons.

Do not go cheap on the Photographer, please. Those are memories they will cherish forever.I wanted to go to Hawaii to get married but it was going to cost 10 Grand or more for the two of us. I would rather spend that money on a new home. But we did go to Mexico on a 7 day cruise for a total of $600 and that included a 2 night stay in New Orleans.

You can find deals, you just have to find them. Good luck.

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davespeg Posted 8 Jan 2010 , 3:55am
post #9 of 21

Some places will only charge half price if you book it on a Sunday.

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catlharper Posted 8 Jan 2010 , 7:12am
post #10 of 21

Quick and easy favor:

Buy tulle rounds (Michaels has them) and the little metal "thank you" tags you can find in the "wedding" section there and the thin ribbon to match your colors. Simply put two hershey kisses inside the tulle round, tie with ribbon, attach the tag once you have tied the first knot and there you have your favors. These are about 30 cents each so really good for such a large wedding. You can place these on the chairs or on the plates or just place them on the sign in table next to the guest book in a pretty basket or bowl for your guests.

Michaels also has many different "print your own" invitations as well. Use one of the 40% off coupons to help pay for them and they become even more affordable. These are easy to customize on your printer and there are many styles that are very cutting edge of fashion.

Hope this helps!

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SecretAgentCakeBaker Posted 8 Jan 2010 , 2:30pm
post #11 of 21

Thanks everyone! I appreciate the info!! icon_smile.gif

I just re-read my original post and realized I was not specific enough; I'm so sorry! What I am looking for is mainly ideas on the venue itself. I'm actually really crafty and make most things myself as it is now, so I've got all of those bases covered. (I did my own invitations, flowers, programs, etc. for my own wedding and or my brother's wedding.)

The venue seems to be the biggest expense, along with the food. The standard wedding reception sites we have around here, such as the Holiday Inn, are ridiculously expensive for 3 hours, plus they don't allow you to bring in your own food. When I google wedding receptions for this area, that's mostly what comes up, plus a few other expensive options, and then the park shelters, but the enclosed ones aren't big enough, and our weather is quite unpredictable here so that rules out the outdoor ones. What are some good search terms I could try?

Also, I understand there are different types of receptions beside the standard lunch/dinner, such as brunch, hours devours only, dessert & cocktails only. I have no clue though what are the appropriate times to do each type.

For the hors d'oeuvres & dessert type, how do you know how many items per person you need to put out?

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DianeLM Posted 8 Jan 2010 , 4:33pm
post #12 of 21

Do any of the friends or relatives live in a housing complex or subdivision with a clubhouse? They are usually dirt cheap or free to rent out. There's a large subdivision near me with a clubhouse so big you could hold the queen's coronation in there!

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hallow3 Posted 9 Jan 2010 , 2:53pm
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Have you tried a VFW or Bingo Hall, my sister had her reception at a private bar/club that a friend belonged to and they charged her only a small rental fee. There are some banks/business that have "banquet" rooms that can be booked for a fee as well. a few resturants have banquet rooms that can hold a reception. I don't know the area that you live but there is plenty out there to find a space. Like the other poster said, Sunday's are very attractive for cheap rentals. I had a friend that booked a high end bar for a Sunday evening reception/party for about $500 plus bar tender fees and such. Some parks and museum's have open rooms. Another friend booked an old bank museum. The possiblilties are endless if you look and ask questions. Good luck.

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quilting2011 Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 2:45am
post #14 of 21

check out this website

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costumeczar Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 2:52am
post #15 of 21

I second the VFW hall or local clubs like that. I got married in Boston, and we rented a banquet hall at a local VFW for $500 for the whole day. There was a bar there and we paid for the alcohol up to a certain dollar amount, then could decide if we wanted to go on to a cash bar or continue paying for it after we hit that total. They provided the bartender, we had a caterer come in with passed food and I did a dessert buffet.

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prterrell Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 3:22am
post #16 of 21

A cake and punch reception in the fellowship/parish hall of the church is the least expensive type of reception to have and is perfectly acceptable for an afternoon wedding. As long as the wedding is not at meal-time, a full meal is not required.

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Deb_ Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 3:39am
post #17 of 21

I agree with prterrell. Cake and punch receptions were the norm years ago, usually held right in the church basement or reception area.

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indydebi Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 5:14am
post #18 of 21
Originally Posted by prterrell

A cake and punch reception in the fellowship/parish hall of the church is the least expensive type of reception to have and is perfectly acceptable for an afternoon wedding. As long as the wedding is not at meal-time, a full meal is not required.

Ditto. I started making wedding cakes 30 years ago and *IF* you were "rich" enough to have food, it was finger sandwiches and veggie trays. It was only when I hit my mid-late 20's that "having" to have a big dinner became the norm.

Are the bride/groom military? There is an Elks lodge in my area that rents for $300 but if bride/groom is active military, the cost is $60. Ask if there are discounts.

Knights of Columbus facilities tend to be under $500 and most permit outside food to come in. Parks depts are also great resources. Depending on the size of your city and your parks dept, many of these facilities are some of the nicest places I've been in.

One of my brides got a $5000 Hilton Hotel package, on a Sunday, for $1500.

Your dilimema is exactly why I started a page on my website of "Reception Sites" that were inexpensive and permitted the couple to bring in their own caterer (Yes, that part *IS* self serving, but it's my website and I can do what I want! icon_rolleyes.gif ). I just started gathering info on places that were under $1000 and it helped steer brides to my site.

Imagine the traffic your websites would get if every bride you had told their engaged friends "Check out my cake lady's site ... she has some good ideas for venues .... and oh yeah, you might get your cake from her, too!" icon_biggrin.gif

My Recpeton Sites page: , just to give you an idea of the type of info I had for brides. Nothing big .. just basic.

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SugarFrosted Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 5:15am
post #19 of 21

Is there anyone in the family or the wedding party who is in the Masons, or even the Eastern Star. The lodges are often made available for members' family events, in my experience.

Also, Teamsters Union have meeting halls around the country. My sorority used to rent Teamsters Hall here in Little Rock, AR for our annual Valentine Ball. We usually had 200-300 attending and there was plenty of room, plus a dance floor and a stage. Worth a look thru the phone book, or online, imo.

Our state capitol often has weddings in the rotunda. Perhaps you could check out public buildings like that.

Good Luck!

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CakesbyCarla Posted 11 Jan 2010 , 11:18pm
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We had our reception in a National Guard Armory building. It was a HUGE gymnasium and we were allowed to bring in our own food (my parents made food for a buffet) and we were allowed to bring and serve our own kegs and wine. We paid about $250 for use of the hall. Now granted, that was 10 yrs ago, but call around. That was in Nebraska. I'm in TX now and I know our local National Guard Armory is an abandoned building and could probably get rented for cheap.

Also, check online for city parks. My sister was going to have an outdoor wedding and we were amazed how cheap it was to rent a park for an hour or two for the ceremony and not much more to have the reception there too.

Maybe think about places that are normally closed on Sat's or Friday nights. They might be open to the idea of making some extra money by letting you use it ie) state or county fair bulidings.

Additionally, popular reception halls/places often give a discount for Friday night weddings - FYI.

Is it going to be a church wedding? Very often churches allow you to use their reception halls (maybe no booze though icon_cry.gif )

One final idea, does anyone you know live in the country? Maybe someone has a propery large enough to host?

Good luck!

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indydebi Posted 11 Jan 2010 , 11:43pm
post #21 of 21
Originally Posted by CakesbyCarla

One final idea, does anyone you know live in the country? Maybe someone has a propery large enough to host?

careful with this idea.

My son just got engaged and one of the places they were considering was a "free" site at a friend's home in the country. Well, mama here, got out the calculator and by the time we rented the tent, tables chairs, extra ice, electricity hook-up, deliery and set up of all of this stuff, etc., this "free" site was going to cost them over $1500.

I compared this to another (park) location that included tables, chairs, ice machine, stage for the DJ, full kitchen, 2 fireplaces, extra changing rooms for the bridal party, AND air conditioning (!) that only cost them $600.

"Free" ain't all it's cracked up to be! icon_wink.gif

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