Wedding Planning Tips For Brides on a Budget
and Frequently Asked Questions
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easy-to-use wedding planning budget spreadsheet?
Request it here and we'll email it to you. This is the very best form around for planning a wedding on a
Where can I get some great ideas for
a luau party or tropical theme wedding?
What was the average cost of a 2009 wedding
in the United States?
What percent of your total wedding budget can you anticipate to spend on your reception?
35% - 50%.
What time of day should I have my reception if my budget is extremely limited?
Mid-afternoon. Your guests have already eaten
lunch and will not require an extensive menu. Therefore, light hors d'oeuvres (finger foods) or a dessert reception
will be more than adequate.
can I conquer that costly liquor, beer and wine tab?
Serve an alcoholic & non-alcoholic punch in lieu of a bar.
If I'm hiring a professional
caterer and trying to cut costs, should I have a cocktail-type or sit-down meal reception?
No bones about it, the cocktail reception is the
way to go - for two reasons. First, in most circumstances, the caterer makes more profit on a cocktail reception
-- they're happy. Secondly, in most cases, it's cheaper "per person" to have a cocktail reception
-- you're happy. Everybody's happy!
Is there a formula to calculate how many guests will actually attend the reception?
Yes, take the total number of people
you have invited and multiply that number by .66 and multiply that number by 1.15. Example: 300 invited x .66 = 198
x 1.15 = 228 people expected.
How am I
going to control the children at my reception?
the few children who inevitably show up at your reception, place coloring books and small games on a table in a corner of
the reception hall. You will be amazed at how this will preoccupy their time!
How can I keep gift cards with their gifts when people don't tape them together?
Assign someone with tape in hand to monitor
the gift table. As the gifts arrive, this attendant will physically tape the loose cards to the proper gift.
What is the average deposit amount required by the caterer?
You can anticipate putting down 50% of the total package upon the signing of the
Do I include small children
in my guest count?
Yes, and ask
your caterer for a 50% discount on the children that are 8-years old and younger. Most caterers will be happy to do
this for you. You just need to ask!
When do the bride and groom eat?
probably won't. You will be too busy greeting and visiting your guests. TIP: Make advance arrangements with your
caterer to pack you a picnic basket for your departure. You supply the basket. Tell the caterer not to forget the drinks and
two slices of the wedding cake.
we have a receiving line?
guests will probably thank you in advance for NOT having one. It takes forever standing in line when they're ready to
eat. They'll have plenty of time during the reception to approach you and offer their congratulations.
How many napkins should I order and what size?
There is absolutely no need to order LARGE napkins
for a cocktail reception. Beverage napkins will be more than adequate. Calculate number of guests times 2.5 for your napkin
needs. You'll need them at the beverage tables, cake tables, and food tables.
Am I expected to provide chairs for everyone at the reception?
Absolutely not. You want your guest to mingle
and afford them the opportunity to meet one another. If you arrange for 75% of your guests to have a place to sit, that will
be more than adequate. If everyone were sitting, they would feel strange sitting around and staring at one another.
Is there anything wrong with NOT having
alcohol at the reception?
not. Some etiquette protocols may dispute this but it's the opinion of this author that your guests have come to share
their best wishes, not their best highball. You would feel horrible if someone were involved in a serious car accident after
leaving your reception.
are we expected to hang out at the reception?
hours tops. You are going to be eager to proceed with your honeymoon plans, the
parents will need to get home and relieve
their babysitters and the wedding party will be ready to get out of their uncomfortable ceremony clothes.
How much do we pay the minister?
Consider this: Your minister is likely spending his time with your premarital
counseling, the rehearsal and the ceremony. From my experiences with this particular issue, $150.00 is an adequate sum. Of
course, you may want to exceed this amount but consider the $150.00 a minimum.
What is something that is commonly overlooked just prior
to the bride walking down the aisle?
It is imperative
to have a drinking straw and bottle of water handy. Chances are your mouth will become extremely dry at the last minute and
you'll need something to drink. Using a straw will prevent you from ruining that perfect lipstick application.
How much ice should we purchase for the reception?
a bar: 1 lb. per person. Without a bar: 1/2 lb. per person.
How do I politely ask an out-of-control, intoxicated guest
You don't. Kindly ask this
person's sober spouse or best friend to take them home.
What is an awesome dipping sauce for fresh fruit?
For 100 guests: 4 cups sour cream, 1 lb. light brown sugar, 4 Tablespoons cinnamon, 1 oz.
Kahlua. Mix all ingredients well - pour in small bowl(s) and place in the middle or alongside the fresh fruit tray(s).
What is a fair price to pay for a wedding
Depending on the experience
of the baker and degree of difficulty, you can anticipate paying a minimum of $3.00 per slice.
All the reception halls I've visited require we use their
caterer. What are other alternative reception sites to consider that don't
cost an arm and a leg?
Depending on the size
of the guest list, a church's fellowship hall, a clubhouse in an upscale apartment or condominium complex, a park or recreation
facility, a friend's house, a friend's lake house, a friend's farm, a local community center, VFW or other organizational
How much money can we save
by catering our own wedding?
50% - 75%. Example: If your caterer charges $25.00 per person for 100 guests = $2500.00. You can easily do it yourself for
$500.00 - $750.00.
This is the
most important day of our lives. How can we be certain that we can cater our own wedding?
Your friends will think you're nuts. You're up to your eyeballs in
wedding plans, and now you want to cater your own reception. They probably picture you racing around the kitchen an hour before
the ceremony, stirring Swedish meatball sauce with one hand and applying mascara with the other while your mother tries to
paint your toenails and your dad hyperventilates about getting to the church on time. Tell your friends to relax. The Cater
Your Own Wedding definition of self-catering is not, "The bride slaves over a hot oven for weeks and shows up at the
wedding with singed eyebrows and barbecue sauce under her fingernails." By following any of the easy reception plans
in my book, you won't have much more to do than you would if you hired a professional caterer. Other brides have - you
are having pictures taken immediately after the ceremony which will probably take
about 30 minutes. Should our guests be expected to wait on us to
arrive at the reception site before enjoying the refreshments if we're having
a cocktail-type reception?
Absolutely not. Simply put, it's rude. Have the host/hostess to announce to your guests upon arrival that you
are having last-minute photos taken and that you have requested that they go ahead and enjoy their refreshments and that you
will be along momentarily.
we have our picture made cutting the cake?
At a cocktail-type reception, immediately after entering the reception hall. Getting this
task accomplished "first thing" allows your service staff to cut and distribute the cake in a timely fashion. At
a full-service sit-down reception, naturally after the meal is completed.
Should I hire our photographer by-the-hour or by-the-package?
Nine times out of ten, the package route is the way to go. There's nothing
worse than having to rush through your wedding due to time restraints with the photographer. Note: This is one vendor that
you DO NOT want to skimp on. Pay the money. At the end of the day, the food and decorations will be gone; however, your pictures
are going to last a lifetime.
Should we have our guest book placed at the ceremony site or the reception site?
Should we have our guest book placed at the ceremony site or the reception site?
Both. Initially, have it in place at the
ceremony. Then, have someone assigned to take it to the reception for those who didn't have an opportunity to sign earlier.
We're planning on stocking our own
bar. How much alcohol should we buy?
a basic guideline for 100 guests:
Beer - Total 9 Cases
Domestic 3 cases
Imported 3 cases
Lite 3 cases
Wine - Total 5 Cases
Chardonnay 3 Cases
White Zinfandel 1 Case
Cabernet Sauvignon 1 Case
Vodka 5 liters
Gin 3 liters
Rum 2 liters
Scotch 2 liters
Bourbon 2 liters
Kahlua 2 liters
Others to Consider: (l liter of each)
Bailey's Irish Cream