Budget Weddings

Rehearsal Dinner Advice Needed for a Budget Bride!! (Long Post, Sorry)

My fiance and I come from very low budget families and I grew up knowing that the tradition of the bride's family paying for the wedding would not apply to me. That means that my fiance and I are paying for our wedding on our own - with a few exceptions. My mom surprised me and paid for my dress and his mom paid for our invitations. His mom also offered to pay for the rehearsal dinner. This is so great, because we really cannot afford any extra expenses. However, she gave us a budget of only $500. 

I'm not upset about the budget, but I am finding it very difficult to plan around. (She wanted NOTHING to do with planning). First, we cannot seem to find a location. We are getting married out in the country and there are very few local restaurants outside of a diner here and there. Our apartment, being 30 minutes away, would be the closest, but I cannot accommodate all of our guests in our small space. My parent's live 7 hours away, so they can't host. My sister lives 2 hours from the venue, and all of his family is long distance as well. Basically, a backyard bar-b-que is out of the question. We thought that maybe we could just work around it and plan to pay any differences in cost and try to keep it under $1000. 

This probably could have worked, but now our rehearsal dinner guest list keeps growing. I am under the impression that I should invite the bridal party, immediate family and out of town family. Well, now that RSVPs are coming in, I'm realizing I am having A LOT more out of town family attending that I anticipated. I have family flying in from Amsterdam, Mexico, Prague, Thailand - all over (we are a family of expats!). Of all the out of town guests I should invite, I feel like my international family should be at the top of the list since they came so far. But, now we are pushing 50-60 people when we were originally struggling to figure out a plan for 25-30. 

I was thinking of going casual and maybe renting a private room at a bowling alley. That would allow us to have some fun together and catch up before the wedding without spending an arm and a leg. But, even that is getting pricey - especially if we try to book a nicer location. Any advice would be very appreciated!

How do you host 50 people for under $1000? (preferably closer to $800, if I'm being honest).  OR who should I cut from the guest list? Should I ban plus-ones? I know at least 2 of my international cousins are bringing their significant others, so I feel like the SO's should be invited. Which would make me feel obligated to also invite my Bridesmaid's SO. 

Wedding and Rehearsal are in Anna, TX which is close-ish to McKinney, TX. If you are local and know of a place, I am all ears!

Re: Rehearsal Dinner Advice Needed for a Budget Bride!! (Long Post, Sorry)

  • levioosalevioosa Southern California
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    member
    If RSVPs are referring to the wedding, and not the rehearsal dinner, then just exclude the out of owners.  The only people who need to be invited to the rehearsal/dinner are the BP with their SO's, the officiant (with their SO), and anyone else involved in the actual wedding/rehearsal itself (ex. parents).  All SO's must be invited. They are not plus ones. 

    Pizza is cheap. Sandwich platters are cheap. Even Italian catering can be cheap. But people must be hosted with a meal after the rehearsal. 




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    InLoveInQueensOliveOilsMomSP29MesmrEwe
  • apollymiapollymi Toronto
    100 Love Its 10 Comments Name Dropper
    member
    What venue are you having your wedding at? I'm guessing that's where the rehearsal is? If so, do they have the capability to host your dinner?

    As previous posters said, you can't ban people from bringing their significant others, and if you've already invited your out of town guests to the RD (you said they've RSVP'd, do you just mean to the wedding?), you can't un-invite them.

    I would have no qualms with going to a RD that served me pizza (I'd actually be quite excited lol). If you want to have something more upscale, then keep the guest list to just bridal party and immediate family. 
  • So first of all, you only need a rehearsal dinner if you have an actual rehearsal (it's sole purpose is for the couple to say "thanks for attending our rehearsal"..that's it). And rehearsals aren't really necessary unless your ceremony is really complicated. If you determine you don't need one (you probably don't), ask your FMIL if you can return her money or put it toward something else.

    Secondly, the only people required to be invited to the RD are the people you ask to be at the rehearsal and their SOs, plus immediate family and their SOs. That's it. OOT guests, aunts/uncles/cousins, etc. are not required. This should cut your guest list significantly.

    Ideas to keep it cheap:
    - If it works for your bridal party and family, have your rehearsal in the afternoon and take people out to lunch. Lunch is cheaper than dinner.
    - Make a reservation at a family style restaurant (e.g. pizza place or Buca di Beppo) vs. renting a private room. Sure, you won't have privacy or be able to choose the playlist, but you'll save a bunch of money. At a family style place, you can order the food (read: control the cost) and just let people order their own drinks.
    - Look into local parks and rec - you can very often rent a community center room or a picnic shelter that comes with tables and chairs, then just get pizza and a pony keg. 
    *********************************************************************************

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    InLoveInQueensshort+sassyMesmrEwe
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs
    5000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    How familiar are you and your family with area weddings?  If your ceremony is simple, and the basic premise is familiar, consider that you don't even have to have a rehearsal.  If your venue and ceremony are simple enough, a few additional minutes just prior to your ceremony should suffice.

    It is a fallacy that OOT guests must be included in the rehearsal dinner.  The only people you need to host are those that actually need to be at the rehearsal. 

    There is nothing wrong, and in some cases, everything right about a casual rehearsal and dinner.  My daughter was hoping for a very low key and casual rehearsal dinner.  However, her MIL offered to host the dinner, and so it was done to HER specifications and desires, as opposed to the bride and groom. 

    If you absolutely have to have a rehearsal, and your MIL has no strings attached to her offer, then absolutely go casual. 
    InLoveInQueens
  • Really, a rehearsal dinner is for the people who will be actively participating in the ceremony so they know what to do.  It is not required that you entertain out of town guests.  Nothing wrong with pizza, pasta, or even good hamburgers.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    SP29knottiedaeaf57357af8e46
  • Like PPs have said, it's not required to invite OOT guests to the rehearsal dinner. Is it nice? Of course. Should they expect it? Heck no. 

    The only people you're required to invite are those who are attending the rehearsal (along with their SO). One of the most fun RD's I attended was pizza & beer at the couple's home! I think your idea of renting out a bowling alley room would be a great idea! Would your venue have a room you could use? Maybe there's a family restaurant in town or nearby that may be willing to work with you.

    I know Pinterest and a bunch of wedding websites make it seem like every event related to a wedding has to be bonkers perfect, but the point of the RD is really just to feed people you asked to come to the rehearsal. Your heart is in the right place wanting to invite your OOT family, but if it's not financially possible for you guys, it doesn't have to happen. If you'd all like to spend some more time together, maybe there's a local bar or something you could plan to meet up at after the dinner? Just make the invitations clear that you'll be hanging out there, not hosting any sort of event. 
  • We used a meeting room at local hotel and just brought in barbecue etc. Lots of people have mentioned pizza, pasta. There's fried chicken and sides. Lots of options. 
    InLoveInQueensshort+sassy
  • My fiance and I come from very low budget families and I grew up knowing that the tradition of the bride's family paying for the wedding would not apply to me. That means that my fiance and I are paying for our wedding on our own - with a few exceptions. My mom surprised me and paid for my dress and his mom paid for our invitations. His mom also offered to pay for the rehearsal dinner. This is so great, because we really cannot afford any extra expenses. However, she gave us a budget of only $500. 

    I'm not upset about the budget, but I am finding it very difficult to plan around. (She wanted NOTHING to do with planning). First, we cannot seem to find a location. We are getting married out in the country and there are very few local restaurants outside of a diner here and there. Our apartment, being 30 minutes away, would be the closest, but I cannot accommodate all of our guests in our small space. My parent's live 7 hours away, so they can't host. My sister lives 2 hours from the venue, and all of his family is long distance as well. Basically, a backyard bar-b-que is out of the question. We thought that maybe we could just work around it and plan to pay any differences in cost and try to keep it under $1000. 

    This probably could have worked, but now our rehearsal dinner guest list keeps growing. I am under the impression that I should invite the bridal party, immediate family and out of town family. Well, now that RSVPs are coming in, I'm realizing I am having A LOT more out of town family attending that I anticipated. I have family flying in from Amsterdam, Mexico, Prague, Thailand - all over (we are a family of expats!). Of all the out of town guests I should invite, I feel like my international family should be at the top of the list since they came so far. But, now we are pushing 50-60 people when we were originally struggling to figure out a plan for 25-30. 

    I was thinking of going casual and maybe renting a private room at a bowling alley. That would allow us to have some fun together and catch up before the wedding without spending an arm and a leg. But, even that is getting pricey - especially if we try to book a nicer location. Any advice would be very appreciated!

    How do you host 50 people for under $1000? (preferably closer to $800, if I'm being honest).  OR who should I cut from the guest list? Should I ban plus-ones? I know at least 2 of my international cousins are bringing their significant others, so I feel like the SO's should be invited. Which would make me feel obligated to also invite my Bridesmaid's SO. 

    Wedding and Rehearsal are in Anna, TX which is close-ish to McKinney, TX. If you are local and know of a place, I am all ears!
    $800 divided by 30 = $26/person. $800 divided by 60 = $13/person. If you cut your rehearsal dinner list down to 30, then you can afford to do a little extra... such as the dinner and bowling idea you mentioned. If you really want to invite the 60 guests to the rehearsal dinner, then you may not be able to do a fun activity like bowling - just dinner. But, you can still do dinner for $800 for 60 people. 

    *Rent a park shelter, community center, or other cheap rental space and do inexpensive catering. Most small towns have a community center that can be rented. Does your apartment building have a party room you can use? As others have said, pizza is cheap, sub trays, Olive Garden catering starts at around $11/person, etc. You can check local restaurants for their catering cost per person. There is a great BBQ catering company by me that starts at $9/person and that includes the main meat, 2 sides, rolls, plating, set up, and clean up. And they even have a whole hog roast for $1200 with the sides, rolls, plating, set up, clean up. Maybe you have a BBQ company in your area that offers something like that? Note that alcohol usually isn't allowed at parks, so if you were hoping to have beer check with the park.

    *Depending on where you are having your ceremony, they may even have an area where you can hold the rehearsal dinner on site and they may give a deal on the rental since you are also paying to use them for the ceremony. Most churches are equipped with a kitchen/dining room. If that's available, you could make up some big pans of lasagna the day before so they only need heating in the oven while the rehearsal is going on. Or, if the ceremony venue approves, you could rent a tent and tables from a party rental store to set up outside and have some inexpensive catering (see above) or if you have some family members who love to grill, maybe they can bring two charcoal grills to crank out burgers and brats. Something on site may be a better option since it sounds like it would be a long drive to any place else. 

    I have always thought of rehearsal dinners as just being the wedding party (possibly the immediate family too, parents and siblings) - sort of a "thank you" for taking time out of your day to attend the rehearsal. Of course invite your mom since she is paying for the dinner. I don't feel you need to invite the +1's for the rehearsal dinner. What single person would want to bring a date to sit through a rehearsal? Inviting SOs if they are in a relationship is normal, but I wouldn't say singles need to bring a date to the rehearsal. 

    Sometimes people have a separate "event" the day after the wedding for ONLY guests that traveled a long way in order to spend a little extra time with them before they head home. Or, depending on the couple's schedule and their OOT guests' schedules, maybe you could even do this before the wedding. It can be as casual as just having a brunch or maybe bringing them to a special local place like a favorite restaurant, museum, beach, park, etc. It's nice when couples can make some room in their busy wedding schedule for the guests that came a long way and had a big expense to attend the wedding. I went to a wedding in Germany and the couple had a very low budget, but they rented a van and took us around to see a few castles and vineyards in the area. Low cost for them, but very cool for those of us visiting from another country. 
    short+sassy
  • I'm nowhere near Texas but my fiance and I are also on a tight budget.  I found a lovely Chinese buffet for the rehearsal dinner close to the hotel with private party rooms - everyone gets whatever they want, and it won't break the bank!
    MandyMost
  • holyguacamole79holyguacamole79 a taco truck in Houston
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    member
    "I was thinking of going casual and maybe renting a private room at a bowling alley. That would allow us to have some fun together and catch up before the wedding without spending an arm and a leg"

    This actually sounds like fun!!



    Anniversary
    ahoyweddingshort+sassyMesmrEwe
  • Thank you so much for all of the advice! I wish that The Knot sent me a notification when people replied because I had no idea anyone was responding until today! To answer a few questions: YES we are having an actual rehearsal which is why I am having a rehearsal dinner. I didn't even think about doing one without the other. I do NEED to have a rehearsal because I've actually NEVER been to a wedding outside of my sister's, so I need to see how it's going to go before hand. Plus, my dad is officiating AND walking me down the aisle, so I need to make sure that isn't weird. 

    We decided to go with bowling for our bridal party, their S.O.'s, siblings and parents. We can afford to pay for that group. The bowling alley that we found that did group packages charges $28 per person for the silver package and $35 for the gold package. We are just debating on which package to go with.  We can't have our rehearsal dinner at our venue without paying an *extra* $1500 to rent the space out as a separate event. But, we can have the rehearsal for an hour at no charge.

    As far as restaurants close by, the only restaurant in the town is Sonic. We really are getting married in the country! 

    Also, I never intended to invite ALL of my "out of town" guests, because honestly, they are almost all out of town. Just the ones traveling internationally. Since my aunt partially raised me when I was young, I do want to invite her and my cousins. I just can't afford to pay for them. So, I'm going to play it a little differently. I won't send them an invitation. I will just call her and say something along the lines of "D and I are taking the bridal party out for bowling on Wednesday before the wedding. I'm sure you will probably have some jet-lag, but if you want to meet up with us, we will be at ABC Bowling at 7. Otherwise, we will see you at the wedding!" I feel that implies that we are not paying for them and she can make the decision from there. 

    Again, thanks for all of the tips and advice!
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    member
    Thank you so much for all of the advice! I wish that The Knot sent me a notification when people replied because I had no idea anyone was responding until today! To answer a few questions: YES we are having an actual rehearsal which is why I am having a rehearsal dinner. I didn't even think about doing one without the other. I do NEED to have a rehearsal because I've actually NEVER been to a wedding outside of my sister's, so I need to see how it's going to go before hand. Plus, my dad is officiating AND walking me down the aisle, so I need to make sure that isn't weird. 

    We decided to go with bowling for our bridal party, their S.O.'s, siblings and parents. We can afford to pay for that group. The bowling alley that we found that did group packages charges $28 per person for the silver package and $35 for the gold package. We are just debating on which package to go with.  We can't have our rehearsal dinner at our venue without paying an *extra* $1500 to rent the space out as a separate event. But, we can have the rehearsal for an hour at no charge.

    As far as restaurants close by, the only restaurant in the town is Sonic. We really are getting married in the country! 

    Also, I never intended to invite ALL of my "out of town" guests, because honestly, they are almost all out of town. Just the ones traveling internationally. Since my aunt partially raised me when I was young, I do want to invite her and my cousins. I just can't afford to pay for them. So, I'm going to play it a little differently. I won't send them an invitation. I will just call her and say something along the lines of "D and I are taking the bridal party out for bowling on Wednesday before the wedding. I'm sure you will probably have some jet-lag, but if you want to meet up with us, we will be at ABC Bowling at 7. Otherwise, we will see you at the wedding!" I feel that implies that we are not paying for them and she can make the decision from there. 

    Again, thanks for all of the tips and advice!
    That plan sounds okay - but what is your reason for inviting them? Just that you don't get to see them often and you would like to?

    Because the usual reason for inviting OOT guests to the rehearsal dinner is to thank them for spending money/traveling so far by hosting them for an extra meal. If you're not paying for them, that totally defeats that purpose.

    Anniversary

    InLoveInQueens
  • "I was thinking of going casual and maybe renting a private room at a bowling alley. That would allow us to have some fun together and catch up before the wedding without spending an arm and a leg"

    This actually sounds like fun!!
    This one for the win!!!  REALLY!  The RD does not need to be complicated nor expensive.  

    Also, as others have mentioned - ONLY those who are required to attend the rehearsal and their SO..  
    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • Wait what? You're going to pay for everyone but charge your aunt from out of town? That's the worst possible option. 
    Yeah this makes no sense. How old are her children? Would they get the same "hey we'll be here at whatever time" casual invitation? How many children does she have? I would find a way to factor in the extra...probably $100 max to cover this aunt & her children. If she has adult children you can *maybe* get away with not inviting them, but to have her be the only person invited that has to pay for herself is SUPER rude and honestly probably not something she'll see as any kind of thank you.
    InLoveInQueensflantasticshort+sassy
  • Pick the lesser package and pay for everyone you invite. Period.
    holyguacamole79InLoveInQueensshort+sassy
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