Wedding Etiquette Forum

Sacrifices to host a wedding properly

melbensomelbenso Hoth, apparently member
500 Love Its 500 Comments Third Anniversary First Answer
edited May 2014 in Wedding Etiquette Forum
In light of the fact that the "Etiquette Deal Breakers" got taken over and turned into "I can't give up my perfect day and that's just too bad for my guests. They should be happy I invited them," I thought it might be helpful for us to share - for the new people - the choices that we made to host our guests properly, as at least a few people did on the original thread.  It seems some people don't realize that you can have a nice wedding and reception and still host guests properly.


-FI and I had an original guest list of over 350 people we wanted to invite.  We knew that would be way over our budget.  We broke that down into 3 lists: MUST be there (family, close friends), really want there, and it would be nice if we could invite.... Our goal was an invite list of about 150.  We started with our "must" list and added some, but not all of the "really want there list" and didn't even touch the "it would be nice list."  At the end, we had a list of about 140 and we sent them Save the Dates.  Since that time, we added a few people that we spend more time with as the wedding approached, but we still only invited 150. (All of whom we decided to invite before we sent out invitations.)

-We spent a lot of time looking for a venue that was in our budget that offered good food.  We found one that was in our budget and that we loved.  The trade off: we really wanted to get married downtown in the city that we live in.  That just wasn't feasible for what we could afford.  So we chose a lovely venue a little bit out of town.

-We decided on a plated meal (less expensive than buffet at our venue) and instead of offering three or four meal choices (extra fees per plate per extra meal choice), decided to offer a chicken and a vegetarian option, since every one of our guests can eat at least one of these options.  We picked the option for each of these that everyone at our tasting liked the best, figuring that offering a limited number of excellent food choices was better than offering a larger number of mediocre ones.

-We were originally planning on hosting a beer and wine open bar only.  Thanks to a monetary gift from my parents, we are now able to host some liquor as well.  However, we will not have "premium" liquor served, just "call" (mid level) and "well" will be available.  All non-alcoholic beverages will be hosted.  We are skipping the champagne toast. No one will open their wallet for a drink.

-We are skipping favors, menus, programs, and chair covers, etc.  These things are nice, but not the best use of our money.  By cutting them all out, we had another $1000 or so to spend on food and drinks.

-We chose a venue that offers a basic centerpiece as a part of it's package.  Rather than spend hundreds on floral centerpieces that could otherwise be used to host our guests, we are simply getting loose flower petals to be scattered around the already existing candle centerpieces.  It will still be pretty, but will cost about $75.

-The venue we chose will also be for our ceremony, reception, and has rooms for guests to stay in if they choose.  Parking is free.  So no transportation costs for us.

-Found a local, recent culinary school grad to make our cake, rather than a fancy wedding bakery.  (We actually liked her cake better too).  We ordered a small, simple tiered cake to cut: butter cream icing, frosting flowers and will have a kitchen sheet cake for extra servings. Not only does her cake cost less, but since she is local there are no delivery fees. Our venue also offers a dessert as part of any meal package, so our guests will have two dessert options (and enough for each to have both) for significantly less than it would have cost to get one cake elsewhere.

-We are changing our reception start time slightly so that there will be no gap.  This means our reception will end slightly earlier, but that is ok.  All group photos will be done during a hosted cocktail hour or before the ceremony so guests will not have to wait around for us.  We hope we can make the tail end of cocktail hour.  But if we can't, no big deal.  We will be doing a receiving line after the ceremony but before the photos, so that we have the opportunity to thank all of our guests personally for coming.

EDT: added paragraph breaks between items to make it more readable.
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Re: Sacrifices to host a wedding properly

  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    Exactly. So many times, threads devolve into new posters insisting that it's their special day and they're not wealthy enough to follow the etiquette guidelines we stress.

    Here's what we're doing for our wedding:

    - We actually started with a bare bones guest list. There are lots of people we're not inviting (coworkers, a lot of our college friends, friends' parents) who we'd like to invite.

    - We picked an off-season Sunday and selected a venue that would give us a discount for picking that date.

    - We desperately wanted to get married within the city limits of Boston. Barring that, we wanted a venue that was easily accessible on public transit. No venue that fit those requirements was within our price range for our bare minimum guest list. So we are getting married outside of Boston.

    - We can't afford a full open bar all night, so we're having a limited open bar. A selection of inexpensive beers and wines will be available, as well as a few signature cocktails (selected so that we'll only have to pay for two kinds of liquor) and soft drinks and water.
    now with ~* INCREASED SASSINESS *~
  • We had our cake made by a pastry chef at a restaurant who was young and starting a wedding cake business. She gave us a great price and the cake was amazing - but we only had two tiers and the rest was in sheet cakes in the kitchen.

    We did not offer a full or premium bar - just two signature drinks, a red wine, a white wine and a selection of beers. Nothing else was available for purchase and everyone was perfectly happy.

    No garter, no toss bouquet.

    We played music over speakers during the ceremony rather than paying for live music. It allowed us to play whatever we want and choose at the last minute. And what live musicians can play "Good Vibrations" just right?

    I was geeky for Rifle Paper Company - instead I went to an Etsy shop with a very similar style who customized little drawings of us on our invitation. I skipped calligraphy and I bought my own envelopes.

  • melbensomelbenso Hoth, apparently member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments Third Anniversary First Answer
    Oh, I forgot... We are also making our own playlist rather than pay for a DJ.  A friend of ours is in a band and offered to let us use their speaker equipment and to set it up for us, so we don't even have to rent speakers.  (But we're going to get him a nice little thank you gift for doing so.)
  • jdluvr06jdluvr06 member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    edited May 2014
    We've been lucky that we haven't really had to sacrifice too much for this wedding because what we want was way under the amount we had managed to save.

    Our one big sacrifice has been with alcohol. We are going to have a red and white wine, beer, a cocktail, and some non alcoholic stuff. Since we're getting married on my uncle's farm (I'll have to post pics of the garden on this farm. It is beautiful) we have to bring everything in so it just isn't  logistically realistic for us to offer all the stuff we want at a reasonable price.

    Edited because:  my phone hates TK. 
  • cupcait927cupcait927 Western NY wine country member
    Eighth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer

    Biggest sacrifice - giving up our dream venue. FI and I are big into going wine tasting (we live in the Finger Lakes, surrounded by gorgeous wineries) and really wanted to have our wedding at one of our favorites. After looking at the cost, their minimum and our guest list, we knew that we'd never be able to make it a reality without pushing our wedding out a few years. So I searched and searched and was able to find a smaller, less known winery that's still very pretty and much more within our budget. It will allow us to host our guests properly and let everyone enjoy themselves that evening. We got to keep our vision of having a winery wedding and still be gracious hosts.

    I also gave up my dream dress. I absolutely fell in love with a Maggie Sottero dress but I knew that the cost would put a hardship on our wedding planning and budget. So I found a less expensive dress that still had a similar feel at DB. I feel pretty in it and I will still look beautiful that day.

    There have been other smaller decisions made along the way but the point is, we've tried to keep our reception and our guests in mind and to remember what's really important about the day - that we're celebrating because we're getting married and we'll still be just as married even if everything isn't perfect.

  • VulgarGirlVulgarGirl Desert Oasis member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary Name Dropper
    We've waited 8 years to get married! Ok, that wasn't a planned part of making sacrifices but it did help.

    8 years ago we had a guest list of over 300 people (I don't know how we knew that many), figured we'd have a cash bar, we hadn't heard of cocktail hour so there was going to be a gap, and lets not even talk about the insane ideas we had for food and venue.

    In our defense, I was 20 FI was 21, we were very very stupid. Now we are older and a tiny bit wiser.

    -Cut that guest list way, way, way down. This isn't a party for everyone we've ever talked to. It's for those closest to us. We've sent our save the dates to 120 guests and I'm saying the list is locked down. We still have wiggle room and are willing to add up to 30 more guests, but if we pretend it's locked down, we won't say yes to every single person.

    -Food and drink are more important then an awesome venue. Our first three choices had to be cut. It was upsetting at first (one was my dream venue) until we found a great little local art gallery to use. It's freaking huge, there's a lot in the back to park at, we can bring in our own alcohol and actually, it is an awesome venue. 

    -I always wanted a band and a DJ. Until I saw the prices. We're having a DJ who is an acquaintance of ours and does great work. This is his first wedding, so we might have a few more club mixes then your average wedding, but it'll still be awesome. And he's excited to do it, so it's all good. And he is giving us a friends discount.

    -As for today, neither of us are having bouquets. I'm walking with both my parents and so is she, so it'd be awkward for us to hold them and we don't really see the point. 

    -My dress came in way, way, way under budget. I still need alterations, but we'll still be under budget there. So we're using the money saved to make sure there is plenty of food and drink.

    I think overall the biggest sacrifice was the venue. I really loved our top three, they were fantastic. But they were too expensive. It was either cut the venue or cut the guest list and really the place doesn't matter, the people do.
  • blabla89blabla89 Atlanta member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    We splurged on a venue so that we could have our wedding on a Saturday, conveniently located in the city. All the more affordable options were well outside the city, or were in town but were only affordable on a Friday/Sunday, and based on feedback from the ladies on this board neither of those was a great option for guests. The venue itself wasn't important to me, but it was important to make it convenient for our guests. We also want to serve them a full meal which is costing a good chunk of our budget.

    Here's what we sacrificed to make it work:

    - Fancy wedding cake. I'm going to DIY a cake with help from my grandma. It won't be gorgeous but it will be delicious and inexpensive.

    - Tall floral centerpieces and chiavari chairs. We'll use the venue's basic chairs and I'll make simple DIY centerpieces. It will be a much more casual vibe than I had envisioned, but there's no point in being fancy if guests aren't being properly hosted.

    - Full bar. We'll have a limited bar with beer and wine only, but there will be plenty of it and it won't be a cash bar.

    - Money for honeymoon. Hosting guests ended up costing more than we hoped, so we moved some money from the HM budget to the wedding budget. And you know what? That's okay. Know what else? We're not going to have a HM registry or a "HM fund" tip jar. Because that's rude.

    - Time spent researching less expensive options for everything. Yes, there are cheaper options out there if you take the time to look.

    - My favorite photographer. I love her work, but we couldn't afford her. It took a while, but I found another photographer I like just as much at a lower cost (see above).

    - DOC - I will personally be at the venue at 8am setting up decor and directing the rental delivery.

    Wedding Countdown Ticker

  • a13049a13049 member
    250 Love Its 100 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    I will definetly say I am so thankful my parents taught me the importance of savings. I started savings account as a child, I refereed little kids soccer games when I was 12. I had to out 1/2 my paycheck into my account until I turned 16. At 16 I put 20% of every paycheck into a savings account. Now we put 13% into retirement and still save over 10% of every paycheck. I jusst can't understand the logic of going into debt for a wedding. Even with all that savings, we still cut a lot of corners to save money. We are having a wedding for $5,000, 80 percent of our wedding is spent on guest food and drink.

    We got the lowest package at the chapel we chose. Before we chose our chapel I created an excel doc and PowerPoint highlighting the costs and size and other pros and cons to each venue.

    We cut out original 350 guest list to 60. We invited every SO and gave truly single guests a plus one and still at 60.

    No bridal party for us, and no rehearsal dinner. This is probably not ideal for everyone but it works for us

    We choose an off peak wedding date, saves us thousands!

    I bought my dress from brides against breast cancer for $99. It's trails at 1,400 and is a designer label (Mori lee).

    Fi is using a suit he already owns, it's so handsome on him and he has only worn it once. His sis bought it as a gift when he graduated for college. We bought shirt and tie and new cuff links to match our colors

    I am doing my own hair and make up, skipping any floral decorations and using an ameture photographer. I don't give a shit about my "perfect pictures" I want to look back with my guests and say damn that was fun.

    Desert bar is apart of our menu, we are not buying an overpriced cake.

    We have been able to pay everything as we go, so we haven't even touched our savings. I will use my savings for my marriage, not my wedding.

  • We had our reception at a location that was not my first, second or third choices because it was the county's expo center but it only cost us $150 because hubby works for the county. It included access to a speaker system, so we used our IPod instead of a DJ or a band. We could have afforded to have the reception at a different location that would have been amazing, but hubby wanted to serve dinner. So we scheduled the wedding for later in the day so the reception would cover dinner time. Instead of serving BBQ (as we originally planned) we changed it to chicken and beef option for the buffet. Our caterer also included apps for the "social" hour. We did not serve any alcohol. I bought my daughter's BM dress second hand. I made our centerpieces from flowers and tree branches that we found on our property.

    I don't think we made "sacrifices" but did make different choices so we would be able to host our guests the best we could. At the end of the day, our wedding was absolutely perfect. Was it actually perfect.....nope. Our pastor referred to my husband as my wife (which I teased him about for a few weeks...hubby not the pastor), my mom was escorted to her seat after the bridesmaids walked in, someone told me that one of the babies cried during the ceremony (I didn't hear it), and one of hubby's cousin wore a pair of jeans with a tear very close to exposing her privates.

    But honestly when I think of my wedding day, I remember how pretty I felt, how loved I felt from my BMs and husband, I remember my dad and grandma walking me down the aisle to my amazing husband who had the biggest grin on his face, dancing with him at the reception and dancing with my dad for the first time ever, and watching my daughter dance with her bio dad with the biggest smile on her face I ever seen. Our wedding was absolutely perfect, and one of the happiest day of my life.

     *Formerly ctexasgurl26 and mrsridings061513*


    Baby William born June 11, 2014 Weighing 6 lbs 5 oz and 17.5 inches long


  • While we didn't really "give up" things, my husband seriously almost had to give me a Xanex when we got the estimate for our wedding.  Our wedding was focused around our guests and their comfort.  We had the ceremony and reception at our home.  Our house sits on 5 acres, so we had a big tent set up with air conditioning units, etc.  Our cerempny was simple.  No bridal party.  My son's walked me down the isle.  I wore a lovely cream summer dress that I had in my closet, my husband wore a suit he owned.

    We brought in a Michelin Star Chef and staff to cater the event.  That was the #1 priority and my husband and I agreed there would be no compromise on the food.  Our guests would have a fabulous meal no matter what the cost.  We had a premium open bar which we stocked ourselves becasue it was at our house.  We had no gap, a 100% hosted event from the moment our guests stepped on our property to the second they left.

    We had a very small guest list, only close friends and family.  We had it spread word of mouth that we REALLY didn't want any gifts, and anything that was given would be donated to the Hope Lodge.  Everyone respected our wishes. 

    We wanted our wedding to truely be for our guests, and I think we did a pretty good job.  I really would have been content to go off somewhere and elope because I am very frugal and hate to spend money.  My husband wanted to share the day with family and close friends, so we compromised.

  • I wanted to have a DW and really host our guests while they were down in the islands, so our guest list had to be cut tremendously.  Immediate family and close friends only.  Yes, it sure as hell pissed off our families, but we made a sacrifice to be able to hose properly.

    I also wanted to have a Welcome Dinner with open bar and I really had to work at finding a place that fit our budget.  My friends love to drink and party and it was important to me that they enjoyed their time down there since they paid so much to travel for our wedding.  

    Like I said, proper hosting is just about setting a plan and a budget and you can do it.  It's really not that hard.  
    sexy, harry styles, best song ever, cute, beautiful, asdjglñlñ, marcel
  • I wanted black tie and a small list. FI wanted everybody we've ever met. For me, that meant adding a couple hundred people to the list and downgrading my expectations to something nice, but not as high-end, so we could afford to feed everyone. It also means a lot of line drawing and cuts.

    We spent 3-4 months venue shopping over about a 100-mile radius. We found a place with no catering/alcohol restrictions and a large outdoor space. I'm sacrificing convenience and one-stop vendors (and perhaps "ideal location") to find something that will fit everyone and make FI happy.

    My sibling is serving in the Navy and not expected to make it. I'm sacrificing getting to see close family on an important day in order to accommodate as many others as we can.

    Summer is our busy season. FI is sacrificing time off work and we're postponing the honeymoon in order to be able to work around schedules and enjoy an outdoor ceremony.

    Sides are uneven because all the other women I would ask live too far away. I'm sacrificing symmetrical photos because all the groomsmen choices are important to us.

    There's a lot more, the more I think about this. :-)
  • JCbride2015JCbride2015 Dirty Jerz member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    We had to make many sacrifices adult decisions. Here are a few:
    – We have been together for 11 years, but are waiting until next year to have our wedding, because we knew we wanted a big party. We could not afford to host everyone properly if we had gotten married before, so we made the grown-up choice that if we wanted the big blowout wedding, we'd just have to wait.
    – We also really wanted to get married in our new hometown of Jersey City. There are several beautiful wedding venues here right on the Hudson River looking at the New York skyline. It would have been very dramatic and beautiful. However, those venues are very expensive and we could not have afforded to invite everyone we wanted if we had gone with that "perfect" not-so-perfect venue. so we selected a cheaper venue about 40 minutes away.  It is still beautiful, but we can also afford to host our guests properly there. And invite everyone we want within reason.
    –  we have also realized that we just cannot make all of the families happy. Fi's  family is Catholic, and they really wanted us to have a Catholic wedding. However,  we are not members of the Catholic Church, and we had to disappoint his family. 
    -- In the vein of family sacrifices: guest list.  Fi's family is huge.  His brother is getting married this summer and their guest list was pushed to 300 (in a venue that can fit 220) because they couldn't say no to the family "obligation" invites.  No pay, no say.  they will not be happy but we just can't afford all those people.
    -- Our biggest sacrifice is probably yet to come.  This fall I will start a lucrative career (currently a full-time student).  While my peers are probably going to get great apartments and enjoy the six-figure lifestyle, we are committed to continuing our current student lifestyle so we can save for the wedding.  We will be saving about half of my take-home pay for the wedding.  We are privileged that we can save for almost our whole wedding in seven months, so I am grateful that we can even do that at all.  I'm going to have to tell that to myself a lot as I sock away all that money.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker

    "I'm not a rude bitch.  I'm ten rude bitches in a large coat."

  • We are only hosting beer, wine, juice, pop, and water. As much as I would love to have an open bar or at least offer some liquor it's just not in our budget.

    We aren't having a DJ to save some money and also now I can hire a DOC to help me with things. Our venue has an awesome sound system so we'll make a play list and our DOC will make sure that runs smoothly.

    Hmm, I can't really think of anything off the top of my head but, I know our guest will enjoy a full meal (buffet plus a cocktail hour before with appetizers), dessert, and not have to open their wallets for any reason. Oh and we will make sure there's enough seats and everyone's SO will be invited.

    Daisypath Anniversary tickers

  • InkdancerInkdancer The Shire member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    We made the decision to have a dry, lunch wedding in order to have a nicer venue and better food. We didn't want to make our guests travel in for a Sunday wedding, which was the other cost-saving option, because we have lots of OOT guests who will have to drive or fly a long way.
    Daisypath Anniversary tickers
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    We were not willing to sacrifice kick ass food and drinks, and really good music for dancing, so we knew going into our engagement that it was going to be at least 2 years long so that we could properly save for the wedding we really wanted. . . and the wedding reception we really wanted our guests to enjoy.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."

  • And also, I purposefully chose a venue that was beautiful on it's own so that I didn't have to put much money into decorating.  

    Most of the details were not that important to me.  I put all of my effort into the food and drinks and making sure it was a kick ass party.
    sexy, harry styles, best song ever, cute, beautiful, asdjglñlñ, marcel
  • blabla89blabla89 Atlanta member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    We had to make many sacrifices adult decisions. Here are a few:
    Yep, that's basically what it comes down to. Yes, there were things that I wanted (listed above), but I'm grown up enough to realize that it isn't all about what I want.

    Unfortunately, it seems like not many parents are teaching their kids to think that way. But fear not, speshul snowflakes, we're here to educate you.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker

  • blabla89blabla89 Atlanta member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    @MuppetOverlord if you feel like posting on negotiation tactics again...I'd love to read your suggestions :)

    We cut the guest list a lot, so now I'm looking for ways to trim costs so that we can add a few more people back in (no b-listing...we're a year out and haven't booked anything yet)
    Wedding Countdown Ticker

  • lc07lc07 Sunny Southern California member
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    We, like most couples, had to cut our guest list down. 

    Awesome Venue, Food, Beverages, and paying for parking were super important to us so guests did not have to pay for anything at our wedding. So to do all of that:

    -my H wore a suit he already owned
    -I bought an inexpensive evening gown
    -we skipped a honeymoon
    -we nixed videography
    -we chose a venue that allowed us to bring in our own alcohol since full high-end open bar was important to us. We saved thousands buying the alcohol ourselves.
    -we skipped favors and programs
    -didn't buy fancy champagne flutes or cake cutting sets - just used regular stuff
    -we hosted the welcome party but made all of the food ourselves and brought in our own alcohol
  • pinkcow13pinkcow13 The Concrete Jungle member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited May 2014
    FI and I chose to have a nearly 2 year engagement so that we would have the time to properly research, plan, and fund the wedding.
    - We have a lot of time before we send out the invitations, but the first thing we did was create our list. We have it in excel, it is color coded, and we made sure to account for plus one's. Once we had an idea of how our list would look, we went venue shopping.

    - We knew we wanted to get married in NYC. We looked at tons of venues. The venue that we chose, we felt was not only the best one, but would treat our guests the best. (The runner up was a fabulous venue, in Astoria Queens with views of the city. It was in a huge loft space, and they had this really cool HUGE loft elevator to bring the guests up. We loved it. When comparing our venue to the loft one, we thought of that elevator and thought maybe it would not be so great. The coordinator there assured us guests would not be waiting around as the elevator fit many people. But it took a while for it to take us to the top. Well, I spoke with a DJ recently and he told me he dj'd ath the loft before and we made a great choice in our venue. Apparently at the wedding he went to guests had to wait for HOURS to leave, because there were other parties going on, and the only way to leave was that one elevator)

    - We will be doing a first look so that our bridal party (as well as ourselves!) don't have to miss cocktail hour.

    I think the most important thing we did was set a budget that worked with us. From there we were able to determine the type of wedding that we could afford to host properly. Not the other way around. 


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