Affordable venues w/ onsite ceremony in Philly/Central PA areas

Hi everyone!! My fiance and I are hoping to get married by the end of this year or begining of next's kind of last minute so our budget is very tight! I'm from the Philly area but currently reside in central PA, so they are the areas that we are looking into. Our guest list is about 65 people and our total budget for everyting including the dress, rings, venue, etc. is less than $5000. I know our options are very limited, but please let me know if you have any suggestions :) Thanks!

Re: Affordable venues w/ onsite ceremony in Philly/Central PA areas

  • brielise414brielise414 member
    10 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited July 2013

    Our wedding is in York, but I'm not sure where in Central PA you're looking. I really wanted to keep our budget under 5,000 but it just wasn't possible with everything we wanted. We ended up going off-season to get better rates. Heritage Hills was a great value. If you go off-season and with their Links Ballroom there is no room rental and no food and beverage minimum. Their menu is on their website. I was surprised at the cost of most venues and even more surprised that Heritage ended up being our final choice since I had initially ruled it out as being too expensive. The problem is many places require you to have a certain number of people and since we only wanted 75 that was a deal breaker.

    Also, if you're looking to spend less on food the JCC in York will let you bring in any caterer and also allows you to provide your own alcohol. However, it does cost $800 just for the room rental.

    As for dress, I highly recommend Tara's Bridal in Camp Hill. It's a sample outlet and the owner was great! Krys Lyn's in downtown York is also nice because nothing is over 1000 and they have a huge sale rack where nothing is over 500.

  • Money saving tips: Number one.. hit up offbeat bride.  Love that site!  Lots of great ideas especially ones for a smaller budget.  Opt for a bridesmaid or quincentenary (sp) dress instead of a wedding gown.  Most maid dresses come in white or ivory as well.  Opt for a date other than a Saturday. Friday's and Sunday most venues will give a discount.  Consider an AM wedding to save money- breakfast foods are typically cheaper than dinner foods in terms of catering.  If doing afternoon, opt for heavy h'or duereves or a cocktail reception rather than a sit down dinner.  State parks are cheap to rent but don't allow alcohol which also keeps the budget down.  Consider having student musicians to play during reception rather than a DJ.  Choose what's fresh and in season for flowers or opt for offbeat items such as paper bouquets, handme downs, etc.
  • In PA you can get a self-uniting license, so you don't need to pay an officiant, if you don't already have a church/religious official you want to marry you.

    Either have your reception at a non-meal time, or have a brunch or lunch reception instead of dinner.

    With your budget being that tight, I would skip alcohol, or only serve beer + wine, if your venue allows you to bring your own. 

    We looked in Chester, Bucks, and Lancaster counties-Lancaster is much much cheaper. The farther you are from Philly=the more money you save. 

    Get married November-March, most places will give you a huge price break. And if you book a venue for a date within 6 months, usually you can get an even better deal, because they know at this point they are unlikely to book that Saturday 4 months from now. 

    Always try to negotiate. Don't be afraid to say, 'this is what we can afford, what can you do for this budget?"
  • Ditto to the self-uniting license- we are doing that as well.. What type of wedding are you looking for? How many people? There is a park in northern Lebanon County that allows you to BYOB, and even self- cater. I had two different people tell me that the weddings they went to there were the best. You can even rent a lodge and sleep over.

    The only reason we are not using it is because we have an invite list of 150, and there wouldn't be room inside in the event of rain.
  • Check out Park Inn in Mechanisburg.If you pick a non-Saturday night, they can give you a decent discount. We were thinking of a holiday weekend and were told it was $7 off per plate- which would have brought the lowest package down to around $55 a person. However, that included an open bar and your cake, and basic table decor. They also have a tent set up (not sure about the winter?) that they will let you use free of charge for your actual ceremony.  Its nice if you have a lot of guests coming from out of town becase they can just stay there.

    Caution- I have heard from two people that the food kind of sucks, however another friend just went to a wedding there 2 weeks ago and she said the food was actually pretty good.

    Since you guest list is lower check out various fire halls. Up until I went to college, I thought wedding receptions were just cold cuts and chips after a 10 am wedding. There is a lot you can do in a budget. I am trying for 150 invites on a 10k budget- I would love to cut out FI's 30+ first cousins that he doesn't even talk to- but thats a post for a different time. lol
  • I second cheapbride's suggestion of Park Inn. They were in our top 3, but we ultimately went elsewhere. Everything is included - centerpieces are nothing fabulous but on a budget, they work; food, ceremony, linens, etc. For a Friday night in September, we were going to get about $17 off the normal package price - this was for a 2 entree served dinner, your typical cheese/veggies/fruit for appetizers, and open beer (1 beer option) and signature drink. For us, that was plenty and that brought us around $40ish if I recall. They constantly run promotions, too, so you can get extras as well. I've been to several work events there in the past year and have always been pleased with food and service. Also, if you go to their bridal shows, you get extra stuff for a big discount (more alcohol, etc).
  • Be sure to check out the wedding classifieds here on the Knot - there are always fab dresses and tons of wedding stuff for sale at great prices!

    Also- check out Country Threads by Gail in Manheim- GREAT new/like-new wedding dress selections!  At a wedding last week where the bride found a one-of-a-kind designer gown at this shop for a fraction of the cost!

    Would second the idea of looking into renting space at a local park.  Many of them have fully-enclosed pavilions if you choose a late fall or early spring wedding date and need more of an "indoor" affair..  Just at a wedding at Long's Park and it was beautiful!
  • Thank You everyone for all the suggestions!! I would love to do a friday wedding, but with our families living 3 hours from one another I don't feel that would be the best option. I really don't want people to have to take off of work or leave work early...but that may keep the costs down for people who can't take the time off. I have been looking around at a few places and noticed that some did offer off season discount rates. So I am thinking that would be the best option for saving the most money! I was recently at Park Inn for an event, but didn't have food there. It's close to where we live, so I will see if we can setup a time to check things out.

    I never realized PA did a self-uniting license! My fiance and I weren't really raised in churches and I was struggling to come up with ideas on who could marry us...thanks for that tip also!

    As for a wedding dress, I found a dress that I really love but I dont see spending $550 on a dress that I would wear once for about 8 hours. Like some of you have mentioned, I have also thought about looking at bridesmaid dresses and getting it in white or ivory and possibly sprucing it up with a belt/sash.

    Again, thanks everyone for all of your suggestions/tips :)

  • clg1213clg1213 member
    100 Love Its 100 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited July 2013

    I got my dress in Bellefonte (near State College) at Tracina's.  Most of the dresses are more, but there are deals to be had.  Mine was 350 (discount applied for buying the one on the rack).  The sale rack was pretty much all damaged w/ noticeable pulls all over the place, but there are other sale items in the racks.  It isn't a huge store, but worth a look if you're in the Centre County area

    Edit to add: My dress was from a bridesmaids line (and white) but def marketed to brides

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • I actually bought my dress on craisglist! It was brand new and never worn.. still had a $1,000 price tag on it, but I got it for $400! Also I think David's had a $99 or $250 sale.. a close friend got her dress for $250
  • oh and we are also doing self-uniting.
  • Katie8797Katie8797 member
    Eighth Anniversary First Comment
    edited February 2014
    Look into Coleman Chapel in Lebanon. It's like $2600 to rent for the day or you can do the same thing we are and just renting it from 8am to 11:30am and having a 10am ceremony for $300. We are having a lunch reception at Events Etc in Hershey which doesn't charge a site fee, you just pay the catering costs. The max number of people is 80. 
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