California-Bay Area

Biting off a LOT more than I can chew

We're aiming for a March 2012 wedding, which gives us time to plan, but we're also saving for a down payment on a house - which we hope to have before the wedding for those coming out of state to stay with us. So we have a lot on our plate financially.

We live in San Jose and are looking for a wedding venue here, but there aren't any of the "normal" wedding venues that we can afford.  I want to try to avoid having the wedding at a park, but I'm not sure that it's possible. (it would be a bit chilly in March for an outdoor wedding). Our guest list is at 110 people right now, and I'm assuming it will peak at about 125. One restaurant we like caters, and it would only cost us 1k for 150 people. I am buying my dress online for around $150.  My fiance has a DJ friend who will likely DJ for the reception. I'm trying to get the whole wedding under 5k (is this even possible?)

So I need a venue, photographer, florist, and makeup/hair artist, for very cheap. I'm not sure what to do. Every venue someone says is "cheap" will not work for us. Does anyone having suggestions? The stress of it all is wearing on me.

Re: Biting off a LOT more than I can chew

  • edited December 2011
    If you will have your home before your wedding date, you could always consider having the reception there. You will have to do some work on the house before then, but I think using the money to improve your home rather than for a venue would be a great investment. We live in San Jose too and it is something I am seriously considering doing because we are on a small budget as well. I was thinking of having it in the backyard. I've seen a lot of backyard weddings that are actually really classy. Plus, I like the family vibe of it, and I think it would be cool to set up lawn games for the guests to play. HTH!
  • edited December 2011
    andrea makes some great points!

    and if your new home is not an option (maybe its not big enough, etc) my venue is VERY reasonable.  its in San Francisco, its called Axis Cafe. 

    they have an outdoor area (with heaters) so you can have the ceremony inside or outside. 

    the coordinator there is pretty helpful and will totally work within your budget.  we have already had our tasting and the food is delicious!  i have also had lunch there many times and its great.

    let me know if you need any further info.
  • cassandrae913cassandrae913 member
    edited December 2011
    You may want to contact the academy of art in SF for their graduate students that might want to shoot your wedding for little cost to build their portfolios. Also, you can contact some photogs and see if their assistants can shoot for a lesser fee-that way you can get someone who may have the experience of wedding photography, but not as the main shooter.
    Same with makeup-contact some beauty schools or go to the makeup counters at Bloomies/Nordies/Macys and see if any of the girls working the counters have the ability and confidence to do your makeup.
    As for floral-you can always do things like branches and candles in lieu of flowers to bring down costs.
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  • mica178mica178 member
    5000 Comments Fourth Anniversary 5 Love Its
    edited December 2011
    I don't know where you were planning on marrying, but often churches have public spaces that can be rented for little cost.  We used the parish hall for refreshments during our "Catholic gap," and it was only a couple hundred dollars for use for the day.  Our church also had a beautiful mansion on site that we could have rented for the day for a few hundred dollars, and its main room's capacity was about 100 seated.

    Have you looked into the local VFW and other community spaces?  The city of Palo Alto has a bunch of multifunction areas that can be rented out for little money, and some come with rental chairs and tables included.
  • leia1979leia1979 member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 100 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited December 2011
    I know you already found a place for catering, but Freedom Hall & Gardens in Santa Clara has a pretty budget friendly package deal. March is a discount month with them, too.

    A friend of mine is a wedding videographer, and she said the food is good.
  • kimvoleneckimvolenec member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Thank you everyone!

    I would love to have my wedding and reception at my house, but I'm not sure what size of a backyard we will have. We're going to be buying our house until a few months before the wedding, so I won't be able to plan for that unfortunately.

    I've sent a message to a few veteran halls, and one replied with the rental cost of $1700. I've also sent a message to the Axis Cafe to see what they can quote me (thank you for the suggestion!) I think Freedom Halls may be a bit too expensive for me. I don't believe we were looking to get married in a church, but I'll still look into it.

    One location I've been looking at is the San Mateo County History Museum: It's gorgeous, and inexpensive for what it is, but I still think it's a bit out of my budget.

    Thank you again everyone. I appreciate the help/ideas!

  • edited December 2011
    There are a lot of really nice public parks that you can also do your ceremony/reception at.  A friend of mine decided to just get a couple of tables over at Lake Cunningham, had a friend perform the ceremony and they had a takeout reception.  The couple had met while working at Panda Express so they went and got big trays of Panda Express food. 

    As far as makeup and photography, I second PP.  Valley Fair Mall has a great Mac counter that you can get your makeup done (full face for only $50 or free if you buy 3 products... and if money is REALLY tight, you can just return the 3 products at a later time and then you would've gotten the makeover for free!).  You can get cheap photography (but good quality!) by looking at people's ads on Craigslist.  A lot of people are getting into the whole wedding photography scene now and list discount shoots on Craigslist. 

    Let me know if you need any help!  I'm from SJ too :)
  • edited December 2011
    I googled San Jose budget wedding reception and found a couple of places you could check out.

    Cornejos Event Planner
    The Rotunda at San Jose City Hall

    Ditto PP on checking Craigslist for photographers. We found our photographer that way. I think the guy who did our e-pics is from San Jose. Let me know if you would like his info.
  • kimvoleneckimvolenec member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Thank you all so much. I didn't expect so much help.

    I think I'm going to take the Macy's idea for makeup. Makeup is one of the more important things to me, so I think I'll even go for a trial (haha).

    I'm also looking into the Rotunda. That would be an amazing place for a wedding :)

    Incase anyone is looking here for ideas for themselves, I found this place: and it looks like a good contender for me. Very inexpensive.
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