New Jersey

Newly Engaged looking for Budget Advice

hunnybearthunnybeart Woodbridge, NJ member
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Hello Fellow NJ Knotties :)

I've recently become engaged (not even a week) but it's been a long time coming (me & FI have been together over a decade)

Anyway, we're both from north NJ (jersey city area) and recently moved to central NJ (woodbridge area) so we're thinking of having the wedding/reception somewhere that's not a bad commute from these areas. 

Here's my dilemma, I'm not sure just how much to budget for the wedding and all the budget calculators so far start by asking you how much you're spending and then allocate what % of the budget goes to the various costs i.e. food, drinks, dress based on your total budget. 

What I really need is an estimate of how much I should plan to spend on the reception.  I know I want top shelf open bar all night, lots of food, an amazing cocktail hour, plated dinner, amazing dessert bar.  So yeah food & drink are my priority.  I expect to have around 200 guests.   

So you ladies that know this area and this market, how much do you think the wedding/reception will cost?  I'm not sure yet whether I'm going to have my wedding at my church or not but even if I have it off site I figure that will be a nominal cost and the real money will come from the reception.  Any NJ brides wanna share what they spent on a wedding of this size with the food & beverage options I want?  Thanks :)

Re: Newly Engaged looking for Budget Advice

  • ohmrs2014ohmrs2014 Dirty Jerz mod
    Moderator 500 Love Its 1000 Comments Fourth Anniversary
    Only you can decide how much to spend on a wedding.  Everyone's budgets are different.  I think the easiest thing to do is decide how much your comfortable spending and then allocating the money to various areas.  

    Venues and other vendors will all be different prices depending on the time of year, the day, and the time of day.
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  • Well you have a great starting point there. At least you know how many people and what kind of wedding you want. I would say you need about 60k-80k. My wedding is 150 people and the place where I'm getting married has a huge cocktail hour, top shelf open bar, plated dinner (chateaubriand, seabass) and vienniese hour. They wanted 350 a head around September October for a Saturday night. We did a lot better because we're having our wedding in April so don't be worried about 350 being your only option. From what I've been quoted for a wedding like you want I would budget 200-350 a head and that's just venue you'll need around and extra 20 k for dress, photographers, limos etc.
  • I hope that helped! Good luck on your planning!
  • Ok so I am having a wedding with 250 guest and with a party size like that quaility food and a good amount of liquor was on our list.  We looked at about 20 different venues ranging in price of $70pp - $150pp not including tip and tax.  But like they said before its what you are comfortable paying.  What I did was created a spreadsheet that would calculate for you what these different price points would cost with tax and tip (I used a standard 20% and 7% tax to start with) so you had an idea the total could be.  From there make a list of vendors you want (photographer, videographer, dj, band, flowers, etc) and start looking up the ranges.

    The most stressful part for me was the venue because we had a specific amount of money and I wanted to have nice things all around.  

    Good Luck and let me know if you want ideas in venues bc I am in Union County so I have an idea of a lot of the venues in that direction.
  • hunnybearthunnybeart Woodbridge, NJ member
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    Thanks ladies this helps a lot!  We've tentatively set the date for Spring 2017 (can't do it 2015 because there's just not enough time since we want to get married sometime between April - June and I'm sure everything is booked up for next year at this time) and 2016 my daughter turns 16 so we already have a big party planned for that. 

    At least with the extra time we can save more and have the wedding we want so that's a plus. 

    Jeannine, everyone so far has said the venues in this area books up about a year in advance so I figured 2016 is when I'll start checking out venues, do you think this is a good plan?  I think til then I'll probably just lurk and learn.  :)

  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
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    Are you tied to just those three months?  What about early November?  You could definitely swing that for 2015 with a venue and that starts getting into off season pricing, which is nice.  I certainly wouldn't want to wait almost 2.5 years just to have a date within a 3 month window.

    There are so many variables that will go into the cost, but a big contributor is the month, day and time.  If you are willing to do a Sunday afternoon off peak, that will be considerably cheaper than a Saturday evening in September.

    And unlike mseminerio84, I do not think that you need to budget 200-350/person or 20k for a dress and all your vendors.   You can have a beautiful wedding on a Saturday evening with amazing food and an open bar for less that that.  It depends on the venue and wedding date/time.
  • I agree with @JoanE2012‌. I am having a Saturday night wedding 11/7/15 and my venue is $120 a person plus tax and gratuity which includes an amazing cocktail hour, top shelf 5 hour open bar, 4 entree choices tableside and Viennese hour for dessert. With everything we are looking about $40,000 for about 150 people. I am saving about $50 a person by having the wedding in November and it would have been more if I chose a Friday or Sunday but having it Saturday was very important to me.

    You have to set your max budget that you are comfortable with then go from there. I made sure that I did not even look at venues that were more then $150 a person since I knew our max was $40,000. If you try and budget each vendor first you will be shocked when you add everything up.
  • hunnybearthunnybeart Woodbridge, NJ member
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    Thanks @JoanE2012 and @Jenn7778, I don't mind waiting a little longer to get married for what we want.  I can't do November, I shudder at the thought of any type of cold weather.  NJ weather is so unpredictable and it would be just my luck that the year I pick, it'll be snowing in early November.
    Plus my FI is pretty set on having it during those months and we both definitely want a Saturday night.  I know that's going to up the price quite a bit so having it in 2017 makes more sense financially as it will allow us to save more.  
  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    Thanks @JoanE2012 and @Jenn7778, I don't mind waiting a little longer to get married for what we want.  I can't do November, I shudder at the thought of any type of cold weather.  NJ weather is so unpredictable and it would be just my luck that the year I pick, it'll be snowing in early November.
    Plus my FI is pretty set on having it during those months and we both definitely want a Saturday night.  I know that's going to up the price quite a bit so having it in 2017 makes more sense financially as it will allow us to save more.  
    Ha!  I had an early November originally planned and then Hurricane Sandy came and I had to postpone it to mid-December.  Never in a million years would I have ever picked a December wedding originally, but in the end it was truly beautiful....the venue had beautiful trees decorated, the fireplaces going, etc.  And thankfully it didn't snow!  :)  

    I still know you can get something with everything you're looking for for under $200 for that time of year.  Doesn't hurt to call some venues you like this spring and ask them about spring of 2016 rates.  At least this way you'll have an idea if you can afford it and should call back the following year or if you can put it on the "no" list.  Good luck!
  • JoanE2012Jenn7778 - you DEFINITELY do not need to budget anywhere near $200 - $350 a head or $60-$80K! Our venue was $115 per person inclusive of tax & gratuity. We had 150 people. We spent a total of $32K.

    This was in May on a Saturday evening. We booked it last September so it was considered short notice, and we got a great deal. We were also offered deals at many of the other venues we looked at. So, since you mentioned you want April-June, if there is any way you would like to do 2015, if you start looking now you will find deals on any un-booked dates. The venues would rather have a wedding at a lower price than make nothing on the date or have a brunch or a bar mitzvah which earns them much less.

  • hunnybearthunnybeart Woodbridge, NJ member
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    Wow @JoanE2012 I'm glad it all worked out for you in the end.  That December wedding sounds beautiful.  

    @majesty318 hmm, never thought of that, I think we'll give them a call and see what's available.  I'm saying our guest list is 200 as a conservative number but ideally we'd be at the 150 mark.  After talking with FI, it looks like our 2017 starting budget would be $50K.  
  • mseminerio84mseminerio84 member
    Second Anniversary 10 Comments 5 Love Its
    edited December 2014
    I was basing my pricing on having your wedding at a luxury venue also. It's what I went with and I didn't spend crazy money anywhere else so my budget is really not that off. I mean yeah you could always pay for an upgrade at a lower price venue if you want but I wanted the place to be really amazing too, not just the food.
  • hunnybearthunnybeart Woodbridge, NJ member
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    @mseminerio84 that makes sense and I suspect our budget may wind up being similar although I hope not.  LOL.
  • OP, just so you know, my venue had all the things @mseminerio84 listed (extensive cocktail hour, open bar, Viennese, chateaubriand) and it was a lot less expensive. I would definitely still consider it luxury. I hope I do not come across as overly disagreeable. I just want to point out that it is possible to get luxury on a budget if you shop around.
  • I agree with Majesty318. My venue includes everything you mentioned and is significantly less...even in popular wedding months. I would consider my venue very upscale in a very expensive area. You don't have to spend $300+ a person to get what you want.
  • hunnybearthunnybeart Woodbridge, NJ member
    Third Anniversary 25 Love Its 10 Comments Name Dropper

    Thanks for the feedback @majesty318 and @Jenn7778 it has been very helpful.  I've been discussing your comments and suggestions with FI and he now wants to start looking and pricing out our options after the new year.  We may even push the date up depending on what we find out.  I think a more realistic option though may be to try and hire potential vendors for my daughter's sweet 16 party and use that as kind of a tryout to see if they would work for the wedding. 

    In any event I'm grateful to you and everyone else who commented. 

  • I had my wedding in June at Jumping Brook Country Club in Neptune we paid about $150 but added on a viennese table, dessert liquors and a bananas foster station. We had a nice cocktail hour with 4 stations and passed hor D'oeurves a cake and 4 course dinner.  The food was amazing.

    Anniversary

  • hunnybearthunnybeart Woodbridge, NJ member
    Third Anniversary 25 Love Its 10 Comments Name Dropper
    Yum sounds amazing @peaseblossom55.  Unfortunately I think Neptune is too far from me.
    Peaseblossom55
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