Small budget....lots of guests

Our budget is small because we are trying to build a house right now. We have about $5000 and a guest list of 300. A lot of friends are willing to provide services for us like cake, invitations, favors, music and photography. Is there any way to pull off a reception for 300 with only $5000?

Re: Small budget....lots of guests

  • edited December 2011
    I think that could be tough to do, only because at most places you won't find food prices at less than $18 a person, and $18 for 300 people is over $5,000. Food and reception are the most expensive parts of a wedding, so cutting the guest list is the easiest way to cut cost.

    I think in order to do it, you'd have to do something untraditional -- a pot luck, for instance, or hors d'oeuvres only. You might be able to do brunch for less than that food price I specified. And if you are looking for a reception venue, I would go with sometime cheap, like a community center or Knights of Columbus Hall, that would be big enough for that many people, in order to offset the food cost. I honestly have no idea how much spaces like that rent for, but I would imagine it's the most cost-effective way to do it. Unless, of course, you happen to have a family member or friend who owns a giant space you could use for free. :)

    Honestly, I would say if you only have $5,000 you should cut the guest list drastically, so you can still have a wedding that you can afford. Or, put off the wedding until you are able to spend more, if you're dead set on having 300 people. Or have a small ceremony now and save the big reception for another time when your budget allows. Just my two cents!

    Good luck on the house too!
  • edited December 2011
    I agree with MiniMin. 

    300 guests is an outrageously huge wedding.  My BIL just got married with 250 guests and their budget was $50,000.  They splurged on a few things, but there were too many people there, you don't have time to visit with everyone. 

    DH and I both come from big families - we're each the youngest of 5 or 6 kids and we had only 120 guests.  We didn't invite family and friends who aren't a part of our daily lives. 
    We had silk flowers, no limo, no video, cheap food, free cake, a cheap dress, free alterations, DIY centerpieces, cheap hairdos, I did my own makeup, and it still cost close to $10K.

    Just think of the cost of invitations; the invites themselves, stamps for those, RSVP cards,  the stamps for them...  300 guests = a lot of postage.
  • edited December 2011
    we have 130 and are at 10k and we are doign so small,and finding great deals...I think having a backyard thing would be only way.. and you would need a big back yard.
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  • edited December 2011
    I agree with everyone else, the best thing you can do is cut your guest list.  You might want to narrow it down to your closest family... parents, granparents, aunts and uncle.  When you start including all your cousins and thier kids you add a lot fo people on to your guest list that you might not even talk to on a monthly basis.  Yes, some feelings will get hurt, but you have to consider your feelings, you want to be able to enjoy your wedding and not spend the whole day worrying about who you haven't talked to yet.  But with that said, it's your wedding and if you really want all 300 people there then you should, but remember that your going to lose a lot in other departments such as photography, decorations, food.  I would go through and make that A and B list and see how it goes from there.

    Good Luck!
  • jena.n.rossjena.n.ross member
    1000 Comments Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    Wow.  You've certainly got your work cut out for you.  I don't envy your planning!

    That said, here are my budget suggestions:  I think you're going to have to go very low-key, but I think you know that :)  A summer wedding would allow you to do tents, for an outdoor wedding as was already mentioned.  Treat it almost as a family reunion, where you do all the food within the family.  It's good that you have some things that family/friends will already cover, but I think you need to have a frank conversation with your closest family.  Tell them what you want to do, and that it's important to you to have the ENTIRE family there (all 300 of them!), but will need help pulling it off.  I don't think anyone will mind.  bbq is something you can prepare en masse, and ask for potluck-style contributions.  Have a few people bring grills, and designate people for bbq-manning sessions.  Ask people as their gift to you, to help with food buying/prep.

    Grow your own, or have family members help grow flowers for bouquets and table decor.  Get married under a simple archway, buy a dress you'll be comfortable cutting loose in.  I would skip favors.   Don't have a bridal party (no groomsman/bridesmaids gifts).  Do compostable./biodegradable sugarcane plates instead of china (cost about the same as paper plates, if you find them online). 

    In a wedding, food is typically your biggest cost.  As long as you can get help from your family, I think you can do this.  It could be a very fun all day family event. :)


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  • edited December 2011
    I am having 200 guests, we are doing our own food and we are spending 12,000. I thought I would be able to do it for 5000 but I was wrong. Every place we looked at to rent was very high and they made you use their food or bar tender, ect. We have a very generous friend who is letting us use his beautiful oceanfront property. We decided to rent a tent, tables and chairs (3,300.) Food and shelter is a major expense. I agree with the other posts, try to cut your guest list, or go get married and come back and do an open house type of reception where the families supply the food!

  • edited December 2011
    You might want to look at The Lions Club on Peaks Island. I believe it's only like $1100 to rent for the day. It would definately hold 300 people. It has a great view. You would have to make your own food and store it in their refridgerators the night before. Or you could do a potluck and have everybody bring something to eat or drink. But that could be hard because they would have to carry it on the boat.
         If you could cut your guest list down you could also check out The American Legion Hall in Falmouth. It's definately not fancy but it could have a nice family feel to it. My parents actually got married their 30 years ago. :-) It's only $100 to rent and you have to bring your own food & drink. They also say no alcohol, but we brought some and it was fine as long as you clean it all up.
         I was sort of in the same boat as you (not as many people though) I didn't have a huge budget. I looked everywhere and I really think the only way you could possibly swing it is to do a potluck family style wedding or maybe make your own food. The best value I found was The Martindale Country Club in Auburn but you would need to cut your list to about 150-200 (at a very tight squeeze) But still worth a look.
         I wish you luck and a happy wedding! And just a reminder, there is nothing wrong with a backyard wedding! They are some of the most fun!!
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