Tight wedding budget..large guest list?

by DIY wedding planner on March 19, 2012

were planning an aug 2012 wedding.

money is pretty tight right now. we started with a 500+ guest list, and got it down to 300.

anyone have any adivice on how to cut costs, diy ideas, cheap ideas.

im a simple women. im not looking for all the bells and whistles. but still want a beautiful wedding.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

seamstress March 19, 2012 at 5:57 am

If you want all of the bells and whistles, then you must increase your budget. So, postpone the wedding and save another ten thousand to twenty thousand dollars so you can have that showcase wedding with hundreds and hundreds of guests to feed.

Do it yourself weddings are impossible with that many guests, unless you intend to feed them ice water and crackers.


Nox March 19, 2012 at 6:26 am

You cut the guest list down to 100. There is no way on a “tight budget” you can have 300 people.

Would those 300 people care if you got sick? Would they call you and ask how you are doing? (call, not facebook) I doubt it. Narrow it down to the people who actually care about you. Not everyone you know.


msmag March 19, 2012 at 6:49 am

I wish you have said if this is an out door wedding or indoor. Most who are invited will be more then happy to help with the food. Have your guest bring a covered dish. Make punch from kool-aid and add sparkling water very cheap and taste good. Have your cake made and just add the icing plain. You decorate with flowers most can be eaten. I love out door wedding there cheap and very special.


planner March 19, 2012 at 7:38 am

look into your local parks and recreation for a wedding venue. most towns and cities have very nice park venues for rent for pennies compared to most of the wedding venue costs. they often even have lovely ballrooms or beautiful buildings you can rent for your reception right in the park. a pretty gazebo or rose garden or lakeside ceremony site and a nice building with a catering kitchen can often not cost more than about 500 to 1000, sometimes even less.

do your own flowers. that will save tons. for table centerpieces, you can just put some lovely hydrangeas in a square glass vase and because they are such large blossoms, it will look very full with only 2 or 3 blossoom heads in it. for your bouquets, just put some pretty blooms together, cut the stems to all the same length and wrap floral tape around them to hold them in place…then tie on a pretty ribbon over the floral tape, add a bow and you have lovely hand-tied bouquets. for boutonniers, just take a flower bloom and add a leaf. cut the stems to be about 2 inches long, then wrap with floral tape from bottom of stem to the base of the bloom. tie on a pretty little ribbon and add a pin. all of the stuff you need can be purchased at places like ben franklins or michaels or some other craft store. flowers can be purchased wholesale online or from some place like costco or sam’s club

look to places like all you can eat buffet restaurants to cater your main dishes. they are much cheaper than catering business. you can get them to make you large pans of some of their best things and add some diy fruit trays and veg trays and rolls for a nice reception meal.

use twinkle lights, lots of tulle which are both very cheap, to decorate with. when you put twinkle lights inside yards of tulle fabric, it looks great wrapped aroung poles, used as a garland to edge tables, etc.


Margareeta March 19, 2012 at 7:44 am

Perhaps have the wedding at a beautiful place like a park or the beach; shouldn’t be as expensive as a hall. It will still be beautiful. If you know anyone who cooks or perhaps even get appetizers from Sam’s Club/Wegmans. I go to Rutgers University and there are stores inside the student centers in which you can get catering done for snacks/food/dessert which are pretty good and cheaper than other catering places. So look around and research before choosing something because you can get good deals. David’s Bridal has good beautiful and cheaper wedding dresses; and I think even Vera Wang is there but like anything else, look for good deals. Also there are probably places in NYC if you’re close to there with retail places that sell those dresses cheaper. The key is research; and being open-minded. You can make it just as beautiful if not fancy by finding good deals.


Liz March 19, 2012 at 7:55 am

If you want to save money, you should narrow down your list even more. Also, try having a barbecue reception to cut costs, and an ipod player instead of a DJ. Look for dresses at David’s Bridal, and consider making your own centerpieces, invitations, etc. Hire a college student to do your photography. Drive and decorate your own car instead of a limo. Do your own nails and hair. Flowers are usually very expensive, so try to spend on just bouquets, and forget the rest of the flowers and find a substitute.


Messykatt March 19, 2012 at 8:36 am

I think you should log in to a site like weddingwire.com and look through their checklists, because you aren’t in touch with reality. There is no way to have a “beautiful” wedding with 300 guests unless you’re willing to spend 60-70 thousand dollars. If you can’t afford a humongous wedding, don’t try to have one. It never looks right.

rofl @ a potluck for 300!. People need to learn to think before they type.


fizzy stuff March 19, 2012 at 9:19 am

300 is still a ridiculously huge wedding. There is no way to do it yourself for that number of people and not have it turn into chaos.

I would suggest cake, coffee, and punch in the middle of the afternoon. But that implies a short reception of about 2 hours. And there is no way you can greet all 300 guests in 2 hours.

It’s great that you don’t want all the bells and whistles but you still need to be a good host. If you cannot afford to feed the guests, don’t invite them.


Vibiana March 19, 2012 at 9:52 am

Don’t have a full meal at the reception. Don’t serve liquor. Don’t have a ridiculously lavish wedding gown–wear something simple, maybe tea length. Don’t have an army of attendants.

There are lots of ways to be frugal. Most of them involve not trying to look like you’re richer than you are. :)


Lauren March 19, 2012 at 10:32 am

Depending on your caterer, finger foods for a lot of people can sometimes cost more than a sit down dinner, so make sure to get a lot of prices if you still plan on having it catered.

- If you have the reception in the evening, decorate with lights and candles instead of flowers and other things because it’s WAY cheaper and goes a lot further. They look beautiful too and once the sun goes down and no one can see the decorations, the light will still look great.
- Don’t go overboard on the dress since there are plenty of beautiful ones on sale and at cheaper stores. It depends how the dress looks and you and compliments your body, not how many beads it has! haha
- Ask someone you know who bakes well to consider a practice run making your cake / other desserts. Professional ones look great, but fondant tastes gross and they cost too much. Half the time the guests are just served a sheet cake anyway.
- Again with the guest list – I thought about whether I really wanted to waste my money on feeding people I didn’t really even like / know that well, and it helped me cut mine down, haha.
- And like other people said, maybe consider not serving liquor. Much cheaper AND you won’t have to be stuck with 300 drunk people! That could get messy / dangerous!!


Barbara B March 19, 2012 at 10:42 am

You not only have to increase the budget – by saving, taking on extra work (both of you) and cutting back your personal expenses; but you must decrease the guest list by another 200 people.

Some things you DO NOT DO!

ask for money

expect someone else to pay for it

Your wedding is your responsibility – think of it as a test of your worthiness to be a married adult – so you pay for it.

Oh and Decrease the number of bells and whistles you say you need.


iloveweddings March 19, 2012 at 11:21 am


You don’t say what your “tight budget is”. Sorry, but “tight budget” and “large guest list” do not belong in the same sentence. The only wa to have a guest list of that many people on a tight budget would be to simply have your wedding and have a cake and punch reception following.

300 people to feed? Even at a rock bottom price of $20/plate (which is the lowest you can find depending on where you live), the food ALONE will be $6,000.

NO, if you truly are on a tight budget, then cut the guest list by 2/3…down to 100 and then you might be able to do it. Even then, depending on your budget, it might be hard.


Because I Said So March 19, 2012 at 12:01 pm

I don’t know what your budget is but to give an example, the catering at my wedding cost $50 a plate. So to feed 300 peolpe that’s 15 grand right there! That doesn’t count the officiant fee, venue rental fee, catering rentals, tent, flowers, attire, limo, DJ, and all the other hundreds of things you need for a wedding. Granted 20% of your guest list will decline so if you invite 300 you can expect 240, but that’s still a very large wedding. I think 100-200 is considered medium size and anything over that is just huge.


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