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Freaking out a little bit re: budget

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musey

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I should preface this by saying that we live in Los Angeles, so keep in mind that everything we can book is filed under "big city" prices (probably beaten only by NYC in the US).

My estimated wedding budget is $20,000--we probably have about $2-3k of wiggle room. TheKnot (yes, I've been sucked in) recommends that I budget $1600 for the reception venue.

I thought I could keep costs down by renting out a public park, but the cheapest one I found within an hour radius of the city was $4500 just to reserve the location! (Not to mention chair/table rentals, etc. etc.)
The cheapest venue we've found in general is $3800.


How much should I realistically be looking to budget for my reception rental/fees? Because it's looking like $1600 is NOT gonna happen!!
 

Scooba

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wow, what a pain! I can''t really help you with that, I think that''s kinda personal depending on what''s important to you and how much you want to budget for everything else. Why not try to roughly budget everything else out and see how much you will have left for the reception venue?
 

Scooba

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hey atleast you get to live in L.A.! I would LOOOOVE to still be living there!
 

AmberWaves

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Musey, I''m getting married in LA, and we just booked a ballroom, at about 50pp, food (not bar), cake, tables, chairs, chair covers w/sashes and all the dishes and things. What''s not included: flowers, DJ, photographer. So that''s pretty cheap, since there isn''t a site fee. Of course, this is for a Saturday in November- daytime so it may be cheaper. As for what to budget for the site fee, I have no idea since we started out with the the site I mentioned above, where it''s all included.

And I totally hear you about Los Angeles prices- SUUUUCKS. Good luck!
 

Gypsy

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Is booking a place like a hotel... or other venue that packages food with rental fees an option for you? When we looking up here in the SF bay area... that was the only way to keep prices reasonable. I''ve attended quite a few weddings in LA... and while the venues are expensive, like SF... at least there are many of them.

Other alternatives are asking if they have lower priced dates. Some places we called had discounted holidays, others raised prices on holidays. We stuck to the places that discounted holidays... and bargained with them for additional add ons for the price. Having a LOT of venues in one area is big bonus... because there are some savvy ones that realize the competition is fierce and will woo you as much as they can.

Personally, I would really take advantage of the competition ... you''d be surprised how much of an asset it is. We looked in SF... and in NY/NJ and in DC... all the freaking places we''ve planned weddings were large metro areas.

Another ''trick''... call them and tell them you are booking a 50th anniversary for your grandparents-- tell them there will be cake, and dancing and a nice dinner. Get prices and rates. Then call back and ask for wedding rates and prices. Then confront them with the difference if there is one... and use that to bargain them down.

That one worked REALLY well too.
 

E B

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Musey,

Costs can be broken down in many different ways. It seems as though the knot goes by the standard 50% reception, 10% everything else (10% dress, 10% photography...correct me if I'm wrong!), but that's not what we're doing. For instance, we're paying $4300 for our ceremony and reception fees alone. But we're saving by bringing in our own alcohol ($600 total). Our caterer, who actually runs the restaurant in our venue, is incredibly affordable. I found someone who's building their resume to be our florist, and our flowers won't run more than $500 total. Probably more like $350. We're asking our photographer for her time and a CD of high res images only. Why? Because our venue was top priority. We wanted a magical, outdoor garden wedding/reception.

Don't fret about your budget just yet. Some things will always be more important than others, so decide what's most important to you, and budget accordingly.
 

Trelala

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Hi Musey,

I feel your pain. My budget is about the same as yours and I looked at venues in the SF area. My fiance and I forked over $3800 for the venue where the ceremony and reception will take place. It was basically the same price (~$300 difference)for a local mountain winery or the Japanese garden we ended up booking.
I guess all I can say is, $3800 is ... normal!
 

cara

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You''re just not going to be able to follow the guidelines in the knot straight up. Its like saying that housing expenses should only be 30% of your take home income - in the SF bay area (where I am now), that would mean many professionals with 6 figure incomes would never own homes. You just have to suck it up and pay more for venue fees than the typical guidelines in some of the high rent areas of the country.

Go back to the knot budgeter and put in what you think you actually will pay for venue costs. See what this does to your expenses in other categories. Before you go and pay $3800 for site rental though, you need to have some idea what other big ticket items are going to cost. You can''t just blow the budget on this item without having other things under control. In particular, the biggies (on my budget) are catering, venue site fee, and photographer. My FI was really surprised at what photographers charge, but if you live in a high rent area they are professionals and need to pay their own high rent. Also you will need to LOOK at the other items and make sure you are OK with what compromises are involved. ie. only $800 for dress and $800 for flowers, etc. I had no idea what stuff cost before I started this and would have thought $800 for flowers was ample, but for me that would mean either all DIY or no floral centerpieces and a lot of scrimping on the personal flowers for my largish wedding party. Depending on your priorities, you might prefer to do something that would reduce your venue costs (less people, lunch not dinner, not a Saturday, not a mealtime, off-season, scrap the whole LA scene and do destination wedding, etc.) so that the other items don''t have to be crunched so hard.
 

havernell

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Date: 2/25/2007 3:53:50 AM
Author: Gypsy

Another ''trick''... call them and tell them you are booking a 50th anniversary for your grandparents-- tell them there will be cake, and dancing and a nice dinner. Get prices and rates. Then call back and ask for wedding rates and prices. Then confront them with the difference if there is one... and use that to bargain them down.

That one worked REALLY well too.
Gypsy (or anyone else who has used the above tactic)-

I''ve heard about using this tactic, but was always unsure if it would really work. Could you tell us a little more about how you managed to bargain using the price difference between an anniversary party and wedding?

What EXACTLY do you say to the reception venue people? Do you use the "moral" card (i.e. It''s unjust to charge more just because its a wedding?) or some other line of reasoning? What logic seemed to work best?

What did prices end up being when you bargained- the anniversary party rate, or somewhere in between the anniversay and wedding rates?

Any details/tips would be welcome since I (and others including musey) may want to attempt this strategy. Thanks a lot!
 

LaLaDozier

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Hey, I dont know if you know how many guests you are expecting but an idea would be to talk to a close family friend or family memeber about the possibility of having it at there home, if they have enough space. I got very lucky because I (my parnets) live next to my grandparents in the middle of a golf course, so I am having the wedding in her front yard, reception in mine, and everyone is parking on the fairway (they are haivng to close the front 9 of the course) but that saved all the money for the venue. And we are sending out 350 invites. Again, this would only work if you had someone close enough with a large area that they would let you use. You still have to rent chairs, tables, tents etc. but its MUCH cheaper than any venue i found.
 

musey

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Thanks for all your feedback everyone!

Are there other good listings for venues besides the knot? I think part of my problem is that up to this point I've been limited to whatever venues advertise on there, so I never saw the hotels/restaurants that package food like Gypsy suggested.

I need a little help with the lingo--if a venue ONLY lists the pp rate, does that mean that that's all they charge? I found one venue that listed $90/pp with a 150 person minimum, and couldn't find any mention of a site fee. Does that mean that there isn't one, or just that they don't advertise it?


Also, as far as distribution... if I'm making my own dress, fi will not be renting/buying his tux, photog is $1900, and I want minimum flower-age... am I safe blowing a huge chunk of the budget on the venue? The only thing that will impede that I think is that we have 100 guests and I want to do dinner (at least a buffet) and open bar. Sorry that's sort of an in-depth budgeting question!!

...On that note, are there any other good budgeting guides I could look at? I've just never planned an event before!

Should I look into a wedding planner?


ETA: Has anyone heard of or tried booking a vacation rental home and holding it there? (Alternative to having it at a relative's house since we have none nearby)
 

cara

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Try herecomestheguide for venues

But if you are looking for super budget, you might have to hunt around on various wedding boards for suggestions.

Basically, come up with a number that you are comfortable with your reception/food/drink costing. Lets say you want a reception-heavy budget with 60 % of your total budget for those items = $12k. You need to estimate your catering/drink/rental costs along with venue fee for any place you consider, as the different types of places have different ways of making their money. Restaurants, country clubs and hotels typically have low/no site fee, but have a food and beverage minimum. ie. $10k "buy out" fee means you must spend at least $10k on food and drink. Also you need to look at their menu/drink prices and make sure that, with the # of ppl you expect, you are going to stay safely under their buyout fee, or else you need to budget in the excess. Typically the contract will also require a service charge ("tip") and tax, hence you must add on 25-30%. So an all inclusive place (venue, drinks food) with a $10k buyout fee would cost $13k, assuming you stay under $10k in actual food and beverage charges.

For places that charge per person fees, typically they will have a minimum # of people for a given room on a given night, so in someways it works out similar to a buyout fee. You have to read the fine print to see what it includes, but unless it prominently states that tax and tip are included, I would assume you have to add that on.

A place that does not provide food or alcohol will typically have a much higher site fee than the restaurants, etc. They have to earn their $ somehow. Look at what restrictions they have on caterers and alcohol - sometimes they will require a certain vendor or a licensed bartender etc. Then you must contact those people and get a quote so that you can compare this pricing structure (site fee + separate caterer + rentals!!) to the ones that primarily charge for food.
 

Gypsy

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I used this to an advantage twice.

Both times I requested qoutes in writing once for the anniversary. The second for the wedding. Prices were vastly different. So I emailed the catering manager both qoutes and simply asked her to justify the difference.

Both were for same number of guest, same food, same achohol, similar dates.

When they played the ''wedding card''... I told them it was shady, and unjustified... and that I personally felt that they were taking advantage of couples who are looking to get wed.

They adjusted the prices to match the anniversary.

It also helped that I wasn''t invested in anyway. I did not look at the venues or fall in love with them. I just picked them out of review sites and so forth... and told them that I needed firm qoutes before I came out.

That gave me leverage.

Also... for the question regarding Knot venues. The knot venue lists are not very good. Usually only those who can afford to will list there... so you are paying for that advertising. Just look up reception halls in LA on google... call the city, literally. City of San Fran has a venue listing with TONS of info on its site... I imagine LA has access to this as well. I would post on the LA boards to..other brides can lead you to non-advertised venues.
And call hotels. Tell them you are planning a wedding, don''t want it a hotel, but if they direct you to a nice venue nearby... you might be interested in room blocks.
 

Gypsy

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RE: The fine print.

Venue Contract, folks are NEGOTIABLE. The terms themselves are negotiable. You can change them.

Contracts are a wish list. THey are not cast in stone. Read the fine print. Then change it if you don''t like it.
 

musey

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Date: 2/25/2007 3:23:56 PM
Author: cara
Try herecomestheguide for venues
SOOO much better, thank you cara!

Also Gypsy, thank you so much for your advice--you should write a planning thread and have PS make it a sticky.
 

gailrmv

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Well, you probably already know these tips, but.... maybe plan your wedding on a Fri or Sunday and negotiate a discount... or suck up the huge venue fees but save in other areas, i.e. buy a less expensive simple dress, less expensive simple invitations, forego a videographer, etc. I have found that when you go with simple styles, it is harder to tell the difference between the super pricey version vs the less expensive version. It''s the ornate stuff where the difference really shows. Just my observations!
 

ChargerGrrl

Ideal_Rock
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Musey: I live in L.A and feel your pain. DH and I contemplated getting married here but really wanted a winery wedding, so it was Temecula for us!

Anyway, I did do a bit of research regarding venues in L.A and some of these were my favorites:

- Town & Gown at USC (gorgeous architecture!)
- Redondo Beach Historic Library
- La Venta Inn (palos verdes)
- Museum of Latin American Art (long beach)
- Verandas (manhattan beach)

also check out this website: http://www.weddingcompass.com/

GOOD LUCK!
 

Gypsy

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Date: 2/25/2007 3:49:47 PM
Author: musey


Also Gypsy, thank you so much for your advice--you should write a planning thread and have PS make it a sticky.
*Blushes* Thank you Musey. I appreciate that. All this planning has to be good for something, right??
 

jasper

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Musey,

Are you considering having your reception in the South Bay? If so, I can recommend a hotel (complete with catering) and a wonderful florist. Although I have never used either for a wedding, I used both dozens of times when I lived in Torrance. Their prices were also quite reasonable. Even if you do not go with either of them, they can give you a sanity check on your price comparisons.

-- Jasper
 

musey

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Date: 2/28/2007 2:17:40 AM
Author: jasper
Are you considering having your reception in the South Bay? If so, I can recommend a hotel (complete with catering) and a wonderful florist.
I''d love any recommendations you have, jasper! Thank you!
 

jasper

Rough_Rock
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Musey,

I lived in Torrance for four years, and worked at Hughes'' Electron Dynamics Division (EDD). EDD had a club that dined out about once per month at the Torrance Marriott. Typical attendance was about 75 - 125. The members RSVPed, so the hotel knew how many people to expect. Each year, the club officers negotiated the rate (for use of the space on a weekday evening, plus a catered dinner). The food was quite good, though I am sure the hotel could offer upgrades from what we ate. The hotel lobby, dining space, tables, and table settings were all very good. Here is the Torrance Marriott''s web-site:
http://marriott.com/hotels/event-planning/wedding-planning/laxtr-torrance-marriott/

I also had excellent experiences with the Torrance Marriott Courtyard. (Marie and I stay at the Marriott Courtyard when we are in the South Bay.) When I was there, they had "shirt-off-your-back" service. Their breakfast buffet is excellent -- and I do not know any other hotel that offers Japanese pickles as a condiment for oatmeal. (It is a delicacy.) Unfortunately, the best dinner available from the Marriott Courtyard does not match the best dinner available at the Marriott. Here is the Torrance Marriott Courtyard''s web-site:
http://marriott.com/hotels/travel/laxto-courtyard-los-angeles-torrance-palos-verdes/

As a bonus, both hotels are a modest drive, bus-ride, or bike-ride from the Redondo Beach pier. (I often walked or jogged from slightly south of them to the beach, and took a bus home.

If you would prefer a location with a view of the Pacific Ocean, Redondo Beach has a lovely former library that is available for weddings. The former library is a very short walk from the beach. ShelbyScout (who used to frequent DiamondTalk) had her wedding there:
http://www.weddingtalk.com/forums/showpost.php?p=82429&postcount=20
http://www.weddingtalk.com/forums/showpost.php?p=82880&postcount=25
She had a sunset wedding. The one regret that she mentioned on-line was that her guests were looking into the sunset, so the participants looked dark by comparison.

-- Jasper
 

jasper

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Musey,

The wonderful flower shop I mentioned is Andes Florist, "The Place of Roses". Mr. and Mrs. Edgar and Claudia León run (and own) the shop. They are immigrants from South America, and simply delightful people to be around. Their flowers are of equally high quality. Claudia says that Los Angeles and Miami get the freshest flowers in America, because the Ecuadorian and Peruvian farms send the flowers by air to Los Angeles and Miami for distribution to the rest of the United States. Their website is:
http://www.andesflorist.net/

If you happen to visit Andes Florist, you might want to stop in at the Y-NOT Burger. It is just two doors south of the flower shop, and has the best burgers I have ever had the pleasure of eating.

-- Jasper
 

Finding_Neverland

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My best friend''s daughter got married last summer. A modest wedding. The budget was $10K and they went a bit over. But GF sprung for all the BM''s dresses, her Mother and MIL''s dresses, and hair and nails for all the Ladies. Plus she had 5 Tuxes to rent for the men in the family.

They had their reception in the "Grand Ballroom" of a local hotel in Kansas City. It was $4K for the room. $4K was the base price. That got the chairs and tables and a dance floor. Munchy crunchies from the Hotel were included in the price. The only thing they could bring in was the wedding cake and flowers.

All alcohol had to be bought thru the Hotel as well. So they offered guests wine and beer and had a cash bar set up for the rest of the adult beverages. Soft drinks, coffee, and tea were available as well as part of the basic fee.

When all was said and done, the tab came to over $5K to the Hotel. Excess beer and wine, and food added to the tab. And this was no dinner reception. It coulda been more, but GF and her Hubby agreed to arrange to clean up after the reception was done to trim costs. Leave the room suitable for set-up for another event the next day.

So it''s not just the coasts that are high for weddings. It''s big business for the venues and they try maximize profits on every wedding they book.
 

qtiekiki

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TravelingGal

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LA county beaches - 49 guest or under, free. 50 guests or over, permit required, $250. Chair rental would be an issue, if you wanted something more formal. We just had everyone sit on the sand.

Charthouse restaurant - reception fee $1300 and includes cake from either Torrance Bakery or Mayer's bakery in PV. Torrance Bakery is awesome.

Actually, I have my notes still...here it is. It's quite reasonable, ESPECIALLY the deposit amount (can't beat it, and you pay for nothing else until the day of your wedding - you can actualy charge it like a restaurant). Deposit is only $500!!

Keep in mind these are 2006 prices, and in order to use the entire restaurant, they can only do daytime only. Evening receptions are held in a room and would be intimate/smaller - 15 to 90 guests. Day weddings can hold up to 250.

Day Wedding Reception Package (10:30-4) - $1300
-Exclusive use of the entire restaurant or Beach for the day
-Custom wedding cake
-Cake cutting
-Dance Floor
-Linens
-Parking included for guests
-Personal wedding coordination

Day Ceremony & Ceremony Package (for use of their little side strip of beach which isn't nearly as pretty as the public beach, IMO) - $1700 Includes above and:
-Private Beach of indoor ceremony
-Ceremony Rehearsal and Coordination
*rental costs apply for beach ceremony

Evening Wedding Reception Package (5-10:30 pm) $1000 Same as day wedding except:
- no dance floor
- Use of Ocean View Room or Private Beach
- Limited parking for guests

Evening Ceremony and Reception - $1400 Same as evening package above except you get a private beach ceremony and rehearsal/coordination.

Gratuity is 19% and 8.25 tax are added to bil. Here are the minimums. The nice thing about the minimums is that the reception fee COUNTS toward the minimum. (tax and gratuity do not).

Daytime Reception minimum - $7000
Evening Reception minimum - Under 50 people, $4000. 51-90 people, $7000
Beach Reception minimum - $7000

Since my wedding was a Friday and off season, she offered me a minimum of $5000. My complete bill for the reception (not including flowers, or anything that I brought) was just over $7000 for about 50 guests. We had an open bar and I would highly doubt that anyone ever in the history of that place will ever have a bar tab as high as ours for the amount of people drinking.


Hope that helps!!
 

Mara

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we don't live in LA but when we were looking locally here in SF Bayarea it was between $2500-4000 for the rental fee for 8 hours depending on the venue, and what was included. one place which was super cute had a saturday minimum of $8k just for FOOD. not even including the liquor (around $2k) or rental fee (which was $2k). we were like okay so that's more than half our budget on just 3 things?!

we had mentally budgeted $20k as well for our wedding. and as we visited venues and realized '$4k for THIS?'...and then a friend suggested hawaii as a trip for friends, then said 'hey you should get married there!'...and i was like HMMM. so that's how our destination wedding thing was born. and i know it's not for everyone but it was SO the right thing for us. we never could have had the same amazing wedding here locally and everyone had a wonderful time...plus it was more intimate since only 30 of the closest people to us came. anyway...i feel your pain on trying to do something locally in an expensive area on a lower budget ($20k is not a lot in areas like this, all my friends have done $35-40k weddings that just ended up being 'nice' but nothing spectacular!)...the cake was going to be like $500 and flowers were going to be like $2000 and it was just getting too crazy to do it locally on a scale that we wanted. but hang in there, or consider destination? what about baja or catalina island?

the idea someone else had of booking a rental vacation home is great. you could do something on the beach, rent for a few days for about $1-2k maybe? then just have caterers and everyone come there. that is essentially what we did in hawaii...we had a huge plantation home on the beach and got married outside on the lawn and then had the party outside in front of the house. the house was the 'hub' for all the activities.
 

musey

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Jasper, Finding_Neverland, qtiekiki, TravelinGal and Mara... thank you all for your ideas/suggestions!! I don't know what I'd do for input without PS--TheKnot scares me and I wouldn't set foot in there (can we say FLAAAAME?). Anyway, I have a lot of good ideas to run with now. I'll keep you all updated as we plan.

There's a lot of good SoCal advice in here--maybe you all should create a Southern California Weddings advice thread!



P.S. TheKnot budgeted $6,000 for my dress (!) which I will be making... so, probably max of $500 there. I think I can put a chunk of that into the venue rental.
 
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