Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I can't believe I'm actually writing a post about McDonald's. I am vehemently anti-McDonald's (for all of the reasons delineated in Supersize Me), but I actually think it's cool that the McDonald's in Hong Kong are now offering weddings.

Well, let me take that back. It's actually kind of sad that McDonald's has jumped on the Wedding Industrial Complex bandwagon because it means they will start charging more than they otherwise would, but reading the article reminded me that one of the most effective ways to cut costs during wedding planning is to steer clear of the well-worn wedding path when selecting a venue.

For example, Matt and I rented out an entire B&B that is more commonly used for scrapbooking retreats. We scored the whole thing for $750 bucks a night (which we reclaimed by collecting $25-35/night from our friends who stayed on site). We were able to use their kitchen, white lights, tables, chairs, coolers, grills, board games, hot tub, fire pit, tablecloths, utensils, serving bowls--the list goes on and on.

I've also seen people rent out restaurants and bowling alleys--the possibilities are endless!

The one caveat is that you have to think through what you'll be doing at the venue and whether it's equipped to meet your needs. For example, if you score a cheap venue but then need to rent absolutely everything to fill it up, you can end up spending more in the end.

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Sarah said...

Hear, hear on venues that might seem cheap but can be really expensive! Renting chairs and tables isn't something to be swept under the rug-- that stuff adds up!

liezl said...

YES, Sara -- you are right on point for highlighting the off-the-beaten path sites (especially for all us off-the-beaten path soon-to-be-marrieds). During our search, my fiance and I were sent a sample estimate from a potential site for our reception, a typical venue site in Seattle. We were floored by the estimate for an hors d'oeuvres buffet for 150 people: $16,000+, which far exceeded our entire wedding budget. Paying for venue staff alone was $4,500+! We understand that this might be reasonable for some couples, but definitely not for us, two working graduate students!

We searched Craigslist and we asked our friends. Our list included community and cultural centers, Elks Lodges, Knights of Columbus buildings, convention and conference centers, rowing centers, school gyms, photo studios, nightclubs, the zoo, music venues, art galleries, and a docked boat.

We are thrilled about who we finally decided to partner with: a small museum whose staff treated my family and me with respect (we found that this is key!). The space is intimate, unique, quirky, and perfect for our vision of a dynamic event where people will meet and mingle (no stuffy, awkward plated dinner). Because the museum hosts other kinds of events, chairs and tables are on-site and available for our use. We even get to self-cater the reception, so we're not stuck with the extravagant costs of typical catering companies. Not only are we staying within our budget, but we are also maintaining control over our experience -- and that's priceless.

Sara @ House Bella said...

We rented out a restaurant for our wedding, and it was awesome! No room charge, all the tables/chairs/etc were provided (including some linens, which was a surprise to us), and we worked out the menu with them way beforehand. It made the wedding really affordable, it was in a beautiful restaurant right on the ocean, and we loved it. Our guests did, too!

lmb said...

I'm not sure what McDonald's is like in Hong Kong, but I just spent a bunch of time in Indonesia, and McDonald's there is not what it is in North America... It is NOT a "cheap" place to eat compared to locally-owned restaurants. It is marketed as being a fancy, upper-middle-class place. They have Starbucks-style coffee bars, televisions with cable, computers for surfing the web, and quite stylish decor. And the "average" person could only afford to eat there once in a blue moon. For example, full combos for two would cost the equivalent of 1/10 the monthly salary of an employee at a not-for-profit organization.

So, while it seems "off the beaten track" and "affordable" to us in NA, it may be a different story (and a lot more like the typical WIC venues that we are used to) in other parts of the world. Just sayin'!

London Wedding Photographer RAMYAD said...

Hmmm, McDonalds is viewed completely differently in the East, to the West. A lot of young couples will probably go for this.

Anonymous said...

We went "off the beaten path" a bit by having our wedding on a Thursday morning! The venue would have been $3500 for a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday evening. For a Thursday during the day - $500.

Melissa said...

I find the differences in our western view of things vs the eastern view so interesting. As pointed out in some of the comments above, their McDonald's is so different from ours. Wonder if a new trend will start.

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