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A Do It Yourself Wedding in New York City For $15,000 Or Less, Is It Possible? Part III – Tips for you, too.

  • Posted on March 15, 2011 at 10:42 pm
  1. Car Rental for the weekend: Go Green with $160.33/weekend day whether it is for 6 hours or 24 hours. Go with the 24 since you can use it for those last minutes things that come up before the wedding. That is for a smart Fortwo, talk about making an entrance. Keep in mind with Hertz you can pick the car up at one location and drop it off somewhere else, as long as they have a lot. That could save you some time. For instance: pick up at a Hertz on the upper west side and drop it off at one of their hotel locations especially if you’re not going away to your honeymoon right away..
  2. Car rental for the 3-day weekend from Speedy-Rent-A-Car $205.00
  3. Rental from or are by the hour from $11.00 – $17.00 for the weekend depending on the car. A Scion Xb or smart Fortwo on the low end hourly or a Mercedes on the high end hourly at
  4. You can also offer your relatives and/or friends some money to use their cars, or perhaps they could offer their services and their car as a gift, to chauffeur you and your wedding party around for a couple of hours.
  5. What if you want to have your wedding catered, it is still possible to do it economically in a big city, whether it is in New York City or Chicago, or even Boston, you just need a bit of ingenuity to stay within your budget. If you’re a curious detailed oriented person like I am, then you’ll decide this is the fun part, the chase or the journey to your end destination is what you really want. It is actually the magic part about the entire wedding, I think, because you are at the stage where you are shaping the outcome of the day. It will take patience and possibly lots of legwork, to see just what you might be getting for the day of event, but the hunt (for the guys) is on and it can be a great deal of fun. Here are a few tips:
  6. Decide on the type of wedding and plan your food accordingly. The food, reception space and beverages will be the biggest part of your budget, no matter how large or small it is.  Such as casual, spiffy-casual, or formal, (usually sit down) While casual and spiffy-casual may come very close to looking like the same thing, they really are quite different when it comes to food. I have seen casually catered events start as low as $12.95 per person or just under $1200 for 85 people. This is strict buffet style, no seating provided usually, put stand-up cocktail tables in various spots with food arrangements on them along with some passed appetizers, can be just as elegant as a formal sit down affair as well.
  7. My friend’s wedding although it had a very high-church of various cultures feel to it had a casual reception, since all the guests were expected to bring something. With her committee of  ‘wedding corralling ladies’, the guests with each acceptance of the invitation, was then asked what they could bring to the reception. By doing it that way, my friend saved all sorts of money and even had leftovers. Wedding party paid nothing, zero, zip, for that feast. Their reception had everything from appetizers to desserts including rum balls, (YUM!).  Some of us were getting high just from the fumes of the rum balls; additionally there was even a fruit bowl.
  8. Another casual reception could be to have a stand around party with a huge sandwich or various pizzas or have your new mother-in-law make something for the crowd. You can probably strike up a deal with your favorite pizza store once you pass 10 pizzas. Figure at 3 slices per guest and you’ve got it made. For instance, a pizza usually has 12 slices and for 80 guests, you’d have to have 20 pies feeding each person 3 slices each. My neighborhood pizza store sells a large pie for $16 each, but if I ordered 20 pies for 85 guests, my budget for food would be at around $350. Even with spending $350 on the pizza, you must give your guests something to wash down the pizzas, so add $50 – $75 for some sort of beverages.  Have a variety of beverages and pizza flavors and you have a batch of happy guests.
  9. For more organic less oil, use whole grain flat breads; American or Italian version with different toppings, as your starter rather than bread and cheese.

10. Don’t forget to include something for your vegetarian friends or even people allergic or staying away from wheat.

11. Perhaps as I did you can get a combination price with another feature of the wedding. My limousine company managed a caterer and so     I able to receive a combination price. Plus, my new mother-in-law, made something special in large quantities at her son’s request. We had 85 guests, so with the 4-hour use of the limousine and the caterer  it was $625. My new mother-in-law’s food was gratis. Ours was a casual formal of sorts. It was buffet style with seating.  There was enough seating for everyone, but the only things passed were the Hors d’Oeuvres.

12. The formal caterer or sit down with service is where you’ll have to weigh your options on how much is too much. These types often run    as low as $27 per person and up into the tens of thousands. If you’re trying to do a wedding for under $15,000, as I am advocating then you’re probably priced out of this market unless you can strike a deal with one of your favorite restaurants. Perhaps Carmine’s, in which the food is served family-style, but everyone is sitting. This could be a possibility. My friends took me there for graduation and we ordered one full meal and had left-overs for two additional people.

13. If using Carmine’s works for you, I am betting that they can work for your budget as well. Think about it, a main dish for a meal is $21 – 25, which easily feeds 5 – 6 people. If you have 12 tables of 8 could still be less than pricey, but your guests will be full and have potential doggy bags to take home. Roughly your pricing could still be under $1000 ($400), even with the addition of salad, garlic bread, beverages, and dessert. YUM! A pure feast to behold.

14. Decorations are another item that can run into lots of pennies. In this instance, I am talking about the flowers for the bride and the wedding party and the extras for the reception to make it a wedding themed event. The extras could include tulle and floating candles, or almost infinite ideas as motifs or table decorations of some kind. Here are few of my favorites with pricing of the day:

15. Check any of the websites that sell pre-made flowers and you’re good to go. Flower arrangements start as low as $29.95 and go $79.95 for our purposes. Flowers can, of course go into the hundreds from these websites and upward if you use florists.  There are florists who offer budgetary wedding packages, but you will have to ask specifically.

16. To cut cost further, the bride and matron/maid of honor could be the only people to carry flowers and then everyone and everything else could be decorated at the ceremony venue with tulle, or aisle candles.

17. At the reception venue, the theme could be carried further with floating candles on the tables as centerpieces instead of flowers. If, like we did, you have a water feature, add some floating candles, larger than the table candles, to it and call it a day. Candles at the reception venue could run you a whopping $100 to start, unless you want or have a half an acre to decorate.

18. Additionally you could have:  balloons, silk roses, candy, vases of things (marbles, fruit, etc.) at your reception for decorations.

19. Add some special candies or other cheery items for the table; M&M’s or Jordan Almonds or Junior mints. We went with special made-to-order M&M’s. I bought 3 bags and that was all I needed, at $11 per bag, [The price per bag has gone up] it was a steal. And you get to choose your colors so they can coordinate them with your wedding colors. Pretty cool, I think and inexpensive, too.

20. Don’t forget those disposable cameras, so your guests can snap some fun pictures as well. Check out various websites and you might be able to get 9 cameras, all for $35, just like I did.

I hope some of these tips will help and they are useful to bring down the costs  on your dream wedding event.  So, it can be done with a bit of ingenuity, verve, and flair. Dreamers can

Riverside’s Wedding Open House – 2/19/2011

  • Posted on February 21, 2011 at 10:47 pm

As a new author, it is often a delight to be invited anywhere.  A couple of weeks ago, I was at the place my husband and I got married, Riverside Church and ran into the wedding consultant.  I asked for a wedding packet and explained that I was writing a book about New York City weddings on a budget.  Ms. Gregory promptly invited me to the annual Wedding Open House at Riverside Church.

Today, I had the privilege of attending in which she quite graciously introduced me as a new author and I was then allowed to hand out fliers about my upcoming eBook which will go live by the end of this month.

Riverside’s Wedding Opening House is unlike any other wedding event you might attend, including any wedding expo.  Talking about them in the same sentence, though is talking apples and oranges.  The Wedding Expos that I have attended, had a big business machine feel to them, with lots of moving parts and lots of people trying to get the bride and groom’s money right away, by putting fear in them about loosing the date of their choice if they don’t sign up that very day.

Riverside’s annual wedding event has a more leisurely feel to it.  There is no rush, rush feel or a sense that you must do something and do it now or lose out forever.  At this year’s event there were families, a few grooms only and of course the brides, and bride and groom experiencing the feel of a Riverside Church wedding.  The various rooms were made up to look, feel, and in some cases taste what such an event could be, at Riverside Church.

There was the annual raffle of winning a wedding ceremony in the Nave, which can easily seat 2000 on the main floor, saving them approximately $1500 – $1800.  There was an addition of a new raffle winning a reception for one hundred people including an open bar, easily a $15,000 – $18,000 prize.  The tickets could have been purchased only during the open house and were non-transferable and could not be sold.  The two happy couples William and Sylvia won the wedding ceremony and Pete H. and his bride won the reception and open bar.

Next year, if you are in the market for a wedding event, I suggest you go to Riverside’s, very definitely.  The set up is beautiful throughout the church, plus there are giveaways around the church to entice you to look around, especially if you miss the guided tour by Ms. Gregory.  There is even a question and answer session in which more in depth information can be garnered.  Make sure you go prepared with your questions.  Here are just a few of the questions asked:

A Parent: Where does the wedding party begin?

Ms. Gregory: I am the first stop, for which you can schedule an appointment and we talk in depth about what you might want, the budget, and the number of guests.  You may also either email me, (best) or call me.  If you are ready to book, then definitely set up an appointment, and I will get you started in the process including your reservation of a room, along with the deposit.   Additionally, if you want your reception here, I can let our catering service, PashaEvents, know that you are booked and ready to have them (the Caterers) contact you.  You (The reservers) may also do that on your own, as well.

Bride: Can secular music be played during the ceremony?

Ms. Gregory: During the ceremony, you may only use sacred music, which you make the decision on what it is.  This is a sacred space and we are strict with having only sacred music played during the wedding ceremony.  At the reception it is your choice of musical style.  You may hire an outside entertainer, or band.

Bride: How long is the ceremony?  How long before the reception begins?  How long is the minimum time for the reception?

Ms. Gregory: The wedding ceremony is typically 30 minutes.  The reception can be scheduled to start immediately or within the half hour of your ceremony’s end.  Typically any place you speak to about receptions will measure their price by the time needed.  We schedule you for an hour cocktail, and four hours for the reception and if you would like dancing as well, that includes more than enough time.

Groom: How much is the reception?

Ms. Gregory: Our pricing is competitive with other venues of our caliber, so our price per plate/person is between $105 -$155.

Groom: Can there be two ministers side by side performing the ceremony, one in English and the other minister in another language?

Ms. Gregory: We have several ministers on staff from which the bridal party can choose.  If their choice is not available, we go down to the next minister who is available.  Often there are requests for a minister, who is not a member of the Riverside clergy staff, who can perform weddings at Riverside Church, then they are allowed to do the homily, and liturgy.  Having another minister duplicate verbatim what the English-speaking minister will say lengthens the ceremony by two, possibly three times as much. and that is why they may join the service, with their specific part or feature, but only be one or two parts, not the whole ceremony, usually the homily and liturgy.

There were many more questions and I was even able to get a short interview with Ms. Gregory after the event.  If you are in the midst of or haven’t yet booked your wedding venue, I invite you to take a look a Riverside Church of New York.  And if you get the opportunity to go in February to go to their Open House, I would say, definitely go next year and maybe I’ll be there, too with another new book, or edition.