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    • Former MSE Wendy
    • By Former MSE Wendy 22nd Apr 08, 10:04 AM
    • 868Posts
    • 1,782Thanks
    Former MSE Wendy
    The Great ‘how to host a big party on the cheap' Hunt
    • #1
    • 22nd Apr 08, 10:04 AM
    The Great ‘how to host a big party on the cheap' Hunt 22nd Apr 08 at 10:04 AM
    Whether it's a wedding, engagement, christening, retirement or big birthday bash, it's great to be able to celebrate with all your family and friends in style. But the bigger a party gets, the more the costs can mount up with it ending up costing the earth to put on your perfect party.

    So I want to tap MoneySavers’ expertise to find out how you hold big do's on the cheap. Whether it's ways to make your own decorations, party nibbles or home made cocktails, what are the best ways you've found to keep down the costs of your special occasion?

    Please post below to share your experiences with other MoneySavers.

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Page 1
    • JimmyTheWig
    • By JimmyTheWig 22nd Apr 08, 3:15 PM
    • 11,844 Posts
    • 11,384 Thanks
    • #2
    • 22nd Apr 08, 3:15 PM
    • #2
    • 22nd Apr 08, 3:15 PM
    We did our wedding reception pretty cheaply.
    Had a small ceremony (about 50 guests) in the venue we wanted (council owned) and then hired another hall from the council (200 yards from ceremony) for the wedding breakfast and reception.
    We invited pretty much everyone we knew to this, including the breakfast.

    Got quotes from a few caterers, and they were all charging silly prices for not much. Plus all the caterers' food was "posh-nosh". Was not paying over-the-odds for food half the guests wouldn't eat.
    So we ordered (well in advance) a load of pizzas from Perfect Pizza. Arranged for a few family members to dish them out, three per table of 8.
    Then for desert we had those Taste the Difference chocolate cakes that are quite cheap (a couple of quid each) and again dished them out.

    The whole thing went down really well. Was the first time my Nan (80+) has had take-away pizza, and she loved it.

    It meant we could invite everyone we wanted to be there without it cost a fortune.

    Was the best day of my life.
    • rainmac
    • By rainmac 22nd Apr 08, 3:19 PM
    • 7,058 Posts
    • 57,284 Thanks
    • #3
    • 22nd Apr 08, 3:19 PM
    • #3
    • 22nd Apr 08, 3:19 PM
    One way around avoiding a lot of the cost is to ask people to bring a dish of something with them and hold the event somewhere with a bar so you aren't expected to provide all the drink.

    I think people don't expect to drink as much at lunchtime or afternoon so if you hold your party then you can get away with less alcohol.

    If you are making the food yourself, go for big dish salads. Things like homemade coleslaw, potato salad, cous cous salad, mixed salad leaves. Lots of bread with cheeses and cold meats. Job done!

    If you're having a cake, make it yourself. Iced cupcakes always look lovely, are really easy to make and there's no cake cutting up to worry about on the day.

    Pound shops are great for things like napkins, plastic cups/glasses.

    Ebay is great for kids party goods - decorations, party bag toys etc. There's loads on there so you really have to search to find the bargains.
  • coxy07
    • #4
    • 22nd Apr 08, 7:44 PM
    • #4
    • 22nd Apr 08, 7:44 PM
    My daughter got married Christmas week. This saved money as the church and hotel were already decorated for Christmas so no extra flowers required, also by fitting in with a menu the hotel were already doing for a Christmas do they reduced the cost of the reception. We made all the stationery using Christmas clipart & tiny artificial holly leaves.We bought crackers for the tables, bridesmaid gifts,dark red bridesmaid dresses, fur stoles etc in the post Christmas sales the year before. A good time of year for an MSE wedding!!
  • Mum of 5
    • #5
    • 23rd Apr 08, 7:40 AM
    • #5
    • 23rd Apr 08, 7:40 AM
    I did virtually everything for our wedding, we spent our money on hiring a farm in a village near us - an old farm with a beautiful garden. we had a humanist wedding in the garden outside, but a fairly traditional wedding. they provided good food at only £20 for 2 courses.

    I think made all the invites, there's card shops called the Papermill at most shopping outlets. i made each person a bookmark in black card with a small photo of some spring flowers that i had taken stuck on. i think printed on white card a made up meaning of their name which suited our relationship. so my sister who i ask everything i put 'oracle', people LOVED them. I also made all the place cards on the computer. I made the table names on the computer and printed them all off on a slightly shimmer card i had got from the papermill. I named each table the name of somewhere we had stayed in australia and on each table was a photo of us there and a diary of our time there, again people loved it.

    the tables had candleabras - provided by the venu but i'm sure you could borrow them. i bought about 10 meters of a gorgeous pink shimmery fabric, seethroug almost and put it on top of the white tablecloth under the candleabras, around that i had just 3 large pink gerberas, then lots of tealights in glass holders. it saved a fortune on flowers. I carried a single stem of pink lily's which was differernt and nicer than a huge bouquet. i ordered 50 gerberas and and 6 stems of lily's direct from the retail branch of our local interflora - just ask your florist about ordering direct. i paid about £40 for all our flowers. We used 4 gerberas and my sister just wrapped raffia around them about 10 minutes before the ceremony, people kept asking where we had had them done! So i saved a massive amount on flowers and table decorations. peole commented how personal the wedding was as we had done everything ourselves.

    I had a friend who made necklaces make 6 bead necklaces for my bridesmaid and she only charged me for the beads as she was so honoured to be asked.

    i had 6 bridesmaids, mainly due to 2 daughters and then lots of good friends who wanted to be bridesmaids. i picked pink as my main theme as all shades of pink match each other. then i said i was really happy for people to be bridesmaids but they had to buy their own dress, but there was no code of dress so they all used it as an excuse to buy something they liked but that they would wear again. we had someone in pink prom dress and others in a short summer shift dress, all of them looked great together and again made it really personal.

    It was really nice doing it all myself, if a little stressful the day before, i was lucky that the venue let me decorate it all the day before.

    we also had a friend who put together a website with all the info on it, travel accomodation etc so we were lucky.

    look around and there's loads you can do. remember that something that is personal will mean so much more to people that something that you had spent loads on but just bought. we've had countless comments that people normally felt weddings were a bit samey and you could just lift up the bride and groom and put another in their place, but with ours it was different and very personalised.

    if you want to ask any questions please leave me a message and i'll rely!

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    Last edited by Former MSE Natasha; 29-04-2008 at 5:48 PM.
  • chilligirl
    • #6
    • 23rd Apr 08, 9:13 AM
    • #6
    • 23rd Apr 08, 9:13 AM
    We organised our wedding six months ago and decided not to spend a silly amount of money on it.

    Instead of spending £600 plus on a dress (plus the cost of alterations - quoted at least £100 for these by bridal shops!), I wore my Mum's wedding dress and had a new coat made to wear over the top by a local dressmaker - the alterations to the dress, the material for the coat and having it made up came to just over £100. Shoes and tiara (both brand new) from ebay - £20 for the two. Husband bought a new suit, shirt, cravat waistcoat and shoes in the sales - his outfit cost c£200 (would have been £150 to hire a good quality morning suit, and he can wear his suit and shirt again and again). The other men all wore their own suits.

    Our bridesmaid bought her dress from Monsoon in the sale.

    We had pots of flowering plants wrapped up in tissue paper on the reception tables rather than flower arrangements - cost about £4 each instead of at least £15 for flowers, and people could take them home afterwards, and I went to a florist out of town so got all the flowers for about the cost of one bouquet in a town centre florist because her overheads were so much lower. Also put candles on the tables - used tealight holders from asda at 14p each (3 per table, 8 tables) and a pack of value tealights which cost £1 for 100.

    Shopped around for a hotel for the reception that didn't charge room hire or a silly amount for dinner - paid £20 per head for three courses rather than £35-£50 per head plus room hire charged elsewhere, simply because the hotel isn't an 'in' place for weddings at the moment. We had costed a village hall plus an outside caterer and this came in as more expensive than the hotel we chose. The best advice I can give on this is don't even look at the 'in' places - they'll be too popular for you to be able to negotiate a good deal with them and they often aren't that nice anyway and you'll feel part of a wedding production line. It also helps to get married slightly out of season.

    We saved a lot by not having an evening do - a lot of hotels insisted that you had to have a minimum no for the wedding breakfast, followed by a minimum no for a buffet at an evening do, plus a DJ etc etc. No no no no no! You don't have to have what the venues are trying to sell to you. So many people commented that it was lovely that the wedding didn't go on and on, they could go home the same night if they had travelled some distance and for us it was bliss being back home with our feet up on the sofa by 8pm. It meant all our guests could talk to each other without loud music blaring at them and everyone from the oldest to the youngest felt equally involved.

    To get people talking at the reception we put a box of modelling balloons on each table with a challenge from us to make the best model. This kept the children (and the adults) entertained and we judged the results, giving the best table a bottle of champagne. It cost about £3 per table for the balloons and we bought the champagne from the supermarket.

    Our best bargains:
    Favours - I used the left over material from my coat, and lavender from my garden, to make lavender bags for all the ladies. Cost = £0.00! Ok, maybe a few pence for the thread but I already had that.

    Photos - we got professional photos for just the travelling expenses of the photographer, as she was starting out (had joined her husband's business, he was already a professional photographer) and wanted to use our photos for her portfolio etc. Cost us £60 plus the cost of printing the photos ourselves from photobox (about £30 for 200 photos), and we have the CD for over 400 fantastic photos which we can print as many of as we want. It is worth checking out whether there are any budding photographers out there you can do a similar deal with!
    Last edited by chilligirl; 23-04-2008 at 9:22 AM.
  • markrussell
    • #7
    • 23rd Apr 08, 9:24 AM
    • #7
    • 23rd Apr 08, 9:24 AM
    I run a company called bliss productions and we specialise in parties on the cheap. We usually save people anywhere between 35-60% of the "Usually" cost of throwing a party by using local, homemade or if we do have to hire specialist equitpment, ensure we are using "best value" suppliers. We have seen a recent boom in what I descibe as value events and clients have started coming to companies such as mine knowing we can save them tremendous amounts of cash. All we do is add 10-15% to the total bill for us. But when your saving 50% its really handy, especially if you haven't got the time......
    We only profit from the overall event and produce recipets for every cost line to prove we are not adding premiums.... I have not posted links, but if you or a friend are interested then give me a shout via the message service.
  • mrshave
    • #8
    • 23rd Apr 08, 10:55 AM
    Budget Wedding
    • #8
    • 23rd Apr 08, 10:55 AM
    Our wedding was cheaper than most as we worked to do a lot of the things ourselves. Main areas of savings we found were:

    Wedding date
    Wedding cars

    We had a long list of wants for our reception with extras like a Jazz band and chocolate fountain that were big spends. As we set a budget we didn’t want to - and couldn’t exceed, we tried our best to save money elsewhere.

    We held our wedding on Bank Holiday Monday, which is not a popular date and as a result cheaper for us. It was also the only date in August available for the next 2 years!

    My Dad is in haulage, so we used his trucks for our wedding cars. They were a great talking point, and a focal point for the photos, and we saved an absolute fortune on cars, which can be in excess £500 for a morning! I would recommend asking friends to borrow a nice car of theirs for the wedding, or failing that use a black cab.

    The venue was our local town hall, which saved a lot of money, as it wasn’t wedding oriented and as a result it wasn’t wedding money weighted! The local park immediately behind it was in full bloom as it was the end of August and was beautiful. The venue worked out like our own private exclusive hotel, we were really happy with it. We also as a result saved money as we used our own caterers, which worked out about £10 a head. don't discount local village halls etc as they can often be just as beautiful for less money.

    Flowers were bought at our local flower market wholesalers which proved to be so vastly cheaper its unbelievable, I was quoted £2,000 for the flowers I wanted, and they cost me £300 from the wholesalers, I collected antique bottles and glassware from Ebay and junk shops and used them for table decorations, which friends of mine did on the wedding day. We also made tape measure rosettes for the men, and this saved money on buttonholes, and meant we didn’t have to worry about the flowers on the day.

    As mentioned previously, we used an up and coming photographer and only had to pay her mileage. The pictures were fantastic, and not copyrighted as they usually are.

    Other areas of saving were wedding cake – made by a friend and we bought a cake topper from Ebay, which was fantastic, cakes are an area where you can really save, as the normal price is in excess of £250. Our friends helped us make the invitations and place cards with paper bought from an online retailer. We bought extras like a piñata online, and used sweets for favors from Macro. We had soap made in America and shipped over for favors, which worked out so cheaply. We got great ideas from sites like Cox and Cox and worked cheaper ways to replicate them!

    The more you do yourself the more unique your wedding day will be, the more your friends will feel involved and the more you will save! A personal day is worth all the money in the world you could ever spend.
  • lady_stardust
    • #9
    • 23rd Apr 08, 11:43 AM
    • #9
    • 23rd Apr 08, 11:43 AM
    As far as venues go, think outside the box. A farm near us has a beautiful barn and courtyard that I admired every time I drove past, I told all my work colleagues about it and it turned out that someone knew the farmer and they had hired the barn for parties before but they kept it fairly quiet - they didn't want the hassle of too much business but we got it for peanuts for our wedding and it was great. Also our local lido can be hired out for next to nothing - cheaper than the leisure centre pool and great for a summer pool party. Bit weather dependent I know, but they might be receptive of you choosing an alternative day if the weather is bad.
  • halia
    find out if there are local attractions/ events you can 'hijack' for part of the do.

    For our wedding we arranged to go for a ride on the local steam narrow gauge railway with all the guests. It made the weekend really special.

    think outside the box for decorations, fairy lights look fantastic and you can beg or borrow quite a few sets in summer from people's Xmas box.
    DEBT: £500 credit card £800 Bank overdraft
    £14 Weekly food budget

  • anjybabes
    look into village halls,town halls & guildhalls. if there council owned there usually cheaper.
    you can get some stunning council owned hall's ideal for event's.
  • Starz_Ceilings
    Our Wedding
    Eight years ago this year! But feels like it was yesterday! We saved money in lots of areas, but still had an amazing day with loads going on.

    I purchased silver sugared almonds wholesale and saved a lot making them into my own favours. I also put fortune cookies on the table - they were inexpensive, but people really liked them...

    I contacted a 'porsche owners club' as my husband is a 911 nut. They were delighted to help us out (If you're cheeky enough to ask!!) and it meant my hubby was delivered to the venue in a top of the range red 911 (his team's colours) - the guy whose car it was was really chuffed to be involved in our big day, and didn't even want any money! I think in the end we made a small donation to charity instead. My dad brought me to the venue in his pride and joy - his shiny black MG - decked out with all the ribbons of course! Wedding cars cost a lot so it was nice to make a saving here.

    We put bingo cards on all the tables - instead of numbers there were answers to questions about the two of us - the best man read out the questions, and the winning table got a bottle of bubbly. We called it "Wedding-o" (lol - sorry!) Everyone enjoyed that...

    We brought in our own wine and paid the venue for corkage - it still worked out cheaper than buying their wine, so it's worth checking.

    I saw a gorgeous dress (with a crazy pricetag) and got a friend who was a dressmaker to copy the design for me - this saved me loads and I was delighted with the outcome. We bought some very simple bridesmaids dresses in a sale and customised them with tiny silk flowers.

    We also bought fireworks that were on sale the previous new year and set them off at the wedding at midnight.

    I saw an amazing cake in a bridal magazine and my mum (who admittedly is a dab hand when it comes to cakes) copied it exactly - that saved a fortune - the original cake was almost £1,000!

    I reckon in total we saved several thousand...

    There are lots of ways to make savings!
  • boldaslove
    when my friends got married a few years ago they hired out a private room above a pub and got everyone to bring a dish to the reception. people were divided into savoury/sweet, the guests were from all over the globe so the food was fantastic and very interesting! my mum (a dab hand at baking) made the wedding cake and musician friends played rather than hiring out a band. there was a laptop hooked up to the soundsystem with loads of music on, so everyone could DJ. several guests were keen photographers so there ended up being hundreds of pictures and my friend shot a load of footage which someone else edited on their computer and burned onto a dvd.
    it was a 'kid friendly' reception (till 11 when the adults could party!) so several of us got hold of a trunk and put homemade shakers and fancy dress stuff in (fake beards, fireman hat, feather boas, masks etc) to keep the kids entertained. although to be honest the grownups seemed to enjoy that more!

    i have to say it was pretty stressful to organise but it ended up being an absolute riot, everyone still talks about what a great night it was, definately the best wedding i've been to!
    if all else fails..... break out the puppy dog eyes!
  • foreversomeday
    For our wedding (now postponed due to the little one!) I was thinking about having the reception in a local park, and getting everyone to bring a dish or plate of picnic food, and a blanket. It would be great for kids as they can run around and make as much noise as they want or play on the slides and things - I was going to suggest that parents bring a change of clothes for their children if they were going to be all dressed up for the photos! We weren't inviting everyone to the wedding itself anyway so most of the children coming wouldn't have to be dressed up in special clothes.

    Of course this is very much dependant on the weather - but since everyone is meeting in a public place there is no booking fee and no problem if you postponed it, so it could all very well be arranged at the last minute as long as people aren't flying halfway across the world.

    Parks work well as a party destination, and are free to get in. I remember having my 6th birthday party in our local park and everyone who came (including me) said it was the best party ever. If it is involving lots of children though you will need more adults to supervise and regular head-counts to make sure nobody has wandered off! You can do some structured games, perhaps a hugely organised hide-and-seek or sardines (again make sure the adults keep their eyes open!!) and any food tastes better if it is eaten outside so you wouldn't have to go overboard on this. If it is summer, avoid ice cream vans or ask parents to give their child money for an ice cream as this can become expensive with a lot of children, especially if you are already providing lunch. Another thing which will be exciting to children is to find a park slightly further away than you would usually drive, which most of them would not have been to before. Make sure you know where the first aid place is in case anyone gets stung by a bee or falls over - or carry plasters, wasp-eze and lollipops just in case. Face paints are also cheap to buy and can be applied before you get there if you arrange a separate meeting place.
    I don't believe and I never did that two wrongs make a right
  • curlysue
    I'm actually a wedding planner for a 4star hotel and there's a few things you can do if you've got your heart set on a hotel for your wedding/reception:
    *be flexible on the date- Saturdays are the most popular day for weddings, therefore less chance of a bargain, so ask about discounts for Sunday - Thursday weddings- you'll be surprised what kind of money you could save and most guests will welcome the excuse to take a day off work!! Also, bear in mind that may-sept are the most popular months for weddings, so going outside of these months can mean great savings!
    *don't just accept their set packages with 3 courses, drinks package and evening food- always ask if they can tailor make a package- ditch a course, or do without teas & coffee- make people buy their own drinks?
    *skip the wedding breakfast altogether and go for a more informal late ceremony straight into an evening do with a great buffet- what i am planning for my own wedding!!
    *make sure to do your guests a deal on accommodation too!!
    *try and get rid of room hire costs by having minimum numbers of guests as per the hotels terms- sometimes if you can add a few extra people you can save hundreds on room hire.
    *if you're prepared to do everything with a bit less notice then your average wedding, you can also get some great discounts with by checking if there are any dates coming up soon, eg phone up now for any cancellations/free dates in august this year.

    And aside from all the hotel bargains to be had- dont forget EBAY!!! It's great, you can get dresses, tiaras, shoes, bridemaids outfits, table decs, just about anything you might need!!!
    • Hey Dude
    • By Hey Dude 23rd Apr 08, 4:23 PM
    • 1,750 Posts
    • 2,652 Thanks
    Hey Dude
    I run a company called bliss productions and we specialise in parties on the cheap. We usually save people anywhere between 35-60% of the "Usually" cost of throwing a party by using local, homemade or if we do have to hire specialist equitpment, ensure we are using "best value" suppliers. We have seen a recent boom in what I descibe as value events and clients have started coming to companies such as mine knowing we can save them tremendous amounts of cash. All we do is add 10-15% to the total bill for us. But when your saving 50% its really handy, especially if you haven't got the time......
    We only profit from the overall event and produce recipets for every cost line to prove we are not adding premiums.... I have not posted links, but if you or a friend are interested then give me a shout via the message service.
    Originally posted by markrussell
    Is giving someone else 15% really Moneysaving?


  • markrussell
    Is giving someone else 15% really Moneysaving?


    Originally posted by Hey Dude
    Its usually 10%, just do the maths, I save you 50% off the cost then charge 10% for you to do nothing, that equals 40% saving....That sounds good and my customers love it......
    • yorkie cook
    • By yorkie cook 23rd Apr 08, 7:27 PM
    • 81 Posts
    • 290 Thanks
    yorkie cook
    Friend of mine got married last year and wanted a tiara but didn't want to pay £50-£100 in the bridal shop and another friend suggested trying one of the asian shops or online she went online and got got one for a few pounds.
  • MoneySavingStudent
    My Wedding Plan (So Far)
    Start planning early is a good tip!!

    Im getting married next year but because were on a budget and cant afford to just shell out £2000 all at once for a reception venue/meal were doing things bit by bit!

    I buy 1 thing each month for the wedding and because ive brought in advance it speads the cost better and its not as hard on your wallet because you have time to search for the best price!

    I got engaged in Feb and so far ive got the following:

    Deposit for venue = Cost £500 (Amex card used with 5% cashback!)
    50 wine red favour bags = Cost £2.50 (including p&p)
    50 ivory favour bags = Cost £2.50 (including p&p)
    150 red chocolate favours = Cost £3.50 (Including p&p)
    150 white chocolate favours = Cost £3.50 (including p&p)

    Keep this date free cards pack of 100 including envolopes = Cost £7.98
    Printer ink = Cost £20 (Black & Colour)
    *I saved money by printing my own. I drew a picture, and made a couple of hearts on paint, edited them and made a verse to go inside the card. Looks professional printed on golden paper*
    I will do the same with the actually invitations!

    For the venue we thought a sunday would be nice but were not too fussy. We ended up moving the day to a Friday because we got 20% off our wedding breakfast! We also got free room hire, bride and groom suite free, parents of bride and groom rooms for free, free decorations, special rates for guests, use of spa etc.
    *If your not bothered about what day, ask the wedding planner if they do a special offer for having it on a certain day. Our venue were doing 20% off for July/August weddings if they were on a Friday!*

    But of course the whole day is about the dress for us girls!!
    And yes... i have brought it already! I saw the exact one i wanted straight away... BUT it was £350! Which is alot on a tight budget! I went through the local papers and searched ebay daily.. Then on one day i found the dress on ebay! It was an ex display model and it was in my size!
    I got the dress for £41.10 but then got an email saying the seller had over charged me on postage so she refunded me £6!
    *Always search ebay and other sites before you make a big purchase! You never know you might just get lucky like me! PS my dress was from the UK too NOT china!*

    We have also called in favours for the suite hire from a cousin who will do the hire for about £45 each instead of £59!
    The bridesmaids dresses are £100 each but im looking on ebay to see if we can get lucky again!
    *Also keep an eye on places like debenhams because they do random 'blue cross sales' on there website! Im hoping to get the bridesmaids dresses in that. Next one is in June i think!*

    My fiance's grandad also use to be the vicar at the church were having, and the vicar there at the moment is my fiance's uncle, and he has made sure we dont have to pay for the church until the day before. (Which i think happens anyway in most cases!)

    So by buying abit each month so far ive been able to save lots! Im so pleased about my dress! Im going to work out table menus later this year and see how much i can get that down by.
    We are thinking of making out own wedding cake, as fiance is good at baking and future mother-in-law is good at decorating cakes! (of course they'll be some trial runs first!)

    Photographer - We are going to ring up the local university and see if a final year photography student would be willing to build up there profile! (We'll check work before hand to see if he/she is the best in the class!) Their only a few months away from graduating and becoming a professional, so why not?!

    Flowers - Local is best. but buying charity shop plastic flowers for the best men etc is a good way of saving money and donating to a good cause! Me and my bridesmaids are going to have some flowers from our own bush in the garden. My auntie (who i was very close to) died in Feb, 3 days after we annouced our engagement, and her ashes are under the bush/tree in the garden (we planted the tree/bush in her memory) so we are going to have a rose each from it, so she can be there with us

    I hope you've enjoyed reading my wedding plan so far!

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    Last edited by Former MSE Natasha; 29-04-2008 at 5:49 PM.
    I'm getting married in August 2015
  • malteaser1988
    moneysavingstudent...your wedding sounds fab...i cant believe you are managing to get married on a student budget!
    im also a student and i definately couldnt afford it right now!
    are you using savings or earnings?
    SPC Member #1654

    Achieved my goal and moved out in 2012!

    Have just started comping...
    August wins: 2x tickets to Foodie Festival
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