1/18 {Ask Liz} Nixing New In-Laws From The Guest List & Calculating The Cost Of A Park Wedding

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Dear Liz,

My fiance and I are planning a wedding with an extremely tight budget and agreed that we would limit our guests to immediate family to cut cost. My fiance’s family is relatively small and scattered around the country, so most of them probably wouldn’t be able to make it anyway. By inviting only parents, siblings, and grandparents, I get pretty much everyone I would want to see on my wedding day, minus my step-cousin’s screaming toddler. Sounds like a great plan, right?

Not as easy as it sounds. When my mom remarried I inherited a large, unruly mob of opinionated aunts, uncles, cousins, and one particularly pushy grandmother. A few of my cousins have already asked me about the wedding date and sound like they’re planning to attend. But, I’m not planning on inviting them. I’m a people pleaser and I dread having to turn them down…so far I’ve just been non-committal, but I know that can’t last.

Do you have any advice on a tactful way to let friends and extended family know that they won’t be getting an invite?


Guilty Conscience

Hey Guilty,

Start with your mom. Tell her that because of your budget, you and your fiance are only inviting immediate family. Make it CLEAR that this includes her and her husband, but doesn’t include her new extended family. Be nice, but stay firm. She will, hopefully, spread the word. If one of your new cousins asks again, tell them the same thing, that the wedding has to be small, so you’re only inviting immediate family. Be gracious and kind, in the “We wish we could invite more people, but we can’t.” If they keep pushing, repeat it, until you can safely change the subject.

Fill ‘er up?

Dear Liz,

As a fellow broke-ass bride, I’m considering having my wedding in a state park. Though I’ll save money on venue fees, I know it will cost me more to bring in all the equipment necessities like tents, tables, lights, restrooms etc. So in the end I’m wondering – will this really save me money? If I do go this route, do you have any suggestions/advice to pull it off?


Six of One, How Many Thousand for the Other?

Dear Six,

This is a really good question, and something that my brides run into all the time. Not knowing anything about your overall budget, I can only sort of give you an idea of what it would cost here in Los Angeles. Costs here can run about 20-25% higher than the national average (example: I just gassed up at $3.78/gal, how much did YOU last pay at the pump?). So, best case scenario, with deals I’ve been able to find, for 100 guests? Everything that you would have to bring in, starting with tables and chairs, ending with the salt shakers and porta-potties, would run you close to $3,000. That’s not even including a tent, and God help you if your caterer needs to build a kitchen.   It does include delivery, though. So, figure out how much it would be for you, and add that to the park fee. Don’t forget that you have to feed everyone on what’s left of the first half of your budget, after venue fees and rentals.

How to save? First of all, the number one rule of saving money is to invite less people to your wedding. Less people = less tables, chairs, plates, cups, centerpieces, food, alcohol, you see where I’m going with this. If that’s not possible, the good news is that you get to decide what “everything” looks like. So, think higher-end paper plates and plastic-ware, as opposed to dishes and silverware. Remember to get 3 times as many plates and silverware as you have guests.  Ask the state park for rental company recommendations, they’ll have them. Food and alcohol…look for restaurants that can drop off and set up the food as opposed to a full-service catering company. That comes with its own complications, since caterers come with catering staff, which is often a necessary evil as far serving, busing, and general reception maintenance.  Comparison shop the two options and decide from there. Alcohol? Wine, beer and/or a specialty drink. Before you go for dirt cheap anything, taste it, test-drive it and look at it in person. And don’t settle for ugly. This might take some time, but most informed decisions do.

So, what’s giving you a guilty conscience about your wedding? And how did you save money on your park wedding? Let us know and ask your questions below. If you would like to find out more about me, go to www.silvercharmevents.com.

And, hey, join us for a live chat with Liz on Twitter next Wednesday, 1/23 at 11:30 am PST, and bring along your best wedding planning questions! @brokeassbride, hashtag #livewithliz.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith is the owner of Silver Charm Events, a wedding planning service in Los Angeles. She's also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and the author of "DIY Your DOC: Do-it Yourself Wedding Day Coordination." Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.