The Q: I just came across your site and am so thrilled to finally get a chance to ask a professional advice on weddings in NY. My boyfriend and are heading in the direction of getting engaged in the next couple of months and have so many questions and decisions to figure out.
I’ve been reading up on as many blogs as possible and just recently started buying bridal magazines for the first time, but am still in the dark about where we should even start looking if we want to keep within our budget. I don’t have an exact figure yet but our wedding budget will most likely be around 40K and we would LOVE to get married in Manhattan and have around 120 guests. I think I may be delusional and this may be TOTALLY unrealistic but I must ask you anyway if we really can have our cake and eat it too? Do you have any recommendations or guidance for us?
The A: Hmm… It’s possible. It will be a challenge to make choices that won’t blow the budget, but it’s possible. (To readers who are in other cities, please don’t think I’m obnoxious, since I realize 40K is a lot of money, but sadly in NY, it just doesn’t go that far…)
First things first, people often talk about budget, but they don’t always know what it means or how to get started spending it and making it work. I know a lot of websites give you templates, but that doesn’t always translate regionally and it doesn’t always give you a guideline.
Basically, if you want to spend 40K on 120 guests, your most important decision is your reception location. It will set everything else in your budget in place. You should assume that location, furniture, food and beverage for the reception (the most expensive part) will cost you about 50% of that. When shopping for venues that translates to between $120-126 per guest. IF there is a location fee, then think no more than 120, b/c with tax and tip, you’ll have spent 20K of your money. Where does the rest of the 40K go? Well, Photography in NY is a big ticket item, as are flowers and decor (probably, easily another 8-10K for floral and decor), Music, ceremony site fees if you have another location, transportation, cake, etc, etc etc .
So, where can you go to make such a wedding happen? Luckily, there are a few options, but I would NOT advise you to have a loft be one of these options. It’s a common assumption that loft spaces are about the same as a location with catering or a restaurant, but they simply aren’t. What you may save on alcohol, you spend on rentals! If you want something traditional and a bit "Old New York" consider the Manhattan Penthouse off of Union Square. They have flexible and reasonable per person packages and I’ve found the food to be really consistent.
For something more modern and maybe a bit less formal, the private room at Thalassa is a great find. The food is amazing, Taso takes great care of everyone there and they have a wine cellar that I think is great for a ceremony (but might be a little bit tight). For something more rustic, the New Leaf Cafe is a well known "secret" location.
Hope that helps and congratulations! This part is so exciting. Other bride’s out there, if you feel comfortable letting me know, what is your target budget and what part of the country (or world) do you live in?