Thursday, September 17, 2009

Q & A Church Receptions

After reading the e-mail that Joyce sent me about her concerns about her upcoming church wedding I thought a lot of brides out there are concerned about the same things. Yes accommodating 300 guests on a tight budget is hard, but it does not mean you can’t be creative. Don’t let your space discourage you, in the end your guests are there to bless your marriage, not to check and tally up how you spent on your wedding right?
My name is Joyce and boy am I glad to have found you!
Firstly, thank you for your dedication. I am learning so much!
I do have a burning desire to get your advice on church weddings. If you don't mind, can I ask you for your opinion?
I will be having my wedding at my church fellowship hall. Not my dream wedding but because of the amount of people and our budget, its pretty much our only choice. Needless to say, I still battle with the choice being that it's far from what I ever dreamed of for my wedding.

Here are the problems:
There is this horrid carpet (orange). Its a gym. Luckily it's a big enough space to host 300 people.
We are planning on covering the walls with some sort of organza draping and accentuate it with lighting. This idea in itself will cost us an arm and leg. We would love to cover the orange carpet with some sort of flooring but covering the entire space will cost $$.
Basically we're going to spend mucho amount of money to transform the space from something other than a typical church gym. I do not want a typical church reception.

So my question is.... considering the budget roughly 25K with 300 people. How much of our budget for transforming the gym be too much?
I really really really am struggling with having a church reception... as much as I can, I want to transform that space so it doesnt feel like one. I just don't know how much is too much.. or if its even worth it.
I'm trying to find the balance between nice wedding and church wedding....
Please, can you blog more about church receptions??
Thank you thank you thank you....!!!

Savvy but confused,


To all the brides and to be brides who are planning a church reception, it’s not as bad as you think it is. I wanted to take some time and touch upon some concerns and hesitations people have when planning a church wedding and reception.

The carpet, yes, it may be an ugly orange or have a hideous pattern that doesn’t match your color scheme; but don’t worry when all of your tables and chairs are set up no one will notice the carpet. To accommodate a large church wedding guest list of 300 people you are going to need at least 28-30 tables, 1 large bridal party table or a sweet heart table, and about 8-10 6ft tables for the buffet line (assuming you are going to have a buffet). These table alone will fill the entire fellowship hall, no one will even notice the color of the carpet. Trust me.

However, here are some options that you may want to consider when you are thinking about “transforming” your church’s fellowship hall/gym into your reception site.

1. Linens- I think linens make a world of a difference in setting the tone and ambiance at your reception site. Satin linens will probably be the most cost efficient, they can run anywhere from $15- $20 (depending on your local rental company). You can accent the colors of your table linens with satin napkins as well. Napkins are about $.60 to $1.00 per napkin. For example, if you are having a deep purple and silver wedding, I would recommend using an eggplant table linen with silver/champagne/grey napkins.

2. Chairs- It is rare that a church can provide enough samsonite chairs for all of you guests; and renting chair covers with organza ribbons can look a little tacky too, so here are a couple suggestions. I would contact your local rental company and ask them for their rate on chairs. Chavari chairs can be costly(**UPDATE: they're now $5 dollars!!), so I would suggest renting white folding chairs (most of the time they will come in natural wood, black, or brown. They can cost about $2-$2.50 per chair.

3. Lighting- Uplights around the wall (of course, the color of your choice) and pin spot lighting to highlight the centerpieces on your tables can make a big difference. Lighting will also help create an atmosphere that will move away from your typical church wedding reception.

4. Design (GOBO) projection- This is basically a filter that is put in a light structure to make an image or shape. You have the option of personalizing these images and/or you can cover the wall OR ceiling with a pattern.

If you add lighting to your reception, it will definitely help create an ambiance for your guests to enjoy. I do think lighting is a better option than going crazy with flowers. But lighting alone can add $1K-$2K depending on how elaborate you want. I would get an estimate from a local vendor and see how much they would charge you first. Lighting isn’t the cheapest alternate.

One helpful tip, when you are looking around for vendors, look for a rental company that is capable of covering everything! From linens, chairs, to lighting, this way you can avoid being charged twice for set up and delivery fee.

Now with that said, how much is too much?

On average you should expect to spend about 10-15% of your overall wedding budget on the flowers. This will include the bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, and any ceremony and reception decor. While this is a good estimate, you can always DIY your own centerpieces and be creative. If you were to throw in lighting & linens, this will add another 10% of your total budget so make sure you sit down and calculate the total cost before you start looking for vendors.