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need help to find affordable wedding hall

i recently got engaged and we are fortunate to have many friends and large families (about 400-500 people) but that makes planning a wedding we can afford very difficult. We have a lot of family out of town so we need to have the wedding on Sunday night which is usually even more costly. We can afford about $60-$70 per person. We are trying to stay away from the Williamsburg area at this time, but are OK with anywhere in the 5 boroughs of NYC. I've made lots of calls but everyone seems to be charging $80-100 and up per person. Can anyone offer some guidance?? Where should i be looking??? Thanking you in advance.

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  1. Astoria manor in Queens - Meisners caterers

    1. Monday nights in most places are much less expensive than Sunday nights. If you out of town guests can do Monday night, you're looking at a much lower cost per person at any place you choose.

      Did you look at any halls that do not have a set kosher caterer? That way you can price out many caterers, and bring whoever you choose.

      1. The Rabbi of my shul (very wealthy since his primary source of income is in real estate) had a wedding for his daughter at Ateres Avroham which had an interesting twist. The dinner part had no waiter service! no predetermined seating (and the problems and headachs that go with it) - it was pure buffet style. Lots of good choices. I don't know if this resulted in a cheaper or more expensive wedding. I never enjoyed a wedding more since I always prefer buffet style since I can eat as much as I want when I want with lots more choices than the usual sit down dinner offerings.

        I try (if possible) to only go for the smorg + cerimony of a wedding since (1) I am usually stuffed after eating at the food orgy that goes with a good smorg (2) I get home at a reasonable hour (3) being that the wedding cost is a functon of only how many guests are at the meal I don't feel compelled to give a large wedding check.

        6 Replies
        1. re: MartyB

          My wedding was buffet style, as are most of the wedding I go to (last year it was about 15). Basically, you get what you pay for. If you have multiple pasta, rice, and saucy dishes, you'll pay less than if you have carving stations, stuffed chicken, and salmon fillets.

          The budget weddings I've been to usually have salmon (it holds up well), carving station (roast beef, corned beef, turkey), chicken (marsala or stuffed), potatoes, pasta (ravioli), green salad, grilled vegetables, cooked vegetable dish.

          It's more food choices than a regular sit down dinner, but you're not paying for all the waiters, and you need smaller quantites of a lot of items. You can lesson the bill even more but cutting out the carving station and serving a beef dish.

          Also, if you can forgo the usual smorg, a lot is saved there. I had passings at my wedding. Cicken skewers, grilled vegetable puffs, stuffed mushrooms.. things like that are not as expensive as putting out a whole spread. Plus, you'll be having a lot at the dinner part. You can also put out a sushi table if you want more of a smorg. It's less expensive to have the sushi premade than to have a spread and a sushi chef preparing fresh rolls.

          If you have any other questions, let me know.

          1. re: MartyB

            Re: (3) being that the wedding cost is a functon of only how many guests are at the meal I don't feel compelled to give a large wedding check.

            So I presume that on the response card, you say you are only coming for the shmorg? Dinner costs are calculated by how many guests are coming. If you say you are coming, they count you and pay for you. Of course, the idea that one decides on a gift based on how hospitable the ba'alei simcha are to you is pretty low, in my eyes. If I am invited and attend--even just the shmorg, I give what I consider to be an appropriate gift for the couple; I don't base it on how much I ate, or even how much was provided. The idea of basing a gift based on the cost of the wedding has always been odd to me; if the ba'alei simcha are well off and have chosen an expensive hall, that's their choice and I don't feel I have to compensate them for that choice. On the other hand, if they are not well off, I don't feel I can "get away" with giving the couple less; indeed, they are probably in greater need of a nice check to help them start off better, since the family may not have as much to give them. As with all other gifts I give (birthday, Chanukah, etc.), they are a function of my relationship with the recipient(s) and what I can afford.

            1. re: queenscook

              I have never based a wedding gift on how much the couple would be charged per person. Since I got married first out of my friends, I usually give a gift or check depending on what they sent me. If a friend sent a $45 platter, I'll send a $45 gift. The only exception is if I can't afford to give the same amount. A close friend of mine gave me a $200 serving dish as a gift (she was single) but when she got married I couldn't afford to spend that much on a gift. I gave what I could afford ($100) and that was it.

              If I am invited to a wedding where the person did not attend mine, I usually spend about $35 on a gift. It may seem like a small amount, but last year alone I went to about 15-20 weddings!

            2. re: MartyB

              As I was going to Cosco today one of my daughter happen to make a comment to another daughter of mine about a wedding that her friend was having. It was exactly the style that I mentioned however she said something that I forgot to mention about the wedding that the Rav of my shul had, namely that after the buffet that followed the chupa, there was a sit down dinner for "FAMILY ONLY". This way costs are kept down, you can have all the friends that you want and nobody gets insulted - unless, of course, you fail to invite a FAMILY member to the dinner. Brilliant! the only way to go!

              1. re: MartyB

                This is becoming the standard in many communities outside of NY; it's called the "Seudas Chasan v'Kallah." The meal is not limited to family, but to those truly close to the couple or family.

                1. re: queenscook

                  G-d forbid, it defeats the whole purpose. Once you start to get into the parsha of "truly close friends" you are in big trouble! First of all, if you invite couple “A”, they will be compelled to invite you back when they have a simcha, if not then they will say, we invited you for the dinner because we thought that we were close and this is the way we are repaid? Then of course there is the fuzzy line that has to be determined as to who falls into the category of "truly close".

                  I believe in the principle of KISS – keep it family only. The only exception that makes sense, and is less problematic is to invite also the friends of the Chasan and Kallah (mixed seating please!). I would also STRONGLY suggest that in this setting, family, and the friends of the Chasan and Kallah, that you ditch the mechitza. If you must have one then put it between the Chasan’s family and the Kallah’s.

                  If you still fell strongly compelled to invite a few select friends because they are so special to you, then invite them to one of the Shevah Brachus as well, or have them join you and the newlyweds for dinner at your house.

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