I am a planner in Indianapolis, IN (we work internationally). I would advise a few things...
1) a tent can be upward of $700 for a group that size (easily) and that will not include the false floor with dance area, the chairs, tables, heat or air, etc.
2) hotels are going to require you to use their catering, their alcohol, their everything - except usually cake
3) if you have a tent, on private property, you can usually have your own alcohol and food, but you will want to get an insurance policy in place for the day before, the day of, and the day after. this way if a guest gets hurt, sick, or anything else, you are not starting your life together in turmoil.
3) if you elect to have a bar in a private scenario, PLEASE trust me and hire a licensed bar tender for each bar station. This removes the liability of under aged drinking as the bar tender must check i.d. of the guests and if someone is over-served, you are not liable for the damages he or she creates by driving under the influence.
4) in most states, a 1 day liquor license can be obtained for less than $100...with wanting your event to go past midnight, you may need to get one that is for 2 days - check with the local licensing agency for this and your insurance provider for coverage
5) booking a block of rooms to receive a discount usually means you have to book a minimum of 10 and guarantee those against your credit card. Again, this is an area a planner can assist you....in fact, a planner can work almost all of these things out for you.
7)Labor Day Weekend: Yes, it is good for a lot of people as they do not have to take off from work to attend but no, traveling on a holiday weekend will result in higher travel costs...ie. even gasoline goes up over a holiday and hotels prices are raised on a holiday weekend...so that is just a weigh it out good to bad game that you will have to decide on
8) a planner is a must - yes, we can do this for you - but so can a whole slew of others....
questions to ask a planner:
1) what is your savings rate between what you cost and what you are able to negotiate on my behalf (ours is 94.8% of the time, we save you more than you paid us)
2) what denotes your job complete, what event must be completed, or what time do you leave? (most planners leave after the throwing of the bouquet and garter toss - we stay til the very end - just in case)
3) what MUST i be present for (in planning stages) to make this wedding happen? (generally, for us, we can put the whole thing on - except the last dress fitting...yes, we have hired "models" with your measurements to find your dress and you don't even have to be there until the last fitting) this one is very important for you since most planning will be done via email and phone since you will be overseas.
One last suggestion, sometimes importing some of your vendors can save you a ton! planners, photographers, even dj's can be less costly if paying a travel fee and a per diem than if you "order direct & local". This can be for a variety of reasons...in my case, a planner, i have negotiated rates with many vendors in my direct area. If you called my DJ directly, for example, his 4 hour with lights package (pretty standard) is about $795...for me, it is $450 (not such a standard price). Even with adding on mileage, hotel, and per diem for food, he will come in about $150 less than if you had called him directly. And, you know that we work well together. Another example (photography: one of my contracted photographers runs $2500 as a standard entry package...for me, she runs $995...you can totally see the savings there! Even if you upgraded to a higher end coffee table album (a larger one with more pages) rather than the standard coffee table album, you already have saved $1500 (less the hotel, travel expenses, and per diem). You should net a benefit of around $1200-$1300 discount. I'm just saying, buyer be-ware! There are discounts to be had...you just aren't going to get them on your own....you need a planner who has a reputation with these vendors and can save you a bundle!
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