FH, FMIL, FFIL and I have all discussed this, and I know it's been discussed a billion and one times on this forum, but I really need to know if it would be appropriate in this particular case. I have also provided additional options in my little speal below.
We have a lot of out of town guests who are invited, our guest list is about 80, and as discussed in a previous thread, it is important to me to have that many guests. I've worked out that it will cost about $35/head for entree, main, dessert and the wine + non-alcoholic drinks we are providing. We will already be asking guests to BYO beer and spirits (it is a day wedding, and we are buying the wine for toasts). If all 80 people reply and say yes they want to come, we will have difficulty paying for all of them - that's over half of our wedding budget!!!! We can afford to pay for about half of the guests in full. So we have a couple of options:
1) Ask guests (approx. 20 people) that are already in town to 'pay for their own main' - and contribute $10 for an adult for their main meal (kids free, and these guests will have the ability to tick/number their meat preferences - chicken, lamb, beef, kangaroo or turkey). This would definitely ease our budget slightly and help out by $200. We could then pay for all of the out of town guests pretty much with not a lot of problems.
2) Ask ALL guests to contribute as above (FH was confused as to why we only ask one set of people and not another - I told him that the out of towners already have so much to pay for to come to our wedding, and the in town guests are our closest friends and family and might not mind).
3) FH and I were thinking we could ask guests to BYO their own meat for the BBQ, we will provide salads/breads and everything else. My thought on this was that it might be difficult for out of town guests to do this because they might not know where supermarkets/butchers are, and also, how are we meant to keep track of whose meat is whose? We're also already asking people to BYO beer and spirits, so I might feel weird.
4) I have thought about cutting out the main meal, and having the reception go from 2pm - 5.30pm with the ceremony at 1pm... This would be fine by me and FH, but FFIL and FMIL have said that it might be a bit unfair to out of town guests to only have a short reception, and also we're spending a bit of money on entertainment (games and photobooth) to keep the people who don't drink occupied. A lot of each of our families do not drink at all, or only very little, and probably won't dance either, so we had to find another way to keep things fun.
FFIL, FMIL and FH don't find a problem with asking for money or a 'contribution' as they like to call it. I feel uncomfortable doing so, even though it's not a lot of money (I know in the past there have been threads concerning paying for the whole meal which could end up quite a lot for the guests). I'm still trying to cut down my budget though... FMIL still reckons that only about 50 or so will show up though, which would still be a little more than we could afford, but I'm sure we'll work something out.
What are your suggestions ladies?