Where in Austin can I serve cake to 75 people on the cheap?
November 4, 2012 8:39 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a place to have a wedding reception on an extremely tight budget. We're serving cake and punch (champagne if we can swing it) to about 75 people, and would like a place near downtown Austin, TX for under $300. Any ideas?

My wedding will be in May at the Cathedral on 10th and San Jacinto. We can rent the church hall for $300, but then we're required to have liability insurance for serving food, and if we decide to serve champagne we'll need a TABC server, more liability insurance and a permit.

I'm wondering if there's any alternative. I'd like to stay near the Cathedral as I would feel bad having people drive a distance just to get a piece of cake and something to drink.

Do you know of a restaurant that would reserve space for a group that large? A business that lets the public use a conference space? A hotel that would throw in a space if I buy their cake and beverages?
posted by erloteiel to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you looked into how much the liability insurance would cost? It might not be as expensive as you think, and probably not $300 (I looked into it here in NYC, it was something like $100 for $1million in coverage). You can call the company that insures your house and ask about riders for a one-day event.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:43 AM on November 4, 2012

Here in the Archdiocese of New York, the required liability insurance (which is purchased through the Archdiocese) for one time events like this is around $100.

The Diocese of Austin model rental agreement is here. The model alcohol addendum is here. It looks like some of the things you describe, like the permit, are only required if you charge the guests for booze or charge admission.
posted by Jahaza at 9:10 AM on November 4, 2012

The City of Austin parks are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There's a little park just a couple of blocks away. I'm not at all sure about the condition of it, what's there, or if it's popular, or even what time of year you're planning your wedding! Park directory.
posted by Addlepated at 9:23 AM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do you or one of your friends have homeowner's insurance? The ability to cover liability for serving food, and not necessarily in the home covered, is one of those weird things that come standard but many people don't notice.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:40 AM on November 4, 2012

Do you have any friends living in nearby suburban condo or apartment complexes? Years ago, I threw a pretty big engagement party at the community center of my complex. Ours was available for any resident to book up to 2 times per year, and the only charge was a fully refundable security deposit.
posted by gimli at 9:42 AM on November 4, 2012

Are you required to have the ceremony in a church, or at that particular church? Alternatively, you could hold the ceremony and reception at another location and have an officiant from the church come to you and perform the ceremony. It's generally much cheaper to rent out one venue and use it for both the ceremony and reception than renting out two different venues.
posted by nikkorizz at 11:43 AM on November 4, 2012

Seconding Addlepated's suggestion about the Austin parks -- I held my wedding at Mayfield Park and it was the only way I could have afforded something so nice. You do have to mail in for a lottery seven months in advance of your anticipated date, though (PDF of policies).
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:26 PM on November 4, 2012

Nthing the Austin Parks. We had our wedding and reception at the Zilker Park Clubhouse and it was wonderful. The only hitch is there is a lottery system, though we were approved for both our first and second choices for an early March wedding.
posted by goggie at 3:02 PM on November 4, 2012

An update for AskMefi posterity: Austin parks would have been our first choice, but our wedding is Memorial Day weekend and they don't accept reservations/lottery applications for holiday weekends. If not for that, the prices are perfect, though the heat might have been a concern.

We decided to go with Nuevo Leon on 6th. They charge $250 for the room rental, but have no food minimum and will allow us to bring a cake. We'll probably buy appetizers and tea/soda for everyone, though. Doesn't really save us money, but saves a lot of hassle like set-up, clean-up, decorating, etc.

If we hadn't found that, I would have looked into a rider on my renter's insurance for serving food and pushed back on the requirements for a permit and separate insurance for alcohol using the documents Jahaza found.

Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone!
posted by erloteiel at 7:03 AM on November 15, 2012

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