LVW Mailbag: Working with a tight budget and outside catering

LVW Mailbag

Oh man, what’s going on? Even the LVW Monday Mailbag is back! Since it’s been a while since the last instalment, a refresher: this is where you get to hear my thoughts and opinions on Vegas wedding planning questions.

Today, I answer a question about intimate, stylish but budget-friendly elopement spots that are light on the cheese factor.

Hi Kelly!

I love your blog/site! It has so many great options and ideas and photography, especially if you’re like myself and want to have a wedding that isn’t so “touristy” and cliche for a Las Vegas wedding.

My fiance and I are locals and we really don’t want to do the Elvis officiant and photos in front of the welcome sign type thing.

We’re looking at April sometime next year and will have a guestlist of fewer than 100 people with a budget of about $2600. Luckily my fiance’s family graciously offered to foot the bill for the reception as a family friend can cook up a storm and we will be supplying the bartender and liquor. We’re totally fine with this idea, however, it seems like all the nice venues require licensed caterers and bartenders with their own liquor liability insurance OR we have to go with their caterers and no outside catering is allowed (which tends to be way more expensive).

Have we run out of options? Is the only option we have a complete DIY wedding at the park? We love Historic 5th Street (from what I’ve seen on your blog and the research I’ve done) but again, we need licensed caterers for the food and the bartending services must carry a liquor liability insurance that is also a caterer through the city (unlike our personal friend who is indeed licensed and has a health permit who works at bar, but she doesn’t freelance so she doesn’t have that insurance).

Thanks for any input you may have for us. I’m running into so many dead ends. Appreciate your time, and keep up all the awesomeness!


Hi L,

Well this one is a dilly. To be fair, these venues use insurance and health permits for your protection, so they will be hard to sidestep. Event insurance is really important for your safety, the guest’s safety and the safety of anyone working at the wedding, even if they are family friends.

My recommendation is for a venue change. Although it’s become increasingly challenging to find private homes that host events due to permit changes, there is one venue that immediately comes to mind: 2810 Estate.

I’ve consistently seen events continue to be held here, and this would be a way to host that number of people with the catering and liquor selection you would like.

Another way to do this would be to get creative with the catering (e.g., see this 2011 post about self-catering a wedding on Offbeat Bride). You might also have luck with venues like The Grove and A Secret Garden, who may allow you to bring in your own caterer. You still might have to deal with the licensing/insurance, issue though.

Perhaps someone will pipe up with another suggestion in the comments, however.

Best wishes,

Have a Vegas wedding planning question? Feel free to send it to me at kelly AT littlevegaswedding DOT com with the subject line: “LVW Mailbag” or leave a comment on one of the posts. I may answer it in a future mailbag feature. Questions may be edited for length, clarity and privacy.

If you want more immediate help, I encourage you to join the LVW Wedding Planning Facebook group. This private group is full of people planning their weddings just like you as well as some vendors. Both are great for knowledge and advice and are probably much more in the know than me! You can also read past mailbag questions here, a good place to start because I get a lot of similar questions.