A golden anniversary is a MAJOR reason to celebrate. Marriage for fifty years is rare in today's society. When my parents neared their 50th anniversary, my father pulled me aside and said that we need to plan something for your mother. Wheels turning, I set out on my mission.
Since I'm in the bridal industry, I approached it like planning a small wedding reception. I wanted this to be a multi generational party, and wanted all ages to have fun. Hence, the challenge!
Since most people don't have the connections I have, don't be afraid to ask questions and get recommendations. You can go to a bridal show to meet vendors, you don't have to be getting married to attend. You may even get a show discount. Call your local bridal salon, they know vendors and will happily give recommendations.
Favors aren't necessary at an anniversary party. Neither are expensive floral table decorations. What about appetizers? Or a cookie table? An open bar? A champagne fountain? Alcohol? Fresh flower arrangements? Set your priorities within your budget. Be organized, keep a notebook and keep notes, contacts, contracts and receipts in it.
Set the date and pick the location before you hire a caterer.
Its important to find your cater based on personal recommendations from friends and family and then having a tasting. Compare menu's and pricing. Buffet's are less expensive than sit down dinners. Two meats are less expensive than having three meats. China is more expensive than paper plates. Plastic table cloths are less expensive than renting table linens and chair covers. Set your budget and work out the menu with the caterer. Don't be afraid to ask for the couple's favorite food or to include a special family dish to personalize the dinner.
If your family is willing to pitch in, you can self cater and do all the cooking. It's a lot of work, but it can be fun if the entire family helps.
You can send out formal printed invitations, postcards invitations or print your own on your computer. Don't opt for email invitations, its considered socially tacky and there are a lot of seniors who don't have email. If you need a head count for the caterer, you'll need to include RSVP cards or have them RSVP by phone. Remember to budget for postage.
Are you going to have a special wedding cake? Music? Dancing? Photographer? This all needs to be factored in the party.
I decided to try and recreate my parents original wedding reception from photos and within my limited budget. I had my mother's wedding dress restored and cleaned and put it on a mannequin behind the main table. It was the hit of the party and she sobbed when she saw it! Go to a local bridal salon (not a chain bridal salon) and ask them about cleaning or restoring the original wedding dress. They may even loan you a mannequin for the evening!
I took photos of the original wedding cake to a baker and had it recreated. I found their cake top in a cedar chest and was so excited I could barely contain myself. I used the original wedding photos and family photos on the cake table. I had a floral arrangement copied from a wedding photo and put it on the head table. And, I purchased it from a grocery store florist!
Decorations were gold pillar candles purchased a dollar store, gold confetti spread out on the tables, and anything that could be spray painted gold.
I hired a caterer known for their tasty food and presentation. Luckily I have connections, but they included bartenders and servers. I had to buy alcohol, mixers and soft drinks. I saved a bundle by going through the caterer, purchasing the alcohol myself and not hiring a bar service.
I decided to hire a disc jockey. Luckily, I have connections so I could hire the best. During dinner he played Sinatra, Michael Buble and Harry Connick, Jr. When the dancing started, he played their special song for the first dance. Then it got fun. He played everything from rock to big band and everyone got involved in the dance floor. He got some of the seniors to dance with the teens and teach them to dance the jitterbug and how to dance to the big band music. Then he got the teens to teach the seniors some moves. Everyone danced and the DJ stayed an extra hour. Remember, my mission was to cross generations and to have everyone have fun.
If your party is in the afternoon or an off night, you can get a discount on your DJ. A good DJ can make or break your party.
Check out the dollar stores for table decorations. You can also go to a craft store and buy gold spray paint and spray items gold.
Grocery store bakeries are a good source of tasty and less expensive cakes. You can even rent a "dummy cake" and order sheet cakes which are less expensive. Have the sheet cake cut in the back room and served. It will save you a fortune.
Have the party on a Friday or Sunday night. Halls are less expensive because most parties rent on Saturday. Hotels and most party centers will make you use their catering. If your church or fraternal organization has a hall, you may get a discount for being a member.
Buffets are less expensive than a sit down dinner. China is more expensive than paper plates.
An open bar can be very expensive. If you want to serve alcohol, you can rent a champagne fountain, bottles of wine at the table or kegs of beer. If you can buy your own alcohol, you'll save a lot of money versus the bottle fees.
If you can't afford a disc jockey, you can have a teen program music into an I pod and have speakers attached to the I pod for music.
Don't be afraid to negotiate with your vendors. If you approach them with a nice attitude and let them know your budget, they'll be more willing to work with you. Don't be ridiculous in your demands, you can't expect them to do the work for nothing.
Don't overlook the grocery store florist. They may be more affordable. You can also order pots of plants for the tables at a very reasonable price.
Do you need to hire a photographer? You can purchase disposable cameras and put one on each table. And everyone has relatives with digital cameras who can be appointed the resident photographer.
Be willing to do a portion of the work yourself. Every extra person you hire will cost you.