Low-Budget Wedding Reception Ideas
One of the largest expenses associated with your big day is the wedding reception, but there are ways to cut costs while still creating a fun and festive party for your family and friends.
Now that you're engaged, you've got lots of planning to do. You've set the date and the budget (right?) and now you're finding that the wedding reception is going to take a big chunk out of your budget. Short of signing over your first born and selling your soul to the devil, how will you create a festive atmosphere, feed your guests and still stay within your budget? With a little creativity and the tips below, you can pull off a beautiful wedding reception that's very budget friendly.
Location, Location, LocationAs the saying goes, location is everything. In this case, the location can save you a bundle. Instead of booking the ballroom of an exclusive hotel or other "must-have" location, look for something a little different and unique. You'll be surprised at how many locations are free or very low-cost. Look into gardens, vineyards, museums, church halls, hotel banquet rooms or even the home of a friend or family member. You may also be able to find restaurants in your area that specialize in affordable wedding receptions. When comparing prices, be sure to keep in mind that "free" locations require you to rent chairs, tables and more, so there is some cost involved. Sometimes it turns out to be more budget friendly to rent an inexpensive hall that provides those things for you.
Limit Your Guest ListIt's tempting to invite your 50th cousin twice removed, and it's easy to give in and let family members invite people who said hello to you back in kindergarten, but for the sake of your budget, you must be firm with your guest list. Stick to inviting the people you are truly close to and you'll save hundreds on the cost of food and drink at your wedding reception.
Let them Eat CakeYour wedding cake can average $5 per serving and up, easily taking a big bite out of your budget. You may want to consider ordering a small display cake, and also ordering a sheet cake to serve to your guests. It's much more cost effective, and your guests probably won't even think twice about it. And don't forget to ask around. Chances are, you or your fiance have an acquaintance who creates beautiful wedding cakes and charges next to nothing.
FoodFamily members are usually more than happy to help prepare food for your reception. Many foods such as roast beef, ham and lasagna are easy to prepare ahead of time in large quantities. And if you're preparing the food yourself, buying in bulk (wholesale clubs, etc) saves you lots of money. Potlucks are also enjoying a degree of renewed popularity. Ask family members to provide some of the food, and then invite guests to bring a dish in lieu of a gift. Simply slip a note into the invitation altering guests of this option.
To Drink or not to DrinkAlcohol also raises the cost of your wedding reception. Consider having only limited drinks available. Of course, if you have a morning or early afternoon wedding, alcohol isn't usually necessary. And some venues don't allow alcohol at all, so this point wouldn't even be an issue . Be sure to check on this at the locations you're considering.
DecorationsWith a little creativity (lights, candles, faux plants and trees), anyplace can be transformed into a beautiful reception location. Remember, your guests are there to celebrate with you, not critique the crystal chandeliers (or lack thereof). And there are scores of table decorations you can make yourself that are quite affordable. Don't be shy about family and friends to pitch in on making the decorations and decorating for the reception. Most times, they're more than happy to help.
MusicSave yourself $1000 or more by foregoing a live band. If you ask around, you probably have a family member, friend, or friend of a friend who does wedding DJ duties (or at least has a killer sound system) and would be willing to take charge of the music - usually for little or no cost. Your guests just want to dance and have fun, and it's not that important to them exactly where the music is coming from
Something Borrowed...There are so many details to attend to when planning a wedding reception. Where does the punch bowl come from? What about the silverware? And the coffee pot? If the location does not provide these things for you, and you're not using a caterer, there's nothing wrong with renting these items or borrowing them from friends or family members. There's no need to invest in a punch bowl - unless you think you'll get more use out of it. Besides, you can always buy one down the road when you need it, but do it when you budget isn't so tight. All of these little incidentals really add up, so take advantage of other people's willingness to help.
Don't let your wedding reception bury you under a mountain of debt. With a little resourcefulness and creativity, you can create a beautiful - and affordable - wedding reception filled with memories that will last a lifetime.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Heather L. Clark is a Web researcher and writer. In her spare time, she enjoys pilates, music and Seinfeld reruns. Check out her favorite resources for planning a fairy tale wedding, free wedding planning tools and tips for affordable wedding receptions.