Wedding receptions are a great way to blow off steam after the stressful process of wedding planning. They’re also a unique chance to party with family and friends who aren’t often all gathered in the same place. We definitely understand if you want your wedding reception to be the best party you’ve ever thrown or attended. Unfortunately, unless the father of the bride is Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, you probably have budget considerations that are at odds with your partying dreams. But never fear: here are great ways to save a few bucks on the reception without compromising the fun.
Limit the Bar
It may seem like liquor is the last place to skimp on party costs, but a top-shelf bar can really put a dent in your budget. Unless you’re willing to do an open bar, consider having just one signature cocktail, then a couple of beer selections and a couple of wine selections. Uncle Fred may not be able to get his signature Tanqueray and Tonic, but he’ll survive. Your open bar budget will go a lot farther if you stick with rail mixers, beer and wine.
Go for Comfort Food over Haute Cuisine
Sure, you’d love to serve your guests a choice of filet mignon or fresh Alaskan salmon, but your friends and family will be just as happy to dig into some barbeque or burgers with mac ‘n’ cheese. There’s a reason it’s called “comfort food:” it’s food that people are familiar with, it provides a lot of fullness for not much money, and people associate it with happy memories of the dinner table growing up. If you’re not prepared to go full potluck, this is a good step down from the really fancy stuff.
Make Your Own Desserts
Instead of shelling out for a wedding cake, you can make (or ask the in-laws to make) cupcakes or homemade cake. It’s a fraction of the price, and it means more to your guests that it’s homemade. If you absolutely have to have a multi-tiered masterpiece, go for a small decorative cake and get some good ol’ fashioned sheet cake to serve to guests. Think about it: when was the last time you heard someone compliment the flavor of a wedding cake? Those big beautiful cakes are optimized for appearance, not taste.
Go for Non-Floral Centerpieces
Those beautiful fresh flower displays can be a real drain on the budget. You can save big by opting for centerpieces built around candles, books, or fresh fruit. Better yet, you can save on the cake and centerpieces both by having a different small cake at each table. It provides visual interest like a centerpiece, and your guests can eat it come dessert-time and you can even put a few wedding sparklers in each one to add some zest. Having different cake flavors at different tables also encourages your guests to mingle.
Provide Your Own Tunes
In these modern times where everyone has access to thousands of songs via smartphone or mp3 player, you can skip the band or DJ. Cue up tunes that will get every demographic dancing–a couple for the grandparents, a few for the parents, and plenty for all the thirty and younger to enjoy. Providing your own music also makes sure you’ll get to hear those songs that are special to you and your new spouse.
A wedding reception can be a really fun party without breaking the budget. If you follow a few of these tips, you can cut a few corners without compromising the experience.