Throw a Fabulous Reception on a Budget

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Photo Credits:
Barn Reception -- Geoff White Photographers
Reception Cocktails -- Geoff White Photographers
Bouquet Toss – Bishop Photography
Wontons - Anna Kuperberg Photography
Reception Hall - Geoff White Photographers
Candy Jar - Geoff White Photographers
Meat Platter - Geoff White Photographers


Budget Savers

Throw a Fabulous Reception on a Budget

Yes, it’s possible. Here’s how.

Photo: Red Loft Studios

There's no question -- your reception will be the most expensive aspect of your wedding day. No matter the amount of guests invited, you're still expected to provide each and every one of them with food, drink, and endless entertainment. If you're already stressing about the prospect of planning your reception, check out these super-saver budget tips for ideas on how you can cut costs on your special day.

Book Off-Season

Think you're a summer bride? Think again! June through September is the peak season for most weddings, which means you’re going to have to pay more to host your wedding during these months. The same goes for weekend and evening weddings. Due to the demand, they cost much more than a Friday night cocktail hour or Sunday afternoon luncheon.

Opt for a Reception Registry

An elaborate spread will obviously please your guests, but what about your pocket book? Not everyone can afford to provide a five-course meal. If an informal affair is your idea of a good time, consider setting up a reception registry. Much like a pot-luck, guests sign up to bring a dish to pass instead of a gift.

Stick to a Signature Drink

A cash bar is a definite no-no, but limiting your open bar to several signature drinks to cut down costs is perfectly acceptable. Play up your wedding theme or location to really amp up your party environment. Opt for mint juleps or fruity hurricanes for a Southern-style wedding, or keep it spicy and festive with margaritas and sangria for a traditional Mexican fiesta. Looking for something new? Use some of the money you saved from not having an open bar to hire an expert mixologist to whip up a few signature drinks for your special day. You can even take it to the next level and offer a special mixology class during your reception to school your guests on the finer points of upscale alcohol basics.

Go With Local Talent

Sorry, Rihanna and Kanye are already booked -- so now what? You don't need an A-list name to make sure your reception rocks. Consult your friends and family for help on finding a local band or DJ. Tribute bands are always crowd-pleasers, as are karaoke machines and celebrity impersonators. If all else fails, contact your local college music department for recommendations on student musicians in the area. Most likely, your newbie talent will be eager to please and be open to accommodating your distinct musical style for a very cheap price. Note: Just because you're getting your entertainment cheap doesn't mean you should scrimp on feeding them. Treat them with the same courtesy you'd give to any other paid talent by providing them with food, drinks, and regular breaks throughout your reception.

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-- Summer Krecke

See More: Budgeting , Receptions , Planning