Planning a Low-Cost and High-Fun Wedding Reception

Regardless of how far away your wedding date is set to be, the wedding planning process can be very overwhelming, especially when it comes to how expensive everything is.

When you are planning your wedding party and/or reception, it can be difficult to know what you need, stay within a budget and still have a beautiful and fun party that your friends and relatives will remember for years.

If you are planning a wedding reception to accompany your ceremony and want some tips on how to make it great without needing to take out a second mortgage or live in debt for the foreseeable future, keep reading for some helpful money-saving tips.

The Budget

The first thing you must do when planning a wedding is to determine what your actual budget is. It is very important to have a detailed list of how much money you want to spend on your reception, including budgets for food, decorations and more.

Of course, establishing an actual budget may seem like an obvious first step, but unfortunately it is a portion of event planning that is often skipped. Establishing a budget might be avoided because talking about money can be uncomfortable, particularly if you and your partner are not the only ones paying for the wedding. However, if you are splitting the costs with other individuals, it only makes it that much more crucial for a discussion about the budget to be arranged. There is nothing worse than assuming that you can spend a certain amount only to realize that you were wrong, especially when you are spending someone else’s money. Make sure that does not happen by talking openly about all the expenses related to the wedding, and discussing all expectations beforehand.

Then, once you get that important “money talk” out of the way, you can move onto the more exciting stuff: actually planning your reception!

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The Fun Stuff

Generally, the most important components of a good wedding reception include the venue, food, guest list, decorations and the music. To learn more about each of these reception components and how to save money for each, read the sections below.

  1. Venue

The venue where you choose to host your wedding reception will make a huge impact on the overall feel of the party. Moreover, the location will likely affect other components of the reception and what you may need to pay for them. For example, some venues require you to use a specific caterer or florist. Thus, it is important to determine whether those options fit into your budget, or if you would rather choose a different venue in order to book other wedding services at a lower cost.

In addition, the location you choose may have a big influence on the decorations you need. A hotel reception hall may need more decorations to achieve the look you desire, while a party at a park or by the ocean may be beautiful enough on its own and need very minimal decorations. In order to save money on a venue, you may want to consider options such as a relative’s or a friend’s backyard. You may be surprised to find that there are various affordable or even free venue options available to you.

On the other hand, if you decide to host your event at a hotel or other wedding venue, you must speak to its owners and see what discounts are available. Oftentimes, venues will have discounted rates if you host your party on a weekday or on a Sunday. Otherwise, you may be able to save money if you have your reception at a more unique time, such as in the afternoon instead of during the evening.

  1. Food

Having good food at your reception is a necessity. However, it can also be one of your biggest expenses. In general, hiring a caterer to provide a three-course meal for your guests will likely be expensive. Thus, it is a good idea to consider all of your options. If you know any good cooks and bakers, you may want to consider having them help you make some of the food. Even making just a portion of the food yourself can save you a lot of money. Otherwise, you can look into more unique and possibly cheaper options for food, such as hiring a food truck to serve your guests.

  1. Guest List

It is important to understand that the more people you invite to the reception, the more expensive everything will be. Food costs will increase with each guest, and the venue you choose will also be affected by how many people you need to fit inside. For that reason, consider hosting a party for just your closest family members and friends, and you will likely end up saving a great deal.

  1. Decorations

As mentioned before, the venue that you choose will have a big impact on the decorations that you will need. As such, hosting your party in a scenic backyard or by the beach may allow you to keep the decorations to a minimum, because the surrounding areas are already beautiful. However, if you do decide to utilize some decorations to personalize your venue, you may want to consider the following:

  • Borrow or rent decorations from a friend or rental company.
  • Look online for DIY inspiration.
  • Reuse flowers from your ceremony. As one example, you can use bridesmaid’s bouquets as table centerpieces!
  • Use items you currently own. Collect different vases and bottles for holding flowers, display photos in frames you already own, and use other trinkets to decorate the tables. The eclectic look is totally in right now, so do not be afraid to mix and match décor!
  • Look for decorations at a dollar store or thrift store. You may be surprised by how much you can buy for a very low price.
  • Order flowers in bulk through a grocery store instead of using a florist. There are various flower-arranging classes and videos available, and with some practice you may be able to create most of the arrangements yourself.
  1. Music

The music being played at your reception is another very important part of the event, since it sets the mood and keeps the guests entertained. However, you do not need to hire a band or a professional DJ to make sure that your guests are dancing all night. You can simply connect a phone or computer to some speakers (rented or included in the venue) and play music from pre-created playlists. As an extra step, you may want to have a friend manage the music occasionally by changing to specific songs for different events such as your first dance, the cake cutting and more, if necessary.

Of course, every couple and every reception is different, so it is important to decide ahead of time what aspects you want to spend the most money on, and where you and your partner are willing to DIY or search for a bargain. Once you have discussed what your budget is for the party, you can begin to make those decisions and create a reception that is both budget-friendly and memorable!

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