How to Plan Your Wedding Reception on a Budget

Bride and groom with guests at wedding reception outside in the backyard

When planning your wedding, you and your partner should have a serious discussion about how much money you want to spend on a wedding reception. Cutting corners is probably not something you want to think about for your wedding, but that does not mean you need to spend thousands of dollars to make your wedding day and your reception memorable. Here are some tips on how to plan your wedding reception on a budget.

Most of us agree that spending what amounts to the value of a brand-new vehicle to celebrate a single day is not the best use of our money. Whether you are paying for your wedding on your own, or your family is helping to pay for the expenses, you may still want to explore the various options for cutting costs. One way to cut down on wedding expenses is to consider how much money you are going to spend on the wedding reception.

Venue Selection

One of the best areas to try and plan your wedding reception on a budget is within the venue selection. The minute you try to book a venue to hold your reception you will find out why weddings cost so much. Many venues offer "wedding packages" which are often less than affordable. Rather than go to a popular wedding venue, check out your local restaurants and ask if they are equipped to hold the number of guests you will be having at your reception. Many times, you can get a lower-priced meal, more options, and still have a fun-filled afternoon or evening with friends. Do not be afraid to approach a restaurant that would normally be closed on the day of your reception since they are often willing to open if it means handling a party. Do not overlook the possibility of finding a VFW post or an American Legion since these facilities often charge far less for a venue rental than many other locations.

Picking Food for Reception

The minute you tell someone you want them to cater a wedding reception, the cost of food may be higher than it would be for other events. Contact a caterer and let them know you are hosting an event without telling them it is a wedding reception and see what pricing you can secure. In many cases, you may fare better than if you told them you are hosting a wedding reception. Oftentimes, caterers will offer two or three meal choices for a reasonable "price per person". You may be able to also get them to provide an appetizer and dessert inclusive. If your hall rental does not include linens, a caterer can often provide linens as well. However, keep in mind, the "standard" color linen is white, and you could pay additional for color so again, focus what is important to you during your wedding and reception to save money.

Saving on Entertainment at Reception

Before going out and hiring an expensive DJ, talk to friends and family and see what options are available. You may find someone has a high-end sound system which you could bring to a hall for music. This option also allows you to create your own "soundtrack" which is often more customization than a DJ would allow. Consider friends who may have experience as a DJ as well and include them in the reception as a comped guest. It will be well worth the expense if you have this option and is a great way to plan your wedding reception on a budget.

Photographs at Your Reception

Place a "one use" camera on each table at the reception and have your guest photograph one picture of everyone at their table together. After that, they can photograph any part of the reception they wish, and you will have a wealth of photos to choose from at a fraction of the cost. You could even consider putting more than one camera at a table and have various photos taken throughout the reception which will provide you with photos of your reception without the high cost of a professional photographer.

When you are interested in cutting expenses, your wedding reception is one area in which you can consider some interesting ways of saving money, while still having a memorable event for you and your partner as well as your guests.