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Undoubtedly, the wedding reception could easily be the most expensive part of your wedding, so it makes sense to focus your cost saving efforts on the wedding reception. These 12 wedding tips will show you how to spend less on your wedding reception. With a bit of creative thinking you can really save a lot of money on your wedding reception without compromising too much.
- 17 Clever ways to save money on your wedding (updated for 2020)
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The expectation placed on couples hosting a wedding typically consists of a wedding ceremony, wedding reception followed by an evening reception. During the course of a full day you will need to provide food and refreshments for your guests. This is really when the wedding costs can start to ratchet up.
12 Ways to Spend less on your wedding reception.
- Reduce your guest list
- Have one event and one guest list so no day and night split.
- Get married later in the day so you only feed guests once
- Use props from home to style your venue, or ask friends if there is items you can borrow.
- Chalk writing on mirrors is largely inexpensive
- Re-use flowers from the ceremony to use at the reception.
- The bridesmaids bouquets could be used as table centres or grouped as a top table arrangement.
- Planted garden plants could make a seasonal inexpensive display. Bedding plants in summer, primulas in spring, lavender and herb pots. Succulents are also ridiculously easy to grow. Evergreen cuttings laid on tables and pine cones would work well for a winter display.
- Finding the right venue is key. Out of season dates and mid week weddings may give you better value for money.
- Alternative wedding cake ideas will bring down the cost of your wedding cake.
- Don’t go for wedding favours no one will notice
- DIY ice breakers and outdoor games would be easy to put in place.
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Five Things that affect the cost of your Wedding Reception
All five elements are inextricably linked so try not to make final decisions until you have all the information you need. A chosen venue for example may then limit what options you have to reduce spend in these other 4 areas.
- GUEST LIST SIZE
- THE VENUE
- FOOD AND DRINK
Guest List Size
Before we get into the nitty gritty of saving money on food etc. These would be my top tips to get your wedding budget off to the best start. Here are 4 ways to spend less on your wedding by adjusting your guest list.
- Try not to get caught up with the expectation of the typical wedding. Your wedding does not have to conform to any ideas of what is expected. This pressure is completely unnecessary.
- Set realistic expectations trying to go all out on a wedding for 150 guests with a small budget means something will give. I often think the bigger the number of guests the greater the pressure to put on more, which then means more spend. This is often where Wedding budgets get out of control and couples can easily overspend.
- Stick to one set of guests for day and evening. Limit the guest list where possible -big weddings equal big budgets.
- Play around with the timings so you only have to feed your guests the once.
Food and Drink
The biggest ways to spend less on your wedding are most definitely when you DIY your event, this way everything is under your control. Event caterers can offer a great choice, quality and style of food but they can still be expensive. This would not be my first choice if I was catering on a budget.
- A DIY buffet means you can shop where you like. Just consider, storage, shopping and setting up who will help do these jobs so your not stressing too much.
- Charcuterie boards are all the rage right now. Big sharing platters of breads, cheeses, cold meats and salads. Quite easy to do but again the setting up could be quite time consuming, so enlist help.
- Pie and peas, is typically an easy and filling supper that could be done on the cheap. Keeping it simple will inevitably keep the costs down and will stop you wondering if you have enough food.
- Pizzas ordered in just ready to cut up and serve with salads. Not sure if everyone will like pizzas just make sure you have some salad options.
- One pot dishes. Comfort food for the soul, chilli, bolognese, meatballs can all be done from one base. One pan for the main dish and one for rice or pasta.
- Another favourite is to ask everyone to provide a dish for the buffet.
- Picnic baskets are so on trend, the great thing is they are an economic way to feed guests as well as a talking point.
- Afternoon tea is another great cost saver that you can DIY yourself. Sandwich platters can be bought from supermarkets and a selection of sweet treats would be easy enough to add in.
If you are doing this yourself, you will have to work out in advance how much food you will need. Don’t just go shopping with a budget in mind. Everything needs to be worked out so you can avoid over spending. Preparation is key at this point. For example will you allow half a pizza per person. Half a bag of salad per person etc. These are all questions you need to ask and adjust as you go along.
How to spend less on wedding decorations
Choosing the right venue will go a long way to determining what you spend on your wedding decor. A swanky posh venue may already look amazing but you are guaranteed to be sold on additional venue dressing by the venue stylist. A blank canvas venue may be a great DIY venue but you may need to do more work to get the venue looking like a wedding reception.
Follow this quick checklist of decor and props you may feel obliged to consider. Make your own list of decor items you may want to add on to this.
- Table Flowers or Centrepieces
- Registrar Table Flowers
- Wedding Table Favours
- Top Table Flowers
- Entrance or Aisle Flowers
- Ceremony Arch Decor
- Chair Covers and Table Linen
- Backdrops for the top table or Ceremony
- Light up Letters
- Signposts and Wedding Signs
- Table Plans
- Memory Table Decor
- Cake Table Decor
DIY will invariably save you money in this category, enlist friends to help set up. When deciding on your theme try to do something that lends itself to using items from home as decor and props.
Mirrors for writing on are one idea instead of expensive Signage. Check out our DIY section here for lots of Wedding decor DIY ideas you can do on a budget.
Get creative with table centrepieces, using candles and lanterns etc. Anything goes really rather than opt for traditional fresh flowers. Foliage and greenery only can offer a simple and classic look which can be either very modern or rustic and would not cost the earth.
Will silk flowers be cheaper than real wedding flowers?
A question that is often asked, especially when you see the wedding aisles of many homewate stores. However, opting for silk flowers rather than real flowers is a false economy, the initial investment of buying silk flowers will be high and you take the risk of recouping any money by selling them on afterwards.
The Venue needs to be chosen carefully, this one decision will affect what food and drink you can and will serve, your decor options and also in many cases what suppliers you can use.
Don’t feel that you have to have that luxury hotel or country Manor. There are many options available from low key informal pubs to village halls that can offer a blank canvas for your decor.
Think about the duration of your event, getting married later in the day means you only really need to fork out for one set of guests and feed them once.
If there is a specific venue which is a deal breaker for you look for off peak times, look out for last minute cancellations and think out if season times. However, if this is an incredibly sought after venue there may not be many opportunities. My tip would be to follow this venues socials and see how often deals pop up to get a vibe on whether you might get lucky on this.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate and ask for a discount especially if your having a significant sized wedding.
Questions to Ask your Venue
- What decor restrictions are there
- Can we select any suppliers or do we have to use set venue suppliers.
- Determine additional costs for additional guests as often this is higher than the original set fee.
- Determine additional costs for serving your own drinks, wedding cake.
- Find out if the venue has a minimum spend policy as you may have to make up the shortfall if guests are not spending.
- Consider the bar prices, guests are not going to feel comfortable paying for overpriced drinks.
Entertainment at weddings has seen an explosion of ideas that will keep the masses happy while also putting a huge dent in your pocket.
- Light up Dance Floors
- Live Band
- Casino and games tables
- Outside Games and Inflatables
- Magicians and guest artists
- Magic Mirrors
- Candy Tables
Think carefully what is likely to have the biggest impact on your event and look at DIY for some elements. Perhaps a photo booth could be easily created with a backdrop and some fun dress up props brought from home.
Whilst entertainment is important for a great wedding maybe spend more on one good thing rather than spread too thinly. Food, Drink and Music are usually the most important elements guests rate the highest when attending a wedding.