You can have the wedding reception of your dreams AND keep it budget friendly. These are my top tips for saving money on your reception.
So, my guess is, if you’ve found this page, then you’re in the midst of planning a wedding. If that’s the case, congratulations! Either you or someone you love is planning their special day!!
I’m currently planning my wedding, so I am right there with you! 🙂
I’m sure you’ve figured this out by now, but WOW wedding planning is a process. Even if you’re having a small wedding, there are still a number of things to coordinate. One of the biggest things being your budget!
While everyone chooses to allocate their wedding budget differently, here are my tips for saving money on your wedding reception.
Saving Money On Your Wedding Venue
Oftentimes, a wedding venue can be one of the largest costs associated with the wedding. When I started looking into locations for my wedding reception I found places ranging in cost from free to upwards of $15,000. This being said, you CAN find a location that fits your budget. That might mean reimagining what your reception looks like or getting creative, but you do have options.
If you’re wanting to lower the cost of your venue, here are a few things to consider.
- Book your venue at less popular times – This mean that you can get a discount by booking in the off season for weddings (not Summer months), by choosing a weeknight over a weekend, or even having the venue in a morning rather than evening time.
- Rent a city owned space – Something you can look into is if your city has areas that can be rented for events. Our public library has an upstairs ballroom that can be reserved,
- Have a backyard wedding – If a wedding venue is outside what you’re comfortable paying for, consider using a friend or family member’s backyard. While this may require more effort to set up and take down, it can be really beautiful and cost efficient!
- Host an open house – Not wanting to rent a bunch of tables and chairs to do a backyard wedding? Invite people over to a casual open house with refreshments. Just make sure you have seating for people.
- Choose a location that doesn’t need much decorating – Less decorating means more money in your pocket!
Decorating Your Wedding Reception for Less
Decor can become expensive very quickly. While the individual items won’t feel like they cost that much, together it really adds up. In order to avoid large decoration costs, here are some tips.
- Look on Facebook Marketplace – This is pretty hit or miss, but sometimes there are things like vases, tablecloths, or easels that you can buy and use.
- Thrift decor items – Head to your local Goodwill or resale shop and look down their home goods section. Oftentimes you can find things like mason jars, candles, or frames here.
- Build your own balloon arch/backdrop piece – A lot of larger statement pieces for wedding receptions are high in cost. Building a balloon arch gives you the ability to incorporate your wedding colors for $15-30.
- Do a combo of real and fake flowers – Floral decor can be A LOT, especially if you’re hiring a florist. One way to cut down on cost is incorporating fake flowers alongside real flowers in bouquets and centerpieces to add volume.
- Use flowers that are in season – Not only are these typically less expensive, but they also tend to look better. They are fully bloomed and vibrant in color.
- Skip the fancy place setting – Unless you’re having a large, multi course meal, people don’t need the excessive plates and silverware.
- Use bridesmaids’ bouquets as centerpieces – Bridesmaids often have bouquets for the pictures, but then those can be repurposed as centerpieces at the reception!
Budget Friendly Reception Food
Everybody loves food, ESPECIALLY at a party. But, providing food for a crowd can be a lot of money. How much should you serve? What kind of food? Catered or home made? These are all questions I considered when planning my wedding reception.
I would definitely advise having *some* kind of refreshments at your wedding celebration, but you can decide if that’s a full meal, snacks, or desserts. If you’re wanting to keep your food selection budget friendly, consider these options.
- Make the food yourself/Purchase pre-made food – It will always be cheapest to make your own food. However, you don’t always have the time to do that leading up to your big day. You can always make food during the days leading up to your wedding. You could also consider getting food platters from places like Costco or Sam’s Club.
- Set the expectation for “light refreshments” – Inform your guests about what food to expect by adding something to your invitation about what will be served. “Desserts provided” or “Join us for a light dinner”. You can also ask them to BYOB or bring your own beer.
- Do a small dinner following a ring ceremony – If you want a dinner, but don’t want to end up feeding all your guests, plan an intimate meal separate from your reception.
- Be intentional about the timing of your wedding reception – If you are having a reception starting earlier than 7, people will likely expect meal type foods. You could always plan a later reception to avoid dinner or brunch style reception to avoid paying for tons of alcohol.
Entertainment/Extras at Your Wedding Reception
People come up with all kinds of wild ways to entertain their guests. I’ve heard of having someone paint the event, hiring a caricature artist, getting a live band to play music, and more. But the truth is, you don’t need to have all of that at your wedding reception for it to be a good time!
If you’re wanting to lower costs, give one of these tricks a try.
- Forego table name cards or games – Some weddings include specialty name cards. Replace this with a large chart showing the seating assignments. And once guests are at their seat, just let them talk rather than providing table games or activities.
- Swap out a DJ for a fire playlist – Instead of hiring someone to do the music at your wedding, make a playlist that can just be plugged into the sound system.
- Make your own “Photo booth” area – Set aside a small area for taking pictures. Decorate it however you want with a sign, bright light, flowers, or whatever you want. You could even use polaroids.
- Give mints/candy as your wedding favor – Don’t send your wedding guests home with something they will just throw in the trash. A small thing you can provide for them is a simple breath mint or candy!
- Use bubbles or confetti for the send off – Sparklers or even fireworks are frequently used during wedding send offs. You can opt for a cheaper version that is still super cute.
Enjoying Your Wedding Reception
When it comes to weddings, there will always be more you could’ve added. The trick is finding a budget you feel comfortable with, and then sticking to it.
In my case, it has been really helpful to continuously be looking for ways to save money. Approaching wedding planning this way has helped me not feel pressed when there are wedding costs that I hadn’t thought about.
If you can remember the reason you’re wedding planning throughout the process and apply some of these money saving tips, everything will turn out just fine!!
AND once you’ve planned the wedding reception, I say just do your best to enjoy it! There may be minor glitches, but you want to remember it as a happy day. So, don’t get caught up on the small things.