Your wedding day is slated to not only be one of the most important days of your life but one of the biggest of your family members’ lives, too. There’s a lot that goes into planning a wedding, and with it, a lot of concerns—not only worries over everything going off without a hitch, but the stress of the dollars and cents that go into pulling off a wonderful wedding. You won’t fully enjoy the day the way you deserve to if you’re spending days and days, or even the wedding reception itself, agonizing over the costs of the reception. However, with a few creative approaches, you can keep your reception well under budget and, in turn, keep those stress levels low, too. You have enough to worry about, so dial down the stress of the financials with these ways to stay in budget for your wedding reception.
Save a Different Date
A Saturday in September, with comfortable temperatures and easy travel accommodations for all your guests, would seem like the perfect day for a wedding. But the supply and demand of wedding dates can be ruthless—renting a venue on a high-demand day of the year can be much more expensive than others. Many couples save a lot of money on their weddings by simply moving the big day from Saturday to Friday, which keeps the day after free and should only require minor work and travel adjustments for out-of-town guests. If you live in a cooler climate and don’t have your heart set on an outdoor wedding reception, you can save further by moving out of the May-to-October busy season and booking a venue for a time when demand is lower. Not only will you save on venue costs, but the many vendors you rely on for your wedding may offer lower rates in January, February, and March.
Keep the Venue Simple
There are so many places to host your wedding that it can be overwhelming to choose one. Many of the price points that accompany these locations can be awfully overwhelming as well. While you’re not ready to cut all the way down to a Las Vegas drive-thru wedding, you may find that venues such as downtown hotel ballrooms, train station halls, and museums will take you well over your budget. Your wedding venue will represent the biggest chunk of your wedding budget and minimizing costs in that respect will allow you to allocate them elsewhere. If they have the space for it and the willingness to host it, either set of parents could host your wedding—ideally, charging a grand total of zero dollars and zero cents for use of the premises. Such an occasion would not only be memorable but would underscore the importance of family in your lives going forward, and a wedding so close to home would avoid some of the impersonality of public wedding venues.
Your reception dinner is an important—and expensive—part of the day’s proceedings. And while the food on the plates can account for high meal costs, the plates themselves can be a big part of those costs, too. Pursue an affordable alternative to delicate and expensive plates, silverware, and crystal with disposable dinnerware sets that will lend just as much elegance to each table, from the bride and groom’s head table to the back of the hall. If you do end up having your wedding at your future in-laws’ yard, you won’t need to raid every china cabinet in the extended family to fill out each table, nor will you have to resort to paper plates to serve everyone. Smarty Had a Party features sophisticated and restrained designs ranging from vintage to modern, all on sturdy and resilient materials. That’s not to mention further green alternatives, like biodegradable palm-leaf dinnerware that would give your wedding reception a lovely natural feel and constructively lean into the single-use aspect of wedding reception dinnerware.
Keep the Guest List Short
Many people think that bigger is better when it comes to weddings—you want as many of your friends and relatives at your big day as possible, not only so everyone can share in your happiness but because those additional envelopes can be quite welcome. But the costs of a long guest list can be so high that not even all those well-wishes can offset them. The more guests you invite, the larger your venue will have to be, and the larger the venue, the more prohibitive your options and the higher the fees—and that’s before you bring dinners and the open bar into the equation. Determining who’s in and who’s out can be challenging and emotional, but with collaboration from your partner, use your best discretion when assembling your guest list, and if you must, err on the side of exclusivity.
A beautiful wedding invitation is a must, but the costs of stationery and graphic design can run rather high for something that isn’t even part of the wedding reception itself. Fortunately, your wedding invitations are an area where you can lower your costs without looking cheap. If you have a friend who is artistically inclined, the best wedding gift you could ask for would be for them to produce your invitations. This will give your invitations a distinct and unforgettable personal touch. If you think you have the design chops to do them yourselves, you can keep the invitations even further in-house and reduce your costs to that of materials and postage.
When we think weddings, we think open bar, but one thing most guests don’t think about as they’re imbibing is the cost of furnishing free drinks. Leaving alcohol purchases in the hands of the caterers can run up your expenses with heavy markups. Just as restaurants make their money on alcohol margins, so do wedding caterers. One of the best ways to stay in budget for your wedding reception is to find a way to provide the alcohol yourselves, giving you more input over what’s served and eliminating those unwanted markups.