How to Have a Cheap Wedding Reception

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planning a budget wedding receptionA wedding reception does not need to cost a fortune. Here are some easy tips to have a memorable wedding night, and still have some money left for a down payment.

LOCATION: Home Vs Venue

Some couples opt to have their wedding reception at a relative’s home. If you are having an intimate gathering this can be a great way to save money. If you are expecting a large gathering, before you start penning the invites, sit down and assess all the costs. Hosting a large gathering at home requires valets, sound permits, caterers, tents, linens, chairs, and a host of other add ons.

Venues on the other hand, most times have in house tables, chairs, linens, parking attendants, and catering staff. All the permits and liquor licenses are their responsibility. If you can find a venue where you can host the ceremony in addition to the reception, you can save on church costs or donation and limos or rental cars to get the wedding party to the reception.

cocktail-glassBAR: Liquor or no liquor

Some people opt for a “dry bar” because of religious or extenuating circumstances, which is admirable and understandable. If you do decide to have liquor, here are a few options.

Cash Bar – a cash bar is when you make your guests pay for their own drinks. Although you may save some money, considering people are coming to celebrate your marriage, often with large gifts or cash presents, most people look down on cash bars as being “cheap.”

Open Bar – an open bar is when you pay for everybody’s liquor. There are options here. Some establishments allow you to provide your own alcohol, which can save you immensely. If your venue does not, ask if they can please just serve wine and champagne with the meal and break out the hard alcohol when the music starts. You can also ask that the bartenders stop serving an hour before the wedding ends. Not only will this save you money, but also it allows your guests sometime to sober up.


Food is one of the largest expenses at a reception. If you have a smaller gathering, some people opt for a potluck where everyone brings their own dish. If you do decide to cater, here are some tips to save some money.

Opt for the buffet. A buffet uses less wait staff and fewer chefs. Reducing personal lowers the bill.

Instead of lobsters and filet consider a fish in season, chicken, or a cheaper meat dish. Tack on an extra side dish or two to offer more variety. Stick with two main dishes to save money.

wedding-cakeCAKE and DESSERTS

Cakes can cost a lot of money. Here are some tips to reduce cost. If you want a traditional tiered wedding cake, ask that they decorate foam for all of the layers excluding the layer you plan to cut. The baker will then frost sheet cake to be cut in the kitchen. You can shave off hundreds of dollars by doing this.

Don’t decorate your cake with rhinestones or expensive flowers. A pastry chef can do immaculate things with icing.

Consider creating small cakes for each table to double as a centerpiece or get plastic tiers and stack wedding cupcakes. You will save on table decorations this way also.

wedding gownGOWNS

If you can fit into your moms, aunts or grandmas gown and it is still fashionable, lace it up. Not only is there sentimental value but also you will save hundreds. If not, look around at clearance racks or sales. Chain stores have huge sales. The trick is to buy your gown and take it elsewhere to be tailored. Most bridal boutiques make most of their money charging $100 to hem a gown or $150 to take in a strap. Find a tailor or trusted family friend to make alterations.


When it comes to flowers, sometimes simpler is better. I saw a gorgeous wedding where all the bridal party carried was one cala lilly. Gorgeous. One wedding I went to, the bride had crystals glued into every petal of her rose bouquet, but you know what, no one ever saw them. It was hundreds of dollars wasted.

Choose in season flowers that are locally grown. You will save big money by not requiring your florist fly them in. If you live near a farmer’s marker pick up some fresh flowers and have a crafty friend work their magic.

With these simple tips, you can have an affordable wedding that will be tremendous and special.

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