Great deals can be found
Great deals can be found when you know how much money you are working with. It really doesn’t matter how small your budget is for the reception because all budgets can be accommodated.
Your reception budget should consist of approximately 30% of your wedding budget or more. Most wedding receptions are so expensive due to the fact of providing meals, decorations, hall rentals etc.
For the purposes of this guide, I will give two different examples of common receptions and an idea for cutting costs on the food and drinks as well as give you the best tips for throwing your reception on a budget.
Renting a Hall
If you prefer to rent a hall or space for your reception, you must consider many things before making this decision. You will have to think of the prices for the hall rental, the cost of using their servers (most halls include servers in price and they are not negotiable), decorations, flowers, meals, drinks etc.
When you wish to rent a hall for your reception there are some things that the hall will include in your rental that you can’t avoid paying for such as: servers, decorations, and wine. However, some halls will give you the option to pick and choose the extras that you want.
Depending on the type of hall that you choose to rent, the costs can vary greatly. For example, if you rent a large hall, you could pay more than if you rented a legion hall.
You might also want to consider that if you are starting with a small budget, that renting a hall might not be worth the effort and money, or it may leave you with less options.
There are a few tips when renting a hall that could keep a great deal of your costs down. Let’s take a look at them.
- You should only consider renting a hall if you have invited 50 or more people to your reception.
- When renting a hall, you have to decide if you are opting for a cash bar or an open bar. A good compromise is to purchase a few cases of beer on your own and host a cash bar for those who want mixed drinks if you are trying to keep costs down.
- Rent a hall that you can decorate yourself
- If you must have servers, rent a hall that includes servers in the price of the rental or go with a hall that lets you bring your own.
- Choose a hall that will cater to whatever your needs or budget is.
- When it comes to the food, you should go with a hall that will allow you to bring your own food if you would prefer to not pay extra for catering.
- Serving vegetable and fruit trays, as well as finger foods like finger sandwiches will be of great value in accommodating vegetarians
- Opting for a casual reception will allow you to serve your food buffet style which will be predominantly cheaper.
- Opting to tell people to forego giving you a wedding gift and serve a completely cash bar is a great way to accommodate guests and recover some of the money for the hall.
- Opt for non-weekend dates because these are not peak hours for the hall and the prices may be cheaper
- You should choose to host your event during the winter for the best rates
- Negotiate a special discount by paying cash instead of credit card. Most reception halls will do this
- Choose to go with a non-dinner reception offering instead snack foods and munchables
Hosting a wedding reception at a hall does not have to cost through the nose if you know how to get around the basics which I have just mentioned.
Most people would like to host their reception at a reception hall because they feel that it is more elegant than hosting it outdoors, however, this is not always the case. Sometimes, hosting your event outdoors is more fun and it is also much cheaper.
Saving Money Using Reception Themes
Just like weddings, receptions are often theme based as well. Reception themes are often more relaxed than wedding themes because they are meant to be provided in a party atmosphere. There are many affordable themes that can be used and I will mention some of them here as well as some great ideas for them.
Choosing a themed reception can save you a great deal of money on it, depending on the theme that is chosen.
Reception themes allow people to get creative with their celebration and express themselves. People often choose to base their themes on hobbies, personal interests, and dreams. It can be very costly to host a reception. That is why the majority of your wedding budget is spent on it. Themes help to cut the costs because you can choose to use a casual theme that doesn’t require a great deal of extras. Choosing themes like beach themes, Mexican fiestas, or toga party is simple and the food is cheap and easy. Take a look at some more themes to lessen the cost of your reception.
This fun theme can be extremely affordable. You can decorate the room or hall with stars. You can use black garbage bags like wallpaper and string white lights around to simulate the stars. You can have guests dress up like aliens or star trek characters.
You can serve appetizers rather than entrees and give them special names that remind them of Star Trek. It is a really fun theme that is great if you are a star trek fan. You can also go with other-worldly music that is downloaded from a computer rather than go with a DJ too. You can also choose to play episodes of the show during the reception as entertainment.
This theme has a world of possibilities. You can decorate with checkered flags and checkered flag streamers, toy cars, painted numbers of the different cars and drivers.
If you would like, you can decorate with a particular driver motif. The best part about this theme is that it is very casual and you can serve regular foods like pizza, large submarine sandwiches, hamburgers and even chips and nachos; pretty much any food that you want.
In general this relaxed type of theme applies to all sports related theme. This theme is great for receptions. You can also opt to watch a race.
Popular movie themes like the Matrix and Lord of the Rings etc. can be a lot of fun for receptions when the bride and groom are movie buffs.
Decorations will be based on what the general movie symbolizes such as; if you chose the Matrix, you would use computer data charts and sheets, computers, dress in all black etc. You could serve appetizers rather than entrees for this type of theme as well. Playing the movie during your reception is a cool idea for background scenery.
The choices with the Roman theme vary. Togas are always a part of the festivities. Serving fresh fruits like grapes, apples etc. are always good. Serving fresh rotisseries meats or cold cuts are great with this theme too.
You can generally serve beer and wine for this theme and you can decorate with wreathes, garland, candles and anything else in the Roman fashion.
Reception themes are a great way to personalize your reception. People often choose their themes based on their personalities and individual character. Some themes are based on hobbies and others are based on hopes and dreams.
No matter what type of theme that you choose for your reception, you can always find the right way to represent it. Some special themes for your reception include but are not limited to:
- Fairy Wonderland: Decorating in fairy’s wings, sheer fabrics draped around you, baby’s breath, moss, and serving fine breads and appetizers as well as all things beautiful. This theme really lets the bride bring her childhood dreams to life. Music like Enya would be nice to listen to for this theme
- Ethnic traditions: This theme require that you choose specialty foods and decorations from the ethnicity of your choice. For example, should you choose a Scottish theme, you would listen to bag pipes, dress in the Scottish fashion and do all things Scottish.
- Mexican fiesta: This fun theme can have you hitting a piñata, serving popular Mexican dishes, mixing a bit of Santa Fe decorative blankets for the walls and many other things. You can play mariachi music or Spanish guitars for this theme.
- Holiday themes: i.e. Valentines day
- Arabian Nights: Filling your reception hall with beautiful linens; letting your bridal party have costumes should they wish to. You can also serve Arabic foods or appetizers and pita breads etc. this theme is very versatile and fun.
- Greek Mythology: This theme can be geared toward a particular Greek saga or more popularly, guests can each come dressed as a particular Grecian of their choice. Greek foods like fresh fruits, wine, and other edibles of ancient Greece can be offered.
- Hawaiian: You can use your imagination to create any Hawaiian fantasy that you wish. You can give out fresh leis or artificial ones as wedding favors. You can serve fresh tropical island fruits such as pineapples and serve those cute tropical drinks with decorative umbrellas etc. Wherever your mind takes you.
- The Wild West: This theme can be as fun as you want. You can set up your reception area to look like an old saloon. You can have dancers give a burlesque show etc. You can do all kinds of fun things with this theme. You can also serve easy to create entrees like meatloaf or more expensive steaks etc. As long as you stick with your theme (leave out the shrimp cocktail) you can have a great time.
When it comes to themes, the possibilities are endless. Coming up with them can be much of the fun. After you have chosen your theme, you can brainstorm ideas to expand upon it for the decorations and foods.
The themes that have been touched up on here were designed to be as easy as possible, but they can be as intricate as you want.
Hosting your reception outdoors can be a great deal cheaper and a lot more fun for you and your guests. When you host your reception outdoors you have a lot of options as to how you want things to be.
The only downside to doing this is whether or not the weather conditions will permit it. Because of this your reception and its success is often at the hands of Mother Nature. Other than that, it can be the best decision that you could make.
Outdoor receptions give you an endless supply of ideas and freedom in how your reception will be handled. The best thing is that you can host an outdoor reception at a hall or beautiful grounds, or you can do so in your own back yard.
If your own yard permits it, it would be best to do it here because it is a relaxed atmosphere and you need not worry about many of the small details that come in when using public grounds (i.e. music).
There are many ways that you can make an outdoor reception easy to plan, cheaper to pay for, and a great deal of fun. Of course, there are small formalities that go with it as well.
I have developed a to-do list for you as well to help you to make the most out of your outdoor reception.
Reception to do List
You have to start with a thorough to do list when planning an outdoor reception because this will keep your affairs in order. When creating your list, you have to consider having a contingency plan. The reason for this is to accommodate bad weather conditions that may prohibit your reception from taking place at all. Or having your reception ruined due to a thunderstorm or severe winds.
Here is a sample to do list for you to look at so that you will know all of the things that need to be considered. The list will include what needs to be done, and why it should be handled.
To do list should include:
- Renting tent or gazebo and decorating it. Make sure that you confirm your rental date at least two weeks ahead of time or sooner if you can.
- Renting tables and chairs. It is cheaper when you set them up yourself
- Getting regular updates on the weather. Of course, you should have a contingency plan just in case the weather does not permit an outdoor party.
- Getting any miscellaneous items such as extension cords etc.
- Hiring a DJ or band and confirming
- Deciding on food items and drink and who will prepare what
- Getting permits that may be required in serving alcohol
- Getting permission from neighbors. You don’t want them complaining about the noise and the parking situation (invite them too). Of course this rule applies when you are hosting your outdoor reception in your backyard.
These are some quick tips for your to do list. Of course, you will also want to know how you can possibly save as much money as possible on this event and the tips and ideas are literally endless.
Perhaps the best reason to host an outdoor party is because it will take care of the smoking problem on its own. When you host an outdoor reception, there are so many choices that you can make on what to do and serve your guests. Because of this, I have divided the outdoor reception items separately.
Food for Outdoor Reception
There are many ways that you can choose to serve your reception food when the reception is held outdoors. Here are some of the most popular and money saving ways to serve foods.
- Have a casual reception and serve barbecue items such as hamburgers, chicken, ribs etc. Have everyone forego a gift in exchange for bringing their own special dish to the barbecue instead. Just have everyone confirm beforehand so that you do not have everyone bringing the same thing.
- Serve your food buffet style having each guest bring a food item instead of a gift.
- Serve vegetable, cheese, fruit, and meat trays with dips and other snackables rather than hosting a huge meal. This is a great alternative anyway, for vegetarians as well.
- Host your reception with a theme so that you can be more casual with your food, for example, perhaps you can host your reception with an Italian theme and make spaghetti or order pizza etc.
- Choose an outdoor theme that is simple and easy and one that you can afford.
Serving drinks at the reception can be the most expensive part of the whole event at times. Of course, it doesn’t have to be.
Here are some great tips on serving drinks at your reception that will satisfy everyone; particularly the person/persons who are paying for it.
- Serve your beer and punch for free and get all to pay a minimal amount like a dollar per mixed drink etc.
- Offer an open bar for a small amount of money per guest such as 2 or 3 dollars to help you recover some of your money.
- Request that the champagne toast is free and that everyone bring their own drinks to the outdoor reception. For this option you can also let everyone not be obligated to give a gift.
- Look to get your spirits in bulk from a wholesaler
- Begin to prepare for your reception months ahead of time so that you may purchase all of the drinks over a time period rather than all at once.
- Do not forget to include special punches or sodas for non-alcoholic beverages.
When hosting an outdoor reception, you can save yourself a great deal of money by placing disposable cameras around and letting the guests take their own snapshots for you. This can save you a great deal of money on the wedding photos.
You can also choose to limit the photos that you get with a professional photographer to lower the costs, or you can make a deal with a photographer to give you the negatives at a special discount and you can have them developed yourself at a later date.
Otherwise, your best bet is to simply go with the cheapest option that you can find.
A really fun extra way to capture parts of your wedding is to make a video recording instead of paying for professional pictures. You can simply use your own camcorder or borrow a friend’s and ask someone to record the ceremony and the reception festivities for you.
With all of the digital cameras and recorders available now, it is easier than ever to make professional looking videos.
Digital photography can be extremely easy to create and just as easy to reproduce later as weddings mementos for the wedding party.
These days, the average home has so much photo-technology attached to PC computers that there isn’t really much needed to hire professional photographers because you can give the professional quality to yourself.
When you are looking to rent a gazebo or weather tent for your outdoor reception the choices can vary greatly. Some places have some really good rental deals, but others do not.
Some places rent by the day, some rent by the hour and some only rent by the week. The prices can also go up or down based on the tent’s size, and whether or not you need it to be installed by them or if you are doing it yourself.
You should know that some companies will insist upon putting the tents and gazebos up themselves and taking them down. If the price is too high for you, just go with another company.
You can also choose to use a do-it-yourself tent that can be created using tarps. Tarps come in many different colors and you can find it in any size at any home improvement store.
When you do it yourself, you will pay for it once, but you can use it for years during barbecues, cook-outs etc. That is another way to get cheaper weather protection for your back yard.
Finally, you can opt to buy any number of those tents that do not use mosquito mesh or have removable mosquito mesh. These usually stand on their own and are easy to set up. The best part about buying them is that you will have one handy whenever you need them. Some of them are all weather and can stay up all year round.
It is a good investment if you entertain in the yard often, or if you just like to sit outside during the nicer weather.
If you choose to rent tables and chairs, you can often get good deals when you go through a church or charity for the rental. They will always be willing to give you a hand.
If you find that renting chairs and tables is too expensive you can just set up a table to hold the food outside and ask everyone to bring a folding chair with them if they can so as to make it easier.
This is a great way to save a lot of money on your reception. Hosting it outdoors is always nice to the guests as well as to the happy couple. When you do it in your own backyard, you know that you are in a comfortable place.
If it is a choice between an outside reception and an indoor reception, the outdoor option is always welcome.
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