It’s no secret that weddings can literally break the bank. The proposal went off without a hitch and the bride and groom are fraught with glee at the thought of spending the rest of their lives together. Family and friends excitedly talk about the big day to come and of course the bride has long envisioned every detail she will want to include to make the day as special and memorable as possible. As the journey begins however, the stark realization that all those gritty details will surmount to large amounts of cash and the financial stress can be overwhelming. Well, it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of ways to save money and still have the wedding reception of your dreams. Here are some tried and true money saving tips for one’s wedding reception.
The three most expensive things that will balloon a wedding reception’s budget with quickness are the venue, the food and the entertainment. In 2011 the average cost of wedding receptions hovered in the $25,000-27,000 range! That is equivalent to one or two new cars and a down payment on a nice starter home. Although lavish and expensive weddings may be in order to suit your taste, some simply can’t afford that price tag, and others just don’t want to spend that much. If not going broke is something you are aiming for, there are plenty of ways to plan receptions on a budget that are amazing.
Timing Can Be Everything
By being flexible as to the month you tie the knot you will be amazed at the amount of money that can be saved. Thousands of dollars can be shaved off the bottom line by simply setting your wedding date in an off season month. While the most popular months to get married are June, July and August, less popular months are January, February and March. Since reception halls still need to make money to survive, most if not all, offer discounts within these months and you can save a bundle not only on the price of the hall, but the menus also tend to be cheaper as well.
Saturday is the most popular day of choice for wedding ceremonies for obvious reasons; additional savings can be taken advantage of if you choose literally, any other day of the week! A Friday evening wedding can be just as beautiful as a Saturday wedding and so can a Sunday wedding. Sure, guests may have to skip out of work early on a weekday or take a following Monday off, but the savings might be worth it.
The venue you choose will also eat a lot of your budget. A little creativity can go a long way. Instead of the traditional hall seek out other locations that are less expensive or free! Bed and Breakfast spots are becoming more popular, they are more affordable and out of town guests can often get discounted rooms right on the premises. Parks are another fabulous idea for cheaper venues and some may not cost anything. Also consider looking for a venue that will support both the wedding ceremony and the reception so you are only paying for one location and not two. Venues in smaller towns and cities often cost hundreds less as well.
Food and Drink
Next to the venue, your food and drink will take a huge chunk of your budget. Choose a lesser known and smaller catering company if you can as they are more affordable. Smaller doesn’t mean less quality and it can equal savings. Be clear with the caterer that you want to stay within a budget and see how they can work with you on entrée ideas.
Historically seafood and beef dishes are the most expensive so by choosing a dish that is poultry you can save as much as a few dollars per plate. Buffet style dinners are another budgeting idea. Plan to serve the meal as early as possible-by doing this you can forgo appetizers altogether or if you must have them discuss which ones are most cost efficient. Hotdogs with bacon will be cheaper than lobster rolls!
Many catering menus include salad, soup and dessert. Choose either salad or soup, not both and for more savings, have your wedding cake as the dessert. Most wedding guests really won’t mind or even notice after the appetizers, soup or salad and full meal, not to mention the alcohol they may be consuming.
If the venue allows, hiring an outside catering service rather than employing their own will also save money. Or if you have a family member or friend who is skilled in the kitchen, they could offer to help to save money.
Open bars are a fine idea but the cost of treating your guests to their beverages can wreck havoc on your budget. Seldom are open bars expected, so don’t have them. If you feel you must, then limit the hours to a one or two hour interval and the rest of the night is at the guest’s expense.
The head table should be done up in whatever magical flair you desire; the guest’s tables however are another story. A nice table cloth and simple centerpieces are completely acceptable. Party favors are nice, but save that money and offer a raffle drawing where the winner receives the centerpiece. After all, how many people are dying to open those little bags of stale mints really?
Host a centerpiece party where you and some friends make your own centerpieces instead of hiring a company to do so. Craft stores run sales all the time so take a shopping adventure and create your own. Then grab a bottle of wine, a few munchies and invite some artistic friends over. Not only are you putting heart and soul into your centerpieces and saving money, but it’s a great way to socialize and share in the project with your closest friends.
Limos are beautiful but they are expensive. You can rent equally nice and lavish transportation that is cheaper such as a Cadillac. Also arrange for other transportation after the reception and relieve your fancy car after you are dropped off at the venue. This will save hundreds as well. Ask friends or friends of friends if they know anyone with a classic car that they can loan you for the day.
A DJ will always be less expensive than a live band. Shop around as the prices will vary a lot. If you have a local hot spot that typically has weekend DJ’s inquire as to whether they do private gigs and see if they would offer a discount. Offer them in return some free advertising via word of mouth or passing out some of their business cards in return for a deal.
For more great tips and ideas for saving money on your reception, check out The Alternative Bride’s Guide to Wedding Savings.