How to Save Money On Your Wedding Reception

September 5, 2008

1) Ask your caterer where you can cut corners – compare prices between a buffet and individual meals. If you caterer has been doing this for any length of time, they should be able to design a package that fits your budget.

Don’t let your caterer talk you into going overboard. Talk to your future husband or wife, and decide what the two of you want most.

Everything over and above that is a bonus, but not required. If you go in with that mindset, then you will not end up paying unnecessarily for seven or eight types of Hors d’Oeuvres.

2) Invite Fewer Guests to Your Wedding and Reception – If you are paying by the head, or by the plate, fewer guests means less expense. It is so easy to go overboard when inviting guests to a wedding. Just make sure the people you really want to attend are counted first, and invite the rest according to your budget.

3) Go “pot luck” – You can always opt for an informal reception and ask your guests to bring a dish. You are virtually assured that everyone will have enough food, and that the food will be the best anyone can make. After all it’s your wedding, and these are your friends and family. They will cook up something special for your big day! Do make sure that you have enough drinks and things on hand, and keep a list of what everyone is bringing. There’s no sense leaving it completely to chance!

4) Skip the open bar, or limit the choices – The bar is the big deal breaker for many weddings. Most places require deposits, attach extra fees, and force you to pay by the bottle – even if the entire bottle is not used up. You can save a lot of money on your reception by skipping the open bar entirely, or by deciding with your future spouse exactly what you want to serve, and how much you want to spend. Make sure that your caterer is on the same page though, or you could be in for an ugly surprise after the wedding.

5) Consider serving only one, or at most two meats – every meat you add to your menu will up the price of catering considerably. Find one that your think your guests will enjoy, and stick to that. Also, consider a vegetarian alternative. It’s going to be cheaper, and allow your guests who don’t eat meat to feel like you considered them in your plans.

6) Consider local restaurants – You do have to have a catering license to cater an event, but more and more local businesses are getting them. If the place down the street has amazing chicken or barbeque, then why not hire them? Having a well known local place cater your wedding is going to be a lot more fun, and cheaper, than the standard rubber chicken buffet fare.

Of course, the reception is only one of the major expenses of a wedding. Some other places you can cut costs are saving money on wedding pictures, planning a low cost honeymoon, and reduce the expenses of planning your wedding.

These wedding tips on cutting the costs of your wedding reception are part of the Marriage Money Guide.

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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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9 Responses to How to Save Money On Your Wedding Reception

  • John

    Good tips, we did similar things for our recent wedding reception and it helped us save some serious $$$.

  • Lucy Elliott

    Love your ideas – here’s my moneysaving tip –

    If you’re having dessert, it just doesn’t make sense to spend money on wedding cake as well. Why not serve a cake made from rounds of cheese instead? From a tiny goats cheese as the top tier to a brie or stilton further down.

    We saved money by serving this “cake” as an evening buffet for those guests who we couldn’t afford to sit down for the main meal.

    My sister in law decorated it with foliage from the garden and it looked fab.
    Plus it cost just £100 to buy the cheese separately from the supermarket rather than £600, which is what a lot of professional cake-makers charge over here.

  • Istanto

    hehehe nice tips 🙂

  • Nicola

    Great tips!

    You can also try serving up something different, so instead of the usual fancy 3 or 4 course breakfast, consider an ‘afternoon tea’, barbeque or hog roast, just canapes and champagne or have a sit down buffet. They’re all much cheaper.

    If you cut the length of the reception you also don’t have to feed the guests twice. So have a late afternoon wedding and just serve dinner and cut the cake late to be served later as a top up. Saves on a buffet later on.

  • Connie Brooks

    @HMB – LOL.

    @ Neimanmarxist – excellent tips, thanks for taking the time to share them. I like the idea of just the appetizers, instead of the meal. Especially if you have an afternoon or early evening wedding.

  • neimanmarxist

    two more tips! make your own centerpeices with candles and glass bowls, or floating flowers, rather than paying a florist to do an expensive centerpiece for each table. or you could ask the caterer to do passed hors d’ourves instead of having a full-out meal.

  • HMB

    Get the folks to fork it out is the best way. I kid. Yea, wedding is damn expensive.


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