Planning for a great wedding reception does not have to be stressful on you or your wallet. Sending invitations early in order to get your guest list arranged is a great way to start. With this headcount in mind, you will know exactly how much space you need, how much food you have to provide, and how many place settings are required. The following tips will help you cover the rest of the details.
Save-the-dates are extremely important to your guests. This will help them plan their schedules around your ceremony, especially if you are having a holiday or destination wedding. These should be sent out at least 4 months before the big day and 1 month before the official invitations. With the save-the-dates, be sure to ask your guests to RSVP. This way, as you're planning the reception, you will know how much space you will need and how many table settings are required.
Themed decorations are a great way to be chic on a budget. Monograms, simple color themes, or certain flower arrangements are all elements that make for easy and unique wedding décor. If your event space offers its own decorations, consider using them. You don't want to choose decorations that are going to clash with the existing décor of your venue.
Plan for an Early Reception
If you're planning a wedding reception on a budget, daytime ceremonies that run into early evening receptions are a great way to save money. Many venues charge more for night and weekend rentals, and if you're planning an outdoor reception, you won't have to pay extra for generators during daylight hours.
Stay in One Place
If possible, plan to have your wedding ceremony and wedding reception in the same place. You and your guests will save money by not having to travel from one venue to the next, and many places offer discounts to host two events. You also won't have to transfer decorations or floral arrangements to different spaces, giving you more time and money to spend on the elements most important to you.
Arrive on Time
When the reception starts, it is typical for the bride and groom to enter one hour after the cocktail hour begins. This gives you and your wedding party plenty of time to take pictures, and it gives your guests plenty of time to relax and mingle while they wait for the official reception to start. If you wait longer, you risk your reception running overtime, which can cost you in rental fees and guest morale.
Keep the Menu to One Entrée and a Signature Drink
Offering only one entrée is a great way to stick to your budget, and keeping your bar stocked with wine, beer, and only one signature cocktail will help you save on catering fees. No one will be offended if you only offer one option on the menu, as long as you keep a silent vegetarian option for those who ask. If you know you have guests that are vegan or vegetarian, offering a single meat and a single non-meat option will keep both your wallet and your guests happy.
Depart in Style
At your wedding reception, you want to be the last ones to arrive and the first ones to leave. This is your special day, and all of your guests will want to send you off with a special goodbye. Give them the opportunity by planning to leave 30 minutes before the end of the reception. Arrange for a car or limousine to pick you and your groom up and offer your guests props to see you off with. Throwing rose petals or blowing bubbles as you leave will make for a fun and heartfelt departure.
You don't want your reception to run longer than 5 hours, so bear this in mind when you start designing place settings, pick out the menu, and hire entertainment. Your photographer, caterer, and DJs all charge by the hour, and many of your guests will be tired from a day of wedding planning and ceremony. So before you send out your invitations, consider your guest list and make up a mock schedule for your reception. This will help you work out where changes can be made so you can plan for a great wedding reception.