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Reception

 

 This is where the most amount of money will be spent.

 

The best way to reduce the costs of the reception is to invite less people - obviously you want your friends and family there for your big day - but there are probably quite a few guests that you wouldn't miss.  See Sneaky ways to reduce guest list.  Holding the wedding mid week is also a good idea. Venues are often cheaper and you may be able to negotiate  deals on discos, photographers etc.

 

These days there are a huge variety of places to hold your reception and at widely different prices. 

 

Hotels, restaurants and conference centres do wedding packages, where they provide the venue, the food and the wine.

 

Here buffets tend to be cheaper than table service meals. Do  watch out for  hidden extras such as drawing up seating plans, place cards etc. or providing Master of Ceremonies,   which you can easily do yourself.  Also check the amount of corkage they will charge if you wish to supply your own wine.

 

 If you are cutting costs it may be better to look for somewhere that will hire you the room and let you provide your own catering and drinks (village halls, sports clubs etc.) Don't dismiss the church hall out of hand - some of these halls are very pretty.  Check with Yellow Pages for halls but mainly it is best to ask about among friends, workmates, relatives - all sorts of unexpected places hire out halls but don't advertise the fact. Try Universities, private schools, museums.  If you are doing your own catering remember to have a team of helpers to clear up and check out the insurance situation.  It won't be a bargain if you have to replace a carpet with wine stains.

 

 Do bear in mind that places like social clubs, which have their own bar, will not be keen on you bringing in your own alcohol but then, if they are going to get bar sales, this should be reflected in the cost of room hire (could even be free during the week).  If you are supplying your own drinks, look out for  Bargains

 

It is quite acceptable to have a paying bar at a wedding.  Decide how much alcohol you can afford to provide and then let the guests buy for themselves anything else they want.

 

One of the best weddings I ever went to was held in a garden.  The bride had borrowed  patio sets  from all her friends and  decorated them with matching paper cloths.  She had a catering firm doing a 'hog roast'  and the supermarket-priced alcohol flowed well into the night.  If only we could always depend on the weather!  But it is an option worth considering if you are arranging a summer wedding at short notice.  Lots of people have free-standing gardening awnings these days which you could borrow, to keep off the showers (and garden centres sell large party tents quite cheaply in summer - club together with family or neighbours and it will often be reused) , but remember you are going to need lots of fridge space for the beer!

 

But if you are really strapped for cash, don't offer a meal.  Arrange the ceremony for a time when people will not need feeding immediately afterwards, such as early morning and make it clear on the invitation what is being offered

"Join us afterwards for wedding cake and champagne"

or "wine and canapés".