Whether your funds are limited or you just think it is crazy to spend a fortune on your wedding, you do not have to forgo a memorable wedding reception just because you have a tight budget. With careful planning and a little creativity, you can throw a party that everyone will have a blast at and which you will look back on fondly in years to come. Breaking it down by category, here are some proven tips for great wedding receptions on a budget.

Location is key

Your venue or location for the reception is often the biggest expense, so your best bet is to search high and low for either a free or very cheap place. Aside from someone’s house, you can consider a local park, beach, social hall, church or temple hall, museum, library, farm, or even a nearby botanical garden. Many of these places can be rented at very low cost, and some may just require a permit or written permission.

Hotels and restaurants are traditional locations for weddings, but you can often get good deals if you have your reception at a non-traditional time. If you don’t mind having your wedding in the middle of the week, you can negotiate a great deal from a catering hall that would otherwise be empty at that time.

Consider non-traditional food options

The food is often the biggest part of the wedding budget, so you will need to get very creative here. Consider some of these non-traditional reception ideas for ways to save huge amounts of money on catering:

  • Potluck. Throw your wedding reception the old-fashioned way and ask everyone to bring their favorite reception. This takes a little coordination so that you don’t have 50 platters of brownies and no main course. It also works best with smaller receptions, due to the need for coordination.
  • Brunch. If you have your wedding in the morning you can make it a brunch reception. Serve bagels, wraps, omelets, french toast, fruit and other brunch goodies. Have some classical background music and you will have created an extremely elegant affair.
  • Dessert. Serving just dessert can be a little tricky, but it works well with a shorter reception. After all, isn’t dessert everyone’s favorite part of the meal? Just make sure that it is clear on the invitation that you are only serving dessert. Otherwise, people may show up starving and will be anxious to leave to get some ‘real food’.
  • Barbecue or other casual food. You can always go the extremely casual way and have a barbeque or picnic. If you decide to have your wedding at the beach, this is a particularly appropriate option. This is also another good place to bring in the potluck idea. People are used to bringing dishes to a casual party, even if it is a wedding.

Wedding Decoration Alternatives

There are many different ways to create beautiful wedding decorations on a budget that are still extremely elegant and luxurious looking. For floral ideas, look into what flowers are local and seasonal for your time of year. You can use fewer, large blooms or use bunches of colorful inexpensive flowers to create a rustic chic look. If you spend time in advance searching out colorful vases and bottles at garage sales or vintage shops, you can use these to add character and creativity to your centerpieces.

You can also forgo flowers entirely and use other ‘living’ things. Large greenery such as branches, palm fronds, or plants can make a big impact. Bowls of fruit and vegetables are modern and sophisticated still life works of art on your tables, while succulents are also becoming a popular option. Another trendy choice is to use large feathers as part of your centerpieces.