My son recently became engaged to a woman from another state. They plan a formal ceremony in that state, however we want to throw a "NJ" reception the following weekend for our NJ family. We must keep the cost down because the bride's family has offered to pay for both and are on a tight budget (as we are, too). Any creative ideas? The guest count will probably be approx 60 - 75 max. No sitdown dinner is necessary, but a festive/nice atmosphere with food will be required.
By ee926 from NJ (North)
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If you did a 2pm or a 7pm reception you could just have hors d'oevres, cake, and beverages.
You do what you can afford to do. Decorations can be limited to balloon bouguets and a few silk flowers and pillar candles on the bridal table. Hang a few crepe paper streamers from the ceiling. You don't need a dance. Loud music makes it hard for people to visit. For food all that is absolutely necessary is cake, coffee, tea, and punch. If you think more is necessary, use small size buns and make some kind of meat spread for them, or have a couple slow cookers with sloppy joes in them and a plate of buns beside the cookers, then a couple kinds of chips and pickles. That should be plenty. The trick to keeping the food expense down is to have the event between meal times, so that guests won't expect a meal.
As an professional wedding planner of over 10 years I think a cocktail style reception would be perfect. If you have the space this could be done at home. Rent hyboy tables (they are inexpensive) and use buffet stations to allow guests to nibble, mingle & dance. Create a sweetheart table for the bridal couple.
Opt for heavier hors d'oevres, cream/cheese soups and use sauces. Dress up your food choices by paying close attention to their presentation. If you want to scale back on cake, opt for a cupcake tree, with a small cake on top to be cut by the couple.
If you want to serve alcohol, opt for a couple of signature drinks in the wedding colors. Look for recipes that only call for one alcohol and use mixers for the rest. Again, use the appropriate glasses and dress them up with colored sugar around the rim, or accent with fruit, edible flowers, charms, etc.
Make sure to carry over the wedding couples wedding colors into your decor. Renting lines for the tables is well worth the money. Simple arrangements or candles are large enough for the hyboy cocktail tables. Scattered arrangements on pedestals around the room will bring warmth to the atmosphere. Use inexpensive floor spot lights to create drama. If you will be outside, consider hung paper lanterns in the wedding colors.
Make sure to have a small bouquet for the bride and a boutonniere for the groom. Encourage them to wear their formal attire or a more causal version. Provide boutonnieres and corsages for parents.
For additional seating opt to create some lounge areas, by using your existing furniture, or rent simple benches. Slipcovers are a great way to bring all the colors together.
I hope this information helps. For more ideas just email me. Congratulations and best wishes in your planning.
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I'm planning my wedding in August of 2006. I'm wondering if there is anyway you can help me plan my wedding reception for something under $1,500.
Sher from Bronx, New York
We had juice, tea, sodas, and coffee for beverages as we held the reception at our local church and no alcohol could be drank there. This also included the photographer who worked at a local Walmart photo center. Good luck and have a great wedding day. (11/16/2005)
Another idea is to make a cupcake tree for a wedding cake. There is no need for someone to cut and serve a cake. My stepmom made all 120 cupcakes and the total cost was $6.75 for cake mix, frosting, and tins. Cupcake tree stand can be purchased at a party store or e-bay (around 10 dollars).
Finally, remember that you will only have one special day and you deserve to splurge a little here and there. (11/19/2005)
By Jayla M.
We provided our own appetizers from GFS. Frozen appetizers at $15 a box. Salad (with cheese, croutons, tomatoes, onions, bacon bits, and dressing), soup, veggie trays, cheese ball (I made myself) and crackers, meatballs (from my mom), and potato salad. We bought Sara Lee cheesecakes at GFS and served with choice of chocolate sauce, caramel or strawberry sauce. We put a fortune cookie (also GFS) at each place setting and used the dishes and candle holders the hall provided. I bought disposable cameras for $2.80. I put out half to start. When I saw those were used up, I put out a couple more and still had three to return, unused. The total cost was around $800. (11/20/2005)
We limited our parts of the drinks to one per drinker by having my brother pass out drink tickets, after that they had to buy their own. I wanted to make my own cake, but hubby said I would be too busy and he was right there. Shop the dollar stores and see what bargains you can find there for decorating. Good luck, best wishes, and congratulations. (05/05/2006)
I live in Tallahassee which has gorgeous city public parks, and the only fee we have to pay is a $30 connection fee if we want power for any park we choose. This includes using the gazebos. We're doing a November wedding here which means beautiful weather not too hot, not too cold, and rain is rare, so we're planning an outside early evening affair. All I need to supply is seating and tables for our guests. We're doing our own set up. We're using the same place for both the service and the reception, and renting a local senior center for a rain location. ($80 early registration fee)
Also, never doubt the wonder that is eBay. We're doing a favor bag that includes lucky bamboo and a hand blown glass ornament with our monogram painted on it since we're going into November. The place cards are actually small palmetto fans that have cards on them, just in case of it being warm (blissweddingsmarket.com). On the tables we're supplying an inexpensive variety of small wooden dollar tree games to provide ice breaking among table groups.
For our decorations we're doing branches painted silver with the ornaments hung on them mixed with holly (free from my tree), dried lavender (eBay), and Eucalyptus (overstock) in clear Dollar Tree pillar vases. The ornaments will be $163 for 300, ribbon to tie them will be app $30 for 300 yards. I'm also setting up beeswax pillar candles the I made, on the tables surrounding the vases. We're hanging inexpensive white paper lanterns and parasols from the trees above and weaving Christmas lights in them so they glow.
Granted we're blessed to have a brother who's a baker, so the are cakes taken care of and one of my best friends is a concert pianist who has recruited some friends to provide a band as his gift to me. One of my fiancee's cousins is a notary public, so she's doing the service. (you can have a trusted friend become ordained online). We're taking advantage of the discount offered off the marriage license for premarriage counseling. We're making our invitations by printing them on a sheet of ivory vellum and putting that in a trifold of card stock in our colors. ($15 for 40 invites) We're asking RSVP by e-mail or phone to cut down on postage.
My dress is very basic and I'm making my own veil ($20 includes comb, lace, netting. etc.). My something borrowed is my mothers wedding petticoat, my something blue is the sash on my dress, my something old are the pearls my grandparents gave me when I graduated.
My grandmother and future sister-in-law are doing the pictures. My grandfather is videotaping it. We're having the rehearsal dinner at the same place and will probably do a buffet meal of some sort. Well here's my issue, I need ideas for inexpensive dinner meals. We're at $1500 right now. I want to keep it under $2000. Any ideas? (09/20/2006)
By Wedding Planner
I am so sick of talking about food for my upcoming wedding reception. I am getting married 8/22/09, my fiance and I have been back and forth about different, inexpensive food ideas for our reception. We are on a strict budget because we are paying for everything ourselves.
I think it would be a good idea to have casserole type dishes with salad, rolls, fruit, relish trays, and a cheese nibbler tray. He feels we need to have a main meat dish with all the sides. I try to explain to him that it can get very pricey doing it that way. I am a very flexible person, any ideas where we could possibly incorporate a meat dish with out going over budget?
By fairygirl1 from Dayton, OH
By Patty Lynn
My reception was a little bigger. We had a buffet line with some hors d'ouvres and we had a similar set up for sandwiches. Quite a few of my mom's friends volunteered to help, so we also had some Japanese dishes, also (sushi, gyoza, fried rice, etc.).
You needn't have a big (expensive) spread at your reception. The most important part of the day is your union. True friends who are there to celebrate with you won't care if you have just cake and punch. Do what is right for the two of you, not because of external expectations.
Best of luck. I'm sure you'll make the right choices, and it'll be wonderful. (06/16/2009)
One thing though. The bride and groom were so busy with their friends they did not get a chance to eat. Before the wedding or before you start people eating. Fix two plates for the bride and groom to take with them where ever they are going. Our daughter commented that they did not even get to taste the food LOL. There was some left also, but like I said they were busy.
Our granddaughter (bride's niece) wanted to give them a toast. She was 15. She had them stand in front of her and she proceeded to say. "I don't have any money to give you anything, but I wanted to give you a toast." Then she handed them a slice of real toast and told them they had to split it for she only had one piece. It was one of the highlights of the evening. Glitz (06/18/2009)
First of all, don't stress. It can be done. We did low-budget, too. That was 14 years ago, when $30,000 weddings were the rage, and no one complained. It was fun, and we spent less than $2,000. That includes absolutely everything: license fee, musician's fee, venue, clothing, food, flowers, and a few miscellaneous items. You're in even better luck, though: today it borders on fashionable to have more restraint with your budget. Revel in this!
I'll sidestep the question of full meal or not. That's totally a matter of preference you and your beloved will have to agree on. But whichever you choose, you should let guests know by indicating "light refreshments," "heavy hors d'oeuvres," or "dinner" right on the invitation. No surprises = no complaints.
Alcohol will blow any budget in a flash, so skip the champagne. A punch made of pineapple juice or 5 Alive and lemon-lime soda or ginger ale with orange, lime, or pineapple sherbet scoops on top is tasty, refreshing, festive, and far less expensive. Sometimes you can even adjust the ingredients to match your wedding colors!
A potluck is completely acceptable (again, indicate on invitation) if you choose full meal. Or, if you want to provide the meal instead, economical means you'll have to think fun and non-traditional, not prime rib and new potatoes, but say, barbecue with coleslaw and macaroni salad.
You can make the food yourselves, or you can get it from a few different places instead of full catering service from just one. It means more variety as well as easier budget. We bought salads from a local deli, cake from the local grocery store bakery, cheese biscuits and shrimp platters from Red Lobster, etc. Think about which of your local places make the best ___, and buy from them. There's a little more pre-event running around to do that way, but it's not a problem if you plan ahead. Or maybe ask two or three close friends/family to assist with preparations as their gift to you instead of buying something big and expensive. (06/18/2009)
Anyway, finger foods, crackers and a cheese ball, fresh, crisp colorful veggies, and other snack things are enough. You are getting married. You do not have to impress anyone! By the way, my first marriage lasted 39 1/2 years until death separated us. Hope this is of interest. It really is your wedding. Let them eat what you offer. Have a beautiful, long marriage. (06/18/2009)
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