The major cost at a wedding is the reception. From bar to food to floral centrepieces to music, it adds up to a cost that alarms many couples.
Here’s how to cut corners without cutting style:
Day of the week can make a difference. Any day but Saturday. If you can get married on a weekday or a Sunday you can negotiate a lower price. Everybody wants a Saturday wedding!
Bring in catering. If you are allowed to bring in your own caterer instead of buying into the site’s wedding menus, you may get the food you want at a better price.
No pricey foods. Do you really need that expensive shrimp cocktail or smoked salmon appetizer? How about an imaginative cold soup as a first course? Go online to find recipe ideas and discover unusual but low cost options.
Limit the booze. Say no to an open bar. This can chug-a-lug into big bucks and there are lots of options. Maybe serve one drink with no liquor plus a special martini during the cocktail hour. Have the drinks passed on silver trays. Serve wine at the table during dinner and then open a bar, perhaps limited to wine and beer and soft drinks after dinner.
Time of day makes a difference.
- A mid-day reception eliminates having a full sit-down dinner and can be very elegant. The timing is between both lunch and dinner, so lighter fare is expected. Food served can be similar to either a classic English tea or a cocktail party.
- A brunch. It’s no secret that you can eat at an upscale restaurant more inexpensively at lunch than at dinner, and often the only difference is that the portions are smaller. This can be sit-down service and as formal or informal as you please.
- An evening dessert reception. If you have an evening wedding it can be followed by a lavish dessert and wine reception. This allows an evening party, complete with dancing. Make it special with fondue and fresh fruit, a chocolate fountain, cheesecakes, petit fours and perhaps an ice cream bar. It looks expensive but is just a fraction of the cost of a full dinner. (Be sure to put it on your invitation so guests won’t arrive hungry!)
Reduce the Extras
- Fewer flowers. With just three flowers per centrepiece supported by interesting ‘fill’ such as baby’s breath, you can still have a sweet flower arrangement at each table but at much less cost. Or avoid flowers and cluster pillar candles. Or rent fish in fish bowls.
- Cheaper music. Set up your own music system and have soft music playing throughout the cocktail party and dinner. (Your guests will love this unobtrusive music because it’s an aid to good conversation.) And you can limit the hours you need a band or DJ.
The bottom line: Don’t be afraid to negotiate.
Don’t be embarrassed about negotiating. If you choose a menu that is, say, $120 a person, you might ask “What can you do for $100 a head?” Always negotiate with the manager – this is the only person with the authority to trim prices.