With a little thought (and a lot of patience) you can have over-the-top touches at your reception. Some may involve considerable time to prepare, but all are great-looking and inexpensive.
Use large pillar candles in large glass jars or flowerpots. Buy candles that will last at least five hours. Place them strategically around the room for subtle but effective low lighting.
It’s also effective to cluster votive candles in small glass jars or small flowerpots for table centres. You can save a little money if you buy votive candles in bulk (perhaps from a restaurant-supply store).
Imagine the glamour of in-ground torches to light outdoor walkways. These can be rented – and they make an enormous contribution to the outdoor aesthetics. Hanging lanterns are a lovely alternative. Very important: check all lighting additions with the site manager.
For any table (including the table that holds the seating cards, the washrooms and the table that is host to the wedding cake) cluster gold and silver tealight holders. Buy inexpensive clear glass and spray-paint them.
Rent two tiers of a very glamorous iced cardboard cake and have only the top tier of real cake, ready for the ceremonial slicing. Have a delicious but undecorated sheet cake in the kitchen ready for serving.
You might add gold or silver wide ribbon at the base of each tier.
Choose something elegant to lift your cake off the table, such as a stemmed oversize cake plate or a glorious hat box turned upside down.
Perhaps display the cake on a separate table. A small round table would be ideal.
It’s always impressive to have some foods that everyone knows are pricey (such as lobster or caviar). You can have a few of these specials items intersperced with your less expensive hors d’oeuvres.
Celebrate the family
Choose an extra-wide satin or velvet ribbon and cut in 48-inch lengths. Attach family photos and hang them on a wall to form a miniature gallery. One length might be the bride’s childhood-to-adult pictures. Another might represent the groom. Others for the bride’s parents and grandparents and still others for the groom’s family.
Use the bridesmaids bouquets to dress up the head table. Space them apart as you lay them down the length of the table.