Real Fabulous Reception on a BudgetOf course fabulous is possible on a budget! How? Plan carefully, keep the focus on what’s important, and get creative! OK, we admit that you probably need more details than that, and we’re here to provide them, but it is really that simple. Receptions are notoriously expensive since they involve food, drink, and entertainment. But, this is your vow renewal, so celebrate your way.

First, you need to decide what parts of a reception are really important to you. What makes a great party in your opinion? Dancing? Food? Alcohol? Chatting with friends and family? Being outdoors? The decor? The location? Lighting? Music? Games? Formal attire? Casual? Make a list of your must-haves and keep everything else totally negotiable. For example – are you looking forward to dancing the night away in an evening gown most of all? Then keep your focus on somewhere with a great dance floor that is open late and getting a great DJ or band. Or perhaps spending a sunny afternoon chatting with family as the children chase balloons in the wind is more your style? Then focus on an outdoor, kid-friendly location and some great food.

Now that you have your priorities in order, here’s a few tips to keep it all budget-friendly.

Timing is Everything
Unless you want to have your celebration outdoors, mark prime wedding season (June through September) off your list of possible dates unless you’re planning your reception in your own backyard. The popularity of these months means you’re going to have to pay more for everything. If you want to dance the night away, go for Friday night which is generally much more budget friendly than Saturday night. If you want to have your celebration in the late morning to late afternoon, Sunday is your best budget bet.

Time of day matters too. You can skip a full dinner by having your ceremony at 8 pm followed immediately by your reception. Serve appetizers, drinks, and cake as you dance the night away! If you’re morning people, opt for an early morning reception followed by a casual brunch of juices, pastries, fresh fruits, and your traditional eggs, breakfast meats, and potatoes.

The Family Reception
If a casual family celebration is your idea of a good time, ask your family and close friends to make their best dish to share for a good old-fashioned pot-luck meal. Rent the local park shelter or hold it in your own backyard to keep things casual.

Drinks Up
Pick your favorite two or three signature drinks to cut down alcohol and mixer costs. Get inspiration from your wedding theme, location, or culture. Think color and flavor. If you’re not big on alcohol or if you’re having a brunch reception, feel free to skip the alcohol altogether.

Play My Song
DJs are typically much less expensive than live bands. Be sure to ask for references to keep your budget find from becoming a nightmare, though. If you really want a live band, stick to local talent. You can get a good idea of what you might want by checking out the Saturday night bands at local bars. Also, it’s a great idea to check with your local college music department for recommendations on student musicians in the area who will more likely to be eager to please and be open to accommodating your distinct musical style for a very low price.