04 February 2010

Febusave - Slashing the Cost of your Wedding Reception

Depending on how you look at it, we were either the best kind of Bride and Groom – or we were the worst.

We got married on remote Luxury Island Resort almost 1000km away from home... on a Tuesday.

Yes, a Tuesday.

Meaning, not only did you (the guest) have to save up to afford it, and have to travel – but you also had to take time off work. *Gee, great friends huh?*

We did however give our guests 6 months advance notice to organise themselves, and we were stunned by how many of them took the entire week off to spend with us on the Island as part of our Honeymoon. This extra time with our friends and family was one of the big highlights of our wedding.

People think weddings are expensive. In actual fact – the wedding, the actual wedding ceremony is probably one of the cheapest parts of the whole day.

Where they really get you – where bankruptcy flashes before your eyes - is the Wedding Reception.

Food, Drinks, Entertainment and Gifts for your nearest and dearest is where the dollar signs really come out to party.

So if this is where your budget has completely blown out; or if you want to know where you can slash thousands off the cost of your big day – look no further.

Consider a Cocktail Reception over a Sit Down meal:

Photo courtesy of Town and Country Rentals via Savvy Scoop

For starters, canapés are much cheaper than a sit down meal. To be precise, at least half the cost, per head, depending on the quantity of food you order.

A Cocktail wedding will save you money on all venue related costs – e.g. chair covers, smaller room, centrepieces, flowers etc. While you can still have these things – even for a 100 guest wedding, the number of items needing to be hired or bought would be about 1/3 or even less.

To give your cocktail reception “personality” – consider using couches, bar tables, stools and lots of candles. Not only would the venue already have these available (meaning you don’t have to hire them) there is also the reduced cost of labour as they wont need as much time to set up your area.

Everyone can mingle, no one is “trapped” at a table with people they don’t like (or leering Uncle Roger...), finger food is more fun than a plated meal and you have more options on the menu.

Cocktail weddings are much more social than seated weddings because not only can your guests mingle – YOU can mingle. You aren’t “all the way over there” on the Bridal Table.

And last but not least (because this was most important to us) they tend to have much more of a party atmosphere. While not downplaying the seriousness of a wedding, ours was much more about the celebration, and much less about the formalities.

Still too expensive?
An even lower priced version of a Cocktail wedding would be the Cocktail Brunch with Champagne cocktails. Think breakfast themed canapés like mini croissants, bagels with smoked salmon, fruit salad and bacon and egg pies, with guests sipping on Champagne or Mimosa’s.

Why is this less expensive than an evening Reception? People don’t eat nearly as much for breakfast as they do for dinner, and they drink even less. Hence why it's kinder on your budget.

Need cheaper still? Then that would be a Champagne and Wedding Cake afternoon tea.

Days Daze:

Have you thought about having your wedding mid-week or on a Sunday?

Friday and Saturday are not only the busiest days for your Reception Venue, but they are also the first to book out – some up to 2 years or more in advance. These days can also be the most expensive to cover staffing costs – a cost that is passed directly on to you.

Because weekdays are generally quieter, venues will be more open to negotiation on price – or will already have discounted weekday pricing available for you. Considering they might be turning away events for weekends which are already booked out – a midweek Wedding is a bonus for them – so you should reap the rewards through competitive pricing.

The “Little Things” are adding up:

Have you managed to stick to your budget for all the big things but suddenly find yourself drowning in the details? Try these simple cost cutters:

Serve your wedding cake as dessert. Not only will it save you money on a plated dessert which may not get eaten – but why did you spend a fortune on a gorgeous wedding cake for no one to eat it? Let them eat cake! And gush about how wonderful it is.

Your wedding cake doesn't need to cost a fortune; a simple cake with lovely embellishments can be just as breathtaking.

Instead of buying one - can you borrow a beautiful cake knife from someone?

Photo courtesy of Jen at Green Wedding Shoes

Use an Ipod instead of a DJ. All it takes is some forward planning. Set up playlists with the different styles of music you want to have during the night and another for important songs (ie. Entrance, Cake Cutting, First Dance etc). As long as you set it up and label your playlists – anyone can look after your music for the night and you’ll save yourself a small fortune. (We were quoted over $1300 for the cheapest DJ and the dock for my Ipod with Speakers was just $100)

Bits and Pieces:
Do you really want to do Bonbonnieres? If you can’t afford to do something memorable; save your money and don’t bother. No one will notice.

Don’t include spirits in your bar tab. Beer, wine and softdrink is perfectly acceptable.

Do you really need wedding cars? Do you have friends that have nice cars that would drive you as a gift? Or check if there is a luxury car club in your area that might want to be involved.

Limit the number of people in your wedding party.

Save on printing costs: Don’t print Menus, Save The Date cards or Order of Service booklets. Not only are you being kind to the environment – you’re being kind to your budget.

Asking for a discount:

Some people just aren’t comfortable asking for a discount – and I know that I’m not, in face to face situations. So ask for a discount by email – not only is it non-confrontational, if they agree to it, you have it in print if there is a change of Manager.

Tell vendors what you want, and ask them what is the cheapest way to get it, or tell them upfront what your budget is and ask their advice.

Be complimentary - "We can get this product somewhere else for $500 cheaper, but we like yours better. Is there any chance you could match their quote?"

After all, the worst thing they can do is say no. And if that's the case - they might offer you an alternative or negotiate - but you won't know until you ask.


  1. Didn't matter what day of the week it was - there was no way we were going to get there without taking time off work! And it's only from reading this that I found out your music was from your ipod! Great money saving option there.

  2. Thanks for this post! I'm in the very beginning stages of planning my summer 2011 wedding, and can use all the advice I can find!

  3. Oh Kath - yes we were most unkind to you, seeing as you had to come from UK!! But we were so stoked that you made it!! :)

    Good luck Noelle! Planning a wedding can be so much fun, I hope you really enjoy the whole process :)

  4. In a way this is quite funny because we've been planning and making our own wedding invites over the past few weeks!

  5. Some great ideas here! The Giant Cupcake cake is so gorgeous. It's easy to get caught up in getting the most expensive thing but it's not always necessary as you've shown!

  6. My hubby and I got married on a Sunday in Brisbane and it was a lot cheaper! Wedding expenses can get so ridiculous... 2 years after getting married I still haven't drycleaned my dress because I refuse to pay $300 for it - I feel kind of bad about it but I just can't justify spending that much on drycleaning!

  7. Lol! I thought I was the only one!! Mine is still hanging on the coathanger I
    pulled it out of my suitcase on!! *shame*. :)

  8. Oh yes, if only we could slash the cost of the wedding expenses........

  9. Thanks for the tips! I wish I had read this like 7 years ago! But I'll definitely be sharing this around.