Budget Wedding Receptions


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The wedding reception is the single most expensive item you will pay for on your wedding day. Traditionally, this comprises of a wedding breakfast, where your daytime guests will sit down for a 3 course meal (or more), followed by the speeches. Later on in the day, your evening guests will join you for a more relaxed evening, such as a disco, and there would be a buffet for everyone to enjoy. Nowadays, in order to make savings, brides and grooms are opting for less formal affairs, and combining their day and evening event. With the relaxation of the wedding laws, allowing couples to get married anywhere that carries a marriage licence, it is possible to make many more savings than in the past.

You may consider hiring a venue where you can carry out your own catering. This will make you a massive saving on your day, but could work out at a lot of hard work. Family members and friends would more than likely be willing to help you cater, and you may in fact not have to do any of the catering yourself, just organise everyone. If you go for this option, make sure you have everything well planned and that everyone is doing something different. If cost is a real problem, this option will cut your expenses down from £30 per head to approximately £5 for a real top class buffet.

Of course, many couples do still want the traditional wedding ceremony and reception, and our guide will hopefully help you to make some savings on the day.

Choosing a Reception Venue

There are many things to look for when choosing a reception venue, and it is a good idea to make a list of what is important to you as a bride and groom. Like all things wedding, it is easy to get swept away and to book the first thing you see. Remember, most venues will be geared up for your visit and will have the room looking immaculate. The manager will often tell you that you will need to book quickly as the venue is popular and that he has someone else interested. Don't be fooled by this; it is often used to get you to book on the spot.

Many venues will have a wedding pack which you can bring away. Try and make notes on the papers they give you so that you remember what you have been told. If your first impression is a good one, make an appointment to go back with a trusted family member or friend a few days later; they will be unlikely to let the room go if you have a viewing arranged.

Many couples search the local hotels for the use of their function suites, but there are also many stand alone function suites available for wedding receptions. If you choose a hotel, always find out how many function suites they have, as some larger chains may have 3 or 4 rooms. Enquire as to how many weddings there will be on that day as you may consider it too impersonal if there are more brides there, and it may, in some cases, affect the catering arrangements (and quality).

Hopefully, the decor in the room will already be beautiful, and suited to holding a wedding reception, but consider the minor details such as the shape of the room (will everyone be able to see / hear you), is there somewhere for older people sit in comfort (away from the noise!) and what are the grounds like (are they suitable for photographs).

These are the ideal things for a wedding reception venue, but how can we help you cut the costs? Follow our top tips for saving money on your wedding reception:

1) If you have booked a hotel reception venue, find out whether the bridal suite will be included in the price for your overnight stay;
2) Also find out if they offer discount rooms for your guests;
3) Do they offer reductions for receptions held on a day other than a Saturday;
4) Is there a price increase for receptions held in June, July and August;
5) Can you book your own entertainment for the evening reception or do you have to use the in-house disco (often dearer than you can arrange yourself);
6) Is there a reduction in cost for children’s meals, and if so, what is the age limit;
7) Does the decor match your colour scheme - of not, how much will you need to spend on decorations, chair covers etc. Are you able to amend your colour scheme to match the venue?;
8) Is the venue flexible on the type of reception you have? For example, some venues will ONLY do a traditional sit down wedding breakfast, followed by an evening "do";
9) If you don't want a traditional wedding, consider a hog roast, barbeque or even combine the day and evening events and have one buffet;
10) Do you have to pay for every guest a buffet in the evening. Some guests, particularly the younger and more elderly, won't want to eat a buffet after the huge wedding breakfast they have had;
11) When booking your drinks package (for on arrival and for the toasts) find out whether there is a refund available for any drinks not taken;
12) Will you need a Toastmaster? There are professional toastmasters available costing approximately £250, however, the Manager of the venue will often act as toastmaster for no extra cost;
13) Does the venue have a speaker system you can use free of charge, to play background music during the meal? This will save on booking a pianist;
14) Don't be afraid to ask the Manager for advice on making savings. If they want your booking, they will be all to happy to help;

This is not an exhaustive list. If you have any tips, let us know by using the comments section below. Overall, don't be afraid to ask the questions and be clear about what is needed, as the costs can mount up if you miss something.

Civil Wedding Ceremonies

Now that more and more venues can actually carry out the wedding service, savings can be made on combining your service and reception at the same venue. This does not necessarily mean that you have to loose out on the pomp and ceremony of the wedding, if that’s what you want, it just means that there will be no religious element to your day. If you are holding your ceremony at your reception venue, you will save money on transport, decor, organists etc as well as the savings offered to you by the venue itself.

Before deciding on a civil ceremony, consider the following:
1) You will have more choice over the music for your ceremony
2) You can have more say in the vows you use
3) Rooms can be set out more flexibly allowing you to have more freedom in the layout or themes unlike in churches where the seating arrangements are fixed.
4) People who are only invited to the evening reception can't really come and watch the ceremony, unlike in church
5) Civil venues are often warmer than churches, which can be a bonus in winter.
6) You don't have the worry of getting guests from one the church to the reception
7) You can't have any hymns or any reference to religion
8) A Civil venue is often not as formal as a church venue in terms of dress code - don't hesitate to set a dress code on your invites if you want people in their Sunday best!
9) You may upset some members of the family who would prefer you to have a religious wedding
10) The aisle will be a walk way between chairs, rather than the longer walk of a church, although with flexible seating arrangements you can make the most of the space you have.
11) There may not be as many seats available as in a church, meaning if your wedding is particularly big, you may not be able to seat everyone

Church Wedding Ceremonies

If you want a church wedding, but aren't a regular church goer, you will need to contact you local vicar, priest, rabbi etc to find out what the rules of their church are. Some religions now offer greater flexibility in which parish you can marry, but others are still quite rigid. Remember, religious leaders don’t bite, and they will be more than happy to advise you on your options.

When you meet with the Priest, vicar etc make sure you get a clear indication of:-
1) Church Fees
2) Flowers
3) Organist Costs
4) Plan how the day will run
5) Check for any objections as some Priest and Vicars do not allow coloured wedding dresses
6) Check if there is a wedding booked in before or after you as this may make the day a little less flexible where photographs are concerned.

Not everyone would choose to have their pictures at the church and this does very much depend on the church you choose, but if this is what you want be very clear and make sure that this is understood. If you do not want your pictures at the church then you need to see if there is a location between the church and your reception which would be suitable, and of course ensure that your guests also know where this is as otherwise it could mean missed photo opportunities and result in an unhappy bride, groom and wedding guests.

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