Having an inexpensive wedding reception doesn't mean that you need to have a cheap, no frills affair. There are plenty of easy ways to save money on your reception, without making it seem that way.
We all have different priorities when we get married. For me, it was the location. For my husband, it was all about the food.
I've had friends who have been insistent on getting certain photographers, others on expensive dresses, and some who simply wanted to find a way to include all 450 members of their extended family. (No exaggeration.)
Sometimes saving money is as simple as setting your priorities.
For instance, if your photography isn't that important to you, you could ask a friend to take photos, or look for a student photographer who is looking to gain experience.
If you're not too phased by your dress or suit, look for something simple and inexpensive, and put that money into something else.
One of the easiest ways to have an inexpensive wedding reception is to cut down your guest list. Go through your numbers and think of the last time you saw each person. If it's been more than a year, give consideration to their invite.
To be honest, I think I could of halved my guest list. There were plenty of people I invited because I felt that I should, or because someone else wanted me to.
Some friends of mine recently did just that. While surfing the internet, they fell in love with their perfect venue at a vineyard. However, the prices to have their ceremony and reception there were far from perfect. Rather than compromise on their location, they culled their guest list of 120 to 40. I still got to go, so I was happy.
A recent wedding I've just featured had only 6 guests: bride, groom, two witnesses, celebrant and photographer. For them, it was all about the significance of the marriage and not about the reception and they ploughed a lot of their budget into photography, which was amazing. You can see their intimate wedding here.
Your choice of venue is another way to have a inexpensive reception.
A while ago I went to a friend's wedding, a no frills affair at the register office. After this, they invited friends and family to join them in a local bar for drinks and finger food. They paid for all the food and had a pretty generous bar tab. The bar they chose was decorated in chocolate and red tones, and it didn't need any 'wedding' decoration. The bride wore a stunning red dress she bought off the rack. Their wedding was a great night out, and very memorable, but only cost them a fraction of what a standard wedding might.
If you want to get married in a castle, a barn, or another stately venue, you're going to pay a pretty big price for it. However, many alternative venues offer more inexpensive options that are just as pleasant. Gastro bars, pubs, and other non-traditional smaller venues can be a far cheaper option.
Having your wedding start later in the day can also be a good way of having an inexpensive wedding reception, as you only need to serve one meal. A cocktail reception is another way of reducing your food costs.
Rather than a meal, ask guests to join you post-dinner for some drinks and desserts. If you have a lot of young guests, it could be the start of a big night out. Likewise, getting married in winter, or on a Thursday or Friday, is another way of keeping costs down.
You can also save money by choosing the DIY route whenever you can. Not only is this cheaper, but it can also be fun, and a good way of getting things done the way you want. Invites, decorations, food, favours, you can pretty much do everything yourself for an inexpensive wedding reception. Well, you probably can't perform your own wedding ceremony, not if you want it to be legally binding anyway!