Reception and Food
Here is where DIY can be a real hassle. Unless you have a caterer in your family you will probably end up paying for this at full price. Try looking for venues that aren’t traditionally used for weddings like a local bed and breakfast. Or consider renting a hall and hiring a caterer separately to get the best deals on both. Planning your reception in the afternoon can also save you money per guest. Wedding cakes are fairly pricey but here, too, you have options. You can use a fake cake for pictures and slice up a sheet cake. Or have a small wedding cake made and center it on a table full of cupcakes, sheet cake and other less pricey dessert options. Having the reception at a family or friends (if you know someone with the space) is a great cost cutter. Delis and local caterers often have great alternatives to the traditional sit down dinner and these can provide a more relaxed atmosphere for your guests.
If you don’t mind the extra work and have a few friends willing to help out, you can do even this yourself. Choose foods that are easily prepped in advance and make sure you have what you need on hand to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Your local restaurant and party supply stores can help with this. Don’t get too stuck on a particular menu item if it will be too difficult to keep fresh or assemble in advance. Choose foods that keep well and will please the vast majority of guests. Basic is better when doing this yourself.
Live bands and DJs tend to charge a universal minimum fee. So even the most inexpensive won’t be as cheap as using an iPod or MP3 player with premade play lists plugged into your venues sound system. Look into options like this before shopping around for your entertainment. You get to choose all your songs and stop and start as you please. Make sure the venue has a microphone on hand for announcements and you enlist a close friend to help with announcements and switching out songs for special dances.
You may have dreamed of arriving in a stretch limo or a horse and carriage to your special day. Consider using a company that rents sedan instead or better yet using your own car. Except for a few seconds on your wedding video (maybe!) it really won’t make a difference!
There are plenty of things considered traditional and obligatory that we hesitate to cut out. It is important to remember your wedding is about you! Make it personal and don’t worry about disappointing anyone. You have to decide if you are willing to start your marriage in debt because of your wedding day, and, if so, how much debt. Don’t get too ambitious and try to do everything yourself if you aren’t sure you can handle it. Never hesitate to enlist friends and family. If everyone is doing one little job, a lot can get done.