13 Ways to Trim Your Reception Spend

Budget spiralling out of control? Save smart by tackling the priciest part of the day first.

  • Story by Words Briar Douglas

Budget spiralling out of control? Save smart by tackling the priciest part of the day first. 

  1. Look for a venue that has all the amenities you need, including a commercial kitchen and bathroom facilities. If you have to hire everything from the chairs to the teaspoons, or alter the infrastructure, it will bump up the costs considerably.
  2. Check that your venue is flexible. If your guest list is shorter than expected, can you add this money to your menu or bar tab instead?
  3. Wedding planner Emma Newman (enweddings.co.nz) says choosing your venue at the start of the planning process is a good idea. If you know where and when you’re tying the knot then it’s easier to work out your budget. Everything else will flow from there, including the guest numbers and the type of decorations that’ll look best.
  4. While relatives can be a big help, don’t put all your eggs in the family basket. If their role is split between guest and kitchen hand, they may get distracted or want to join the party! Let them pitch in if they like, but also have trained service people on board to pick up the slack.
  5. Get creative with non-alcoholic beverages. Designated drivers, pregnant women or others who don’t fancy a tipple will appreciate some variety in the drinks department, so branch out from orange juice and consider something more appealing, like mocktails or sparkling grape juice spruced up with crushed ice and fresh mint.
  6. Allow for a steady flow of food, and not just at dinner time. Check that your caterer has a serving timeline on hand, so that your guests don’t go hungry at any stage of the event.
  7. Supplying your own alcohol can be a huge cost saver, so consider a venue that allows BYO, says Giselle Trezevant-Miller from Mint Kitchen Catering (mintkitchencatering.co.nz). To keep the flow of wine and beer even and controlled, or avoid running out of drinks, Giselle suggests putting your caterer on serving duty.
  8. Factor in a few glasses per person – Giselle points out that guests shouldn’t be expected to drink from the same glass for the entire party, especially if they’re having different varietals of wine.
  9. Save money by serving your cake as dessert instead of dishing up two sweet treats, recommends Maureen Keene from the City Cake Company (citycake.com).
  10. Decide on a colour scheme and the overall theme of your celebration early on. If you keep your desired wedding look in the back of your mind, you may come up with ideas that don’t cost you extra – like collecting glass jars to use as vases or vintage tea cups as candle holders.
  11. DIY decorations don’t always work out cheaper if you have to buy the materials, and they can be time-consuming. Only take on big projects if you will enjoy the process – if you’re not the crafty type, chances are it’s not worth the effort.
  12. High-impact decorations needn’t cost a fortune, says Emma. She suggests using pretty wallpaper as table runners, hanging paper lanterns or dressing tables with fresh flowers and coloured candles.
  13. Use ribbons to decorate your cake – they’re beautiful, inexpensive and can easily tie in with your colour scheme, suggests Maureen.

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