A wedding is your ‘big day’, but it’s also likely to take a big chunk out of your savings. If you want to splurge on the ceremony, dresses, suits and flowers, you can still keep your budget in check by saving on reception costs. Here’s how to do it.

Free wedding reception venues

Holding your reception at a free venue is, hands down, the best way to save money. If you don’t have the space at home, consider the backyards and home entertainment areas of friends, family or neighbours.

Parks and beaches in your area could be perfect. Generally, all you need to do is book a space with your local council. Weather is a consideration, but a marquee is usually sufficient to provide some cover, just in case.

If you’re thinking that having a venue without paid staff means too much hard work, think again. You can outsource everything from decorating to event catering in Sydney and cleaning, while still spending far less than you might at a dedicated reception venue.

Finger food catering Sydney

A cocktail-style reception is often cheaper and easier than organising a formal, sit-down meal. Plus, you can get much more creative with the menu. For example, a wholesale relish supplier in Sydney is all you need to turn ordinary barbeque meat or finger sandwiches into a gourmet feast. Offering finger food also means you don’t have to be too concerned with formal tables, chairs and elaborate settings.

Provide unique seating to suit your venue instead, with plenty of space for guests to mingle, dance and move about while snacking. Depending on your theme and style, consider beanbags, milk crates, bar stools, hammocks, floor cushions or vintage chairs and couches. Any old table you borrow is instantly transformed with colourful cloth and a display of scrumptious finger food.

DIY decorations

Once you’ve picked your theme and colour scheme, DIY decorating to create an impact is a breeze. Here are some cheap, versatile ideas to suit a range of preferences:

  • Remove labels from glass food jars and fill with flowers, greenery, shells or candles to hang or display on tables.
  • Peg photos of you, your friends and families on pieces of rope and drape above the bar, food stand or cake-cutting table.
  • Suspend lots of paper lanterns in the air for mood lighting and a whimsical feel.
  • Use metallic or glitter spray paint on baby’s breath, candles and glass jars for a glamorous look.
  • Gather a collection of umbrellas or parasols and suspend them upside down across a few rows of rope above the dance or seating area, to create a colourful roof.
  • Use blackboards and chalk to create colourful signs with words of love, directions, schedules or menus. Place them on stands, tree branches, fences or walls, or prop them up on different levels to create a visual backdrop.

Easy entertainment

Everyone loves an entertaining wedding reception, but you don’t need to blow the budget with a big band just to put on a show. One of the easiest options is to set up games across your venue. Consider Jenga, trivia cards, lawn bowls or croquet. Before the wedding day, ask guests to submit their favourite songs and make a personalised playlist, or hire a karaoke machine and watch the party take off.

And the best thing about trying to cut costs? It often gives you the opportunity to add your own creative flair, which personalises your wedding for an extra special ‘big’ day.