When planning your perfect wedding reception there are a number of important items to consider, and with a little thought and advice, you can get what you want, and often save on unnecessary cost.

One of the first things to ‘set’ is a budget – your budget does not have to be set in stone but you have to be realistic about what you can afford and although it is a special day starting of a marriage in debt is not ideal, stay within your means and pay more for the items that mean more to you.

Consider a variety of venues for your reception, hotels, village halls, golf clubs, castles, manor houses, marquees or even rent a large property to host your reception. Each venue will have a different cost and will include, or not, various other items that you will have to budget for.

As well as venue hire cost you may also have to budget for flowers, entertainment, sound and lighting system and arrangements for wedding breakfast or buffet.

When considering arrangements for catering for your reception, various costs have to be considered including cost of lunch/dinner/buffet per person from the catering service, cost of appetizers and desserts, hire of any necessary tables, chairs, crockery, cutlery etc. and the cost of drinks for your celebration – wine for the tables/toasts and will you have a cash bar or an open bar for the evening?

Generally a buffet style meal will be cheaper than a waitress served sit down meal, and remember there are various menu choices that can be made whatever style of meal is chosen, available at different prices.

The bride and groom should sample the different starters, mains and desserts available and make a value judgment as to which is suitable, considering taste and cost, to suit their budget. It may be the budget can be adjusted to accommodate a dearer meal if fewer guests are invited?

This leads us onto the decision of who to invite – remember fewer numbers mean less costs. Don’t feel obliged to invite every Tom, Dick or Harriett – don’t keep inviting guests to the wedding breakfast – make a list of the important family members, friends and colleagues and try to stick to it, Tom, Dick and Harriett can of course come along to the reception evening’s entertainment.

Get ideas from online sites, magazines etc. for ideas on room decorations, table decorations, themes, color schemes for your venue, maybe ask your wedding DJ to quote for providing up lighting/mood lighting to really give your venue a stylish look – however please remember your budget – extravagant decorations can add greatly to your overall costs – however stylish decorations do not have to cost the earth – less is often more.

The evening’s entertainment is often one of the last items that couples think about, however, the majority of brides and grooms would often have spent more on getting better entertainment for the evening, a ‘budget’ DJ or band is rarely a wise investment, most of your guests will remember having to endure 4 hours of a bad band or DJ, rather than a poor display of flowers!

But as with other suppliers, including photographers, ask your friends for recommendations and get at least 3 quote to compare the services offered by supplier. Make sure you listen to any prospective bands – quality and set lists can be ‘variable’.

Wedding fairs can also be a good source for information, ideas and to meet suppliers and vendors, although the exhibitors tend to appeal more to the less budget conscious end of the market, however from the bride and grooms point of view entry is normally free and worthy of a morning or afternoon out to check out the possibilities.

Think about what is important to you on your special day, list out the items, ‘set’ a budget for each item and start investigating to create your dream wedding reception.

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