About 50% of your wedding budget will be spent on the reception. Here are a few money-saving ideas to help Bargainista brides stretch those dollars.

1. Consider a buffet style service rather than a sit-down dinner. You’ll save in labor costs required for plated service, and guests can help themselves to food at their own pace.

Wedding Reception Buffet Ideas

2. Food stations are very popular. Select themed or ethnic foods like Italian, Chinese and Mexican, all of which are low-cost options for feeding larger groups of people. Plus, guests will enjoy mingling as they grab their favorites.

3. Avoid a Saturday reception. Wedding facilities, caterers and other services usually cost more on Saturdays, and you may have a hard time finding open dates and times to fit your needs. Avoid holidays and peak prom or wedding seasons, too.

4. Time of day matters. Choose the time of your wedding reception for late afternoon or after 7:00 p.m. so that a cocktail or beer/wine reception with hors d’oeuvres is appropriate. Based on the time of the wedding, your guests will not expect a full meal.

Wedding Reception Horsdoeuvres Ideas

An early morning wedding and a brunch reception is also an alternative. Serve fresh fruits, pastries, quiche, coffee and juices.

Wedding Reception Brunch Ideas

5. Shop around for rentals. Some caterers or reception halls may provide rental table cloths, napkins, glassware, china, silverware and include them as part of their “full service” at a cost that would be no higher than obtaining them from another source.

6. Paper napkins or linen napkins? Cocktail and dinner sized paper napkins are an inexpensive way to add color to your reception without the rental cost. Some guests even feel more comfortable using paper. Order extra cocktail napkins for the bar, punch table, cake/dessert table and appetizer table for a cohesive look.

7. Create a signature drink. Instead of toasting with champagne or an all-night open bar, have your favorite mixed drink available for guests during happy hour.

Wedding Reception Signature Drinks