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Cheap Wedding Reception Menu Ideas that Look Expensive

As wedding expenses steadily grow steeper than the Wellsville mountain range (known by skiers to be the steepest mountain range in the world), many brides are carefully searching out more affordable alternatives to standard wedding designs. Though the professionals are often disinclined to share this information, there are plenty of ways for brides on a budget to save their hard earned cash with cheap wedding reception menu ideas that present beautifully. Here are a few ideas to help you save money on your wedding reception menu that will still make a festive and romantic presentation.

  • Don't have a full meal reception. Consider a dessert buffet, or a light "tea party" for an afternoon wedding. Finger foods also cost much less than a proper sit down meal, and taste just as good.

  • Depending on how formal your affair will be, you can have a home-style wedding reception. A backyard, church, or non-traditional wedding can be the right venue for this menu option. Tell friends and family who you know love to cook that this is their opportunity to express their culinary expertise, and then get out of their way!

  • Another big money saver is enlisting the aid of local teenagers to serve the food. Caterers often charge heavily for their waiters, and providing your own can help reduce the cost.

  • Now this is going to be a controversial statement, but THERE'S NO LAW THAT SAYS YOU MUST HAVE A BAR AT YOUR WEDDING. That's right. While bars are fun for your friends, they also constitute a significant wedding expense. Those who are on a tight budget or simply looking to cut back may want to consider an alcohol-free wedding. Some friends, family, and possibly local police officers, may thank you for it. If nixing the bubbly beverage idea entirely just won't work, at least limit the menu and hours that the bar is available. A very classy alternative to an open bar is placing a nice bottle (or two) of wine on each table. Even if you get a semi-expensive wine, this will still come out cheaper than an open bar.

  • Be creative with your menu. Instead of meat serve chicken, instead of salmon try trout. A soup course will usually run less than a fancy appetizer or salad. Replace fancy dessert pastries with colorful dishes with festive sweets. Frosted cupcakes are an attractive alternative to the traditional wedding cake, as are individually cut pieces of sheet cake iced or filled with something creamy. These are small differences can help save hundreds of dollars while still tasting delicious and presenting beautifully.

  • Another way to create a cheap wedding reception is to cut back on the kids’ menu. Many caterers will offer children's meals at half the price of a regular meal. Of course, they don't tell you about this option. That's right, you have to ask for it yourself. Buying children's meals or, alternatively, having a small children's buffet table can save on finicky eaters who end up falling asleep or wandering off before the meal anyway.

  • The amount that some caterers charge for the wedding cake is not just outrageous, it's downright criminal. People easily drop $500 or more on a wedding extra. Cake is cake, no matter how you cut it (excuse the pun). Don't be swindled into paying a fortune for the same icing and flour that you can get at a local bakery or supermarket for a whole lot cheaper. For the style and impressiveness of a full-tiered wedding cake, buy white or decorated round cakes in two or three sizes. Place the cakes one on top the other in descending order, and fill in with frosting, candied flowers, pillars or ribbon. Just as nice, at a fraction of the price! Another alternative is having a small elaborate cake for display purposes, and simple but inexpensive sheet cakes for actual eating purposes.

  • Beverages can run from simple water to sparkling wine and everything in between. One idea is to have glass pitchers or flower vases filled with ice and drinks. This helps for two reasons. One, it enhances the décor, and two, it enables you to buy less expensive store brand versions of the more expensive brand names. Even water, served in an attractive glass receptacle, with ice (and a lemon/lime wedge if you really want to dress things up) is appealing to the eye and the taste buds. A large basin filled with rich punch, ice and orange ringlets is fun, festive, and much less expensive than most other beverage alternatives.

With a bit of creativity (and a caterer that makes delicious food), any bride can create a cheap wedding reception menu that will appear expensive. Your guests will likely remember your cool dessert wedding reception or the individual cupcakes that were served, and the children will likely appreciate having hot dogs instead of stuffed chicken. So remember that having a cheap wedding reception menu doesn’t have to mean chintzy- it can actually be chic!

 

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