Wedding reception costs

Weddings have a tendency to be expensive endeavors. According to The Knot’s 2018 Real Weddings Study, the national average cost of a wedding is $33,931. Nearly half of that ($15,439) is spent on the reception venue alone.

As expensive as wedding receptions can be, couples should know that there are many ways to reduce reception costs without sacrificing fun.

1. Choose foods wisely

Pour over the details of catering costs. The Knot says the average price for catering will be $68 per person. If you opt for an appetizers and cocktails reception, you may be able to shave several dollars off the bill. Look closely at the pricing for buffet versus plated meals. Buffet service often means having a greater quantity of food on hand, which could drive up the cost. Find out if the catering hall can work with your budget to provide cost-conscious options, like familiar comfort foods instead of gourmet fare.

2. Serve a custom-made cocktail

A themed drink, such as punch or a classic spirit with a reimagined, wedding-friendly name, can be less expensive than offering full open bar service. Some couples also opt to pay for only wine and beer rather than a full open bar that includes liquor and mixed drinks.

3. Book a weeknight

Weekend weddings are easier on guests’ schedules, but not on couples’ budgets. Couples can save thousands of dollars by hosting weeknight weddings instead of weekend affairs. Book the venue from Monday through Friday, as even Sunday prices have escalated. The further away from the weekend, the lower the prices tend to be.

4. Fake the cake

The Knot indicates a wedding cake runs roughly $530. Consider displaying a mock cake for photos and then serve a sheet cake during dessert hour. Decorating foam tiers to look like an extravagant cake can save a few hundred dollars, and guests won’t know the difference when they’re biting into a delicious, less costly dessert.

5. Skip the extras

Reception venues may upcharge for all the little details, such as linens in custom colors or chair covers. If you can live without these extras, do so. Ask for a list of itemized extras so you can assess what you want to pay for and what you’d prefer to avoid.

Wedding receptions are costly, but there are many ways to save money and still enjoy a memorable evening.

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