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Affordable, Elegant Wedding Receptions

wedding reception centerpiece diy
Even do it yourself receptions can
be elegant and still very affordable.

Amazing wedding receptions don't have to cost a fortune.

Many families are on tight budgets these days, limiting the parents' ability to contribute financially. Much of the burden of wedding expenses lands on young couples who are just starting out in life and on limited budgets themselves.

Location, Location

When planning choosing an affordable wedding reception location think outside the box. Depending on how many people are invited, you may need a sizable place to have the reception. Weather permitting, your wedding reception could be held in someone's back yard or at a local park.

My own wedding ceremony and reception were held at a local park in a specially reserved area (including gazebo) that cost only about $60 for the entire day.

My mother and I recently hosted a wedding reception for my sister in our mobile home park's club house. A $150 deposit was required, but the deposit was returned after we cleaned up and left the club house the way we found it. We had full access to a fully equipped kitchen, sitting area, tables, chairs, and restrooms for an entire day. Everything we needed was right there and didn't cost us a dime.

Many developments and neighborhoods have community centers that, with the right decorations, are perfect for gala receptions. One bride covered ugly walls with rolls of plastic table cloth drapery that matched the wedding colors and made the hall look amazing!


Decorations that can be used after the reception is over more than pay for themselves.

For my sister's reception we created beautiful centerpieces for the tables by buying some glass Pyrex cereal bowls ($1 each at a local outlet mall) and placing green glass marbles from the craft store in the bottom of each.

We then filled the bowls half way with water and placed a white rose-shaped floating candle in each. These attractive centerpieces were very easy to assemble in just a minute or two.

In addition to lending their candlelight to the room made a wonderful inexpensive gift for the bride and groom—a complete set of matching cereal bowls!


Food also doesn't have to require too much effort or added expense. My own wedding reception was a pot luck luncheon. My mother provided the sandwich rolls, sliced meat and cheeses, and condiments, and close friends and family members were asked to bring side dishes and salads. My husband's aunt made the most beautiful multi-tiered wedding cake for us. Our expense was minimal and no one went away hungry!

also see in weddings:
make your own wedding cake
DIY wedding cake ideas

Most dollar stores carry catering trays and the heating stands with sterno. Think about what was served at the weddings you attended and pick quick make ahead freezer foods. On the day of the reception, take the food out to thaw and bring it to the hall. Set up the sternos and heat up your home cooked selections. Make sure you leave enough time to get the food thawed and heated before guests start to arrive. A few trays set up with hot food can have your buffet wedding reception looking like a catered affair!

My sister's reception was more of a sit-down affair, but still did not cost us a fortune. She chose a fall wedding theme. Knowing the reception would take place in October, we thought that it was taking place close enough to the holidays to have a Thanksgiving-style dinner. Most of our relatives don't have the opportunity to see one another during the holidays anyway, and we knew this would be a great opportunity to get everyone together and spend some time visiting and eating a wonderful meal.

My husband barbecued a turkey, my mom baked a ham, and we again asked close friends and family members to bring their favorite holiday salads and side dishes. The dinner was a huge success. A family friend made the wedding cake and let us borrow her punch bowl. The wedding cake included the cake top that had adorned our own parents' wedding cake more than 30 years ago. This was a surprise for my sister, as was the crystal cake plate that had been a wedding gift to our parents from a great grandmother.

A Wedding Reception to Remember

All of our family's wedding receptions have been huge successes, and while requiring a lot of effort on the part of many friends and family members, have never cost any one of us more than $100 or so. When planning your next wedding reception, don't focus on the lavishness of the event, focus on creating a memorable day that will live on in your family's memories for years to come.

If you'd like some ideas to get you started, I found some neat web sites you might want to take a look at. The Wedding Crafts Page is a compilation of links to do-it-yourself wedding crafts, including decorations, centerpieces, flowers, albums and keepsakes, and much more.

About the Author...
Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of What's for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For recipes, tips to organize your home, home decorating, crafts, holiday hints and more, visit Creative Homemaking at



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