Hosting a Wedding Reception: How Much is Enough?

Hosting a Wedding Reception: How Much is Enough?

Weddings are, at their core, about two people in love deciding to share the rest of their lives with each other. In the flurry of wedding planning, however, it’s sometimes easy to forget the reason for all of the fuss. If you find yourselves drifting away from the excitement of being engaged amidst all the hubbub of coordinating caterers, musicians, and venue management, take a step back. There are many types of lovely and enjoyable wedding receptions, and they’re not all big dinner productions. Take a moment to decide which type of reception best suits your taste.

Cake and Bubbles

For many couples, the simplicity of a cake and champagne reception is all of the pomp and circumstance needed for a no-fuss celebration. It is an easy, affordable option that lets you have your cake–and eat it, too. You can enjoy the glitz and glitter that comes with serving glasses of bubbly. With the extra room in your budget that would have gone to serving a multi-course meal, you can afford to splurge on the wedding cake of your dreams.

When choosing the cake and bubbles approach, fully embrace its simplicity. Don’t try to compromise by serving an inexpensive meal or getting fancy with different types of hors d’oeuvres and desserts. Instead, choose your favorite type of champagne (and equivalent non-alcoholic option) and your favorite flavor of cake. Concentrate on doing those two things very, very well. One of the great advantages of a simple wedding reception is getting to make each aspect the very best it can be.

To further embrace the simplicity of a champagne and cake reception, hold it at your ceremony venue. That way, you don’t have to worry about shuttling your guests across town or waiting for everyone to arrive at the new location. As you investigate options for your ceremony venue, keep an eye open for settings where a reception could be held. The ideal venue will be well-suited for both parts of your wedding.

Late-Night Party

When you think of midnight weddings, do you have visions of Cinderella and her prince twirling around an enchanted ballroom? Night-owl couples and their friends do well with late-night party receptions, but if you plan on inviting older relatives or guests with young children, you’ll need to arrange alternate ways to involve them in your wedding. Ideally, an after-hours reception follows a short mingling hour directly after the ceremony in order to give your less nocturnally-inclined guests a chance to give their well-wishes.

After-hours receptions can be surprisingly affordable, since they rent venue space during times when there isn’t a lot of competition from other events. Once you find a venue that’s willing to open its doors to you during unconventional hours, you can usually talk your way into a pleasingly low rate.

Late-night receptions save money on food because guests will already have eaten dinner. However, if you want to keep your friends on the dance floor, you’ll need to fuel their energy with snacks and smaller offerings. Look for caffeinated popcorn and chocolates to give your party an additional boost. Invest in an energetic DJ or live band to keep the energy level high throughout the reception. Avoid long stretches of sitting for speeches; have an open mic available for well-wishers, instead.

Tea Time

Tea-time wedding receptions are all the rage–and not just among couples who are prim and proper enough for an afternoon with the queen. From pastel china and watercress sandwiches to “mad” tea parties evoking Wonderland, tea-time receptions are a versatile way for each couple to evoke their own personalities on this time-honored tradition.

Part of the fun of hosting a tea party is serving a variety of small finger foods. Save on the cost of a full banquet menu by choosing four or five of your favorite small dishes. Triangle-cut tea sandwiches share three bonuses: they’re traditional, they’re very affordable, and they’re beloved by even the pickiest of eaters. Serve a variety including cucumber, chicken salad, and smoked fish to ensure there’s something for everyone. Sliced fruit and bridge mixes are also beloved choices for tea party offerings. They satisfy a large number of guests without overcrowding the food portion of your budget.

Although tea receptions can be held at any time of day, they pair very well with morning weddings. Like late-night receptions, morning receptions can often find great deals on venue rental prices. If you want to serve a light brunch following a morning wedding, you’ll be able to splurge on indulgences like caviar.

A No-Fuss Reception

Hosting a simple wedding reception is more than an easy way to save money. It’s a way to bring the focus of the day back to the two people getting married. Instead of getting distracted by whether the wines for the first course clash with the wines paired with the second course, you can breathe easily knowing that the elegance of your reception will take care of itself. Provide simple, high-quality fare and leave yourself the necessary energy to be the perfect hosts of the occasion.


Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.