Inside: The average wedding costs $28,427. AVERAGE. Here are 5 low-cost wedding receptions that won’t leave you eating ramen until your 5-year anniversary.
I’m living my life in reverse order.
Divorce and starting all over again will do that to you.
Three years ago, the d-word was camped out in the middle of my road, with no way around it. At 32 years old with a 2-year-old in tow, I felt like damaged goods. What guy my age would be interested in a divorcée with a toddler?
Failure, failure, failure flashed like a neon sign in my head.
Then Ty came along.
First Comes Love, Then Comes…?
Instead of fall in love –> get married –> buy a house –> have a baby, things got a little jumbled up.
We fell in love, decided to have a baby, bought a house, and now we’re planning a wedding.
It’s not the order we would have chosen in a perfect world. But I was pushing 35 when we decided to try for a baby. We didn’t want to wait for “perfect” and miss out on our chance for a little one.
(Although I’ve since learned I needn’t have worried too much about that magical age of 35.)
The High Cost of Average
And now: a wedding.
We want it to be special – yet not SO special that we’re still paying for our wedding when we’re being wheeled into a nursing home. Still, as a recovering perfectionist, it’s tempting to want everything to be sort of…perfect.
Last year, the average wedding cost $28,427.
Just imagine what perfect would run you.
5 Creative Low-Cost Wedding Receptions
Not exactly breaking the blinged-out wedding mold.
Here are a few ideas for weddings that won’t leave you eating ramen for every meal until your 5-year anniversary. See if you can guess which one we’re leaning towards.
Quick Tip: When you’re working with vendors, the minute the word “wedding” pops up you can expect prices to skyrocket. While you’re exchanging emails with a potential vendor, try to say “special event” or “family get-together” instead of “wedding” until you get a commitment on price.
1. An Afternoon Picnic
Check with an urban farm (or a regular ol’ farm) to see if they’d be willing to rent out their space for your event. Another option is to reserve space at a city, county, or state park. The gorgeous greenery will be better than any decor you could buy.
But here’s where the real savings comes in:
- Provide cozy blankets instead of renting tables and chairs.
- Fill picnic baskets with sandwiches and bags of chips (yum!) instead of hiring a caterer.
- Dole out good quality boxed wine instead of buying cases of wine and paying a bartender.
2. Something Borrowed
To defray the costs if you rent, you could invite your closest family and friends to stay with you in the home before and/or after the wedding. They’d have to pay for a hotel anyway, so you may end up saving them money too.
3. A Potluck
Reception costs can eat up 50 percent of your budget. The catering alone could be $20 to $50 per person. Ouch.
But when’s the last time you left a reception and found yourself saying “Now THAT was a fifty-dollar meal!”
Cut the food cost to zero by organizing a potluck for the reception. The dishes can be the guests’ gifts to you. And for favors, you can give everyone a pretty printed booklet of the recipes.
One of my favorite ways to explore a big city is by taking a food tour. You pay a flat amount upfront, then a tour guide takes you around to several restaurants where you get to sample one or two dishes. You stay 30 minutes or so at each place, then move onto the next round of deliciousness.
Instead of shelling out big bucks for a stuffy sit-down reception dinner, reserve all the spots in a food tour for you and your guests.
Don’t have a food tour company in your city? Organize your own tour by working with a few restaurants ahead of time. (And remember, don’t say “wedding” until you secure prices!)
5. On the Big Screen
Find an independent movie theater in your area that rents out their space. Reserve a theater, say “I do” up in front, then screen your favorite rom-com after you tie the knot. (My current fave? Pitch Perfect.)
When hunting for a theater with the right kind of vibe for your big day, aim for more on the side of quaint and cozy and less on the side of crappy summer blockbuster and your shoes sticking to the floor.
If you really want to splurge, load everyone’s popcorn up with extra butter.
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Which type of wedding would you want to attend? Share your pick in a comment below! (And can you guess which idea we’re leaning towards?)
I’m a mom of four, a recovering perfectionist, and the author of Happy You, Happy Family. Parenting is hard enough without all the guilt we heap on top of ourselves. So let’s stop trying to be perfect parents and just be real ones. Sound good? Join my mailing list and as a bonus, you’ll get 25+ incredibly helpful cheat sheets that will ease your parenting struggles.