Plan an eclectic wedding reception and save big

Wedding centerpieces with apricots and candles

I promised I would give you an amazing wedding planning rubric allowing you to spend less than $15,000, and by golly a rubric you will get.

It’s in the form of a four-part series, and this is numero dos.

We talked date, venue and invites in part No. 1 last week.

9 tips to plan your dream wedding for cheap

Now it’s time to dance. Well, it’s time to plan to dance.

Check out these tips on how to slash reception costs with nontraditional options:

Skip bridesmaids and groomsmen

I’m not big on the idea of ranking my friends and family with fancy titles like maid and matron of honor. I just wanted my best friends and relatives close to me in the days leading up to my wedding. So we got our hair and makeup done together, shared drinks, brunch and many laughs together. And as a bonus, I got to save money on bouquets and corsages.

Do without a wedding band.

Have a violinist or pianist cover the ceremony, but when it comes to receptions, there’s something about those deejays. They not only get the party started, but a good deejay will also help add a little structure and help with event flow. Just be sure to have your planner communicate closely with the deejay before and during your event.

Low-end budget: $150

High-end budget: $300

Food-truck-reception
Plan an eclectic wedding reception and save big | Honeycomb Moms | A food truck reception allowed us to get great food without inflated pricing. The lobster rolls at Cousins Maine Lobster were my favorite wedding food. | Credit: Corey Reese

Consider a food truck reception.

For all its’ negatives, our venue allowed us to bring in our own premium liquors for just under $1,000 and our own caterers.

We had a lobster roll truck, a shrimp taco truck and a barbecue truck, and they were a big hit. I had guests indicate their food preferences when they RSVP’d, and I placed stickers on their place cards with their selected trucks.

But I wish I had just selected two trucks and opted for food truck tickets instead of relying on people to read the backs of their place cards.

Having a few indoor options is a good idea too, so set out a few charcuterie boards and vegetarian pasta bowls. I just love the zucchini garden pasta and focaccia from Jason’s Deli. Tack on all your glassware, cutlery, serving tools and staffing needs like bartending, setup and cleanup.

Low-end budget: $4,000

High-end budget: $5,500

Skip the place card fuss.

Do yourself a big favor and allow open seating without place cards. It just makes for easier planning, fewer dollars spent and a freer flow. Too much structure can make people feel stuck to their chairs, and you want your guests up, mingling and dancing.

Keep centerpieces simple.

For my centerpieces, I filled different sized mason jars with water, put a few apricots at the bottom of each jar and floated some tealight candles on top. Get the apricots from Aldi’s, the mason jars from Target and the cloth napkins from Bed Bath and Beyond.



To spruce up my centerpieces even more, I had an idea to use square mirrors as table runners. I scoured the city’s Lowes stores to find enough $1 mirrors to accomplish the look.

You could, however, do minimalist centerpieces of a single sanctuary candle on each table. It works especially well in modern venues. Still, spring for cloth napkins though. The layered white on white linens can add some depth to your décor.

Low-end budget: $190

High-end budget: $515

The total so far is at $9,390 on the low end and $13,565 on the high end.

Keep reading to learn how to flesh out the rest of your wedding budget.

4 ways to save money on your wedding dress and beauty finds

How to honeymoon for cheap using wedding savings

Food truck reception pin

11 thoughts on “Plan an eclectic wedding reception and save big”

  1. I love the variations you came up with to the so-called "standard" wedding. I never thought of a food truck reception but that would take a whole lot of stress out of creating a menu.

  2. Great tips! I miss coordinating weddings, it was always fun to see everyone’s ideas. Alternate centerpiece ideas aside from florals is such a great way to save a few bucks.

  3. You must be in Tennessee cause I saw cousins Maine lobster. I live in the boro but I had had bbq and an open bar.. I went to the courthouse and decided we would spend that money on a house instead. Great tips

  4. I have seen people start to do the food truck. Cousins Maine I hear is really good. I saw them on Shark Tank I believe. I love the table setting. Really good tips!

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