The goal for our wedding day, besides getting happily married, was throwing one heck of a party after the ceremony. But as we searched for the perfect venue, our hope dwindled as each location’s price tag grew. The price to rent the space and feed everyone was pretty non-negotiable, so I knew that no matter what venue we decided on, we would have to find a way to reduce the cost in other areas of the reception. So, we got creative.
We let the reception hall do most of the work. I was determined to have our reception somewhere more unique than a banquet hall, but it was hard to find a place that was different and within our budget. When we walked into our venue for the first time, our jaws dropped. We immediately knew it was the place we would have our reception. From the lion statues greeting visitors outside, to the spiral staircase and stone fountain that led to an extravagant, vintage crystal ballroom with a grand stage surrounded by various levels of tables all looking onto the dance floor – it took our breath away. The best part? It was cheaper than some banquet halls! And because it was so beautiful and extravagant, we didn’t need much decoration.
It was an old masonic temple from the 1920s. There was even a speakeasy door that required a handshake to get in. So we picked our wedding theme off the building’s décor and the result was both elegant and fun, without too much work.
We bought our centerpieces from the thrift store. Since the reception venue was extravagant enough, we wanted centerpieces that were simple and classic and went with our theme. Since it was prohibition era, I purchased vintage decanters and brass candlestick holders at thrift stores, flea markets, and online shops like Goodwill, Ebay, and Etsy. I also used dollar store votives sprayed with gold glitter. The most expensive part of the centerpieces were the cost of the pink roses and rose petals that were used to add a hint of romance to each table.
We used our guests. We encouraged everyone to wear 1920s-inspired cocktail attire, but stressed not to wear costumes. People showed up seriously workin’ it. Women wore beautiful beaded gowns, long necklaces, and fashionable headpieces, while guys wore fedoras and suspenders. The cocktail attire paired with just a hint of 20s vibe really added to the look and feel of the theme without going over the top or making it tacky.
We made the favors work double time. Instead of favors at the table, we had them sprinkled around the venue throughout the night. We had a candy cigar bar, personalized napkins, and paper straws. Later in the night, we brought out black feather boas, long pearl necklaces, and feather fans for people to use on the dance floor and take home if they wanted. Not only did this add to the feel, it brought more people onto the dance floor and saved us a ton of money on favors that people don’t typically keep anyway.
We had an “off-season” wedding. Because we got married in March, we were able to get “off season” pricing. We were upgraded to a premium bar for free and also got a free appetizer, midnight snack, and ice sculpture. This isn’t really a decoration (minus the ice sculpture), but it is one of the biggest ways we were able to lower our bill, so I wanted to have it in here! Think of it as a little bonus.
The reception is usually the biggest expense of any wedding because you have to pay for food and drinks. Even when you get a discount, it still eats up a big chunk of your budget. That’s why it’s important to cut costs in other areas of the reception spending when you can. For us, it was with decorations. And even though we cut costs, we still wowed our guests and pulled off an elegant and ridiculously fun wedding that people still talk about more than one year later.
What was your favorite part of your – or a friend’s – wedding reception?
Photo credit: Amber Rose Photography