A Beautiful Wedding Reception on a Budget

Your list of things you need to rent, buy, and provide for your wedding keeps getting bigger but your budget is staying the same. How will you afford the swoon-worthy decorations at your reception? What do you have to skip out on to stay within your budget? What if we told you you could still have all the details you want to include? While we never encourage cutting the budget from any of our wedding professionals (we LOVE our wedding vendors!), we are just offering suggestions that may or may not fit your wedding vision, style, and budget priorities. That should come FIRST when deciding when and where to cut.

17 budget-friendly tips for you to consider when planning your wedding to ensure you have a beautiful reception:

1. Artificial flowers and greenery (like Hitch offers!)

You know you want the look of flowers and greenery, but you’re prioritizing your budget. Since Hitch has a great variety of artificial flowers and greenery to choose from when you book through us (all included complimentary!), we can be the alternative to fresh flowers. Hitch Studio is the “simple elegance” solution. The average floral bill is around $3000 for a wedding, so using artificial florals is a great way to cut down the cost. You can see our decor collection with our artificial flowers and greenery here. Our clients get access to our decor collection for free when they book our services. Do you want the look of fresh florals, but not the price tag? Opt for just fresh greenery to save you money on a floral bill! Do you still want fresh flowers and greenery but want the benefits of using Hitch Studio? Use our vases, candles, chargers, and more for FREE to enhance your table decor!

This bouquet uses Hitch Studio’s complimentary artificial flowers, but FRESH greenery in a vase also from Hitch Studio’s collection.

2. Skip the wedding favors

When it comes to wedding favors, many couples feel they need to have something for their guests. But you don’t have to provide favors if you don’t want to or if your budget doesn’t allow for them. Most likely, your guests won’t even realize you didn’t give favors out. If you want to provide a little something for them to take home, combine the favors with your desserts, like popcorn bags.! Examples of wedding favors (and tips for giving them) can be found here!

3. Mail a postcard save the date and RSVP 

An easy way to cut costs on your save the dates and RSVP cards (as part of your invitations) is to mail them as postcards. This saves you money on the postage (only a postcard stamp) and an outer envelope (not needed).  A new trend? Not mailing RSVP postcards at all with your wedding stationery — and using a QR code instead! When scanned with a phone, it lands the user right on your wedding website RSVP page. (No paper, no stamp…it sounds like you’re “going green” and saving money to us!)

QR shown here on their RSVP postcard.

4. Have family bring desserts from their favorite recipes

You don’t want to have just one dessert option AND you want to save money in the process? Have the bakers in your family bring some of their special recipes and have a dessert table full of your favorites. But still get a mini cake professionally done so you and your spouse can have that cake-cutting moment. This is a great budget-friendly tip since you won’t have to splurge on a full wedding cake for all your guests. Plus, mini cakes and dessert bars are gaining more popularity this year. Read our 2024 Wedding Trends blog to see the other trends we’re seeing this next season. Remember to follow any commercial kitchen food guidelines from your venue.

Kuchen and wedding cookies for this bride’s German heritage!

5. Choose inexpensive, but good quality paper for your stationery (Hitch can help with that!)

Your wedding stationery is an important part of your wedding experience and if you still want to have beautiful, thought-out save the dates, invitations, and programs, there are ways to reduce the amount you spend on them. Hitch offers custom-designed wedding stationery and we work with a variety of budgets. We have a great selection of beautiful but inexpensive paper to choose from and work with you to design exactly what you want. You don’t want flimsy paper, but you don’t need cotton luxe paper either? We have many great solutions for that! Another tip for saving money on your wedding invitations? As much as we LOVE using colored envelopes, you could choose white or ivory envelopes (that we already have in stock) that are more budget-friendly!

6. Hand-write your guest addresses and return address instead of having them pre-printed

One of our favorite services for wedding invitations is addressing your envelopes correctly and having them printed on your envelopes so they look professional and consistent. We can also print your return address on the back flap. One way to save money is to hand-write the addresses on your envelopes! (Want more tips on addressing your wedding envelopes with perfect etiquette? Find the FULL list in our Wedding Day Designer (the wedding planning guide book and checklist we sell!)

7. Pick a pretty venue

Looking to save money on decorations for the venue? Pick a beautiful venue that doesn’t need to be transformed to make it how you want it. This could save you hundreds or thousands by not having to pay for a ceiling install, large furniture, or other rentals to alter the look of the space.

8. Reuse your ceremony flowers for your reception

If you opt to have fresh flowers during your wedding day, a great way to make the most of your floral budget is to reuse your ceremony flowers at the reception. Bridesmaid bouquets can become centerpieces or your ceremony arch flowers can be re-used at the head table. The flowers that lined the aisle can be repurposed to decorate the gift table, dessert area, or head table. There are a lot of options to reuse the florals so you can stay within your desired budget.

These flowers are from the bridesmaids bouquets. We filled them between the ceremony and the reception!

9. Skip Saturdays or pick an off-peak season date

Saturdays are the most expensive day during the week to have a wedding. Venues will have different pricing for weekdays, or Friday and Sunday weddings that are usually cheaper than the sought-after Saturdays. Picking a different day, besides Saturday, to get married could result in saving some money. Wedding venues also have cheaper rates during the off-season. Choosing a date that is “off-peak season” in the location where you’re getting married will be more budget-friendly. Think winter to early spring in South Dakota as opposed to those summer and fall months. Want to see some beautiful winter weddings to melt over? Click here and here! Sometimes you just embrace South Dakota’s seasons, so we even asked brides for their winter wedding advice!

10. Have a set budget for your bar, drink tickets, or cash bar to control the alcohol spend

Food and beverages usually account for the greatest portion of your wedding’s budget. You can provide drinks and also make sure you’re not going over budget by having a set spend for the bar or drink tickets. If you’re on a strict budget, offer beer and wine for guests, but opt for a cash bar so your guests can still choose a liquor drink if they want.

11. Use Hitch Studio’s budget sheet to prioritize spending

Hitch Studio has the ultimate budget spreadsheet. It can be yours if you choose to hire Hitch Studio for your wedding planning and decorating! It’s 250+ lines of items to remember to put in your budget, along with budget balance and actual costs, so you can track as you spend.

12. Skip the party bus

After the ceremony, skip renting a party bus and have a private social hour with just your wedding party at the venue, while sneaking in some post-ceremony photos. 

13. Pick a hotel with a shuttle

Save money by not having to book a shuttle bus for your guests to use during and after your wedding. Strategically pick hotels that provide shuttles to and from the venue and you can be sure your guests arrive safely back to the hotel at the end of the night. Need help finding hotels with shuttles? We can help with that!

14. Use what your vendors provide instead of renting your own

A way to stick within your rental budget for your special day is to utilize what your vendor provides. Use the venue’s table and chairs, don’t rent your own. Instead of renting a dance floor, use the space at the venue to have a dance. Cut costs by not renting dishes and using what your caterer will provide. Rentals can become a large expense, especially for bigger weddings, so utilizing what is already provided to you (and included in the cost) will save you a lot of money. Of course, if your style is a top budget priority, then let’s see what we can do that’s still budget-friendly!

15. Have a selfie station instead of a photo booth

Set up a fun selfie station for your guests to enjoy throughout the night. This allows guests to have a pretty backdrop for photos to remember the day but without the big price tag of a photo booth rental. They’ll use their own phones, and your custom wedding hashtag, to achieve similar results as an actual photo booth. However, most DJ’s and photographers have a photo booth add-on that can be quite budget-friendly!

We used Hitch Studio’s geometric arbor for the photo station at this tent wedding!

16. Use your social hour snacks for late-night snacks

Instead of catering or buying new snacks for the evening, utilize the food you had during the social hour as your late-night snacks (following food safety, of course). Just refill those containers during the dance and it will save you the money and stress of planning for more food to be served. Make sure it’s okay with your venue that you bring in outside food.

17. Buy a Wedding Day Designer to help with prioritizing your budget

This 158-page guidebook gives you a timeline, checklist, and tips so you don’t forget any crucial elements of the wedding. It includes vendor questions to ask, etiquette advice, exclusive planning tips from a wedding planner of 10 years (ahem…yes, it’s Renee Bauman, owner of Hitch Studio who authored the Wedding Day Designer!), timelines, check boxes, sample timelines of a wedding day, packing lists, photographer shot lists, ceremony processional samples, and more. It comes as a clickable PDF, a notebook, or a keepsake binder. Choose yours at www.weddingdaydesignerguide.com!

We hope this helps you think creatively about how you can reduce the cost of your wedding but still incorporate everything you want. If you need a planner to help coordinate the details while sticking to your budget, email Hitch at info@hitchstudio.com and we can help you start planning your dream day! Let’s start today! We’ve LOVE to hear about it!

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