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How to Throw an Epic Wedding Reception on a Budget

Wedding receptions can be the icing on the cake for a perfect celebration. The good news is that you don’t have to break the bank to have an epic reception. In this article, I’ll share creative ideas to help you throw a memorable party within your budget. Let’s get the party started!

1. Planning with Purpose

Start by setting a clear vision for your reception What vibe do you want? Is it an intimate celebration with your closest friends or a wild dance party? Having a well-defined theme will guide your decisions and ensure that every element contributes to the overall experience.

Consider using your venue for both the ceremony and reception to save money and time on transportation. Many churches have rooms for events that are perfect for receptions. By choosing a venue that accommodates both events, you can negotiate a better package deal and possibly get a discount for hosting both events with the same vendor. Discuss your reception plans with the ceremony venue manager, and they might be willing to extend the rental hours for a reasonable price, ensuring your celebration goes on until the early hours of the morning.

If it’s in the warmer months and your guest count is on smaller end – consider using a backyard of a closer friend or relative to cut costs even further.

2. DIY D├ęcor Delights

Use your creativity and get hands-on with DIY decorations. Hit up local thrift stores, flea markets, or dollar stores for budget-friendly decor items that fit your theme. Upcycling and repurposing can work wonders in giving new life to simple items. Create personalized centrepieces using mason jars, fairy lights, and fresh flowers or potted plants. This not only adds a personal touch but also helps cut down on the cost of elaborate floral arrangements.

Additionally, DIY photo booths with props will keep your guests entertained and provide lasting memories. You can create fun and engaging props like oversized sunglasses, quirky hats, and chalkboard speech bubbles for guests to write their own messages. Encourage them to use their smartphones to take pictures or consider setting up a Polaroid camera for instant printouts.

A close up shot of small flower bouquet at a wedding reception in toronto

3. Fantastic Food & Drink Options

Delicious food and drinks don’t have to break the bank. Opt for finger foods, sliders, or a taco bar instead of a sit-down dinner. A buffet-style meal not only saves costs on individual plating but also allows guests to choose their preferred portions. Food trucks are a trendy and budget-friendly option that adds a fun touch to the reception experience. They often offer a variety of cuisines, from gourmet burgers to delicious tacos. You can negotiate with local food truck vendors to create a customized menu that suits your taste and budget.

For drinks, consider a signature cocktail that reflects your personality as a couple, and offer beer and wine instead of a full bar to cut costs. Remember, a well-thought-out menu keeps your guests happy and pleased throughout the celebration.

A close up shot of a tray of mixed drinks

4. Keep the Entertainment Lively

Entertainment can make or break a party, so invest in creating a lively atmosphere by hiring a local DJ who specializes in weddings. A talented DJ can read the crowd and keep the dance floor packed with your favourite tunes. Create a killer playlist that includes both your must-have songs and crowd-pleasers, ensuring that everyone from your younger cousins to your grandparents can dance the night away.

You can also even organize a dance battle between the bride and groom, which will undoubtedly get everyone on their feet and cheering for your epic moves. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone, and it adds a personal touch to the wedding.

A DJ is through a packaged and energetic dancefloor

6. Go Green with Favours

Show your appreciation to your guests with eco-friendly party favours that double as decorations. Potted succulents or personalized mason jars can be both thoughtful and budget-friendly choices. These favours not only add a touch of greenery to your celebration but also serve as a lasting reminder of your love and gratitude. If you have a green thumb, you can even grow your succulents or flowers and use them as centrepieces before gifting them to your guests.

Alternatively, you can give out homemade goodies like cookies, jam, or candles. These treats will leave your guests smiling and also contribute to sustainability, showing your love for the planet and reducing waste. When opting for eco-friendly favours, you’re not only making a positive impact on the environment but also sharing your values with your loved ones.

5. Lighting Magic

Transform your venue with spectacular lighting. Twinkling fairy lights, string lights, and paper lanterns create a dreamy ambiance with very little money. These affordable and versatile lighting options can be easily hung from trees, draped across the ceiling, or wound around pillars to create an enchanting atmosphere.

If your venue has an outdoor area, consider setting up a bonfire or a small campfire with marshmallows for toasting. The warm glow and crackling fire will create an unforgettable atmosphere. It also serves as an excellent spot for guests to gather around, share stories, and make new memories.

For an indoor venue, consider using flameless LED candles to mimic the effect of real candles without safety concerns. These small touches of lighting can significantly impact the overall ambiance and make your after-party feel even more special.

A long string of lights leads down a handful of tables set up in a backyard for a wedding reception

7. Capture the Magic

As a wedding photographer, I can’t stress enough the importance of capturing the reception moments as they feature countless candid and heartwarming moments. Hiring a professional wedding photographer ensures you’ll have high-quality images of one of the most important days of your life. And guess what? I’m here to help!


At Kotsy Photography, I specialize in capturing the magic of weddings, and I’d be thrilled to be a part of your reception too! I know how to blend in with the crowd and create natural shots that truly reflect the atmosphere of your celebration. Get in touch to book my services nd let’s get to know each other.

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