A DIY Wedding Guide for the Frugal Bride: Part Three - By: Amanda Dougherty


In this third installment of my blogs about a DIY Wedding, I'm going to focus on the most exciting and costly aspect of your special day:  The Reception! There are an overwhelming amount of options to choose from when planning a wedding reception, but I am simply going to tell you what I did and hopefully some of these ideas will help you with your planning!

1. The Venue -
The first step is to decide what kind of wedding reception you want and where to have it. Since I had an outdoor wedding on the beach, I continued the theme by having an outdoor reception. I was lucky that my sister lived only 20 minutes away from the ceremony and since she had a huge yard, I decided to have the reception there! Having my reception in a family members back yard made it intimate and charming and it worked out perfectly. Most importantly, it didn't cost a thing! So, when deciding where to have your reception and money is tight, don't rule out something as simple as a backyard! You can make it as beautiful and unique as your imagination allows.

2. Setting Up the Venue -
Choosing an outdoor reception certainly has its pros and cons, especially when you are at the mercy of the weather. I had my wedding in July and I just hoped for the best and luckily everything worked out fine. There was a torrential downpour the day before and I spent the day in terror and tears because there was no backup plan. So, if you are able to have a backup plan, I highly recommend it! If your case is similar to mine and one is not an option, just plan ahead as much as you can. Definitely plan on renting a tent. Even if it doesn't rain, it adds to the party atmosphere and helps bring the outside space together. As I mentioned in my previous blogs, ask for wedding help instead of wedding gifts! The tent was paid for by a family member as a "wedding gift," which helped in the overall cost of the wedding. Another family member picked up all our tables and chairs from a local church free of charge.

3. Decor -
I kept my overall decor very simple and casual. I used colorful paper lanterns with white lights hanging from the trees and tiki torches surrounding a wooden platform used as the dance floor. I also had a banner made with our names on it. To help save even more money, I decided to skip flowers for my centerpieces. Since this was a beach themed outdoor wedding, I opted for Citronella candles, which were spray painted to match my wedding colors with sea glass and sea shells scattered around the candles on each table. Since this was a wedding on a budget, I used disposable tablecloths, plates and utensils. I do regret not spending more money on the tablecloths, but if you go with plastic, stick with white.

4. Food & Beverages -
We did the catering ourselves using simple finger foods, which again was purchased for us as a "wedding gift." Since this was an outdoor beach themed wedding in July, I did not feel hot food was necessary; simple sandwiches and finger foods are all you need. As for alcoholic beverages, we stuck to just beer, wine and some champagne. Most of this was again, bought by a friend as a gift.


5. The Cake - 
My wedding cake also was purchased as a gift. Even with that being said, don't think you have to go to an expensive bakery to get a beautiful cake! I ordered mine from the grocery store chain, Giant, and I couldn't have been more pleased with how it turned out! It was beautiful, designed exactly how I wanted it, it tasted delicious and no one would expect it came from a grocery store! If you decide to go this route and you're embarrassed, then just don't tell anyone. They will never know and you will save yourself a lot of money!

6. Music - 
For the music at the reception, my husband and I made our own playlist on iTunes. We just set up a laptop with some large speakers my husband already owned. We did not have to pay for a DJ and we were guaranteed to hear all our favorite songs throughout the whole night! This probably took me the longest to compile out of all my wedding plans, so if you decide to take this on, start right away! It takes time but it was very worth it and again, an instant money saver. You will then have this playlist for the rest of your lives and it's fun to put on for anniversaries!

7. Favors - 
Even though I kept my wedding reception very simple, you can still add special touches to make very memorable moments. Another way I saved money was by not giving out expensive favors for the guests. I had a bowl of matchbooks, which were custom made with our names and wedding date, next to a vase filled with sparklers. At a designated time, we handed everyone some matches and sparklers and everyone lit them all at once. It turned out to be one of my most favorite photos and a highlight of the night! Everyone then got to take home a matchbook as a keepsake. At the end of the night, set to a specific song we chose, my husband and I lit large paper sky lanterns and sent them off into the sky. It was a simple, yet magical moment.

I hope some of these ideas have been helpful and just remember, you don't have to spend a fortune on your wedding to make it special. It will be special no matter what you do and cost does not determine that. Just do things that are meaningful to you and you will have the most perfect day of your life!