Most people will have never arranged a party as big and as expensive as their wedding day before, and are unlikely to ever do it again. There is the option of passing it all on to professionals to organize for you, such as a wedding planner or wedding coordinator, but if you want to be more hands on, there’s a lot you need to consider.
When choosing the venue, ask what packages they offer and if there’s any room for negotiation. Be flexible with your ideal wedding date if you want to get a good deal, as weekdays and winter weddings are usually more affordable than summer Saturdays. Consider different venues, such as a university building or having a barn or outdoor marquee, as it may prove cheaper than a hotel.
Most venues that host weddings are likely to provide you with a range of possible menus for the wedding breakfast. These can range from the more affordable informal finger buffet, to a luxurious three course sit-down meal. You are usually quoted on the price on a per guest basis, which can vary from venue to venue, depending on its service and the food it offers.
It’s also important to consider the hire charge of the room, when totalling up your costs. Hire prices can vary depending on the venue, the size of the room, the amount of guests and the service required to serve all of them.
Shopping around and getting a lot of different quotes is the best way to get the most for your money. It’s also worth asking questions to see what changes you can make and what the venue would be willing to do for you. Don’t feel that you have to accept the first menu they offer. If you want something different, ask and see if they can accommodate your wishes. You can also get a reduction in costs by choosing dishes that are in season. Consider whether you want to offer a choice or just pick one dish for each course. Just remember that you may need to include vegetarian and child-friendly options depending on your guests requirements.
Make sure your venue is aware of how many guests you think will be attending your reception. Let them know definite numbers as soon as you have them, and ask when the last possible time you can alert them to any changes is. This is important in case any guests can’t make it, or let you know about any food allergies later on in the wedding planning process.
You also need to decide what drinks you will offer for the traditional welcome drink and toasts. Typically, it is champagne, but this can work out quite expensive, so consider buck’s fizz, or sparkling wine. Another idea is to provide a cocktail named after you and your new husband. Most venues include the cost of a half-bottle of wine for each guest at the table during the meal. It’s up to you if you provide a free bar or not, but most guests tend not to expect it nowadays, as they understand how much a wedding costs.