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Budget Savvy Bride: A Dessert Reception


I am planning a Friday evening ceremony followed by an elegant dessert reception.  We will have approximately 150 guests and will spend less than $10,000*.

Our three biggest money savers have been:

1. Negotiating

2. Coupons

3. Not having a sit-down dinner

Here are several examples of how we have saved some cash while planning our wedding:


Our venue rental is FREE. Yes, FREE, because we booked for a Friday night.  Tables, chairs, china, flatware, and linens are all included. We even get colored napkins of our choice! (That excites me.)

(not our actual venue, image from

Our reception will begin around 8:30.  Our menu will consist of a fabulous wedding cake, mini ice cream malts, brownies, cookies, fruit tarts, cheesecake, petite fours, and a fresh fruit and gourmet cheese display.  Our approximate cost will only be $13 per person, including tax and gratuity.

Amy Atlas Dessert Bar

We will have a limited open bar with beer, wine, champagne, and pop, as well as coffee, tea, and milk (to wash down all that chocolate! Yum!)

cookies and milk


I bought a sample dress off the rack to save over $250 and used a coupon from a bridal show to save an additional $100.

Allure 8524

(I like the way my dress looks WAY better in person.)

The Groom will receive a free tux rental by having the other groomsmen rent from the same shop.

One of my bridesmaids is making a beautiful, simple veil at a cost of $6 compared to the $125 bridal store veil!

The bridesmaid dresses were purchased on sale from!  Lovely lace dresses for thirty dollars a piece.  My MOH's dress was purchased through NetBride to save over $30.

Target lace bing cherry dress


We bought our paper in bulk online and purchased colored envelopes from a craft store with a 25%-off coupon.  We are printing our invite and RSVP postcard on our home printer.  Limiting the amount of stationary pieces and using a RSVP postcard saves on postage!  100 invitations will cost us less than $160, including all postage!

Our thank you cards were bought at a craft store - $11 for 150!

A cocktail-style reception means no formal seating - thus saving on seating cards, place cards, and menus.

Our programs are being printed on left over paper from our invitations and tied with inexpensive ribbon (bought with a craft store coupon, of course)!


The centerpieces will cost less than $3 per table!  Three vellum lace-printed luminaries (inspired by Martha Stewart) and votive candles will sit on our round tables. 

Martha Stewart Lace luminaries

In lieu of a traditional guest book, we will have wish cards for our guests to fill out and place in a large glass vase.  The vase was purchased at 50% off and the cards will be printed on more leftover cardstock.

White luminaries will line the steps and paths surrounding the church.  Total cost for this project: $11.

To save money on flowers, candelabras will be rented through the church for altar decorations.


Asking vendors for discounts and smaller packages for our Friday wedding made it possible for us to get top-notch talent with savings of over $2,000!

Rick Jennisch


To save more money on our florist bill, I handmade beautiful fabric flowers for the mothers, grandmothers, and readers to wear. Total cost: $10.  The men will not be wearing boutonnieres.

We bought our wedding bands using bridal show coupons to save $200!

Our rehearsal dinner is being held in the church dining hall (cheap and convenient).  We are going to have a make-your-own-sundae bar!

Sundae Bar

We are eliminating favors, save-the-dates, limousines, a ring bearer pillow, toasting flutes, and a cake topper.  Less is more!  Sometimes eliminating an item is better than trying to do it cheaply.

If you want to save money on your wedding and be mindful of your budget, consider getting married on an off-peak night or during the off-season.  Attend bridal shows to collect valuable coupons and sign-up for craft store emails to receive special discounts.  And lastly, don't be afraid to ask vendors to work within your budget (while still being kind and respectful of their work and professionalism). The worst they can do is say no!

Good luck and happy planning!


*Not including rings, rehearsal dinner, or honeymoon.

Last Updated: August 3, 2013 at 11:06 pm
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