There are many ways to cut costs while still maintaining a wonderful ambiance for your day. Some will probably work for you and some will be less of a possibility, but peruse all of them for inspiration. I
1. The obvious - reduce your guest list.
2. Cut back the budget on most things, but add one or two "scene stealers" that take time (not money) and that catch everyone's eye and attention - they will talk about them all night - (read: "What a special touch!")
Ideas for this are:
A gorgeous, nicely covered and displayed guest book table with photos and meaningful memorabilia all displayed at different levels (put boxes under the tablecloths) - Add a lamp or candles -or even favorite decor items from your home that build and enhance the theme of your wedding. Hit up our pinterest page for inspiration.
A beautiful program - made far in advance, by you - printed in grey (doesn't use much of your ink cartridge) on your PC, on pretty paper glued or tied with ribbon to backing stock.
Pen handwritten notes (by the bride and groom) - "thank you for coming - it means so much to us" or other personal style notes and put them on each table.
If children will be attending, set up a special table for them with coloring books and activities. Make it a part of your decor by using a big market umbrella overhead or even a cabana if outdoors or a circle of balloons all around it if indoors. Be creative and have fun with it - but keep it tuned to the theme of the wedding. Parents love anyone who does something special for their children.
3. Instead of a full meal opt for some really unusual and delicious hors de oeuvres - looks like you spent more money - not less! Consider unique passed and plated hors de oeuvres (passing them adds elegance and portion control at the same time and might be served by students at your local culinary school You could also consider beautiful fruit, veggie and meat trays which can be displayed on multiple tables like food stations - this also reduces consumption, yet enhances mingling by your guests. .
4. Set your wedding for an "off day" - sometimes it's better for everyone - especially if the family has children who participate in sports and are busy or out of town on weekends. Most venues offer specials for weddings on Sundays and even Friday nights which could work if not alot of your guests have far to travel.
5. Have a beautiful, but small scale cake then have the same baker make up several plain sheet cakes (same flavor) to "feed the masses" that will be cut and distributed to your guests. Warehouse store cakes kind of cheat your guests of the deliciousness of the bakery cake!
6. Do an "off prime time" wedding. Set your wedding up outdoors at breakfast time - or seriously early and watch the sun come up! This changes the "meal" to fruits and muffins and quiche or scrambled eggs which could be beautifully presented and cuts down on the DJ's hours, as well as bringing him in at a time he is less likely to be booked and perhaps could offer a better rate. Use their services to do the emcee work, to help people follow along with this "novel" wedding style. This could even be set up like a "picnic" where a few tables are reserved for the older guests and everyone else sits on "picnic blankets" that they select from big baskets, antique trunks, or even a row boat, where they are rolled up and tied with pretty ribbons.
7. In contrast - the "cocktail hour" or late night wedding is perfect for "adults only" weddings. Make it a very dressy affair at a time that is definitely after dinner. This is a walking around and visiting - and possibly dancing event, but not a sit down or buffet dinner. Make the centerpiece of your event a beautiful chocolate fountain and add some simple but delicious, and some fancy deserts. You might also offer extra "not so sweet" snacks like nuts and pretzels, that may or may not be dipped, so that your guests will have options if they are not chocolate lovers - (who isn't?!?) . Chill the champagne in silver buckets or employ a champagne fountain for an elegant touch and self service. Let the guests take their champagne glass from a stacked display that adds to the elegant decor. Be sure you really set an elegant tone.