Anyone having a REALLY simple (budget) reception?

Hi ladies,

Have spent the latter part of the afternoon getting weepy and panicking about how we're going to afford our wedding at the moment. We have our venue booked (Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park) but as we're just under a year away we're yet to pay out on anything else...and we couldn't right now even if we wanted to.

I'd like to have a fork buffet type thing but the price for 30/40 guests would still be rather expensive for us (around £1,500). I thought about a canape reception and cutting the evening short (but I want to celebrate properly and don't want it to fizzle out). We're having an M&S cake to save on money as well as a cash bar...but I'm still panicking.

Is there any other way I can cut down the price? Who else is having a 'modest' reception and how are you celebrating?



  • Hello Orange Blossom, I too am having a folk buffet as I thought it would keep the cost down. I now see that nothing keeps the cost down. I have read about people have fish and chips and having a country or chic theme that incorporates this. I would love this idea but I know the in laws would never speak to me again if we went down this route. Actually that's not a bad idea. Find out if you have to have their caterers, check on what you are allowed to take with you. The cake is one thing but some places let you provide some of the other stuff as well. You could also have the cake as the third course. Hope some of this helps. Don't cry too much there is always a solution. Good luck
  • Hi Orangeblossom

    You've picked an expensive venue if you want a budget reception! I wanted Pembroke Lodge until I found out how expensive it was. A friend from work got married there and it was beautiful though.... I know that Pembroke lodge let you take your own wine and although they charge corkage it may still work out less expensive - especially if you go to Calais (check out the prices of Tesco's in Calai on-line).

    You could get married late in the day and have a canapes reception, followed by an evening "do"/dancing etc. that way the evening wouldn't fizzle out.

    Alternatively, is it too late to change the day to a weekday - that's a lot less expensive.

    I'm sure it will all work out - don't worry about it too much!
  • LizCALizCA Posts: 148
    Hi there we are starting to worry about 'how' expensive our wedding is getting when we said we wouldn't get sucked in to all the unneccessary costs and our doing most of it ourselves except the catering, but even the basics cost money don't they? and we all want our days to be special.

    We are having our do in a village hall and the people do a cash bar so that's helped. We are having a meal for 20 close family members done by a caterer and then starting the evening do early for everyone at least 180 (it is difficult having large families) with a simpe buffet. I have been to one where people brought food for a shared buffet/meal - it sounds a bit cheap, but actually it was lovely and got people talking more. There was loads left afterwards as well - and it was different involving everyone which made it special! Good luck!
  • We were just at a retirement party this evening. They had a pig roast and then people brought salads and puddings. It was so good and everyone was really happy and had a good time.

    We do a beginning of year party where I work and have people bring food from all around the world and it is always good. Better than buffet curry.
  • Thanks for your suggestions ladies.

    Actually, we're getting married in the Russell Suite on a weekday which meant the hire fee was only £350 which is a bargain in my eyes!

    We've yet to discuss the menu with the coordinator there so we thought we'd try and come up with some suggestions first. I was thinking an Italian type buffet with breads and antipastas to start followed by a few large risotto or pasta dishes for the main. For dessert we thought we'd serve up our cake (which will cost just under £100 with decor) with perhaps some cream and fresh fruit.

    The alternative is a canape reception but as we're marrying at 2pm (can't do any later) I'd worry about guests being hungry.

    We'd love to bring in food from outside for the evening but the venue will only allow minimal amounts to be prepared outside the venue. This is a shame as I love to cook-especially sweet dishes. Having said that I'm sure I could arrange something with them.

    I'm feeling a little better about things this morning which is a good thing. I'm going to make all the stationery and a friend of mine who is a florist is going to buy the seasonal flowers wholesale and do it for us.

    I don't think there's actually anything we haven't tried to cut back on...don't think we'll bother with favours as they generally get left.

    Thanks again ladies! xx
  • For the evening food, why not offer bacon butties? Every venue we've looked at has charged a fortune for an evening buffet but this one venue said we could have bacon butties for £5 per head which I didn't think was too bad.
  • Orange Blossom:- We are getting married there too!! It is expensive there but fairly average for this part of london I think!! Why don`t you make some really cheap favours. Go to a wholesalers and do something personal??

    We are also trying to cut back and even though we have decided to do wine / champers ourselves still it seems v expensive.

    Pembroke lodge however is amazing and have been back loads recently with florist, bridsemaids etc and know everyone will just LOVE it!!!
  • Mrs Binnsto be: - Are you getting married at Pembroke Lodge too? that would be spooky if we had the same venue AND dress!!!
  • Hello Princess!! I LOVE Pembroke Lodge-fell in love with it before we even got there!

    Our hire fee of £350 was an absolute steal with the three rooms you get to use on the one floor. Even the menu prices are perfectly the moment we just don't have the £1,500 it would cost to feed our guests and this is without reception and toast drinks on top! We think we'll go for a buffet but not sure whether to serve canapes during the drinks reception to act as the starter followed by the main buffet...and then cake for dessert. What do you think?

    Where are you sourcing your wine and champers from and how much are you getting?xxx
  • lornyclornyc Posts: 169
    Hi Orange blossom- i'm having a budget wedding as well- im a student and h2b not in greatly paid job so keeping things simple, but have found loads of ways to cut down on expenses- to be truthful, i think half the things that peaople spend money on for weddings are mad!

    I bought my dress on the high street, and got bridesmaid dresses in debenhams sale (£20 each but georgeous!!), also not having favours, making the most of my bouquet out of feathers to cut down on cost of flowers- really simple- bought a feather boa for £10 that florist says she can chop and wrap round flowers, so only need a few flowers each (looks alot better than it sounds!!). Also, at recpetion, serve the wedding cake as pudding, and ive been told NEVER to buy a buffet for the correct amount of people- we are having 130 at night, and have been advised to only pay for buffet for 80 because always so many left overs (me and h2b both worked in hotels and saw this happen all the time!) . Also, for center pieces, i've found wooden roses which look perfect and are 10 for £1 so using them with some beads and vases bought out of ikea. Also bought m&s wedding invites out of dunelm mill

    for 50p for 10, and a guest book of ebay for £4

    Ooops sorry to go on a bit, but dont worry about not having a huge budget- everything ive bought for my wedding looks amazing and ive managed to save so much money!

    Hope that helps!


  • Hi Orange Blossom - i too got very upset about the cost the other day - we are now serving fish and chips. We will put some homemade bread out for starter/additional food with parsley butter. We are serving our cake (chocolate for desert) with new forest ice cream We are having our ceremony at a church and the three tuns ( and the owner was so helpful. He said the cheapest and best place to buy champagne is Tesco - and to ring up and get the person in charge of wines to meet us and talk us through the options. We are not actually having champage - just a glass of pimms on arrival to do toasts and speeches first then wine and pink lemondae on the table (cheaper then just providing large amounts of wine). For the buffet we are putting out a big local cheese and pickle and chunks of homemade bread. We are doing favours (charity pins) but did think of providing pink retro sweets on each table instead (e.g pink shrimps at £2 a bag) as our theme is pink and mint green. Hope this helps? x
  • Thanks Flossie-that's a real help. We're thinking about buying in our drinks for the meal and toasts although the venue put corkage on top. Their cheapest bottle of wine is about £13 though...!

    We have to have our venue cater all the food though as they don't allow any food from outside apart from the cake, but we're going to meet the chef to discuss a way to stretch the budget for our buffet. Phew! x
  • lozzyuk1lozzyuk1 Posts: 1,910
    one word - ebay !! xxxxxxxxx
  • I think fish and chips are great!

    We went to a pig roast recently and it was so well received. Apparently it was £5 per person. And the guests brought savouries and puddings. The evening was for a retirement do but I could certailny see it as a wedding. It was one of the best evenings I have ever been to. And the variety of food was fantastic.

    Ebay, poundland, hobby craft!!
  • A lot of the venues insist on everyone being catered for, so i couldn't have had a buffet for less guests to save money. I think its very difficult to keep costs down, because venues bleed you dry, and shops etc hike their prices up if you buy anything to do with weddings.!!
  • our entire ceremony and reception is costing around £2k - we're having afternoon tea instead of the traditional wedding breakfast, tea and coffee with little cakes and cucumber sandwiches - we're paying the venue to provide these but there would be nothing stopping you finding out if you could provide these yourself - try going somewhere like Costco - they do LOADS of cakes for very little money. You could always get family and friends to make a special dish for the buffet as a wedding present?

    Don't get upset though - if you don't ask the venue you won't know so be cheeky and find out what they can do for you - why not mention all the people on here who are using that venue and what good reviews they are getting?

    Good Luck x
  • if you want to save money on a cake, try costco, we go there for every birthday because their cakes are just absolutely gorgeous, you can get a cake, gorgeously decorated or plain for just over £10 and they would easily serve about 30 people or more... not in our case as we all love huge slices.

    in fact we are thinking of getting a couple for the evening reception as our buffet is limited and doesn't have a sweet option and as we are cutting our cake with the wedding breakfast we didn't want our evening guests to miss out.
  • We are having bacon butties, cumberland sausage butties and chunky chips and my venue is charging £9 per head. Which I dont think is too bad!
  • We're having our reception in a local social club function room. It's free to hire to members (which costs £35 for both us for a year). They have their own caterers who will be doing a hot buffet for us which will cost about £600 for 90 people. If we didn't have to use their caterers we were going to do a deal with a local chip shop and get fish and chips delivered to the venue in traditional wrapping - I love this idea! And then you know everyone loves fish and chips too.

    We're getting our cake from m&s too, and cutting that up and serving with a small evening buffet.

    Flowers are silk flowers. And I'm not having any real flowers for decoration as they can work out expensive.

    Decorations - I'm having helium balloons which I think have a good impact and don't work out too expensive. I'm also getting some battery operated fairy lights and decorating the hall with them.

    I've made/making all my own invitations, order of service, table names, placecards, thankyou cards and table planner.

    Then the other thing I suggest is ebay!!! Got my table number holders from there (£16 for 12), Disposable cameras, thankyou cards and tags, and so much more!!

    I think you can really cut costs if you do things yourself or search around for bargains. Problem with the big venues is most of them do make you have their stuff - which is good as easier but is more expensive.

    The other thing is this website!!!! I have picked up so many good bargains from this forum!

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