The reception budget takes up 50% of your total allowance and must be established first as it can fluctuate. There are 5 sub categories in this portion of the budget: Venue and Rentals, Food and Service, Beverage, Cake and Extras.
The venue is often the largest portion as it can include the catering, service and beverage. There are 2 general types of venues: a full service catering facility or a rental hall/facility where you are responsible for bringing all of the elements to make the day come together. Both have pros and cons and depending on your budget and style one will work better than the other. Most venues include table, chairs, and some other basics. A catering facility will offer basic table linens, flatware, dishware and glassware however; table runners, overlays, chair covers, chair sashes and additional tableware such as chargers, napkin rings and coloured napkins would need to be rented. It will also include the catering, bar and serving staff. The pro to this option is they have a coordinator on site to work with you and your planner to ensure everything is in place, they are responsible for the general set up, there are less vendors to work with and everything is included on one bill. The con would be that you may not have the option to decorate the night before, you may be limited to your decor options and you are limited to their options for food and beverage. Catering facilities have seasonal rates, minimums, and can be more costly depending on your event. A rental hall/facility would require you to rent everything and bring in all the vendors. Most have tables and chairs; however you would need to bring in all of the decor. The pro to the rental hall/facility is you control the event and the budget. Most facilities allow you to go in the night before or morning of depending on their scheduling. You can choose the catering, control what type of bar you want and bring in your own liquor. The con is that you are responsible for everything and you must rely on all the vendors working together. You must stay on top of your budget with this type of facility as it can get more costly if you are not careful. We recommend looking into a few facilities, and doing up a mock budget for each to see what best suits you. Do a pro/con list for the facilities you are considering and then go with the one that works the best.
The type of bar you choose to have will also contribute to the overall cost of the reception. The 3 popular types of bar are: Open, Cash and Toonie. Most venues and bar companies can accommodate the type of bar you request and any other type of beverage provisions you require. A few options couples choose are: Open bar during cocktail hour and a toonie or cash bar during the reception, open bar for beer and wine with a cash bar for liquor or full wine service during dinner with a signature drink available and a cash or toonie bar for all other beverages. The options are endless so it comes down to your budget and preference.
The final 2 portions of the reception budget is cake and extras. Extras can include any special desserts, corkage fees,cake cutting fees, coordination and any other little touches to make your reception unique. Wedding cakes have transitioned from being the dessert for the event to a statement piece that is part of the decor. Though most couples still cut the cake as part of tradition, many opt to have only the top tier “real” cake and the bottom tiers “fake cake” which is usually Styrofoam cover in fondant and decorated.This option is a great way to stay on or come in under budget for your cake as it should not take up more than 2% of your total budget. Cupcakes have become very popular at weddings as they are easy to serve, inexpensive to make compared to a wedding cake and add a touch of fun and whimsy to an event. There are many other on trend wedding cake options that are inexpensive and fun so be sure to ask the bakery about current baking trends.
The reception does not need to go over budget to be everything you want it to be. You need to make a priority list, figure out the difference between your wants and needs and start working the numbers.
Happy Planning (and budgeting)!!
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