For all of you brides-to-be, let me give you some quick advice.
**First - the longer your engagement, most likely the more expensive the wedding!
Determine what your 'absolutes' are and go from there....in other words, you can't have it all if you don't have the big budget - however, if you can do without some things in order to have what you REALLY want, you'll be so much happier!
Example: A bride has to have certain roses or flowers, and lots of them...but doesn't care as much about the party food....then that is where you make the cuts/changes....The trend right now is small bites, so this bride could go with a few small food items, or cocktail food, and satisfy her guests.
**Second - Alcohol is the single most expensive item (next to food and a dress!) that a bride will have to budget for. Who says you have to do an 'open bar'? Kick it up a notch and do what's really cool right now, and offer a 'signature' drink, instead! If you have a 'theme' going for your wedding, choose something that will go with it. Offer a self-serve 'Beer Bar', purchase the booze yourself (cans are cheapest), have friends help ice it in color-coordinated buckets or tubs from Wal-mart or a discount store, and your groom's beer-drinking buddies will be thrilled!
Do the same with a 'signature' drink station....Set up a separate table with 'help yourself' plastic 'highball' cups, ice buckets, pitchers of Margaritas or Pina Coladas that you've made the day before and kept frozen (they'll thaw and be slushy by the time you say 'I Do!') and put out colorful, inexpensive little party umbrellas for the guests to add to their cup---OR--- set up tubs of ice filled with bottles of wine and plastic wine glasses, a couple of corkscrews, cocktail napkins and let the guests serve themselves. You'll save on liquor costs, as well as bartending fees! And for one night, Suzy Q can do without her Rum and Coke!
And when the booze is gone - it's gone! Or allow someone else to make a 'beer run' if you need more....just don't feel obligated to offer alcohol ALL NIGHT....they don't expect it, and certainly don't need it!
**Finally, as far as a location is concerned...Know how many people you want and what your needs are and it should simplify your choices. Why not think 'out of the box' and have your reception at a beautiful local park, or outdoor venue, like your best friend's backyard? Usually the city only asks for a small fee to use the city parks, and if you can find one that already has picnic tables, then you've got your built-in drink stations! (Just cover with a nice tablecloth first!) You can rent chairs or even a metal arch that you covered with grapevine and tucked in a few flowers, and it will look great!
Hope some of this is helpful...Just remember, it's YOUR wedding, not your friends or your mother's.....and as good as they might be, YOU (and the groom) get to make the final choices! Don't stress...Enjoy!
Good luck and Cheers!
'A Mom-of-the-Bride' 18 days ago....AND..... an official Wedding/Event Planner!!!