You have begun planning your wedding and started thinking about what you want to do for the wedding reception. It is the norm to have a wedding reception on Saturday night with dinner, bouquet and garter tosses, cake cutting, and dancing. But you may want to have a different type of reception or choose to exclude or even add some elements depending on your tastes and budget.
Instead of having a Saturday evening dinner reception you could do a Sunday afternoon brunch or luncheon reception. Just by changing the time of day and the day of the week on which you have your reception you can save a lot of money and still have the same type of event. You can still do all of the traditional elements like cutting the cake, tossing the garter and bouquet, but you would probably be having a lighter menu and less food than a regular reception. Since it's the middle of the day your guests would probably be more understanding of not having a premium open bar, saving you even more money.
What if you could have two receptions and save money? You might have a vision of a truly extravagant reception and it's your dream reception but you cannot afford to invite 400 people to that kind of affair. Instead of totally neglecting the 200 people that are friends or acquaintances that you are not exactly close to but still want to invite to celebrate your marriage, you could do a separate less extravagant event. You could have an appetizer reception immediately following the ceremony in the church hall (or another inexpensive venue) for all of the guests that are invited to the ceremony. You would then be ale to mingle with those guests and they would get a chance to witness your union. Just make sure that you give your guests the correct reception cards so that the appropriate people attend each reception.
If you are having a small wedding you could have the reception at a restaurant. Many restaurants have private rooms that you could rent for a small fee. You could have a menu of items that are within your budget from which your guests can choose to order. You might even decide to get a wedding cake to cut. Just because you are having your reception at a restaurant that does not mean that your guest will be paying. You should always pay for anything to which you invite guests.
One of the most informal ideas is to have a dessert reception. You could have this type of reception at the home of the bride's parents or at a friend's home that is large enough to accommodate all of your guests. You could have wedding cake as well as pies, brownies, cookies, and other assorted desserts. You normally would not have any dancing or any of the other traditions typically found at a wedding reception at this kind of event. It's basically just a time to fellowship after the ceremony and greet your guests.
Now if you have an extensive budget and are looking to really add something to your reception you could book a venue with several rooms. You could have a room for appetizers and then a huge room for the main reception and dinner. You could also have various lounges set up for relaxing, conversation, or even games. The lounges would each have a different look and feel and be equipped with chairs and sofas.
Another idea would be to have an after party. Some brides and groom want to enjoy as much time with their guests as possible instead of just running off to start the honeymoon. So you could rent out a club for those guests that want to dance and continue the party past the wedding reception. You could dance, play games and even do karaoke. Or maybe you could rent out a bowling alley or skating rink, it all depends on what the bride and groom enjoy most. So your wedding reception does not have to be typical you could go beyond the traditional.