1. If your heart is set on an evening celebration, host your wedding on a weeknight instead of a Friday or Saturday. You'll be able to negotiate a better rate with everyone from your caterer to florist and band, and the venue will be more negotiable.
2. Hire a DJ instead of a band. Be sure to ask your DJ to bring appropriate background music for dining and not just dance music for the party.
3. Host a daytime wedding instead of an evening reception. Consider a luncheon or brunch, with a late night dance party that same evening or a few weeks later when you return from your honeymoon.
4. Offer a signature cocktail instead of an open bar. You'll be surprised how often you'll hear your friends say "I'd love one of those, it's been ages since I've had X, Y or Z!"
5. If your heart is set on serving caviar, there's no need to set up a caviar bar for guests to help themselves. Serve what I call cosmetic caviar; a delicious potato topped with a few eggs, a wonderful deviled egg topped with a few eggs or even a delicious round of white bread with smoked salmon topped with a few eggs will do the trick.
6. No need to serve costly champagne. Try a sparkling wine cocktail, such as a Kir Royale or Bellini. If you're a purist and champagne cocktail isn't your fancy, save the chilled bubbly for your cake cutting only.
7. Don't try to be fancy with your meal; opt for a delicious, juicy and succulent chicken dish versus a more expensive veal, beef or lamb. Trust that no one will be offended, and in fact, most of your guests will delight in a delicious chicken with crispy potatoes prepared right and served beautifully.
8. A traditional wedding reception with a sit down dinner and three course meal can get costly. Instead, host a chic and elegant black tie cocktail party. Great drinks, delicious tray-passed foods and a cake cutting will delight your friends. Hire a DJ if you love to dance and have a great party. Done right, your wedding reception can easily be a favorite night out on the town.
9. Instead of working with an expensive invitation company, print your own invitations at home. Take some extra time to personalize each one; add an embellishment such as a colored semi-precious stone or store bought crystal. For a country wedding, add a sprig of lavender to the invitation. Or place a layer of gorgeous tissue, cut to measure inside the envelope.
10. There are no rules when it comes to the type of celebration you host. Instead of a seated dinner, consider hosting a Sunday brunch with Champagne Bellini's. Delicious omelets made to order, fresh fruit and chilled white wine would certainly do the trick. One thing to be careful of: don't serve alcohol before the meal or you'll have everyone smashed before food is served. And be extra careful if it's a hot day and you're outdoors. It's amazing how a little alcohol goes right to the head on an empty stomach.