How to save money

Daytime affair

Opt for a wedding brunch or luncheon reception instead of dinner, which is typically much more expensive.

Cocktail hour

Skip the full meal and celebrate with tasty refreshments instead—an option that works best for a celebration after a 2 p.m. ceremony (not dinnertime). Or host an afternoon tea or a late afternoon/early-evening cocktail reception.

Course cutting

If you have your heart set on a seated meal, cut back the number of courses from five to three.

Smaller selection

Ask guests to select their meal preferences on the RSVP cards so caterers can plan ahead, or choose a pasta or protein dish that you think has the broadest appeal.

Top quality

Keep the menu simple and focus on quality ingredients. Ask your caterer to use in-season produce from local farms.

Kid friendly

Order an inexpensive kids' menu for the children's table at your reception. Chances are they'd much rather have a cheeseburger and fries than foie gras, anyway.

BYOB

See if your caterer will let you bring your own liquor. (Be sure to ask about corkage fees.)

The basics

Limit your bar offerings to wine and beer. Liquor (especially premium bands) can add a wallop to your bar tab.

Size matters

Keep your guest list to a manageable number.

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