College-Campus Lunch

PLANNER: Sara O'Shea, So Chic Events, Peoria, IL

VENUE: Campus weddings are best in summer, when students have vacated the premises and parking is easier. But think twice about an outdoor reception; it gets expensive to bring in a tent and all the fixings. Stick to an indoor space (like an alumni or athletic center with banquet facilities) instead. $750

DECOR: Choose a game day–themed luncheon or, if you're not jocks, go with an academic look. Have the florist make arrangements incorporating the school colors, name guests' tables after college courses, and make bookmark favors with notes explaining that a donation has been made to a scholarship fund. $500

FOOD: Keep it simple and do stations of your college favorites, such as sliders and fries, nachos, hot wings, and ramen noodles with gourmet toppings. Rent an ice cream cart for dessert. $6,000

DRINK: Since it's the middle of the day, guests won't expect a full bar—which can save you big bucks. If your gang had a go-to drink back in the day (remember rum and Coke?), resurrect it as a signature cocktail. And have a couple of kegs of beer, which you can serve in cups featuring the school logo. $1,500

MUSIC: You're surrounded by young talent that's hurting for cash. Hire a string quartet or some key members of the college orchestra or band. (Get referrals from the student-activities office or the music department.) Put the school song on your playlist. $500

RENTALS: Talk to the facilities, admissions, and athletics departments about decor, like banners, that they use for game days or promotional events. Cut down on rentals by using a space that's already outfitted with tables, chairs, and other essentials, to free up your budget so you can splurge on linens. Also put money toward lighting: Rent perimeter lights (save by handling pickup, delivery, and setup yourself). They'll help change the room's mood. $300

TOTAL: $9,550.

Back to all budget wedding ideas.

Photo: Corbis
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