Tex-Mex-Restaurant Dinner

PLANNER: Courtney Caplan, Caplan Miller Events, Austin, TX

VENUE: Most restaurants have a combination of tables and booths, so create a "lounge" feel with the booths (place the DJ near them), and push some tables together to create long ones. Since you'll have to meet a food-and-beverage minimum to take over the restaurant, there's no venue fee. $0

DECOR: Mexican restaurants usually explode with color: multicolored ceiling lights, chandeliers, folkloric artwork, tile-topped tables. Add masses of Mexican tissue-paper flowers as centerpieces: They're big and colorful and cost about $3 each; you can also use them as garlands. Scatter the restaurant's candles down the tables to add a festive glow and accent your centerpieces. $500

FOOD: Start with fresh tortilla chips, salsa, and chili con queso. For dinner, serve platters of assorted quesadillas as the first course. Give guests a choice of entrées—fajitas, tacos, or enchiladas, for instance, served with Spanish rice and black beans. After dinner, have a display with mini desserts—tres leches cake, Mexican praline cheesecake, flan, and brownies with Mexican vanilla ice cream. $4,872

DRINK: Greet guests with passed trays of margaritas and Coronas with lime; limit additional offerings to bottled Topo Chico (Mexican mineral water), coffee, and tea. Figure on $20 per person for a four hour time frame. $3,600

MUSIC: A mariachi group tends to get repetitive after about 45 minutes, so go with a DJ instead. If wedding DJs are too pricey, look into hiring one from a local nightclub, who may not be experienced as a master of ceremonies but will charge much less. $350

RENTALS: Add a few more pops of color by hiring a local lighting company to bring in LED up-lights and illuminate the perimeters of the dancing and dining areas. $500

TOTAL: $9,822

Back to all budget wedding ideas.

Photo: Getty Images
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