The wedding reception is what guests look forward to most...celebrating with the bride and groom on their happy day. We enjoy the meals, the drinks, the cake, the dancing, and the joy of it all. This past weekend, I heard from a friend about a relative's reception that really surprised them so much that they were speechless by the time they left. It must have been a real great event!
Following a wonderful beach ceremony, the couple had a lavish reception at a posh restaurant, one of the more expensive restaurants in the area, with 70 invited guests in attendance. The guests ordered off the menu, not a prix fixed menu, they had an open bar, champagne, choice of dessert, and of course wedding cake. A jazz trio played nicely in a corner of the restaurant. Sounds lovely, doesn't it? People were having a great time. My friends thought, wow, they must have saved up to have such a great reception, because the couple really did not have careers.
Just as guests were being treated to dessert, the mother of the groom and some other family members went around greeting guests and delivering a special message to them from the bride and groom. The message was, "Thank you for coming, the meal will cost you $100.00 each and we would be appreciative if you can help pay for the bride and grooms' meal as well." WHAT...THE HORROR! I guess the bride and groom got the bill and the family divided it by the number of people there, the bill was nearly $7000 with tax and gratuities. At first my friends thought it was a joke (since they are relatives), but when they started laughing the mother of the groom looked at them and said, "If you need an ATM machine that there was one across the street at the bank." They looked around the room and saw the same sort of shock on the other guest's face, while the bride and groom smiled and ate their dessert. This was a pay your own wedding reception, which the bride and groom hesitated to put on their wedding invitations. The guests were all stunned and the family scrambled to get enough money to pay the bill.
Here's the tip. If you cannot afford to have a wedding reception that you can pay for, DON'T HAVE ONE. If you have limited funds to celebrate your nuptials, than be creative and do it small. Instead of having a lavish reception you can have a dessert reception at a relative's home, cake and punch at the ceremony location, a home cooked BBQ in the backyard, or an organized a potluck dinner with family and friends. This can just be as joyous as an over-the-top-reception. It's what you make of it and how you choose to celebrate.
Regardless of your financial situation, don't ever invite people to a reception and then ask them to pay for their meal, without disclosing that fact first. I mean I have heard about cash bars at a reception (I highly discourage my clients to do this), but never a cash meal (would never fathom the idea). It's just down right tacky. Throw a reception that you can afford or don't have one at all.
Photo from Personality Budgeting