Many of us will never organize a party for more than 50 or 100 people, except for a wedding reception.
The wedding reception will take up the lion's share of your wedding planning on its own & many may want to pass this on to a professional wedding planner. Whatever your choice you need to be aware of the costs involved & the options that are available.
Hotels can provide you with a range of packages which will include the room hire, waiting staff & a choice of menus, ranging from a formal sit down dinner to a light finger buffet. In each instance you will be quoted a price per head. This price will vary from hotel to hotel depending on the grading of the venue & its location.
Other costs considerations include the hire of the room which can vary heavily depending on size & how posh the hotel is! There may also be other extras such as corkage charges if you bring your own drink, valet parking, waiting staff & door staff for the evening party. Make sure you get prices for all extras before you book.
Your cheapest option will be a simple buffet where guests can help themselves. At the other end of the scale a formal three course dinner will have a big impact on your budget.
Value for money is the key these days so make sure you shop around for the best prices & deals before making a decision. Do this as soon as possible within your wedding planning as the best venues will be booked up many months in advance.
Get recommendations from recently married friends or search online for independent recommendations. Other types of venue include municipal buildings such as museums or libraries, where you can hold your reception in grand surroundings & supply your own caterers.
The menus on offer from some establishments may not be quite what you are looking for, but you should not be afraid to ask for some changes to dishes that you would prefer. To keep costs down though, try to select dishes that are made with seasonal ingredients at the time of your wedding. Asking for foods made with ingredients that have to be shipped in especially can make a serious hole in your budget!
When you book your caterers or reception venue try to have a rough idea of guest numbers & then let them know the exact figure at a later agreed date. This is important otherwise you could be charged for guests who did not show.
Champagne is the traditional drink for the toasts & is often served as a welcome drink before guests take their seats at the tables. Although expensive, it is worth remembering that a percentage of your guests will not be drinking, for whatever reason, so it may not be as expensive as first thought. Other cheaper alternatives to champagne include sparkling wine or even just the guest's normal drink (beer, wine etc) on the day.
If you are supplying wine for the meal you should allow half a bottle per head.
When it comes to drink for the reception, ask your venue if you can supply your own, which may be cheaper, even with the corkage charge, than the venue supplying it. Check out local supermarkets & wine merchants for the best deals & a sale or return basis.