Part of your wedding planning will include the amount of budget you have available for your wedding reception and this will dictate how many people you can invite.
Make a list of all the most important people in your life and see how many people are key to your celebrations. Then if your numbers permit add on some other people you would love to attend the reception too. Another thing to consider is to hold a short cocktail party before the main reception to allow all your other friends and colleagues to join you for a drink and a few nibbles.
In your wedding planning you need to think about when you will hold the reception, as this will help you decide on the type of meal to provide to your guests. Also, do you want to bring in caterers as part of the budget or arrange with some of your family and friends that they will set up the food for you and provide the refreshments, for example, in a buffet style.
In your wedding planning be clear from the timing what your style of food will be for the guests. Is going be a wedding breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner or party style food?
A breakfast or brunch can be quite inexpensive depending on what you provide. Consider things like muffins, breads, cheeses, smoked salmon, savoury items, fruit and other breakfast foods.
A wedding lunch could consist of a buffet of sandwiches, salads, pasta, rice, meats and fruits, rather than a hot meal. All depends on your wedding planning budget, numbers and time of year.
A later reception at around 4pm could be set up as a desert or tea reception including a selections of sandwiches, cookies and many different deserts.
Rather than a dinner reception, which can be the most expensive, you could call it a cocktail reception and serve hors d’ouvres, a selection of savoury dishes.
Another idea is to run a barbeque if the location and time of year works for this one.
Remember when going through your wedding planning to consider all your guests and their special dietary needs. It is important to have balanced meals as well as vegetarian options.
The other area to plan for is your choice of wedding cake. In your budget does it allow for a specialist cake maker, a major wedding shop, local bakery and so on. It may well be that you have someone in your collective families and friends that is a great cake maker and decorator. So ask around first and see what options you have for your wedding. Remember, a local baker may also be able to offer a great cake for far less than a major retailer or specialist cake maker.
The other area to consider is the drinks you will offer to your guests and plan this in some detail to avoid a shock later on. You can set up champagne or similar for the main toast and wine or beer for the meal with some soft drinks available. If you are able to, purchase your wine separately if you are using caterers as this can save you a lot of money. You can purchase your chosen wine from a wholesale and negotiate a discount, which will help your wedding budget considerably.