For a lot of people, it looks like wedding = lavish reception. Of course if you stop to think about it, the whole point of the wedding is for the bride and groom to get married; the party afterward is just the icing on the cake, so to speak. Yet, it is considered proper to have at least some sort of celebrity following the nuptials. These are some ideas on what you can do when you have no money for a wedding reception.
If you are inviting guests to witness your marriage ceremony, you should know that you do have an obligation to offer them refreshers after the service. This is not just a matter of being polite, it is also an opportunity for you to chat with your friends and family. They will unduly want to change to share their congratulations and best wishes with the newlyweds and to tell the bride how lovely she looks in her bridal gown and wedding jewelry. The newlyweds can also use the reception as an opportunity to thank everyone for coming to witness their nuptials. However, none of this means that you should feel pressured to spend money you do not have on an elaborate receipt with all of the trimmings.
The most simple wedding reception is a cake and punch affair. It is often hosted in the church hall following a religious ceremony. If the marriage service did not take place in a church, a cake and punch reception can be held in a park, your backyard, or even your living room (depending on the size of your guest list of course). It does not cost much of anything. When funds are very tight, it is not even necessary to order an elaborate tiered wedding cake. A sheet cake decorated with fresh flowers or frosting flowers can be perfectly lovely. Borrow a punch bowl and some cups, and you will have yourself a sweet little reception.
For couples who wish to do a little bit more than punch and cake, another option is to have their family come over for a brunch or luncheon following the wedding. Certainly it is helpful to limit your guest list to immediate family and best friends to keep costs as low as possible. But really, hosting a brunch for a small group is no different than having friends over for a meal anytime of the year. The fact that it is following a your wedding does not mean that you are obliged to spend a fortune. Couples often enlist their closest relatives to help prepare budget-friendly dishes like quiches, finger sandwiches, and fruit salad ahead of time so it is ready to serve right after the wedding ceremony. Have a small cake and either sparkling cider or sparkling white wine for a toast to the newlyweds.
When the bride and groom really want to host a traditional dinner reception but lack the funds, the best option may be a delayed reception. Have a punch and cake gathering on the day of the wedding, and plan a more formal celebration to be hosted at a later date. Up to a year later would be reasonable timing for a delayed wedding reception. It is a chance to put on your bridal gown and your wedding jewelry again, and host your loved ones in the style you want once you have saved up enough money. This can be a great way to get married now and still get to have the reception you want as funds allow down the road.