Dinner, drinks and dancing – in my opinion, these are the three best things about the reception!
Party in the shed!
The food, alcohol and entertainment will be the biggest part of your budget, and what your guests will remember. For a good night out with decent food, unlimited alcohol and a live band most people would pay at least $100 per head, so be prepared to spend money if you want to show your friends and family a good time.
If you are planning to use a catering company make sure they are willing to travel to your venue! Think about your guests and how much they will eat, and consider what food will be available for kids, vegetarians and those with other preferences.
The caterers we used served canapes between the ceremony and the reception. We had a buffet for dinner with seafood, roast chicken and lamb and a few salads. We saved a bit of money by serving our wedding cake as dessert. At the end of the night we served tea and coffee and I think maybe 5 people actually drank it. The catering company we used was Spits and Pieces and they were excellent.
I seafood and I eat it
It can be tricky to calculate exactly how much alcohol, soft drink and water you will need for your wedding. We bought kegs of beer from Burleigh Brewing and my parents kindly supplied wine and champagne. Unfortunately the beer could not be saved once the kegs were opened. We also had lots of soft drink left over as we only had a few kids and not many designated drivers.
I would suggest over catering for your bar as most franchised bottle shops will let you return unopened cartons of beer and wine after your wedding. I found an awesome post about calculating how much alcohol you will need here. Also consider who will be responsible for buying ice on the day and make sure you have plenty of water for the tables at dinner and to keep everyone hydrated while they burn up the dance floor.
For dancing and music, there are three options – a playlist, a DJ or a live band. If you choose to do your own playlist, nominate one of your trustworthy and tech savvy guests to be responsible for the iPod and speakers in case you have any issues. We were so lucky to have the Lamplights and Andrea Soler – amazing talent that worked with the crowd and played a mix of their own songs and covers.
The Lamplights and Andrea Soler
A band or DJ will pick songs to suit the mood of the night, they will be ready to play for your first dance and they are worth every cent. If you have even the slightest inkling that you (or your guests) will want to dance, then I would strongly recommend a live band or DJ.
Around the time you are planning your reception it is a good idea to order your wedding cake. Asking a friend or relative to make your cake is a big request and I would suggest it only if they have cake making experience or have the time to commit to planning and preparing your wedding cake. I also recommend having an idea about what time you will be cutting the cake and ensuring your caterers know to stay and serve your wedding cake as well!