Wedding receptions don't have to cost a fortune.  Many families
are on tight budgets these days, limiting the parents' ability to
contribute financially and placing much of the burden of wedding
expenses on young couples who are just starting out in life and
on limited budgets themselves.

When planning a wedding reception, location is key.  Depending on
how many people are invited, you may need a sizable place to have
the reception.  Weather permitting, your wedding reception could
be held in someone's back yard or at a local park.  My own
wedding ceremony and reception were held at a local park in a
specially reserved area (including gazebo) that cost only about
$60 for the entire day.  My mother and I recently hosted a
wedding reception for my sister in our mobile home park's club
house.  A $150 deposit was required, but the deposit was returned
after we cleaned up and left the club house the way we found it. 
We had full access to a fully equipped kitchen, sitting area,
tables, chairs, and restrooms for an entire day.  Everything we
needed was right there and didn't cost us a dime.

Decorations that can be used after the reception is over more
than pay for themselves.  For my sister's reception we created
beautiful centerpieces for the tables by buying some glass Pyrex
cereal bowls ($1 each at a local outlet mall) and placing green
glass marbles from the craft store in the bottom of each.  We
then filled the bowls half way with water and placed a white
rose-shaped floating candle in each.  These attractive
centerpieces were very easy to assemble in just a minute or two
and in addition to lending their candlelight to the room made a
wonderful inexpensive gift for the bride and groom--a complete
set of matching cereal bowls!

Food also doesn't have to require too much effort or added
expense.  My own wedding reception was a pot luck luncheon.  My
mother provided the sandwich rolls, sliced meat and cheeses, and
condiments, and close friends and family members were asked to
bring side dishes and salads.  My husband's aunt made the most
beautiful multi-tiered wedding cake for us, and our expense was
minimal!  No one went away hungry.

My sister's reception was more of a sit-down affair, but still
did not cost us a fortune.  Knowing the reception would take
place in October, we thought that it was taking place close
enough to the holidays to have a Thanksgiving-style dinner.  Most
of our relatives don't have the opportunity to see one another
during the holidays anyway, and we knew this would be a great
opportunity to get everyone together and spend some time visiting
and eating a wonderful meal.

My husband barbecued a turkey, my mom baked a ham, and we again
asked close friends and family members to bring their favorite
holiday salads and side dishes.  The dinner was a huge success. 
A family friend made the wedding cake and let us borrow her punch
bowl.  The wedding cake included the cake top that had adorned
our own parents' wedding cake more than 30 years ago.  This was a
surprise for my sister, as was the crystal cake plate that had
been a wedding gift to our parents from a great grandmother.

All of our family's wedding receptions have been huge successes,
and while requiring a lot of effort on the part of many friends
and family members, have never cost any one of us more than $100
or so.  When planning your next wedding reception, don't focus on
the lavishness of the event, focus on creating a memorable day
that will live on in your family's memories for years to come.