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Typically, every wedding reception has the same custom of serving cake and punch, and then having champagne for the bride and the groom to toast their new marriage. Other than your actual wedding, the biggest expense you will endure is the food and drink for your reception. Just keep in mind that to have an elaborate reception does not mean you have to spend a fortune as long as you allow yourself enough planning time.

If you will be using a caterer, start by interviewing several, preferably ones that have been recommended by friends and family. Ask about the number of wedding receptions they have handled and insist on references. Once you have chosen the caterer, they will provide you with recommendations based on the budget you have set aside and the number of anticipated guests. A seasoned caterer will know that flexibility plays an important role in your reception and that the set budget should never go over.

One of the first decisions you will need to make is whether you will serve alcoholic beverages or not. If you decide that you will have alcohol, then you need to decide on wine and beer or to include hard liquor as well. If you have chosen a non-alcoholic reception, then you want to come up with unique alternatives. The caterer will also work with you on the type of setting that would work best for you. In other words, if you are having a smoothie bar in place of a beer bar, do you want one, two, or three set up around the room so guests do not have to congregate to one spot and wait? If having alcohol, will the number of drinks per person be limited and if so, how will that be monitored?

You also need to remember that having your wedding reception in a hotel or club opposed to having one at your local VFW building or community center will change the type of reception. For one thing, if hosting the reception, you will be setting the bar up and can work alone or with a caterer. If at a hotel or club, a caterer will be included in the package.

If you do not want alcohol served throughout the entire reception, you might offer guests a happy hour of sorts where alcohol beverages would be served for one hour. This is a nice compromise for guests and ensures that no ones leaves intoxicated. Also, consider the time of day when your reception will be held as well as the time of year. Wedding receptions held at night typically serve more alcohol over those in the afternoon. If your wedding is during the colder, winter months, alcohol is consumed more than it would be during the warmer months.

The great thing about working with a caterer is that if serving alcohol, they usually have great contacts with wholesale liquor dealers and can therefore, save you money while still buying top brands. In fact, many of these dealers will deliver all the beverages to the reception location, which saves you time at the last minute. Better yet, you get charged only for the bottlesopened, which means bottled not opened can be returned and you receive a credit against your total bill.

Just remember that this is your reception and you know your family and friends better than anyone else does. You know the type of environment they would enjoy most so unless you have restrictions, try to gear the reception toward making a great place of celebration for them. Whether you have alcohol or not, be sure that you provide juices, water, and soda for the younger guests, and tea and coffee for after dinner for the more mature guests.

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