August 19, 2020 4 min read

If you're organizing a wedding on a tight budget, you may worry about disappointing your guests with mediocre decorations and entertainment. Despite your restrictions, there are hundreds of small, low-cost ways to create a gorgeous event. Here are a few simple ideas that could take your reception to the next level.

1. Thoughtful Seating

Regardless of whether your tables are round or long and rectangular, you'll want to seat guests thoughtfully. Arrange for guests to sit with people they know and will get along with. 

2. Kids Table

Additionally, you might plan for all the kids to sit together at one table. Be sure to include coloring pages, fun mind games like Rubix cubes and fun favors like succulents or masks they can take home. 

3. Sweetheart Table

tabletop with glasses

Let your wedding party sit with their significant others and close friends by sitting at a sweetheart table with your new hubby. Dining solo like this will allow you some one-on-one time as newlyweds.

4. Creative Shading 

If you're hosting the reception outside, you can keep your guests cool by making use of creative shading on the dancefloor and dinner tables. Add a tent or hang a tapestry overhead to shade older relatives and others who can't handle the heat. 

5. Yard Games

You might also set up some yard games for those who would rather avoid the dancefloor. Keep them entertained with cornhole, lawn darts, disc golf or a giant game of Jenga. 

6. Food Truck

You don't want your guests to go hungry between the ceremony and reception, but serving appetizers can be expensive. Instead, hire a food truck so everyone can have a snack before dinner. 

7. Romantic Lighting

Set the tone during an evening reception with romantic lighting. Candles, lanterns and string lights are all fair game, and you can place them anywhere you please. 

8. Balloons

If you're looking to save some money by hosting your reception in the afternoon, set the mood with big balloons instead. Opt for big white globes to keep things classy and romantic. 

9. Unique Guestbook

Ditch the traditional guest book in favor of something more unique, like a large canvas print of you and your spouse. Having guests sign wine corks, little wooden hearts or Polaroids of themselves are also brilliant ideas.

10. His and Hers Cocktails


Forgo a full bar — and the hefty price tag that comes with it — with his and hers cocktails. Let guests choose between you and your spouse's two favorite mixed beverages to keep the party rocking. 

11. Photo Backdrop 

If a professional photo booth isn't in the budget, consider making your own backdrop complete with props. Guests can take their own photos and use your wedding hashtag so you can view them afterward. 

12. Music Guidelines

Talk to your DJ about filler music, your off-limit songs and your must-plays. Doing so will prevent guests from requesting explicit music and ensure all age groups make it onto the dance floor. 

13. Surprise Entertainment 

You don't have to hire Ed Sheeran to entertain wedding guests. Instead, ask talented friends or relatives to sing or play an instrument, providing free entertainment your guests never saw coming.

14. A Lounge Area

Give grandma and grandpa a break from the party by providing a lounge area away from the dance floor. This cozy area will allow them to converse and relax while still watching you and your guests.

15. Buffer Time

Make sure your schedule has plenty of buffer time so you can walk around and thank people for attending. You'll be surprised how fast the night flies by, and it's best not to feel rushed. 

16. Fun Favors

Treat your guests with fun wedding favors they'll love and actually use. Think mini bottles of champagne, succulents, handmade soap, macarons and other small, thoughtful items. 

17. Bonfire

Keep the party going well into the night with a bonfire. Include s'mores kits as favors and your guests will be sure to enjoy them right then and there, making good use of the fire. 

18. Comfort Items

Prepare for all types of weather and keep guests comfortable through it all with parasols, blankets and other items to keep them warm and dry. Odds are they'll forget to bring these things themselves. 

19. Late Night Snacks

Don't let guests leave hungry. If your reception will likely carry on into the night, plan to serve pizzas, cookies and other finger foods to prevent grumbly tummies. 

20. A Final Surprise 

Go out with a bang with a firework show, sparklers or floating lanterns. Keep your send-off plan secret to surprise your guests and ensure they stick around until you and your husband drive off into the sunset. 

It's the Little Things

When it comes to planning a wedding, it truly is the little things that count. As long as you let you and your spouse's personalities shine through in the decorations and entertainment, your guests will enjoy the day just as much as you, regardless of your budget or timeline.