Wedding Ideas
October 14, 2022

10 Affordable Wedding Ideas that Your Guests Will Actually Love

Maryland’s Favorite Wedding Caterer Breaks Down Thrifty Hacks for an Affordable Wedding

10 Affordable Wedding Ideas that Your Guests Will Actually Love

As a wedding caterer in the Chesapeake area, we get asked to help plan some pretty extravagant Maryland weddings. While we love the glitz and glam of a big wedding, we know that not every budget allows for the wedding of your wildest dreams. That's why we at the Smokehouse Grill bring upscale and BBQ catering options to Maryland couples at an affordable price—without sacrificing quality. Looking for more ways to save money while keeping your guests happy? Check out these 10 affordable wedding ideas that you guests will love so much, that they won't even realize you're pinching pennies.

BBQ Catering for Your Wedding

Make the most of an outdoor reception in Maryland with BBQ wedding catering

Depending on who you ask, wedding catering is one of the most important aspects of a guest’s experience. After a few drinks and while gearing up for an evening of dancing, your guests need a delicious meal that keeps the party going. 

Large and popular wedding venues can charge more than $125 per plate at weddings. Take that cost and multiply it by your guests and their plus-ones, and you’ve racked up quite the bill before the dancing even begins. Don’t get us wrong–delicious food is worth the cost, but there are Maryland caterers like the Smokehouse Grill who provide fresh, delicious, and affordable food all at once. Instead of paying $100+ per plate of dry, under-seasoned food, consider an upscale or BBQ wedding catering package from Smokehouse. Starting at $19 per plate, we bring the quality your guests are craving at a price you can afford. Served buffet style, your guests will choose from fresh meats, locally-sourced vegetables, and all the fixings they can dream up. After all, who doesn’t love a good barbeque?

Go Paperless

It’s the 21st century. Let’s see technology to save some cash.

The Knot conducted a study of more than 15,000 couples and found that the average couple spends $530 on wedding stationary–not including postage. If you can think of a dozen other ways that you’d rather spend $500-$1000, a paperless wedding may be the right choice for you.

Save money on printing, postage and time by going paperless. Your guests will appreciate the convenience of your cutting-edge, technology-forward wedding. Going paperless means no more printing out directions, save the dates or thank you notes for guests to mail in.

But how do you make a paperless wedding a reality? Plenty of companies offer free wedding websites like Zola, Minted, and The Knot, all of which make it easy to disperse information with your guests, track your RSVPs, and more. Include all the information your guests will need on your website, including information about your wedding party, the schedule of the day, and more. If you’re worried about your guests who are not technologically savvy, reach out on an individual basis or send them a more traditional invitation. You'll also save money on postage because there's no need for envelopes or stamps. Plus, going paperless is better for our environment—a win all around!

Thrifted Drinkware

A whimsical take on tableware that doubles as a wedding favor

Rentals Galore! When you’re renting tables, chairs, linens, tents, and more, you’re throwing money down the drain. Consider thrifted drinkware to save money and double as a favor for your guests! Thrifted drinkware is a great way to add some personality to your wedding. Whether you're looking for unique glasses or tableware, you'll find it at thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets.

Take into consideration the type of style you want in your wedding, whether it be rustic, modern, or somewhere in between. Over the months leading up to your wedding, collect glassware that is unique and feels true to your theme. Adorn your reception space with the assorted glassware and tell your guests to take the glass home with them as a favor. That’s what we call 2 birds with 1 stone!

Have a Signature Cocktail

Offer a customized smaller selection of beverages to cut down on liquor costs

A signature cocktail is a great way to show off your personality and have a little fun with the reception. Better yet, having a small signature cocktail list can minimize waste and help you utilize lower-cost spirits that are more budget friendly. Whether you’re opting for a simple Spritz, a classic tonic drink, or an Old Fashioned, having focus within your cocktail list will ensure that your guests are sipping on something sweet all night long without the waste of less commonly enjoyed liquors. Your signature cocktail can easily transition from rehearsal dinner into reception mode by changing up dilution ratios depending on how strong (or weak) you want it. 

However, if you want to do a full bar selection instead of a few signature cocktails, it can be cheaper than you think! The Smokehouse Grill offers multiple bar packages that are right for any budget, making it easy for you to choose a delicious Maryland caterer and keep your wedding guests happy while they drink the night away. Our bartenders are always happy to recommend some signature cocktails that are perfect for you!

Get Creative with Cake Alternatives

Your guests will be raving about the best wedding caterer in Maryland. Ready to blow them away with an affordable alternative to wedding cake?

61% of couples who got married in 2021 provided guests with a dessert other than traditional wedding cake. Why? Because wedding cakes are expensive – some even argue they’re more expensive than a standard cake. Consider half slices of cake or alternative desserts to satisfy your guests’ sweet tooth without spending hundreds of dollars on a traditional wedding cake.

If you want to opt out of a traditional wedding cake for an alternative dessert, consider some of these options:

  • Cupcakes
  • Cake pops
  • Brownies or blondies
  • Cookies
  • Fruit tarts topped with fresh berries

While some people argue that not having a wedding cake is ‘bad luck,’ it’s really up to you to decide what dessert you want for your special day. If you can have a nontraditional favorite dessert and save a few bucks, we call that a win-win.

Skip the Favors

Wedding favors aren’t doing your guests any favors. 

When it comes to wedding favors, we've all heard the same thing: "You're not really married until you have your own set of salt and pepper shakers." That's true for some people, but for others, it can be a lot of unnecessary stress. If you don't want to go out and buy wedding favors for everyone in attendance at your reception—including yourself—there are plenty of other options. After all – how many wedding favors that you have received do you still have, or use on a regular basis? Making memories on your wedding day is the most important thing. Instead of shelling out for wedding favors, save this money for the experience for the actual day of your wedding: wedding catering, flowers, venue, etc.. Focus on a great experience during your wedding–the memories are so much more valuable! If you’re adamant about providing a wedding favor, consider a small snack or the DIY route.

Opt for an Outdoor Ceremony in Natural Light

Save on lighting and ceremony rentals by using a free, naturally-lit space: the great outdoors!

There are many reasons why you might decide to have an outdoor wedding. It's cheaper, simpler, and more intimate than its indoor counterpart. However, when it comes down to it, your guests will appreciate the beauty of nature more than they'll appreciate your thriftiness. With the majority of weddings occurring in Spring, Summer, and Fall, the Maryland climate is often permitting of a lovely outdoor wedding. Doing an outdoor ceremony will help you save money on most ceremony rentals, lighting, and allows you to use nature as your scenery—one less thing you need to consider when decorating your wedding space.

Go Minimalist with Centerpieces and Bouquets

When it comes to a table full of BBQ wedding catering, sometimes less centerpiece is more.

Custom centerpieces and long floral arrangements can be pricey and take up a ton of table space. But the reality is, a more simplistic centerpiece gives your guests more table space. Since a good portion of the night will be spent with your guests at their seats—listening to speeches, dining of some delicious BBQ catering–that they will certainly appreciate a little extra elbow room. When it comes to centerpieces, sometimes less is more.

Knowing that it’s okay to keep it simple with your centerpieces, consider a DIY or buying used table centerpieces off Facebook marketplace. 

Uninvite the Kids

“One Less Mouth to Feed” is right!

Uninviting the kids is a simple and effective way to cut costs. If you're worried that your friends and family will feel insulted or disappointed, tell them up front! Explain that this is a special day for you, and it's important to make sure you get to enjoy it without having to worry about the little ones. You can always re-invite them later on (and maybe even throw them their own party!), but for now let's focus on making sure everyone has fun at your wedding. With so many couples shelling out the big bucks per person at their wedding, cutting out kids from the guest list will help you avoid going overboard on your wedding budget. Most parents will thank you for a lovely kid-free evening anyhow.

No matter what kind of wedding you have planned, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to spend a lot of money in order to make it special. You just need an idea or two—and maybe a little bit of luck! Luck is on your side with The Smokehouse Grill, a leading caterer in Maryland, specializing in upscale and BBQ wedding catering in the Maryland area. Contact us today for a free quote on all your wedding catering needs.

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