According to Sharon Naylor, the author of "How to Have a Fabulous Wedding for £6,500 or Less," when couples host a champagne and cake reception, they can save up to 75 per cent of the cost of a traditional reception. The Wedding Channel website adds that a champagne and cake reception typically costs anywhere from £5 to £13 a person depending on the detail of your cake and the quality of your champagne, and that if you add a dessert buffet along with other beverages, the price increases to £9 to £22 a person at the time of publication.
Host a champagne and cake reception immediately after a late afternoon wedding or an evening wedding and serve buffet style. Inform your guests on the wedding invitation that it will be a dessert and champagne reception so they know to eat a full meal beforehand, and if it is an evening affair specify that the dress is formal.
While champagne receptions can be hosted at any venue, consider holding it at a local bed and breakfast, a hotel penthouse, an art gallery, or the gardens of a family estate. The reception setting dictates the ambience so light the fireplace, string twinkling lights in the gardens and trees, and decorate the venue with fragrant blooms and glittering candles for a formal, elegant look.
Select the highest quality champagne such as Taittinger or Dom Perignon if you are hosting an intimate affair. Choose fine quality but affordable selections such as Moet, Clicquot or Perrier Jouet if the reception includes a larger number of guests. Add a splash of fruit juice and fresh fruit, such as peach nectar and peach slices, to champagne flutes for an extra touch. Put a name tag for each guest on a champagne flute so she will not lose her drink.
Select your wedding cake to be the main attraction, while offering healthier options to accompany it such as fresh fruit or sorbet. Set up a dessert table incorporating desserts that match the theme of your wedding. Serve individual apple tarts, miniature strawberry shortcakes, miniature eclairs, tiramisu, monogrammed cookies and truffles. Arrange desserts creatively, such as serving tiramisu in a martini glass. Set out a chocolate fountain with various berries, sponge cake, Rice Krispies treats and shortbread for dipping.
Hire a jazz trio to play background music during the reception for an elegant touch, or if money is tight, play classical music over the venue's sound system. This music will help set the ambience for slow dancing as well.
For those who prefer other beverages, offer flavoured coffee, cappuccinos, espressos and teas. Set up a coffee bar with flavoured syrups, whipped cream and other toppings to accompany drinks during dessert.