Wedding Wednesday: Inside Our DIY Budget Wedding Reception

I was looking for one of my wedding photos the other day and I decided to search for it on the blog. After all, that’s one of the best perks of having your own site: you have all your photos organized and accessible from everywhere! I was stunned to realize I hadn’t ever gotten around to posting about our wedding reception… Whoops! Better late than never.

While my dress was the most popular part of our wedding (I’ll eventually have to do a full recap on the weirdness that is going viral), the reception was my favorite part. We had friends and family visit from all over the country, and spending time with them while celebrating something so special was truly what made our wedding weekend great.

Scroll down to peek inside our DIY-heavy budget wedding reception at Andre’s South in St. Louis!

Planning your own wedding? Like something you see? Here’s how we did everything.

  • ESCORT CARDS + FAVORS: I wrapped all favors inside inexpensive boxes and attached the escort card to the top. The favors themselves were little magnets shaped like keyboard keys (because I’m a writer, duh) that spelled LOVE. Adorable, I know. And practical!
  • ENTRANCE: We entered the reception to Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen. It was Lance’s idea, and it was perfect!
  • CENTERPIECES: I made all of our centerpieces for only a few bucks per table, largely while binge-watching TLC shows. See the tutorial here.
  • TABLES + CHAIRS: All tables and chairs had ivory linens and purple runners/sashes. Most of these were provided by the location, but we did buy the lilac runners from Smarty Had A Party. Each table also had a DIY table number sign made with craft paper and a stamp kit, as well as miscellaneous clear votive holders found at garage sales and lightly spray painted silver. We used flickering electric candles bought on sale at Joann’s.
  • PLACE SETTINGS: I bought (and then resold very easily) plastic gold charger plates from wedding Facebook groups and Michaels. Each place setting also had a small tulle package of Hershey’s Kisses in our wedding colors, found on sale at Walgreens, and a DIY kissing bell. The bells were found at Target closed out after Christmas and were attached to simple craft tags. I used a changeable stamp kit for the tag text. These were very popular with our guests throughout the night, and I’m so glad I had them. The glassware at our reception was actually plastic, and a helpful bridesmaid pointed out that meant people wouldn’t be able to clink their glasses to request a kiss. This was the perfect solution! Great idea, Maggie.
  • GIFT TABLE: Like damn near everyone you see on the internet, we had a bird cage for cards. It’s just so practical and inexpensive. Additionally, we had a basket (decorated with leftover flowers from the bouquets and centerpieces) of card games and coloring sets, labeled with a sign, for guests who didn’t want to dance. These sat at the edge of the gift table.
  • CAKES: Instead of having one big cake, we had three smaller cakes. Two of the cakes went on stands (one found on super sale at T.J.Maxx because of a scratch and another I already owned from a second-hand store) and one was on a foil-covered cake plate. Each had its own adorable vintage cake topper that my mother found at garage sales. Each cake was also a different flavor: strawberry, pineapple coconut, and chocolate. Yum!
  • DRINKS: We had a full bar, but I decided to put one of each of our favorite drinks out as the special to give the illusion of signature cocktails. My husband doesn’t drink, so we thought something cheeky like a Shirley Temple (which is actually one of my favorites) would be perfect.
  • DINNER: We had a buffet dinner with rosemary pork loin, chicken marsala, seasoned potatoes, pasta with broccoli, and corn with peppers. There was also a cheese ball with crackers out before dinner, I was told; we got it as an added freebie from our venue, but it was gone before we made our entrance. This is the midwest… people don’t joke around about cheese.
  • DANCING: Our first dance was to one of my all-time favorite songs, I Only Have Eyes For You by The Flamingos. We had actually never slow danced before our first dance, which made for a hilarious experience. Word of advice? Practice your dance. Ha!
  • TIMELINE: We had a lot of trouble finding a timeline that worked for our photography schedule. If you can’t afford to keep your photographer there all night, everything gets sort of tricky when you look at traditional wedding schedules. For our reception, we had the guests arrive about 15 minutes before we came in; we didn’t have the space all that long, and we wanted to be there for all of it! Once we were seated and got a drink, the buffet was opened. The head table was the first to eat and therefore the first done, so our maid of honor and best man made speeches while everyone else finished eating. Immediately after, Lance and I cut the cake and went straight from that to our first dance. When that was done, the photographer finished up. We only had to have her at the reception for about 90 minutes, which gave us more time to take group photos beforehand. Maybe it wasn’t the way things are ‘supposed’ to be done, but it worked wonderfully for us and that’s what matters.

After our reception, we had a post-wedding pizza party with some of our closest friends at our house, which was totally dolled up for the occasion. After being classy and largely sober in my beautiful ball gown all night, I changed into a gold foil BRIDE shirt and drank Champagne out of plastic cups with wedding bells on them while wedding guests put Jack’s Pizza after Jack’s Pizza into our oven. I think Lance and I finally crawled into bed around 5 AM… and were back up at 7 something to get cleaned up for the day-after brunch, which was also at our house. Who needs sleep when you’re having this much fun?

I can’t believe we’ve been married almost a year now… The only thing better than our wedding is our marriage.

All photos by Chameleon Imagery.


VENDORS :: Photographer: Chameleon Imagery | Dress: Vintage | Shoes: Priscilla Heels c/o Naturalizer | Wedding rings: Shane Co. | Earrings: Color Bar custom Jayna earrings c/o Kendra Scott | Hair: Brady Keenan | Makeup: Amy Koehler | Ceremony: First Unitarian Church of St. Louis | Reception: Andre’s South | Headpiece c/o David’s Bridal | Necklace: Color Bar custom Kirk necklace by Kendra Scott | Videography: Applause Productions – DJs and Videography | Photo Booth: 2 Chics and a Photobooth | DJ: Complete Weddings + Events | Coordination: Sweet Tarte Events | Cakes: Harter Bakery | Tuxes: Men’s Wearhouse

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