A great way to accomplish this without spending just as much as you are on the wedding is by hosting a casual backyard barbecue. Now of course, if you do not have a backyard, this can be hosted at a local park or beach. It is a great way to have fun with your guests in a casual setting, enjoy good food, and invite as many people as you want within a budget. Here are some great ideas on how to put together and personalize a BBQ welcome dinner (and to my friend and bride-to-be Shannon, this is for and inspired by you)! :)
Food and Beverages -- Catered or DIY??
You can go either way with this but the best thing to do is check prices for both. How much does your local BBQ joint charge for platters of pulled pork and bbq chicken? How much would this cost you to make yourself and would it be worth the work? You could also do a combo of making some of the food yourself, like grilling meats, and ordering the sides from a restaurant. Weigh your options to see what works best for you!
BBQ Burger and Chicken Fixin's Station -- If you or a family member/friend is grilling up the burgers and chicken, make a station with all the fixin's and get creative -- lettuce, tomato, onions, relish, etc. are all good, but experiment with some other toppings like salsa and guacamole for a southwestern option, or feta and pesto for a gourmet version.
Specialty Beverages -- Choose a specialty drink to serve to your guests and serve in cute, old fashioned glass beverage dispensers. Here is a great recipe for the perfect backyard BBQ adult beverage --
Lemon Drops on the Rocks (from MarthaStewart.com)
Makes 6 cups; serves 12
- 3 cups vodka
- 2 1/4 cups fresh lemon juice (from 10 to 12 lemons)
- 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons superfine sugar
- Ice, for serving
- Thin lemon slices, halved, for garnish
- Combine vodka, lemon juice, and sugar, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Transfer to an ice-filled pitcher, add lemon slices, and serve.
Seating -- Make sure you have enough seating for your guests, especially if there will be older relatives or friends attending. Renting chairs and tables from your local rental place is not expensive if you go with the basic sets, and you can save money by picking up and setting up yourself.
Plan B -- If your backyard is open and uncovered, create a plan B in the case of inclimate weather. Will there be enough room inside your home for everyone to sit and move about? Where will you set up the food if the party is moved inside? Is there extra furniture from your living room that you can move into a bedroom to create more space? If you plan this ahead of time, it will create a much less stressful day for you and give you peace of mind. You should also set up a small area inside regardless, in case elderly guests need a break from the heat (this is very common in Florida, of course).
If you are thinking about throwing a backyard BBQ, party, or wedding, check out this blog - http://abackyardwedding.blogspot.com. This former bride DIY'ed her entire backyard wedding and had some really cute ideas and details. Here are just a few photos from her site:
other photos by TheKnot.com and Jason Angelini Photography, http://abackyardwedding.blogspot.com