CHEAP RECEPTION NO. 1
Champagne-and-Dessert Party, Downtown
Saturday, 9 p.m.–midnight; 125 guests
Bring Your Sweet Tooth
632 on Hudson is the perfect spot. Reserve it from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., and start the party at nine. Guests will eat dinner prior, so you’ll save money on food, rentals, setup, and breakdown. You can have the ceremony on the upper landing with guests watching from below. Set up a D.J. and use the Great Hall as the dance area.
Guarantee Good Lighting
Buy candles from Jamali Garden Supplies, and scatter them in every room—on ledges, mantels, and tabletops. Do few flowers; 632 has vases you may use.
Save on Décor
The venue is already superchic. The dining room has surfaces that would be a shame to cover, so no linens. Stemware should be basic, and factor in at least three glasses per person. No plates are needed for the bite-size desserts. Get all rentals—stemware, cake forks, paper cocktail napkins, and high-top cocktail tables—from Party Rental Limited.
Pop the Bubbly …
Champagne offers a sense of occasion, but Nino Franco Rustico prosecco is delicious, too. Bring in all your booze from Astor Wines.
… And Keep It Flowing
Hire two bartenders and two bussers from T and L Events’ the Party Crew—so that drinks are repoured and empty glasses are continually cleared. No need for a bathroom attendant—at an intimate party like this one it seems sort of grand.
… not including gratuity.
Dessert Is Served!
At 9:45 p.m., offer a buffet of mini black- and-white cookies, macarons, shortbread, caramel, chocolate-layer bars, mini chocolate whoo-pee pies, and more. Order it from One Girl Cookies, in addition to a buttercream wedding cake—theirs is only $500.
Play That Funky Music
A D.J. can cost $3,000 to $5,000, but Dub Spot D.J. School has low rates. I love D.J. Reborn, Hard Hitting Harry, and JP Solis. 632 has a fantastic built-in sound system, so there are huge savings there.
Get a basic package from a top photographer. Christian Oth runs a tight ship; I’d trust any photographer in his stable.
Total cost… $21,740.
CHEAP RECEPTION NO. 2
Kitschy Celebration in Brooklyn
Sunday, 5–9 p.m.; 100 guests
Invent a New Kind of Reception
Rent out a bowling alley. The Gutter is on a quiet street in Williamsburg, and you’ll have the whole place to yourself. Inside, it’s like you’ve gone back in time to some roadside dive. You’ll need very little décor—not even tablecloths. Add quirky touches instead: Hang paper wedding bells above each scoreboard. Get cheap crêpe party streamers and other decorations from Bulk Party Supplies.
Embrace the Theme
Send bowling shoe–shaped invites from Plum Party. Divide your guests into teams, and preprogram the lanes with everyone’s names—it doesn’t cost a thing.
… $519.60, including postage.
Make Crossing the River Fun
Charter a New York Water Taxi—it’s a ten-minute ride from Manhattan— and rent buses from BC Transportation’s Need a Charter to shuttle guests from the Schaefer Landing stop to the Gutter. One water taxi accommodates up to 149 guests.
Cocktails Flow at Happy Hour …
The bar area is sizable and definitely has room for a dance floor—just move the long, rectangular tables toward the perimeter of the space. Hire five waiters from Dan Taylor, Inc. to oversee it all.
… $1,400, not including gratuity.
… And the Caterer’s on Wheels
Serving food from carts and trucks keeps the party cool and interesting. Get a simple tent from Ace Party Rental, and use it as a canopy stretching from the entrance to the trucks. If it’s a gorgeous day, you won’t need it. Serve tacos and quesadillas from a Calexico Carne Asada cart; thin-crust pizza, chicken parmigiana, and Sicilian rice balls from a Jiannetto’s Pizza & Catering truck; and cookies, Rice Krispies treats, and Mexican chocolate brownies from the Treats Truck.
Crank Up the Jukebox
Order a non-coin-operated jukebox from Party Jukes. Preselect eight-ies music, doo-wop, retro swing, or New Wave pop, or totally customize your playlist. Get a moving-lights package from Great Neck Games & Productions to enhance the dance floor—a basic package has color washes and a gobo light pattern and includes delivery and installation.
Eat Cake and Bowl
Cake Man Raven is an iconic Brooklyn bakery famed for its red velvet cake. Get one and put bobblehead bride and groom toppers on it—customize each to look like you on custombobble.com.
Get It on Film
Rent a vintage-style photo booth from Interactive Party, and find an afford-able photographer. Gustavo Campos is not a “wedding photographer,” so his prices are much lower and he offers a great starting package that includes eight hours of shooting, an assistant, a disc of the best 100 images, and an album.
Keep the Party Going
Go to Royal Oak—just ten minutes away on foot. Hit the bar and storm the dance floor.
Total cost… $25,892.60.
“Carry a prayer book with a tiny bunch of flowers instead of a bouquet.”
“Turn bowling balls into vases and fill them with a few supermarket tulips.”
Photographs: Hannah Whitaker/New York Magazine (Bouquet); Courtesy of David Stark (Tulip and Bowling Ball)