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12 Costly Things You Can Skip at Your Reception

Budgeting is the art of give and take. If you know which reception traditions you want to skip, you can dedicate the money you budgeted for another day of honeymooning or any other expenditure. Let us show you what elite wedding planners are suggesting you can skip at your reception…and it’s possible that none of your guests will notice!

person with a question mark

Hey, John!


My partner, Amanda, has this huge pile of wedding planning stuff that demands we toss the bouquet, have dozens of  champagne toasts, and tons of other stuff.

Are any of these no longer on trend and could be skipped at the reception?


–Omar the Overwhelmed in Oregon

Hey, Omar!

I can help! After all, Ainsworth House & Gardens was named in the top 1% of US wedding venues by The Knot.

Times change. Some traditions are no longer on trend.  Plus, by eliminating these, you save money to spend on your honeymoon. Let’s dive in!

Oregon City Wedding reception at Ainsworth House & Gardens
wedding chairs


  1. Be seated: Traditionally, there was a place card at each reception chair: “Mr. John Smith” or “Mrs. Christie Smith.”  Since guests often cancel at the last minute due to health, personal, or work issues, the money spent on place cards is wasted. Instead, consider a seating chart. (It’s more sustainable too!)

2. Food Walls, like the Berlin Wall, have fallen: While a wall of donuts, cookies,  or candy might look amazing on Instagram, it’s often NOT so amazing in real life.

There are serious health concerns about food walls being unsanitary; After all, people are picking through the food to find what they want to enjoy.

After a few guests sidle off with their pickings, the wall often looks bedraggled and forlorn…which prompts your other guests to avoid the food wall.

Then it becomes a wasteful expense.

(Your option might be a photo booth with live plants or colorful props.)

wedding food wall cookies Weddingomania.coom
Formal table setting for wedding or private event

3, Serve no more than three courses: A meal with many courses takes longer to eat.

Instead, serve only 3 courses so your guests can get out on the dance floor or over to the photo booth sooner!

4. Big cakes: While in B.C. (Before COVID), multi-layered cakes bedecked with fresh flowers were something every bride was supposed to crave, that has changed.

Since the pandemic, individually portioned desserts such as cupcakes are much more personalized for your guests and less expensive for you!

(if you want photos of you two cutting a cake, order a small cake and a sheet cake which the caterers serve to your guests.)

5. I’ll toast to that! At many weddings, the toasts drag on forever from people not familiar with public speaking. Not a good mix…Instead, limit this to 1 or 2 toasts from the maid of honor, father of the bride, or other senior members of the wedding party. Ideal length for a toast: 3 minutes.

6. Champagne toasts: Many guests sip once or twice from the champagne flute but don’t finish this rather expensive beverage. Instead, let guests toast you with whichever libation they have in front of them. In addition, according to a 2023 Gallup Poll, 38% of Americans don’t drink alcohol.

7. Favors are not so favored: Many guests simply leave them. If you really want to hand out favors, consider local honey or chocolates. Another option is to donate to your favorite charity/charities in honor of your guests.

8. Ditch the bouquet toss: Asking your guests to identify as single can be awkward. Instead, ask the married couples to join you on he dance floor for a slow dance. Ask who has been married the longest (to each other) and give that couple your toss bouquet.

9. Ditch the garter toss: Rummaging around under her dress looking for the garter is not a good look. 

bride tosses her bouquet to single women at Oregon City Wedding Venue

10. Ditch dance floor props. While neon glow sticks and strobe headgear on your dance floor can sound amazing, they often aren’t and contrast harshly with the elegance of your wedding and reception. Options: a signature cocktail available during your reception or a fun snack later at your reception.

11. Ditch the fireworks: Smoky? Yes. Loud? Yep, Hazardous to the local environment? Oh, yes. Scary for animals? Very much so. Dangerous? Could be. Ditch the fireworks. Your options are giving out glow sticks or sparklers (after a safety briefing for your guests).

12. Getting away from getaway cars: While hiring an exotic getaway car or elegant carriage might seem like fun, you hire the driver for a specific time and this may take you away from the best, most expensive party you’ve ever thrown. Skip the getaway car!

Oregon City Wedding on the Front Lawn at Ainsworth House & Gardens!

If you have additional questions, please reach out to me.


Your friend in the wedding business,


John Shyne

Cover image, question mark, and wedding chairs images are courtesy of

Cookie wall image courtesy of 

All other photos: copyright Ainsworth House & Gardens.

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