DIY Wedding

Welcome to my DIY Wedding & Reception

We are having a simple Justice of the Peace ceremony & later having the Big Reception! We have changed our minds and are now going for a Western style Wedding, but I'm leaving the beach theme wedding posts on here.
All ideas are Welcomed, as I'm kind of a DIY kind of person & can't see pouring tons of money into just one day of our lives, when we have so many years ahead of us (God Willing). We are both Christian. He's Latino & I'm a lil bit of everything, mostly white. We want to cultivate both of our customs into our reception. Please feel free to browse & leave a note of advice! Thanks!

A Walk in my Boots.....

The Big Day

We all want our Wedding Day to be Extra Special, that is just a given, but how do we get there? What are the steps to achieving our Dream Wedding & being able to afford it, without debt.
1st We need to think of where we are willing to Splurge our funds & where we would like to scrimp.
2nd How do we pull this off?
3rd What can we do ourselves, our friends & family do (Do NOT include jealous people!) & our fiancee do? Who do we know that may be in a business that could help us? Networking!!!
4th Where do we start?
I've been researching for about 11 months & I have a good grasp on things. I want to Share what I've learned & want more ideas, too. We can help each other!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Photography...Saving some Money

  Here's a few ideas on saving some money. We all want our memories to be beautifully put onto paper to show the world and to reminisce over, years later. The fact is clear when shopping for a photographer, once you mention it's for a wedding the price nearly doubles (sometimes triples) and like many of you this gets scary fast. We are not stuck having to pay these crazy prices. And I'm going to show you how to save money.
  I placed an ad on Craigslist for a wedding photographer and what we needed (not wanted). I asked for quotes and let them we didn't have $1,000's to spend on a photographer. We agreed that they could use our photos to establish or enlarge their portfolios. We had probably 100s answer our ad within a few days! I was astonished by the results! We did settle on a husband and wife team for under $500! This saved us $1000s that we didn't have to spend. Classifieds would work, too.
  Ok, you are not that brave or outgoing. Read ads for photographers that are looking to branch out and include weddings or are recent graduates. These people are new to being professional but have taken many other photos in their lifetime (many needed for a degree, too). Ask for samples. Maybe do an engagement session. Samples of their work is  must! And make sure they have back up equipment! You never know what could happen.
  Another thing to try is to ask a family member that likes photography and has been doing it as a hobby for years. Or call a local college and ask a professor to recommend one of their students. Take a look at his/her samples of work. Either way, you should pay these people and let them use your photos for their portfolios. That is only fair.
  Many professionals offer different packages. They usually offer a pay per hour, also, but you must ask. Skip paying them to take photos of you getting ready. You can keep a camera or two handy and have family or friends take these photos. This could save you a few $100 or more.
  Any way that you decide to go, make sure you let your photographer know what shots are most important to you (aging relative, children, etc) and sign a contract before your big day. This way you are guaranteed some assurance of what you are getting.  Good luck & smile pretty!
  New posts on makeup & hairstyles coming soon!  

Saving money on venues (sites)

 We are getting married at his place of employment - a restaurant. The ceremony & reception. Having one location will save $1,000's of dollars. Maybe you don't work at a place where a wedding would be appropriate but if you do some family & friend networking (ask & you shall receive) you can find a location for less than they typically charge & with some great imagination & a little work, you can turn the site into a romantic locale.
  If all else fails, try a local park, a lodge (maybe you know a member), a community center, or even somebody with a large home. Lots of time the people need publicity and a wedding would give them this.
You could even place a classified ad. If you tell them you are planning an event (leave out wedding may save $$). I have noticed every time you mention your event is a wedding, the price automatically goes way up (unfair), so if you omit wedding & just use Event you could save some money there, too.
  I hope this helps a little bit. :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Western Style Wedding

It can range from informal, such as a true cowboy themed along with jeans, boots & cowboy a more formal theme in a nice ranch with a tuxedo, black cowboy hat & a beautiful antique western bridal gown. I am sure that you have already thought of the big things, like the horse drawn buggy, fancied up cowboy boots for the wedding party and full circle skirts but what about the little touches of decoration that will make your wedding classy and quaint?
   The first thing to consider is the location of your wedding. A western themed wedding party is not suited to your usual reception venue. A farm barn would be ideal or a large tent pitched in a field or large garden. Once this is sorted you need to give your venue an authentic western feel. Bales of hay scattered around the edges for people to sit with bandana-covered cushions will be an absolute must. Equally, a few wagon wheels dotted around will give guests a feel of the Wild West. To liven up the walls, why not have black and white Wanted posters of the wedding party scattered about?
  Establish the style and formality you want for your wedding. For example, you could choose a formal wedding with a western twist or a casual and celebratory country hoedown.  Wear western attire, which could include a denim corset dress or a traditional gown and cowgirl boots for the bride and a western shirt and denim jeans or dress shirt and bolo tie for the groom. The rest of the wedding party should dress similar to the bride and groom. Invite your guests to wear “western wear” or clothes “suitable for the rodeo.”
    Send invitations to your perspective guests. Your invitations could be in the shape of a cowboy hat or include images of a cowboy and cowgirl on a horse, his-and-her cowboy hats or a field full of wildflowers. Choose wording that lets your guests know how formal your wedding will be and include western terms if they fit, such as “Round up the youngins and wear your good hat because Dan and Sandra are gettin’ hitched!”
  Pig roasts and barbeques are to be expected for your wedding reception. Roast chicken pieces served with French fries would also be great. Lay tables with side dishes of corn-on-the-cob, coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni and cheese and Barbecue flavored baked beans. Hot dogs with lashings of ketchup, relish and mustard would be an ideal supper for the children. Finish the meal off with a country dessert such as a fruit crumble or mud pie.
Unique ways to tie the knot- Western Style.
A)     Instead of traditional wedding flowers use wild flowers. Wild Roses for example are beautiful, while having that western feel that you are looking for. You can even mix in a few blooming cactuses in your arrangements, especially centerpieces for instant color and an elegant ranch-like touch. Add some leather fringe, in the same hue as your wedding colors, around the bouquets that the bridesmaids carry.
  B) For example, use picnic tables with red and white checkered tablecloths. Create faux leather to use as tablecloths at the reception. One painting technique that I have found to work well is to buy enough cheap fabric (drop clothes are usually perfect for tablecloths, require no stitching of ends as other cut fabrics would and can be bought relatively cheap compared to purchasing other material by the yard) to cover all the tables that you want. Now, choose what color you want your "˜leather' to be and get three different shades of that color (dark, medium and light). Paint your base coat in the dark color and allow it to dry completely before continuing. Next mix your medium color and light color in separate buckets. The general consensus is to mix two parts paint to one part glaze. You should apply these to mixtures randomly over your basecoat, then use a wadded up plastic bag or crumpled sheets of plastic wrap to blot up the wet paint, blending it in to create the texture that you are looking for. Once you achieve the look you want, let it dry completely before clear coating it well.    ** It is a good idea to experiment with this technique on some scrap fabric and become comfortable with doing it before moving on to your wedding pieces.**
  Creating a replica of an old-fashioned saloon for your reception bar may seem like a great idea on paper, but could very well require more work than you bargained for. It's good to know that a little can go a long way. Outdoor elements and entryways are ideal for tulle swag accented by flowers combined with a few artfully stacked bales of hay. You can also frame these areas with traditional crops like wheat or corn and, if you're in a farming mood, add a scarecrow or two. Depending on how elaborate you make your displays, they may become a popular spot for photographs so consider placing one off to the side a safe distance from a high traffic area.  Decorate your reception venue with jugs of iced tea or lemonade, cowboy hats, cowboy boots, or any other western decorations. Instead of the standard streamers, hang up ropes in varying thicknesses. You can keep them natural for a rustic feel, spray paint them the colors of your wedding. You can entwine some of the wild flowers you are using for touches of color. Horseshoes to leather bits to tassel whips, can also be added for more spark. They can also be spray painted in gold, silver or black depending on the mood you wish to create.
D) Decorate personalized wine glasses. You can buy complete matching sets for your table settings or mix and match with finds from thrift stores and garage sales for a cheaper alternative (which actually is more natural). Buy some glass paint, which you can pick up at any craft store, and all that's left is to choose your design. You could paint on a horseshoe with the details of the bride, groom and date inside of it, a lasso rope; a cowboy boot or hat, anything western!
E) Finish off your table settings with a one of a kind place card holder and goodie bags. Create horseshoe name card holders using card stock and any printing project software that is available on most computers. And you can Google Western images to save to your computer and using your imagination and either Microsoft word or some other software edit them to your liking. Instead of the standard mints that are usually placed in a little bag beside each plate, include things a cowboy or cowgirl shouldnt be without after a meal. Toothpicks (mint flavored for a classy taste), custom match books, mini bottles of liquor (21 and over), flower seed packets, sunflower seeds or small edible treats can be packaged in small burlap sacks or tied in bandannas. Cowboy hat or boot-shaped soaps or candles work as well. Small bottles of your favorite barbecue sauce and anything else they may need for the long trail ahead after going home . These items can be placed in the standard little bags or you can embellish these also with a little leather trim around the edges. Of course, your table stationery naturally will follow from your invitations. When preparing table plans, decorate your overall plan with cowboy boots and wagon wheels. This theme can then be followed on your place cards. A fabulous touch would be to name each table after a famous cowboy rather than assigning tables with a number. Visit flea markets and antique shops to collect tack and other antique items to use for decoration. This would make a fun outing for the bridesmaids or groomsmen to do together. 
Think alternative uses for things like old horseshoes: they can take on a new light wrapped with white Christmas lights or raffia (a paper material that looks a bit like hay). Keep an eye out for wagon wheels and mason jars (a beautiful way to display candles). Barrels of hay also make excellent decorations. 
F) Adorn your wedding cake with a cowboy bride and groom, a fence with a sign that says “hitchin’ post” or something similar or even a playful bride and groom with one lassoing the other. If you want something more formal, use wildflowers, daisies or sunflowers to decorate the cake.

Select Western Colors. As with any other wedding theme, selecting your colors is one of your most important decisions. We recommend starting with a broad palette of earth tones like orange, brown, tan, yellow, and even green, you can then select from an assortment of bright complementary colors that will really stand out. Shades of blue, for example, complement both brown and orange tones while simultaneously evoking the western sky. Purple is a perfect complement for yellow and might make a great color choice for your bridesmaids' dresses. And while you don't want to make it feel like Christmas, red is always a nice complement to green; you can even soften things a bit with shades of pink.
Location Affects Color Choice
The location you choose will impact your color choice. Remember that the location is important in setting the ambiance of a western wedding theme; they tend to be held outdoors, in barns, lodges, and other rustic areas. So be sure to have an idea of where your wedding's going to be held before you pick your colors.  You'll also need to know if your location will be able to accommodate your ideas. Questions like the number and placement of electrical outlets or whether or not the ceiling is accessible for overhead decorations will be very important later on.
Also, if you happen to know someone with a handy barn or a nice big yard with a view, consider asking them. You'll save big on rental fees and likely have much more leeway with your decorating.

Use Western Flowers
Serving as much more than mere accents, flowers are the most authentic, unique, and attractive components of western weddings. Cacti, are traditionally the first plants we think of when we imagine western flora, so incorporating cacti into your centerpieces will certainly add a nice western touch to your decorating. It pairs well in centerpieces with sandy colored or polished stones. Cacti also match textiles like denim and other cloths with Native American or bandanna designs.  We love spider lilies, those bright and pointy herbs found in ditches and roadsides all across Mexico and Texas. Spider lilies are very affordable, completely authentic, and can be found or purchased in a huge variety of colors, making it relatively easy to match them to your other decor.
Zinnias, meanwhile, are typically associated with the deep Southwest but are so colorful and vibrant . Zinnias blossom in tight clusters, are available in almost every color imaginable, and can even be found in multi-color starburst patterns.  Autumn sage has been around for a long time. This hardy shrub, is the perfect symbol of the west and is the very definition of rugged beauty. Resistant to cold and drought, this evergreen features tough spindly stems and leather-textured leaves that are crowned through much of the summer and autumn with an array of delicate mint-scented red, pink, or white flowers.
Wildflowers are also perfect for western weddings, the wild rose is the ultimate western wildflower and can be perfectly incorporated into your bouquets.
Sunflowers are true American natives and always work well for western weddings. They're also very nearly a must-have for any country-style or barn wedding. Sunflowers are available in a range of colors including red, maroon, orange, and even shades of yellow so pale the flowers appear white or ivory. Sunflowers make perfect additions to centerpiece floral arrangements.
Tree saplings can make incredible centerpieces. Putting a few in galvanized or gingham-patterned buckets for a  natural statement. Saplings also pair well with other floral arrangements.
Paper flowers are fully appropriate for western weddings and can be used to create a beautiful effect on your church pews and elsewhere. Even better, you have total control over their color and texture, allowing you to make them as subtle and delicate or as bright and sturdy as you wish; all while perfectly blending them into your main wedding colors.

Western Lighting
Once inside, it's time to really set the mood with your lighting. If you have any leeway consider special lighting like torches or table candles. We recommend discussing these options with your venue before considering them, however and if using a barn, use enclosed flames or artificial lighted candles due to drafts. If your location prohibits open flame, consider purchasing or even renting fishbowls and filling them with clear or colored water and floating candles. These are considered "enclosed" flames and are permitted at most venues. Camping lanterns may also be appropriate. White or single-color strands of Christmas lights, meanwhile, can be used to light part of your ceremony or to add a fun-yet-intimate element to your reception. There are even western themed strand lights available that include everything from cow skulls and cowboy boots to cacti and horses. These lights tend to fall on the more relaxed side of the spectrum, but are perfect for maintaining a comfortable atmosphere at your reception. Strands of lights can be particularly beautiful for evening and sunset receptions.

Find Western Decorations and Centerpieces
Hay bale twine and binder twine is ideal for stringing up decorative accents like charms or flowers to your reception tables and elsewhere.  Use of raffia ribbon or other rope makes it easy to create a continuing visual western wedding theme that extends through each part of your wedding day.
Adding a couple horseshoes to your wall decorations, if possible, is always a nice touch to your western wedding ideas. Horseshoes can be easily painted to match your wedding colors, and we particularly like the idea of incorporating a horseshoe or two into your main centerpiece. Also, a wide variety of wedding-specific accessories are available that have horseshoes in their designs.   Cowboy hats and boots, meanwhile, go hand-in-hand. They can, of course, be part of your wedding attire, but can also be used for decorating. Costume clothing and jewelry can work perfectly well as decorations and even favors for couples on a budget.
Centerpiece ideas are, in the end, limited only to your imagination. In addition to resin cowboy boots you can use buckets, pails, Mason jars, metal tubs, or even watering cans as vases.
In addition to, centerpieces you can also use decorated or unadorned metal tubs filled with ice and stocked full of drinks like bottles of root beer, juice, water, and beer
     If your western wedding is going for a more outdoorsy or natural appeal, then we strongly recommend packets of flower seeds. You can often find them in special packets that include a romantic tribute to your big day as well as growing instructions, or create little packets of your own

Wedding Attire
A great western wedding idea is to add a few decorative flourishes to your attire. Cowboy hats -- white for the bride and bridesmaids and black for the groom and groomsmen -- aren't just elegant; they're such powerful symbols that wearing them will effectively convey your theme even if you do relatively little decorating elsewhere. For a special touch, the bride's hat can be distinguished by sewing, hot gluing, or pinning on a tulle or lace veil. If you're a more contemporary cowgirl, think denim and lace. Fresh flowers can easily be donned on a cowboy hat the day of the wedding with a little craft glue. 
And for the guys, you want to consider bolo ties. Bolo ties remain a country and western staple. And remember the costume jewelry we mentioned earlier? If you're willing to be a little playful during your ceremony then we recommend pinning star badges to your groomsmen to make your very own posse of "deputy sheriffs" to stand with you.

Remember to Have Fun
A true western wedding largely involves incorporating things from the world around you and using them in a fun and creative way.
    Country and western wedding themes are really about going back to our roots. Country images like barns, hay, and scarecrows are different from Old West images like mesas, saloons, and cacti, but what all these images represent is a connection to the past that has shaped who we are. Have fun creating your wedding, and your guests will have fun attending it!
Look for Western quotes to incorporate into the ceremony. Cowboy poetry is highly popular these days. 
     Horses are always a good way to add some kick to a western wedding. You might want to say your vows while on horseback. Or you could have a horse-and-carriage carry you and your honey away from the ceremony. 
     Music is going to be an essential mood-setter at your western style wedding. Make a list of your favorite artists and country songs. You might want to include a mix of old and new music. Consider songs of Tammy Wynette, Randy Travis, Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris, The Dixie Chicks, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash. A way to save some $$ here would be to use an I-pod or MP3 player. It will give you total control of what is played. You can also use a download service online to create a personalized CD to play at the reception. 
       **And when the evening is coming to a close, you might want to have a warm bonfire with marshmallows and skewers on hand for the cowboys and cowgirls.**

You can even incorporate a Rodeo into your big day and get “Hitched” in the middle of the arena! How cute would that be? If you need a name of a Rodeo Company, come visit us on Facebook and leave a comment. I have a relative in that business and maybe you could book with them. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Beach Weddings Guest Lists

     If you are getting married on the Beach, you will need to keep the guest list for the ceremony small to adequately accommodate all of your guests. Beach weddings are usually more intimate. Too many guests may present a problem. Children will need something to pre-occupy their minds (& keep them out of the water). You should consider buying some cheap plastic beach toys for your little guests. Their parents will appreciate this distraction, too.
   Your guest list should include immediate family and close friends. You can invite more people to the reception by sending an invitation. Video tape (& possibly youtube) the wedding ceremony. This way everyone can see your ceremony, especially great for grandparents who may not be able to attend because of health or other reasons.
   Try to get family members involved in your planning if you're doing a DIY wedding. This will help to manage your time and less to worry about on your Big Day! Teens are always looking for a few extra dollars & may be willing to deliver flowers to your site or drive people to the wedding. Some parks charge for parking and if you paid a teenager to drive a few guests, they may be interested. They may also be persuaded to keep an eye on your younger guests, so the parents could enjoy the ceremony. As a mom, I know this would be a great burden lifted. Everyone wants to attend your wedding, so if you exclude someone because they have children, this may hurt their feelings. Looking outside the box may help some. Remember, some day you may be in their shoes....
    There are ways to incorporate children into the day, without costing much more. Children love sand! Let their parents know they should dress their children ready to play in it and you will be a big hit with them!
    Remember to get photos of everyone attending the beach ceremony. Invite the photographer to get close ups of people you are close to, grandparents, and get photos of those children playing. They will warm your heart when you look back, years later.
   If you need more help, email me or check us out on Facebook.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wedding Must-Have Photographs

A few tips to help:
Let your photographer know about your family structure, i.e. divorces, deaths and family feuds!!
Keep your list short for photojournalistic style photographers, you're hiring them to document your day as it flows
The extended family shot list is very important, especially if you have a number of shots with relatives other than your immediate family.
For every photo you add to your list, you must add approximately 2 minutes of shooting time.
Bride's Side:
Mother of the Bride
Father of the Bride
Maternal Grandmother
Maternal Grandfather

Groom's Side:
Mother of the Groom
Father of the Groom
Maternal Grandmother
Maternal Grandfather
Bridal Party:

Maid/Matron of Honor
Flower Girl
Best Man
Ring Bearer

Groom Pre-Ceremony:

Closeups and Full Length - Alone
With your mother
With your father
With both your parents
With other family members
With the bestman
With the groomsmen
With ring bearer
Checking your tie and/or finishing up
Getting ready candids
Groom's Details, i.e. boutonniere, tuxes hanging, bottle of cologne, card/gift from bride, etc.

Bride’s Pre-Ceremony:
Closeups and Full Length - Alone
With your mother
With your father
With both your parents
With other family members
With Maid/Matron of Honor
With bridesmaids
With flower girl
Putting on the finishing touches
Adjusting garter
Bride's Details, i.e. the dress, the shows, the bouquets, makeup, jewelery, card/gift from the groom, etc.
Ushers seating guests and mothers
Bride's Arrival
Bride being walked down the aisle
Groom waiting at the altar
Bride being given away
Wedding Party members at the altar
Exchanging rings
Exchanging vows
Lighting unity candles/Sand Ceremony
Exchanging kiss
Signing marriage license
With officiant
Couple leaving.
Posed Shots:
 Bride Alone
Groom Alone
Bride & Groom together - various locations
Bride with attendants
Groom with attendants
Bride with "the guys"
Groom with "the girls"
Bride with each attendant individually
Groom with each attendant individually
Entire Wedding Party
Hands with wedding rings
With children from wedding party
With best man and maid of honor
Talking with guests at reception - receiving line
First dance
Cutting the cake
With special guests
Dancing and candids at the reception
Wedding Cake before cutting
Food or desert tables
Any decorations that you have spent a lot of time and energy putting together.
Candid photos of everyone at the reception
Photo of the invitation with bouquets, toasting glasses and table centerpieces

Maybe some photos of real close friends that were unable to be in the wedding party or relatives that are quite old. This may be a great chance to get some family photos, also, especially if your family is spread out by many miles.
            This list can be edited to fit your needs. Make sure you give a copy of your wishes to your photographer ahead of time, so he can prepare himself/herself. You may want to introduce your photographer to your parents or a close friend, so they may help the photographer get the bests photos to satisfy your desires and needs. This way you will get photos that you are more pleased with.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Beach Theme Reception Ideas:

        You or your friends & family can transform your Reception Hall or site into a Beach like setting with a little imagination & creativity. Shindigz offers wall coverings in a wide variety of styles or you could get a friend (or do-it-yourself) to create some murals on a large, white roll of a paper (party supply store or craft store).  You can make edible Pineapple Palm Trees ( that would tie nicely into your d├ęcor and make your guests’ mouth water. The best part is you can use it as an appetizer, too.  Another tip is to stock up on Brown Sugar & use it to make sand castles or mounds of sand (possibly around a bowl of blue jell-o or just a bowl of water (add blue or green food color to add more of a beach touch or fill with a few gold fish). These will make great centerpieces or eye catchers on a side table. Be careful with height & placement, especially if children are present. Children are naturally curious & if fish are used, they may try to catch them.  Another idea is to place Brown Sugar around your cake & draw a heart in it with your names. This gives your cake an extra personalized touch & will make great photos!
            Centerpieces will be needed for all of your guests’ tables. If you choose flowers, choose those that are in season & sturdy ones. You could use tiny pails (craft store or maybe toy department of a store, or a dollar type store) fill with only enough water to keep stems wet (less mess if spilled) & arrange in easy style.  Or you could opt for a more exotic flare & add real or fake palm leaves to each table with a bowl filled with seashells & a candle (you can purchase battery operated candles).  “Colorful toy beach pails complete with the sand sculpting tools would be great for a beach theme. Fill them up with sand, throw in a few shells, a bottle of suntan lotion.      You can buy those large, 4 wick scented candles. Place one in a glass pie plate or other shallow dish. Add water and floating, short stemmed flowers and greenery. These smell great and will burn long into the midnight hours! If you want to use silk flowers, just create a wreath out of them to fit the base of the candle.
* For a variation on that idea, instead of water, add sand, shells and miniature starfish!
* You can also get candles that have seashells or other objects embedded in them. They are a bit more expensive though. If you want to keep it cheap and personal, make your own! Here is a wonderful site that has a "Free Projects" page that even tells you step by step how to make beautiful candles. This site is friendly, informational and sells everything you need at wholesale prices! Visit Candles And Supplies!” ( These ideas should get the ball rolling, for you. You can always post a comment for more help & I’ll be glad to help you out!     
The Cake is at a high priority for your reception! There are oodles of ways to do this & getting an idea of a head count or approximate head count will help. First you can choose a traditional cake or opt for the new trend of Cupcakes. Cupcakes are much less expensive & can be decorated to reflect the beach them, as well. You can purchase cupcake stands at most craft stores Michael’s, A.C. Moore (Beyond The Page MDF Cupcake Stand-15.5" Tall, $30.79. they have others, too), Walmart (Wilton 3 tier stacking dessert tower, $13.00), just to get you started. You can rent them, too. After you make your choice, you must choose a Baker or Professional Cake designer. Again, head count is essential for this, too. Cakes are costly & more so during peak wedding season. You, also, must book well in advance to make sure your Cake Caterer has an opening. You can always ask a few friends or family members to make your cake instead of buying you a wedding gift. This would be a great help to you & they would be a part of your Special day, too. This could save you a ton of money! I’ve priced wedding cakes & they average (for 100 people) around $300 & up, easily! You will want to pay a deposit to your Baker immediately, to hold your day for you.
Okay, now how do you tie your meal to the beach theme? Barbeque (very messy),  tropical chicken bites on real sugarcane skewers, speared with papaya, mango or pineapple salsa, for a casual wedding, picnic fare hors d'oeuvres can be fun; mini hot dogs, mini cheeseburgers(in paradise) Men go nuts over beef sliders, Do a Slider Station- You can have beef, chicken and even vegetarian sliders with all the fixings. It could be an action station where a Chef/Cook is actually grilling the burgers on a grill or hibachi and the guests can garnish their own sliders, Citrus-grilled vegetable skewers with roasted garlic aioli for the vegetarians and the health-minded, roasted pork loin/chicken/shrimp, pasta salads (using Shell shaped pasta), jell-o, & there’s even more choices. Remember the shrimp will be costly. You can have whatever you want for food. The guests will still know that your wedding is beach themed! Remember creativity is the key!
Boy! All that food has made me thirsty! Never, ever have an Open bar, especially if money is an issue! There are many other ethical reasons not to, also. First, you have to choose drinks suitable for all guests. Bottled water is always a great idea. Add some flavored waters, too. Tropical fruit punch would be great with a little umbrella or a slice of fruit on the edge of each glass (it will make the littlest guests excited, too). Sweet tea is another option. I live in the South & Sweet tea is more popular than soda-pop here! You could also, offer a non- sweetened tea or a regular iced tea with lemon or lime. Just think Beach & summer time, you will get more ideas as you go. For alcoholic beverages there is a wide array of choices, too. Maybe jell-o shots in tropical flavors, or margaritas in tropical flavors (mango, watermelon, papaya, etc). You get the idea.
Time to dance! If you really want to make a hit with the younger crowd, try adding the limbo into your music choices! The Beach Boys have great beach songs (big hit with those from the 1950-1960 era, too). You can mix up your music selection by adding a few beach type songs in with your favorites. Bands are more expensive than DJs & if you have an I-Pod or MP3 player, you have hours of music. I-Pods & MP3s are the new trend in wedding music DJs. They will save you a big expense, too.
You want your gifts to have a keepsake from your wedding. You can save a lot of money by making these favors, yourself (or with help from your bridal party). Edible gifts are a great idea & easy to do. You could make Sea Glass Candy (tropical flavors with food coloring to match bridal colors), seashell-shaped (or palm tree-shaped) cookies, or M&Ms (bridal colors), or almonds, etc. I have a recipe for Sea Glass Candy. I will email you, if interested.  Non-edible gifts are fantastic, too! You can purchase favor sized pails or use mini flower pots and make your own seed packets (heavy cardstock, markers, glue) & send each guest home with a seed of flowers, herbs, vegetable, or fruit that they can plant & enjoy. Personalize each pot or pail with you & your spouse’s names & wedding date. You can also, fill these with candy &/ seashells. There are endless ideas to work with.
This should get you off in the right direction to your Beach Themed Wedding Reception! Think Beach: flamingos, sand, surf, water, fish, dolphins, coral, seashells, starfish, & sun! And you can come up with a great wedding!