When my sister and I decided to plan a reception for my parents’ 40th anniversary, there was no limitless budget, no army of professionals, and no crew from Martha Stewart Weddings coming to do a photo shoot. Because we’re normal people. We have a limited budget and most of our assistants have no more than a 3rd grade education and get paid in peanut butter sandwiches.

But we’ve learned that events don’t have to be expensive or magazine-worthy to be remembered and enjoyed. And when it was all over, I think that’s how this reception turned out to be.

I took several photos for you all in case you might be planning an event such as this sometime soon. As I’ve said before, a little creativity can help you keep your money in the bank. And if you think you’re not the “creative type”, borrow some from someone else. That’s why God gave us Pinterest.

Since my parents were married in the 70’s, the bridesmaids wore orange and yellow and carried white daises. So, we pulled a little of the orange into the decorations along with some white and natural greenery. When I got married in the 90’s, we used tulle for everything. Now, the cheap fabric of choice is burlap, and it was a great choice for us, too.

Our goal for the entire event was keeping things simple, so we did that with the decor by focusing most all the decorations on the one main food table.

Instead of buying or making a large cake, we ordered a bunch of plain white cupcakes from the Walmart bakery and lined them up on the table, so they looked like a large sheet cake. It saved the trouble of having to cut and serve a cake and people were very surprised to find out they weren’t homemade.

The only other food we had were some cocktail peanuts…

And a tray of crackers and cheese cubes. {Did Imention we wanted it simple? }

I brought my huge hurricane lantern from home for the center of the table, and two vases of oranges added a punch of color.

I covered some “40”s with moss and hung them on the vases with jute for a little more fun.

I also made the bunting on the front of the table by sewing copies of their wedding photos onto canvas and burlap.

My sister and I saved up large tin cans for weeks to use for the centerpieces on the tables. One faux peony amidst 4 or 5 stems of laurel we cut from the bushes in my yard made the perfect arrangements. (So the total cost of each of these was just over $2!)

We wrapped a little burlap around each can and added a photo to finish them off.

A large wedding photo and some of their wedding momentos were all we needed for the card and gift table…

Our self-serve drink table with simple choices of tea or ice water with lemon and orange slices worked out well and incorporated the yellow and orange once again.

I think my favorite part of the decor was the chalkboard, which you may have guessed I was working on if you’ve seen all the chalkboard art I’ve pinned the past several weeks. The gold frame was thrifted and I made it into a chalkboard just for this occasion. And I’m sure you’ll see it again someday.

Another big favorite of the day was the photo booth at the entrance that my sister put together. We snapped photos of all the guests, using the prop of their choice, which we’ll have printed up for my parents as a guest book. Click for your ownmustaches, glasses, and mouths.

So, no, we didn’t spend a lot of money on fancy food and decor, but we did spend a lot of time laughing and smiling and having a great time together, which is exactly how I know the event was a success.