Terrace at the Greenville Country Club, Wilmington DE
I'm not exaggerating when I say that I've looked at all the usual venues in a 40 mile radius and 95% of them are out of our range. Even the few lower priced places, like the dreaded Church basement option, came in surprisingly high. So, now I'm hunting for an unusual venue. One that's not often used, maybe never been rented for a wedding reception.
The big key to keeping your reception within the budget is to find a venue that will let you bring in your own caterer/let you cater and let you bring your own alcohol. That will give you the opportunity to save much more. For example, most of these venue's charge about $70 per person for food and $14+ per person for a limited bar. For 200 people, that would cost us $14,000 for food and $2800 for alcohol (maybe a little less because we'll have kids there). But with no venue restrictions, we could find a caterer who would serve for around $30 per person for food or we could cater it ourselves for about $7 per person. We could buy alcohol for a full bar or about $1400. It's a huge savings!
We've decided to cater it ourselves (with help of course) to keep us within the budget and still host a lovely reception. It's going to be a lot of work but we're up for it. I'll post my menu, timeline, and lists as it gets closer.