Weddings are supposed to be a momentous, special, and memorable time in most people’s lives. That is if you have been saving for your wedding since you were a child and do not have to worry about how you are going to finance the event!
Weddings in current times can be a financial nightmare and very often the bride and groom will pay off their wedding day costs for years to come.
Did you know that the average amount spent per head for catering at a wedding can range anywhere from $40 for a plated meal and $30 for a buffet-style meal?
Taking this into account, if you decide to have 150 people at your wedding you are going to be paying a minimum of $6,000 for the catering alone.
This is why many couples are opting to cater for their weddings to significantly reduce the costs that are associated with the food. Other couples are leaning more towards options that are cheaper than a wedding caterer yet still provide a good meal for their guests without them having to do it themselves.
In this article, we will discuss ways in which you can save on the costs of wedding food, tips on how to organize a DIY catered wedding as well as some examples of menus that will give you some ideas on how to save on catering costs for the big day.
Ten Useful Tips to Help You Save on Wedding Food Costs
If you want to get the best out of your wedding with minimal impact on your bank balance you should consider using the following tips if you are thinking of the various catering options for your big day.
# 1 Do not Use Venues that Require You to Use Their In-House Catering
Venues tend to make most of their profit from their in-house catering. If the venue is relatively cheap but expects you to use their caterers, you are almost guaranteed to pay an arm and a leg per head.
Venues that allow you to bring in your own caterer will often charge you for the venue usage, tables, chairs, crockery, and cutlery at a fair price. It is then up to you to sort out your own catering company.
# 2 Phone A Friend
If you have a relatively small guest list, then why not ask any close relatives or friends who have enough space if you can have the ceremony at their home.
This would save you significantly on venue hire and maybe splurge out a little more on catering. This way you can take out the cost of venue hire chose a DIY catering option and thereafter have the funds to afford the honeymoon that you thought you wouldn’t be able to have!
# 3 Daytime Weddings: The Best Value for Money
Daytime weddings are cheaper than evening weddings. This is often due to the following reasons:
- Wedding venues usually charge considerably less for daytime events.
- Parks and recreational areas that are open only during the day will charge a nominal fee for the use of their facilities.
- When you have a daytime wedding it is more acceptable to provide light snacks that work out to be a lot cheaper than a three-course meal.
# 4 Stick to A Theme
Using a theme for your food menu significantly adds to the fun aspect of your wedding while allowing you to spend less on expensive food and make use of cheaper ingredients that can complement your theme.
There are various themes to choose from. These can include but are not limited to the following:
- Pizza and pasta
- Health food
- Vegan food
- Indian food
# 5 No Need for Add-ons!
If you chose a wedding venue then there is no need to splash out on items such as the cutting of your cake, the red-carpet treatment, or the in-house make-up artist and hairdresser. These are all costs that can be avoided.
If you have friends who know how to do hair and make-up, then ask them to help you. The same applies to after the couple has cut the cake. Ask some friends or family members to assist you to cut and plate your cake for the guests.
# 6 Cutlery and Crockery
If you are not hiring a catering company and have chosen to do your own catering, then that means that you are not going to get the cutlery and crockery that is usually included in a catering companies’ package. There are two ways to overcome this:
- Hire cutlery and crockery from a rental company
- Buy some disposable plates, knives, and forks that can be thrown away without having to be washed.
# 7 Ask Your Caterer if They Charge Less for Children
In some cases, a catering company will offer a cheaper rate for children under a certain age. If you have decided to use a caterer that charges less for children, it may be worth it to go with the caterer especially if you plan on having many children at your wedding.
# 8 Toast to the Bride and Groom Cost-Effectively
Let’s face it, champagne is expensive. Lose the champagne and let your guests toast using the drinks that they are already drinking.
# 9 Finish Early
Going on late into the night can cost you when it comes to providing alcohol for your guests. It could also save a lot of broken glasses if the wedding reception is dragged out for too long.
If you cut of the dance music two or three hours after dinner has been served you will have more than enough time to do the dances, cut the cake and run off into the sunset and enjoy your time together as a newly married couple.
# 10 Have A Small Party After Your Wedding for Guests You Couldn’t Invite
Unfortunately, you cannot invite everyone that you know to your wedding. The more people who attend your wedding, the more you are going to pay for food and beverages. It is important to limit the number of guests that are invited to your wedding.
A clever way to get around this is to have a small wedding with only your closest friends and family members and then a few weeks later host a bigger reception at your home with burgers or hot dogs on the barbeque.
If You Decide to Do It Yourself
The DIY option is usually best for a small to medium size wedding. It will not be an easy job to cater to over 200 people and still enjoy your wedding. That being said, you also don’t want your family to be in charge of the catering and miss all the important parts of your wedding.
Try and stick to the following guidelines as much as possible if you have decided on the DIY option:
- Buffet service is almost always cheaper than a plated meal.
- Chicken, pasta, soup, and salads are less expensive than prime cuts of meat and seafood.
- You can always have breakfast or lunch instead of dinner.
- If you want to reduce money spent even more then you can host a tea and cake or cocktail party with finger snacks.
What to Consider When Doing Your Own Catering
Deciding to do your own catering is not for the faint-hearted and several things need to be considered before you decide to do your own DIY catering.
- Make sure that you or your family members have the skills to cook a full meal for a lot of people.
- Plan to make something relatively easy to save you on time and money.
- Work out very carefully what it is going to cost you to buy the food items that are needed and divide the total into an amount per head.
- If the amount per head works out to be too high, then it may be a good idea to look for alternative options.
- Remember that if your amount per head is not going to be much different from that of a caterer that you should limit your stress and go with a catering company that can offer you a good deal.
Catering Ideas for A Budget Wedding
Look for pre-made or frozen appetizers
To save time and effort you can start cooking and freezing the appetizers ahead of time. This way trying to juggle the catering with other aspects of the wedding does not need to cause you as much stress as everything will already be ready and in place.
Ask a team of close friends or family members to heat the food on the day of your wedding and put it onto platters.
Even Cheaper: Cheese and Finger Snacks
This inexpensive wedding food idea tends to be a hit at many small intimate weddings. There are not many people who don’t like finger foods and the great choices that a platter of these types of foods has to offer.
When describing the wedding reception on your invitation make sure to inform your guests that they will be joining you for light refreshments and drinks.
Here are some of the perfect types of foods that you can add to your finger snack platter:
- Cheese and crackers
- Chips and Dips
- Nuts and fruit
- Mini pies, sausage rolls, and meatballs
- The Main Meal
- Use Your Favourite Local Restaurant
Some couples may tell the story of how they met at their favorite little Italian place. You may even have a restaurant that you go to regularly as a couple. Why not share the experience with your guests and order your wedding reception meals from these establishments?
Small restaurants do not usually cater for weddings and are not professional wedding caterers. The good news is that this means that you can negotiate on price.
Speak to the manager of the restaurant and ask him if he can cater to the number of guests that you are going to have at your wedding. You may find that their prices will be quite reasonable.
The restaurant will normally supply the dinnerware and serving equipment and may even offer buffet options at bargain prices.
DIY Food Station Fun
Couples will love or hate the idea of DIY wedding food stations. These have become quite trendy in weddings and are often a hit amongst wedding guests.
You can build your own DIY food station for your guests and allow them to make what is being offered to their liking.
There are many types of DIY stations to choose from. These can include:
- Pick your topping pizza station
- Make your own ice cream bowl station
- Make your taco station
- Burger and hot dog stations
- French fries and dip station
Remember that this can only be an economical option if you buy all of the ingredients and set up the DIY station yourself. Even better get a group of friends or family together that can help you set up and buy some of the ingredients as a part of your wedding present.
The Potluck Wedding
In several cultures, food for the wedding is not outsourced through a caterer. Meals for a wedding often become a family project and are made by family members such as mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and cousins.
If you or your family members are pros at cooking for big gatherings, then this might be the right option for you. Potluck weddings are a way in which to save a substantial amount of money when catering for your wedding with the help of family.
Each family member will contribute towards the potluck wedding and each task will be distributed and delegated amongst the family members.
Make sure that you have informed your family members of the number of guests that will be attending your wedding so that they know the number of ingredients that they should buy to make their dishes.
The Trendy Food Truck Wedding
This is a new trend for many wedding receptions and is one of the most inexpensive ways in which to feed your guests and add an element of fun to the wedding.
Food trucks are a modern way in which to serve a buffet meal to your wedding guests.
These food trucks usually offer one of two options:
- Setting up of tables for a more formal sit-down meal from the food truck
- Place plates and utensils in a central location so that guests can stand and mingle while they eat.
For the Sweet Tooth: Desserts
What is a wedding without some kind of dessert? But desserts cakes and desserts can be extremely expensive and take a big chunk of your wedding budget.
Here is what you can do:
Get Cakes from Your Local Bakery
Head to your local bakery and buy a range of cakes for your dessert table. This way you can keep everyone happy with a range of different flavored cakes as opposed to one huge wedding cake that looks beautiful but doesn’t even taste as good as it looks!
Consider Sheet Cakes
It is tradition for the bride and groom to cut an enormous wedding cake in front of their guests. Usually, these cakes are made of three or four tiers and about one-quarter of the cake is eaten by the guests.
Truth be told not many of your guests are going to remember what that three-tiered $2000 cake looked like so why not just go for a sheet cake or even buy an off-the-shelf layer cake and add a cake topper to it.
The DIY Dessert Wedding
Some couples decide to have a drink and dessert only wedding. This type of wedding is the perfect way in which to save you a significant amount of money.
Believe it or not, cake and punch weddings were quite the trend in more traditional times and used to be held on the church lawn after the ceremony.
Dessert Wedding Reception Tips:
- Ask close family and friends to bake you some special wedding desserts.
- Decorate your tables beautifully and elegantly.
- Remember to state on the invitation that there is just going to be dessert at your wedding to make sure that your guests have eaten before they arrive at the wedding and reception.
Budget Wedding Menu Ideas
Here are some budget wedding menu ideas that are still appealing and delicious yet are a fraction of the cost that you would pay for a lavish meal done by an expensive catering company.
Cheese and crackers
Mini vegetable quiches
Salad greens with tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette
Main Dish and Sides
Sautéed chicken breasts
Mozzarella balls with crackers
Vegetarian platter to share per table
Main Dish and Sides
Beef curry or chicken curry
Small wedding cake just for cutting purposes
Organizing food for your wedding does not have to cause you endless amounts of stress and money. There are so many ways in which to make your wedding menu fit the theme of your wedding without having to break the bank.
At the end of that day is all boils down to quality and quantity at the best possible cost. With so many options to choose from you can make your wedding day meal one to remember by all of your guests and still be able to splash out on a few other wedding necessities.