Budget Tips to Save Money On Wedding Food
It’s estimated that 50% of a wedding’s reception budget goes towards food. Put into context, that’s around $5,000. It’s no wonder that saving some extra cash on the food might be one of your top priorities. Here are a few tips to help you keep the expenses down while still giving your wedding guests a good time.
Use the Wedding Cake for Dessert
Most of your guests won’t mind if you don’t offer three or four different types of desserts. Depending on the size of the reception, the main wedding cake might be all you need. Perhaps look into having different flavored cakes for different layers of the wedding cake for a bit of variety. A wedding I went to recently had a three-layered cake, White Chocolate Mud, Coconut Rum Chocolate Mud and a traditional fruitcake. Serve with custard or ice cream – it was delicious – and frugal!
Alternatively, having a nice small (inexpensive) wedding cake with additional sheet cakes in the kitchen can save you a lot of cash. Cupcakes are super cute, but they can really add up cost wise!
Just Serve Beer, Wine and Soft Drink
A lot of weddings these days have an open bar for guests, and spirits can really tally up the expenses. Ask the bartenders not to serve any spirits to avoid those guests that order rounds for everyone at their table, even if not everyone is going to drink them. Or you could even have a dry wedding – for even more savings…..
Many couples now are saving more expensive alchol options like Champagne just for the speeches. If you are planning on this, perhaps buy a few bottles a week at a time, and stash them somewhere cool so you don’t have the huge expense all at once.
Traditionally, the grooms parents pay for the alchol at weddings, but this is not always possible. Perhaps ask if they too can stash a few bottles every so often to add to your collection before the big day!
Plan the reception between meal times
If your reception is at 6pm, you are going to have a lot of hungry guests expecting dinner. Not so much at 2 or 3pm. If you plan it right you can keep everybody happy with just a light meal, sometimes only dessert. It helps to make sure your invitations specify the type of meal you plan to serve.
Keep It Simple
There are mobile catering companies around now that can do roasts with all the trimmings and even dessert for a ridiculously cheap price. They will even serve it for you! I’ve seen some advertised as low as $10/head – so it’s worth looking into!
Food trucks are another great option.
Serve food that’s in season
Locally grown, in-season food is a lot lighter on the wallet, so instead of buying imported seafood, stick to food that is common around your area.
Hire students from a Culinary School
Students are often eager to get a job and willing to work for less than professional caterers, and the food is usually just as good. Find a local culinary school and inquire to see if they offer special catering services. Alternatively, the ladies from places like the CWA are old hands at catering for crowds, and man can these ladies cook! Perhaps approach a local group or charity to see if they can cater the event for you!
Serve Finger Food
Some weddings set up an open buffet where the guests can help themselves to everything they like. Passing around finger food or appetizers limits the amount that people eat, thereby decreasing your food budget. Finger food can be classy and light on the hip pocket, think about rice paper rolls, mini quiches etc. Delicious and filling!
Offer Fewer Menu Options
At a sit-downn dinner with multiple dinner options, caterers will usually charge an overall rate that covers the most expensive choice on the menu. If you only have 2 options that are similarly priced, you can avoid spending a lot of money. You could also offer a buffet bar with pasta or something similarly economic.
A friend of mine is hiring a renown Spanish paella cook for her wedding. There will be three choices, meat, seafood or vegetarian paella. Guests will eat from noodle boxes with disposable cutlery.
Offer kids meals
What do you think kids would go for first – a filet mignon or chicken fingers? Giving the kids smaller meals is usually a less expensive option that caterers offer for big events. The kids will be happier, and so will your wallet.
Buy your own alcohol
Instead of relying on the catering service to provide all of the alcohol for your reception, which usually comes with a steep price markup, hit up a local grocer or liquor store to load up on alcohol at the normal shelf price. Many stores will take back unopened bottles, and you can always hold onto the partially finished ones for later.
Get brunch instead of dinner
No matter what hotel or venue you plan your reception at, brunch prices are usually much cheaper than their dinner prices. You can sometimes save more than 50% per person on the price of your meal.
These are just some ways to save money on a wedding – do you have more great ideas we can add?