7 Top money-saving tips for your wedding catering

When a wedding is on the horizon and you're sticking to a budget there are countless things to think about, so take the catering off your list with these handy tips to help you cut the cost of feeding your guests...

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Weddings are one of the most significant milestones in anyone’s life. It is a special occasion that brings together family, friends, and loved ones. However, weddings can also be quite costly, with expenses adding up quickly, especially catering.

From the cocktail hour to the main course and dessert, feeding hundreds of guests can put a significant dent in your budget. But don’t worry; with a little bit of planning, you can say ‘I do’ to savings without sacrificing taste or quality.

Why is wedding catering so expensive?

Wedding catering is expensive simply because it involves serving a large number of guests, often with a lot of variety in their dietary preferences. Unlike a regular restaurant, where customers can choose from a menu, wedding catering requires a lot of customisation to meet the needs and preferences of each guest.

Secondly, the cost of food ingredients and labour can be high, especially if you want to serve gourmet food. Caterers also need to consider additional expenses, such as the cost of equipment, rental, staffing, training and transportation for the wedding.

While catering can be expensive for weddings, it can be helpful to plan beforehand to keep your expenses in check while still impressing guests on your big day. Here are some top money-saving tips for wedding catering:

1. Set a budget and prioritise

The first step to saving money on catering is to plan your budget and set a limit. You should decide how much you want to spend on food and drinks and try to stick to it. Once you have a budget in mind, you can start prioritising what aspects of catering are most important to you.

For example, you might decide that having a high-end main course is essential for the wedding, but you can cut costs by serving a less expensive dessert or making it optional. You might also want to budget for a rubbish removal service, as weddings can generate a lot of waste, including paper, plastic, and food waste, which is not only a social issue but also an environmental one.

2. Choose a buffet or family-style meal

Another way to save money on catering is to choose a buffet or family-style meal. Buffets are generally less expensive than plated dinners because there is less labour involved and you can serve large portions of food.

With a buffet, your guests can serve themselves, which means you won’t need as many staff to serve every table. They are also a great option because they encourage guests to interact with each other while sharing food.

3. Go for a brunch or lunch reception

You can also cut the cost of your catering by having the reception earlier in the day and serving brunch or lunch rather than dinner. They typically cost less than dinner menus because they have fewer courses and use less expensive ingredients.

For example, breakfast menus with pancakes, eggs, and bacon will be less expensive than traditional dinner menus such as steak or seafood. A brunch or lunch reception can also be a great way to have a more relaxed and casual atmosphere.

4. Consider food trucks or catering

Food trucks and catering services are becoming increasingly popular at weddings because they provide a unique and fun alternative to traditional catering while also being less expensive due to lower overhead costs.

They are also an excellent way to personalise your wedding by selecting a food truck that represents your favourite cuisine or culture. However, when selecting a caterer, read reviews to ensure they are reputable and meet your expectations and dietary requirements.

5. Opt for a smaller cake or dessert bar

Wedding cakes can be costly, depending on their size and style, so consider opting for a smaller cake or a dessert bar instead. A smaller, well-decorated cake can be a beautiful centrepiece for your reception while saving you money.

Also, instead of a traditional cake, you could consider serving cupcakes or mini desserts. You can even have your own dessert bar that serves a variety of sweets like cookies, ice cream, brownies, and mini pies.

When choosing a dessert option, make sure to consider your guests’ dietary restrictions. You should have at least one option that is gluten-free, dairy-free, or nut-free.

image by Devine Bride

6. Limit the bar options

Alcohol is often one of the most significant expenses at a wedding. Therefore, consider limiting the bar options and serving only beer and wine instead. A signature cocktail can also be a fun and unique way to add some personality to your reception.

Another way to save money on alcohol is to have a cash bar, which is becoming more common at weddings. Most guests understand that weddings can be expensive, and they won’t mind paying for drinks of their choice.

7. Negotiate with your caterer

Finally, don’t be afraid to negotiate with your caterer. Many caterers are willing to work with you to create a customised menu that fits your budget. You can also ask for discounts if you are having a smaller wedding or if you book their services early.

Alternatively, you can select a venue with on-site catering. Many venues include catering as part of their package, which can be less expensive than hiring an outside caterer. You also won’t have to worry about extra costs like equipment rental or transportation.

image by Devine Bride

All in all, catering for a wedding can be expensive, but there are many ways to save money without sacrificing taste or quality. Remember, the most important thing is to set a budget and prioritise what is most important to you on your big day.

With a little bit of forethought and planning, you can have the wedding of your dreams while keeping your expenses in check. Let me know how you made savings on your own wedding in the comments below, I’d love to hear your tricks and tips for cutting the cost of catering. 🙂

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in Lifestyle Promotion Studies and is trained in Personal Money Management. She loves to ‘get the look for less’ so regularly shares thrifty-living advice, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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