The reception meal is a major expense for many couples planning a wedding. For some couples, the final tally may be more than they bargained for. Every couple should allocate at least half of their reception budget to catering services, but there are methods to save money without sacrificing quality. It is possible for a couple to keep catering costs within their budget, as long as they are strategic in their menu planning, avoid serving a formal plated meal, and use their imagination, say experts.
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Ready to save yourself some money while still serving up something great? We've got the top clever ways to save money on wedding catering, straight from the pros.
Table of Contents
What Influences Wedding Catering Prices?
Costs of Headcount and Catering
The savings potential is proportional to the number of persons who turn up. Also, couples are on the hook for the entire reservation price, whether or not their invited guests show up.
Catering Prices Vary According to Time and Location
Location and season also play a role on pricing. Catering services may cost more or less depending on the city. Why? Put another way, caterers can and will charge more in high-demand locations.
Saturdays in the spring and fall, when temperatures are often warm, are the most sought-after days for weddings.
Food Costs and Serving Style
A further crucial decision is picking a motif for the wedding party's celebration. What about dinnerware? Do we all sit down together for dinner? Is this some sort of banquet? Have you considered serving or carving stations, along with a variety of cocktails? Each element's cost will change based on the event's concept and objectives.
Your choice will have significant repercussions for your bottom line. Due to his company's catering buying programme, he is well-versed in the true costs of numerous commodities.
Plated dinners and served appetisers are more expensive than buffets because they require more staff to run smoothly.
Whether you choose a buffet or individual serving stations depends on the food you plan to offer. In case you have your heart set on a lobster rolls or sushi bar, be sure to ask your caterer about the current market costs. You'll have a far better notion of what to expect financially as a result of making these choices rather than flying blind.
Wild Cards for Catering Cost
Some caterers may charge you more than expected each cake serve or other "hidden expenses."
A wedding's theme is a major factor to think about. In modern times, when everyone wants a "Instagrammable" shot, newlyweds are more inclined to ask for unique locations. People who have expensive taste usually pay more.
Wedding Catering Budget Suggestions
While it's true that weddings can be quite expensive, most engaged couples are ready to shoulder the financial responsibility. No host intends to serve their guests subpar food or leave them starving, but neither is it wise to incur a substantial debt to cover the cost of feeding everyone.
The excellent thing is that you don't have to compromise on quality to save money on catering. Take into consideration the advice given here.
Provide Theme Stations
Chicken with cream sauce, lasagna, steak, etc., are examples of the typical wedding meals that come to mind for many people. However, it would be quite helpful to consider setting up themed radio stations. You may create a themed station with your favourite cuisine, whether it's steak tacos, Thai food made to order in a skillet, or Indian dishes like butter chicken and chicken tikka served with rice. One low-cost strategy to make an impression on your visitors is to set up a theme station at your event.
Skip the Filet — Discover More Low-Cost Protein Options
You only have one chance at a wedding, so it's enticing to go all out. Remember, everyone will be talking about the nicely cooked fillet you ordered. Wrong. Unfortunately, we have to break it to you that unless the meal was extremely dreadful, your visitors generally won't even remember what was served a week following the wedding. When you're in the market for protein, don't just automatically reach for fillets or some other pricey cut. Portions of lamb and pork can be found all around the grocery store that are relatively inexpensive.
Prepare Your Appetizers
Although purchasing appetisers can add up quickly, making them at home is typically not too tough of a task. Avoid exhaustion by not attempting to bake 300 individual tarts. A cheese board, or some fancy tends and dips, can be prepared in no time at all if you'd prefer keep stuff straightforward. You can save a lot of money by forgoing the appetiser course and having everything prepared and set up in advance.
Choose to Go Without Servers for a Portion of the Evening
You need to include in the price of the food, the time it takes to make the food, and the servers who bring the food to your hungry guests. During the cocktail hour, it could be a great touch to have servers in formal attire handing out appetisers to guests. Guests won't mind if they are served an entrée at their seat or if they have to go to another table to acquire one. They won't care about the hoopla around its acquisition, but rather how it tastes. You can save money by going server-less for the night.
Use a Mobile Kitchen to Serve Hot and Cold Food
A food truck might not be practical for a wedding in the dead of winter, but it could be the perfect solution for a reception in the spring or summer. Having a food truck instead of a caterer deliver the cuisine for a private event might save a lot of money. The food truck's menu will be smaller, but the foods it focuses on will be cooked to perfection, so you can rest assured that your visitors will be pleased. In addition, it's a fantastic option for places that lack culinary facilities, as food trucks don't need much beyond a parking area to be set up and start serving clients.
Try Some Barbecue
Although grilling can seem like a no-brainer to your visitors, for many folks it's a completely unique decision. A good option, nevertheless, if you're attempting to cut back on expenditures. While barbeque might not be the best option for a wedding with a more formal environment, it is a terrific way to save money without sacrificing the quality of the food you serve your guests. Indulge your visitors with a variety of meats and filling sides like mac & cheese and baked potatoes. In the end, who doesn't like a good barbeque?
Choose a Location That Allows for Outside Catering
The perfect venue for your big event has been located, and you're about to sign the agreement when you discover that you must employ the venue's chosen caterer. It may not seem like a major concern now, but if you don't have the ability to compare rates and services among multiple caterers, your catering expenditures are likely to grow dramatically. If sticking to your budget is more important than locking down a certain venue, then it's in your best interest to search for a system that will let you bring in your own caterer. You'll be able to select one that fits your budget without compromising on location if you use this method.
Serve The Meal As a Family
The wedding is a happy occasion where the couples are celebrated by their loved ones. Plan to have the lunch served family-style at round tables to encourage conversation and camaraderie. This type of catering may accommodate a wide variety of dietary restrictions and needs, and do it in an aesthetically pleasing manner. However, you can save money by having the food served family-style rather than on individual plates for your guests. Even though it's a less formal style, it may be ideal for a bride who is trying to save money.
Serve Only Seasonal Meal
If you're prepared to pay for it, a caterer can provide you with just about whatever you might possibly want. But if you're strapped for cash but still value good cuisine, consider offering dishes that are in season. In the first place, it costs more to bring food from its source to your place when it is not in season. Moreover, the flavour won't measure up to that of seasonal alternatives. Even while your caterer probably has a lot of options, it's still best to base your menu on seasonal produce and meats. Too busy with life to really plan your wedding in detail? Have someone else do it for you and check out our list of Wedding Planners in Melbourne to help take the stress away.
Instead of a Cake, Provide a Candy Bar
Unfortunately, wedding cakes aren't the best. The bride and groom may take extra delight in picking their favourite flavour of wedding cake for the cutting ceremony, but the guests are more likely to recall the main course. Why spend a fortune on a massive, ornate wedding cake when a candy bar is guaranteed to be a hit with all of your guests? Picking up all of your favourites from a bulk store and presenting them in a charming style will make your guests feel like they are getting a particular treat instead of a piece of commercial-bought sheet cake sliced up in the rear.
Daytime Weddings, With Brunch or Lunch Served
There are plenty of people who put a premium on the exact moment a wedding begins and ends. They choose a nighttime ceremony because they want their guests to be able to celebrate till the small hours of the morning. If money is tight but you still want to get married, a daytime ceremony may be the way to go. You can cut costs significantly by having a brunch or lunch reception instead of a sit-down dinner supper if your wedding and reception can be held during the day. And, seriously! Sounds like a plan to have waffles and champagne for breakfast.
Experiment with the Presentation
The old saying "We eat with our eyes first" has certainly been spoken many times before, but it's worth repeating because it's so true. Making a good impression when serving meals to guests is important. You may have fewer options if you choose for a more conventional buffet style complete with chafing dishes. However, if there is anything you can do to improve the presentation of your cuisine, do so. As an alternative to using a plain old serving tray, try tracking down some cute platters to utilise. Don't settle with white plates when you can have fun with colour! Infinitely more could be said.
Consider Bite-Size Desserts.
Everyone knows that after a big meal, where people tend to overeat, nobody has room for a massive slice of cake. It may seem like a smart idea at the time, but you will wind up with a lot of leftovers and a high price for dessert. In terms of sweets, bite-sized is always better. Guests can help themselves to as many or as few of the smaller versions of your favourite desserts as they choose. It's a lot more adorable and affordable than a dessert platter with full-sized goodies.
Consider Alternatives to Pizza or Hamburgers
The idea that you must select things from a specific "wedding food" menu is a prevalent myth. What sort of meat will you be providing for the main course? Can you recommend a fish or pasta dish to complement the vegetarian option? Here's some good news: you don't have to stick to the same old boring options when it comes to the wedding meal. If you have any Italian cousins in the family, pizza might be a better choice. A burger grilling station might be fun for a wedding with a laid-back atmosphere. You can choose from a wide variety of options, but remember that you shouldn't feel obligated to serve the same tired fare at your reception as you have at every other wedding you've ever attended.
Limit the Number of Available Options
Don't waste your time or energy attempting to please everyone with your wedding festivities. Even though it may seem like a good gesture, offering guests a choice of four entrees will drive up the host's bill. Instead of serving fish, meat and vegetarian options, serve only one amazing dish that everyone will love. Remember that it's only one meal and that there will probably be enough of dressings and appetisers to compensate if not everyone like the main dish you've planned.
Reduce the Number of Guests
Although it may be difficult to hear, the truth must be told. A wedding with 300 guests will require a large financial expenditure, even if every effort is made to keep prices down. The cost of catering will increase linearly with the number of persons that must be fed. It's natural to want to share your special day with all the people who mean the most to you, but if money is tight, you may have to leave out the distant cousin you haven't seen in ten years.
Avoid Booking Wedding-Only Caterers.
When it comes time to start making arrangements for the big day, many future brides learn the hard way that wedding-specific products are nearly always more expensive. A lot of people you'd like to hire for your wedding, including florists and photographers, will charge you a fortune to be a part of it. Therefore, if you require food for a significant event, you shouldn't settle for the first caterer you find in an online search. Weddings are essentially large events, and there are lots of event caterers to choose from. They'll be able to easily organise your wedding, and their costs will be more reasonable.
Reduce the Number of Courses
If you're having a plated meal instead of a buffet, it can be hard to select how many courses you want. There should be three courses as this is a party. A palate cleanser served midway through the dinner or a fourth small dish offered at the outset may be appreciated by some diners. Weigh the benefits of serving that extra meal against the likelihood that your visitors would rather be on the dance floor. You'd be better off taking two excellent courses instead of three and four mediocre ones out of a sense of obligation if money were short.
Consider a Grazing Table
Some people think a wedding feast must always involve a huge, plated dinner. A grazing table, though, might be a fantastic choice if you're willing to try something a little bit different. In comparison to a sit-down lunch, the cost of setting up a grazing table for your guests is far lower. Snacks such as dips, crackers, cheeses and meats, nuts, crudités, and more can be found on the table. In addition, the prevalence of charcuterie on menus shows its high quality cooking. If you offer a selection of heartier selections and make sure there is enough for everyone, your guests are more likely to be satisfied.
Check out our ultimate list of Wedding Planners in Melbourne to help you organise a stress-free wedding.
Options Might Be Found at Local Culinary Schools
Even if they're the least expensive option, you definitely aren't going to hire an inexperienced photographer who spends the entire night taking grainy, poorly lit images of you and your husband. While experienced caterers can perform the task, culinary students can often do it just as well or better for a fraction of the cost. If you want to learn how to cook, you could look into local culinary classes. If a couple is on a tight budget, a venue that offers catering may be the best option.
Catering costs should account for at least half of a couple's overall reception expenditure. Experts agree that it is possible for a couple to have a successful wedding while yet keeping catering expenditures manageable. Caterers typically increase their rates during peak season and in areas that are in great demand. No host wants their guests to go hungry, but it's also not smart to run up a huge tab on food. Making an impression at your event without breaking the bank is possible with the use of a theme station.
If you plan ahead and skip the appetiser course, you can save a significant amount of money. It's possible to cut costs significantly by ordering meals for a private event directly from a food truck rather than hiring a caterer. If your wedding is less formal, a barbeque is a great way to save money without compromising the quality of the cuisine you give your guests. Saving money can be achieved by serving food in a communal setting rather than on individual plates. You can get pretty much anything you want from a caterer.
If you're on a tight budget but still want to provide your customers with delicious food, think about serving seasonal fare. Why spend a tonne of money on a huge, elaborate wedding cake if they're not even the best? If the ceremony and reception are scheduled for the day, brunch or lunch can be provided instead of dinner. Regardless of how frugal your catering company is, spending a lot of money on food and drink for three hundred people is still a big deal. Don't stress out about having a perfect menu for your wedding reception.
FAQs About Wedding Caterers
Caterers ensure that their menu complements the theme of your wedding. You can rest easy knowing that they can handle every detail, from the flowers to the entertainment to incredible food. A catering service has the potential to make or break your wedding.
Quality: By hiring a professional catering company or chef, you can guarantee that the quality of the food supplied will be of the highest standard. The higher quality food will have your guests enjoying the food and indeed impressed. The quality of food at an event can make or break the event.
Wedding Caterers Don't Just Cook The Food
They don't just cook. They also generally set up your tables and chairs, often coordinate your rentals, provide the waitstaff (and often bartenders), serve the food on time, clean up the dining area and kitchen, pack leftovers, and take away the garbage.
Caterer duties and responsibilities
Setting up all tables and food service areas with chairs, linens and dishes. Serving food to guests at events. Cleaning up and tearing down the dining area by removing all tableware, linens, garbage and furniture. Creating menus according to a client's preferences and dietary needs.
Many catering services offer plate and flatware rental options or work standard plate and silverware into their pricing. Beyond adding your table centrepiece and décor touches, you should be able to arrive at your event and not have to lift a finger!
- Every couple should allocate at least half of their reception budget to catering services, but there are methods to save money without sacrificing quality.
- One low-cost strategy to make an impression on your visitors is to set up a theme station at your event.
- You can save money by going server-less for the night.
- Having a food truck instead of a caterer deliver the cuisine for a private event might save a lot of money.
- If sticking to your budget is more important than locking down a certain venue, then it's in your best interest to search for a system that will let you bring in your own caterer.
- Unfortunately, wedding cakes aren't the best.
- The bride and groom may take extra delight in picking their favourite flavour of wedding cake for the cutting ceremony, but the guests are more likely to recall the main course.
- Why spend a fortune on a massive, ornate wedding cake when a candy bar is guaranteed to be a hit with all of your guests?
- You can cut costs significantly by having a brunch or lunch reception instead of a sit-down dinner supper if your wedding and reception can be held during the day.
- Instead of serving fish, meat and vegetarian options, serve only one amazing dish that everyone will love.
- Therefore, if you require food for a significant event, you shouldn't settle for the first caterer you find in an online search.
- Weddings are essentially large events, and there are lots of event caterers to choose from.
- In comparison to a sit-down lunch, the cost of setting up a grazing table for your guests is far lower.
- If you want to learn how to cook, you could look into local culinary classes.
- If a couple is on a tight budget, a venue that offers catering may be the best option.