One of the most expensive parts of your wedding will be paying the caterer, and this is particularly true if you’re having a large wedding. Other than the cost of your reception venue, your next largest expense will be feeding all of your guests. For each wedding guest you invite, you’ll need to have appetizers, a main course, and usually an evening snack; not to mention a slice of wedding cake for each person. All of those expenses can add up really quickly, especially if you let your guests run wild with the amount that they eat. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to control the cost of your wedding catering and keep room in your budget for other items.
Typically, most couples will offer some type of small appetizer during what is known as “cocktail hour”. This is the time between when guests arrive at the reception hall and when the main dinner is served. Usually the guests will mingle, sip on cocktails, and congratulate the happy couple. Additionally, there are appetizers going around curbing the appetite of hungry guests.
To save money during cocktail hour, it’s a good idea to have the appetizers passed around from person to person on a tray or to have a server carrying them around to each group of people. If you just leave them on a table for your guests to have free reign, you’ll notice that a small handful of your guests will devour the whole tray in record time. By avoiding this, you can save a ton of money on your wedding catering. Additionally, not having an open bar or only serving beer for free can help you save money during cocktail hour, but that really isn’t considered part of your catering expenses.
One of the easiest ways to save money on dinner service at your wedding is to choose an inexpensive dish that is very filling for your guests. By far the best choice for this is pasta because it is usually the least expensive option, everyone will love it, and it will fill the guests up with a single serving. It’s a good idea to offer at least two pasta choices to your guests such as spaghetti and fettuccini so that everyone can have a choice that they enjoy.
Also, though it may seem cheaper to do a buffet style dinner to avoid the cost of servers, having a plated dinner is usually much less expensive in the long run. It’s cheaper to pay a server $25 to deliver plates to a table than it is to have Uncle Joe eat 12 plates of food from the buffet line, so take that into consideration when you are crunching the numbers for your catering budget.
Side dishes can quickly add up at a wedding, so try to avoid them at all cost. For instance, if you’re having a pasta dish, try to limit your sides to only salad and bread. Every additional food item you offer to your wedding guests will add to your catering expenses, so just keep them to a minimum.
The cheapest way to thwart the expense of an evening snack for your guests is to time your dinner out so you don’t need on at all. If you space out your dinner and your wedding cake service, you can easily get away without having an evening snack at all. Also, you can put some candy or cookies at each table as a wedding favor which will also alleviate the need for any type of late night munchies.
Wedding cakes are so labor-intensive and decorative these days that they are usually one of the more expensive parts of your catering costs. To keep your budget in check, you should opt to buy a very small decorative wedding cake for the cake cutting ceremony and for your wedding party to eat. For the rest of the guests, you can slice up some sheet cakes that are just as delicious but much less expensive because they aren’t decorated like the actual wedding cake. This is particularly budget-friendly if you’re having a large wedding with a lot of guests.