Planning a wedding is exciting but it can get quite overwhelming with all the choices and decisions you have to make. It also can get very expensive. Food is probably the priciest item on your wedding budget. If you’re looking for ways to save some money on your catered wedding reception, consider the following tips.

  1. First of all, you need to find a caterer that will operate within your budget. As in any other industry, catering companies cater to different markets and come at a different price. (Read our article “10 things to keep in mind when hiring a caterer” that gives you some useful tips on finding the right catering company)
  2. Choose cheaper ingredients for the main course. Let’s face it, filet mignon is always going to be more expensive than chicken, and lobster dinner will cost you an arm and a leg. To keep your cost minimal, but at the same to add some sophistication to your menu, use expensive ingredients for hors d’oeuvres, rather than in the main course.
  3. Ask your caterer for creative dishes and season specials. Plain grilled chicken is boring but an experienced chef probably has a few unique recipes up his sleeve which will make that chicken taste like nothing else your guests have ever had before. Also, using ingredients that are in season not only will save you money, but also will be fresher and taste better too.
  4. The way meal is served can affect the price. Plated sit-down dinner is generally more expensive than other types of set-up. Consider having a buffet or food stations. Pasta station is always a good option and will satisfy most tastes. Carving station is another great choice.
  5. The time of the reception can make a difference. If you’re planning your wedding reception for 7 pm, your guests will be expecting a dinner-like meal. Even if you don’t offer a plated dinner, the amount of food should be planned accordingly. Consider morning reception, brunch, lunch, or an afternoon cocktail reception. They are generally shorter in length and require less food.
  6. Limit champagne to just initial bride and groom toast and buy cheaper champagne. A bottle of champagne can cost you $200 but unless you’re truly a champagne connoisseur, you won’t tell the difference from a $20 bottle.
  7. If your catering contract allows, buy you own liquor and hire a bartender. Double check with your caterer if there is corkage fee.
  8. Consider limiting your alcohol choices to wine and beer. Make sure you have at least one white and one red wine. To spice it up a bit you can create a signature drink. It will give the reception a nice personal touch. But whatever you decide to do, don’t ever have a cash bar at your wedding reception.
  9. Save on a wedding cake. Chose a simple cake with one flavor, use fresh flowers on your cake. You can opt for a sophisticated but smaller cake and have a second sheet cake that is cut in the kitchen for the guests. But if a big and tall cake was always your dream, have the lower tiers made of Styrofoam (no one will tell the difference).
  10. Make sure that there is a price guarantee. There’s a chance that you sign your catering contract 9 months in advance and the cost of some food ingredients might increase. This should not be your problem. You want to make sure the price you sign today will be the price you pay.