Getting married is one of those things in life most people will experience. For some reason beyond my own ability to comprehend, it has become completely acceptable in our culture for young couples to begin their new life journey together by spending tens of thousands of dollars they don’t have, on their wedding!
A quick Internet search reveals that the average wedding in the United States is hovering right around $25k, and yeah, I know just what you’re thinking, “TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS?!!” I thought the same thing! It’s ridiculous. Not only is this a not so great start to their new happy life together, it’s also unnecessary in most cases.
Sure it’s true that everything about a wedding costs money. From venue choices, to decorations, and the dress, they all add up. But one area of the wedding experience that doesn’t need to cost a lot of money is the food. In the next few minutes I’ll give you a couple down to earth suggestions on how to take charge of the food at your wedding, reduce your overall expense, and still allow your guests the opportunity to dine on your dime while enjoying your special day.
To Cater or not to Cater?
Whether you have your food catered or you self-cater the wedding there are a few good ways to save some money on either choice. If you decided to have your food catered you’ll want to book in advance as the majority of caterers probably have reservations. There are some very low cost catering options but remember the following to help reduce unnecessary expense:
- No Wait Staff – Most catering companies will opt to use their own wait staff because they can charge more. If you want to save a few hundred dollars on the catering bill say no to the wait staff, instead use self-serve food tables and allow the guests to serve themselves. This will drastically reduce your costs while still allowing the caterer to do what they do best, provide food.
- Cash Bar Only – In an ideal world we could all afford to buy our friends all the booze they can drink, but this isn’t an ideal world and some of our friends drink a lot of booze! To save on food and drinks host a cash bar only. This gives your guests the option to drink all they want, just not at your expense!
- Heavy Appetizers – Instead of offering a meal, offer heavy appetizers. This will cost substantially less while still giving your guests some food to enjoy. You’ll also find that the lack of sit down food encourages your guests to mingle more, and more mingling is always a plus at a wedding. Appetizers work best with morning or midday weddings so plan accordingly. If your wedding is at 6pm guests will probably expect a meal.
- Focus on Taste and Fill – When selecting your appetizers choose items that provide more fill value while still tasting good. A filling appetizer will satisfy hungry guests long enough for them to enjoy the rest of your wedding! Your caterer should be able to offer some great filling appetizer suggestions but don’t go overboard.
If you’re going the self-catered route I’d suggest checking with your venue first to make sure they don’t have any restrictions on self-provided food. If you plan to go the self-catered route, here are a few suggestions to keep in mind:
- Pre-made Appetizers – Select a premade appetizer that doesn’t require cooking or heating if possible. This will reduce the chance for any kitchen rental fees at the wedding venue and make serving them less stressful for you. If it’s a summer wedding consider appetizers that are cold. One of my favorites is frozen grapes covered in Jell-O mix.
- Sandwich Creation Station – A sandwich station is a great way to offer your guests food while still keeping costs low. Everyone loves a good PB&J once in a while and there is absolutely nothing wrong with offering them at your wedding. I’d suggest offering a bunch of different ingredients and letting your guests make their own sandwich.
- Simple Salad Bar – A salad and fruit bar is also an inexpensive way to offer your guests food. They’ll appreciate the healthy options and never think to complain about the lack of a full course meal.
- Dessert Only – If you’re concerned about costs consider having a dessert bar. Ice cream sundaes and root beer floats cost hardly anything to make but go over great for summer weddings. Same with Italian sodas, smoothies and other healthy snack alternatives. These low cost solutions are extremely easy to make and a crowd favorite in almost every setting.
If you’re frugal, then some of your guests probably are too. With a little creativity and experimentation on your part you can turn something simple, like a sandwich, into something unique and fun for your guests to enjoy. Think of your food as a way to unite people and help them get to know each other. Don’t hide your frugal food in the corner like you’re ashamed, incorporate it into your reception in an interesting, out of the ordinary way that helps guides your guest’s to have good perceptions of it!
In the end all the decisions are up to you so remember, be creative, be frugal, be fun!
About the Author:
Trisha Jefford is a self-proclaimed foodie and wine enthusiast who loves scouring the internet for new ideas and trends in food creation and presentation. She currently blogs and writes for EZ Cater who specialize in a wide variety of options for your lunch catering needs.
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