Smart recessionistas know that the one area of a wedding where serious cash can be saved is the food. To cater a wedding on a budget is a delicate task that requires compromising quality and practicality.
Go Out of Season
You've been dreaming your entire life about a July wedding. Problem is, everyone else has, too. If you choose to have a wedding during the peak season (May to October), you'll find yourself scrambling to even find a caterer, let alone snag one who is affordable. To cater a wedding on a budget, you'll need to get creative about the when and where. Consider holding your event during the winter instead of the summer, or on a Thursday instead of a Saturday. Go for brunch instead of dinner, or a picnic lunch instead of a hotel reception. Keep an eye out for new caterers
who are trying to break into the industry and ask about potential discounts. Keep in mind, however, that choosing a new caterer or venue has its pitfalls and may not be worth the savings.
Keep the Food Simple
Now matter when you decide to hold your wedding, to cater a wedding on a budget you'll need to keep your food simple. Slash costs immediately by limiting your dinner selections to only chicken or vegetarian options. Skip fancy appetizers like French onion soup and sashimi and forgo any desserts other than your wedding cake. Don't go with a buffet unless you've already established that your wedding caterer
will be pricing you per head and not on consumption. If you're really strapped for cash, throw a dessert reception that includes candy, cookies, and cake, all of which can be provided at low cost by a local bakery.
Stay Off the Sauce
Next to food, alcohol may very well become your sworn enemy when attempting to cater a wedding on a budget. Immediately eliminate the open bar option and toss the idea of having wine served with dinner. If you feel you must have alcohol at your event, consider choosing a venue that allows you to bring in your own alcoholic beverages. Another low-cost option is choosing to have a beer and wine bar that is only open prior to dinner and during the dancing hours. Always close the bar one hour prior to the end of your wedding to cut extra costs and ensure that your guests will leave your party without being too intoxicated.
Work Your Connections
If you haven't hired a wedding planner, consider doing so. This might sound counter-intuitive, but you may actually find yourself saving serious cash by working the connection of a well-regarded wedding professional. Most planners have relationships with caterers who offer discounts in exchange for referrals. For a nominal fee, your planner may be able to set you up with a caterer at a highly discounted rate that you wouldn't be able to get on your own.