Post by Amy Plass
Food can easily be the single most expensive part of a wedding. However, if you are willing to make a few concessions, you can bring your catering budget under control. Here are several suggestions on how to cut some costs. You don’t need to use them all, even putting one or two into effect can make a big difference.
Opt for a buffet instead of a plated dinner. Plated dinners are much more labor intensive for a caterer: they need to prepare each plate individually, and hire a large enough wait staff for the day to distribute all of the plates in a timely manner. All this adds in to your cost. If you don’t prefer buffets, consider family style plates that can be passed around and shared at each table.
Instead of entrees, fill your menu with lots of hor d’oeuvres. Have you ever gone to a restaurant and ordered several appetizers to share between friends? If you select many different types of appetizers guests get to try a lot more food, and the cost may be significantly less.
Schedule your wedding and reception times earlier in the day or later at night. You can cut costs significantly if you go for a brunch reception or a cocktail party. Just make sure you clearly indicate to your guests on the invitation what to expect. For example: “Appetizer and Cocktail Reception to Follow”.
If many of your guests are kids, work with your caterer to create a kids menu. Chances are, kids won’t appreciate the salmon risotto or honey lemon chicken you think is so wonderful, but they still dish up a full plate. Be kind to those picky eaters, and your wallet, by creating a kids menu. Grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza bread, and mac and cheese are all more budget friendly.
Instead of hosting a full bar, stick to beer and wine only. This will significantly reduce the cost of alcohol, and the chances of having to shuttle some of your friends home in taxis.
Opt for signature cocktails instead of a full bar. You will be paying for fewer ingredients than you would with a full bar, so you can save quite a bit of money.
Skip the champagne for your toast. If you’d like, guests can toast with the drinks they already have. Otherwise, look into other sparkling wines like Cremant (from France), Cava (from Spain) or my favorite, Prosecco (from Italy). You can often find these at a more reasonable price than champagne, and most people won’t know the difference.
Skip the big cake. Instead of a many-tiered masterpiece, consider a smaller decorated cake for cutting. You can buy sheet cakes or smaller cakes to be cut and served to the rest of your guests, which offer the same taste for a much more reasonable price. Added bonus, the sheet cake can be cut beforehand, so guests don’t have to wait long to be served after you and your new spouse cut into your cake.
DIY dessert. If your venue and caterer allow, you can serve your own dessert. Maybe homemade cheesecake or pie are more your style. If this is the case, go for it! Just make sure you have a plan for serving them all, and enough ovens to bake it all before the wedding day.
Cut the guest list. This may sound harsh, but when you add up all the costs per person (rental chairs, tables, linens, dishes, food, and alcohol), it may be easier for you to start narrowing down your invite list to only the people you feel closest to instead of casual acquaintances or friends you haven’t seen or heard from it years.
If you’d like information about caterers in the Spokane and Coeur d’ Alene area, please check out our featured caterers and bakers page.