save, five ways…on wedding catering

Great conversation happens around great food. Relationships are built around the table. Memories are made around the smell, look, and taste of meals.

Conversation, relationship, and memories don’t cost a thing…so why is your catering bill nearly 30% of your budget? Food costs money, and good food costs a good amount of money. Great food costs…well, you get the idea. Here are five ideas for saving money on what your guests will be eating and drinking on the big day:

Manage your guest list. Boy, bet you didn’t see that one coming. Overdone advice, but still so true. The single best way to cut wedding costs is to have fewer people present. Start with the invites- if you or your significant other do not know the person by name, would not recognize them on the street, or otherwise would not invite them except-that-a-certain-family-matriarch-will-not-stop-insisting…don’t invite them. If they have not been a part of your life for the last fifteen years, it’s doubtful they will be offended if they are not invited to the wedding. The average guest costs $125 to host at a wedding in Springfield, Missouri. This includes the cost of catering, printed products, and divided venue and decorations costs. If said family matriarch claims disrespect, you can respectfully suggest that they foot the bill for said guest. If they are indeed footing the bill, well…I guess you wouldn’t be reading this post, then 🙂

Finalize guest details. When you choose to give an estimate to your caterer instead of a definite head count, you will likely pay for people who are not present. If guests have not RSVP’d by your deadline, a simple phone call can save you twenty bucks a head! In the same line of thinking, know how many of your guests are children. Usually children’s portion sizes are smaller, so you can negotiate a lower rate for less food.

Price match. Wedding catering is a highly competitive business. If you’ve got quotes from Caterers A, B, C and you looooooove with a capital L Caterer B’s food, but Caterer C gave you a slightly lower estimate, don’t be afraid to ask for a price match! Graciously, of course, and with a heavy dose of complimentary accolades. Be aware that caterers who do more volume can get better discounts on wholesale foods, so a smaller caterer may not be able to compete. If they do a similar volume of business, there shouldn’t be any reason why Caterer B wouldn’t give you a small price break in order to secure your booking.

Scrutinize traditions. Are you really going to want to eat the top layer of your wedding cake in a year? If you get a hankering for wedding cake on your anniversary, why not order a fresh sheet cake instead of pulling your plastic-wrapped, frozen hunk of cake out of the back of your freezer. Serve the top layer to guests. What about the appetizer spread? Do you really need it, or can your guests have the salad course of the meal while the bridal party is finishing up photos? Doing things just because it’s the way it’s always been done is the fast track to spending more than you actually need to. Do what makes sense for you now.

Minimize the cake. For most people, a gorgeous wedding cake is as essential as a gorgeous wedding dress. It just must be done. There are so many fantastic ways to make a small cake look extravagant that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a jaw dropper. Filling the space between tiers with fresh flowers, placing tiers on pedestals of different heights…a quick search on Pinterest will give you tons of great ideas. Consider ordering a cake for half your guest count, then have a basic sheet cake cut for the remainder. Alternatively, many caterers offer cupcakes for a lower price per person (sometimes up to half off!) Let’s plug in some numbers. Guest list: 150, Cake: $3.00/slice, Cupcakes: $1.50 each. Ordering just a wedding cake brings the total to $450, not including extra costs for fillings and flavors. Ordering a wedding cake for half and cupcakes for half brings the total to just $337.50, a savings of over $100.

How are you saving on your catering costs?

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the sharing this post! I was especially interested in the rethink of the wedding cake. It’s definitely not all about the size of the cake but the presentation itself. You did a fantastic job suggesting alternative presentations for couples to get the most bang for their buck.

    I think this post is great for many reasons. Thinking outside the box leads to many cost effective, creative, and beautiful solutions; like, more versatile dessert tables that can accommodate different or themes or guest preferences…because you know 50% of guests won’t even touch cake… Less cake saves space for fun things like parfaits, macarons, eclairs (oh, my!)

    Also, I took the year-old-cake bit to heart. Let me say, I have personally had the privilege of creating a few anniversary cakes that, well, took the cake. It was such a pleasure and so much more room for fun ideas and creativity. Brides and grooms, those anniversaries have their own themes, you know?! Also a true story; you can afford (a much cheaper because it’s an) anniversary cake when you’re no longer footing a wedding bill.

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