Catering is one of the largest expenses on your wedding budget, and I am sure the one that brides wrestle with the most. As caterers, we try to add value to our wedding packages and build relationships that are important to us and our clients. We often work with brides and grooms for at least six months leading up to their big day, so a good relationship and trust are important factors. You want to select a caterer you can trust and then let them guide you. When it comes to budget, my advice is to be honest with the caterer you like in your gut and trust; shopping 10 different caterers is going to do nothing but confuse you in the long run and result in some restless nights of sleep.
When planning the reception, do not believe everything you read in wedding magazines. They are all trying to increase readership through interesting articles and novel ideas that may not always be realistic. For example, cocktail only receptions may seem like a good idea, but only lead to unhappy guests in my experience.
If your budget is coming up on the short end, here are a few proven solutions to please everyone and the check book.
- Streamline everything — put out a good yet simple entrée with filling food. Tilapia, Airline Chicken Breast, and Top Round of Beef are all items that are simple, and cost-effective.
- Cut the reception down to four hours, which will save on service time — the biggest cost hands down. Is a five-hour reception really that important to you?
- Forget the favors. Make a tax deductable donation to your favorite charity if you must do something. One recent bride did just that and placed a note in the pocket of each napkin announcing a gift was made in the guests’ names (classy and smart).
- A beer and wine only bar will save you good money. If you don’t think you can do without a hard drink, consider a single specialty drink that makes a statement, pleases guests and saves money.
- Have a small token wedding cake for pictures and then feed everyone dessert from sheet cake. This will save costs and, frankly, not everyone eats cake. Don’t over do it on the desserts!