Pad and I knew straight away, that our wedding wouldn’t be ‘super traditional’.
One of the things we felt most passionate about (probably because of our joint love for it) was the food. We didn’t want a standard sit-down meal – we wanted to design and taste everything on the menu – and ideally we wanted it to feel like a mix between backyard BB and buffet.
I know buffets aren’t the most sophisticated option – but I LOVE THEM. So does Pad – and heck, if you can’t do what you love on your wedding day, what’s the point? We ended up having a BBQ style buffet, with endless supplies of ribs, chicken wings, mini sliders, salads… it was delicious.
Among the many costs of holding a wedding reception, catering is usually the most expensive one, and we were well aware of that. Depending on the size of your guest list and the food you want to be serving during the reception, catering could cost £3,000 to £5,000 (maybe more, depending on your venue). This is around 20% of the total cost of the wedding according to a recent survey by Brides Magazine.
For us anyway, it was worth it. When I think back to weddings I’ve been a guest at – usually the ones I remember the most (and most fondly haha!) are the ones who put on great food. It’s a big part of the day, there’s no getting round it.
There are ways to make catering more affordable. There are also great catering alternatives that you can choose for your wedding, especially if you want to keep the cost of the wedding affordable. I’m going to go over some of those alternatives in this article.
All-Inclusive Wedding Venue
One of the best ways to save on catering – and on the wedding as a whole – is by opting for an all-inclusive wedding venue. The venue will provide almost everything you need for the wedding, from the right decorations and flowers to a comprehensive menu for the reception. Our venue was kind of like this – and we could’ve opted for their ‘packages’. We didn’t though, and asked them to make us our own package (remember to ask, you never know!). The package we wanted cost less than their 3-course meal package, so we did actually save money, as well as getting exactly what we wanted.
It also meant we didn’t have to bring in external caterers – which I read about a lot (and it seemed like it would be an absolute nightmare for pricing and logistics).
Even better, you can find deals on all-inclusive wedding venues and save even more. Websites such as ukweddingsavings.co.uk give you access to a lot of options when it comes to venues and wedding packages. Compare the available venues that suit the theme of your wedding and you’ll be able to save without hassle.
This little hack, is actually pretty smart. If you still want to serve amazing food – but can only afford to serve it once during the day (ie – you can’t afford for two sittings, in the daytime and evening) – then have a later wedding ceremony. If you get married in the evening, you can serve your big evening meal as the main event, and save a ton of cash.
Cook for the Wedding
You don’t have to have the caterer prepare everything for you. Sometimes, it is also a good idea to have friends and family members help prepare certain items on the menu to save on the catering cost. When you’re holding a garden reception, for instance, you can have a barbeque and have friends help you with preparing light snacks and drinks.
We did this for our desserts. We knew we wanted an ‘afternoon tea’ style thing, and the venue provided the plates and stacked everything up for us – but we provided all the cakes and cookies to go on them. I can’t imagine how much money this saved us.
The caterer can still cook you the main course, but you’ll be reducing the cost of catering by a large amount. The only downside to this method is the extra effort required to prepare for the wedding. But if you have friends and family who can help – go for it. It is certainly not for every couple or family, but it’s a tip worth considering nonetheless.
Gourmet Grocery Stores & Local Restaurants
One last alternative we’re going to review in this article is working with local gourmet grocery stores and restaurants to help prepare meals for the wedding. These outlets often have better prices than professional wedding caterers, which means you can still have a delicious set of meals for the occasion without spending so much on catering.
It’s a risk getting external caterers (like I mentioned above – I’m not convinced it would’ve been the right choice for us personally) but if you like to organise and if you’re a good planner, maybe it wouldn’t worry you so much.
Having multiple vendors working on different meals is a bit more difficult to manage, so now we’re talking multiple external caterers. It may not be as practical as getting a complete wedding package from an affordable venue, but you’ll still be able to save a lot of money – which could mean you can afford much more food, or much better quality food. Besides, you have more options to choose from when it comes to the menu.
These are just some of the alternatives to consider when you’re choosing catering for your wedding and you want to save in the process. You can always reduce your guest list and also take a closer look at other wedding expenses to save even more. You’ll still be able to have a very special, memorable day without exceeding your budget for the reception.