Wedding Savings: Don’t call the Caterer

Wedding catering is expensive.  The catering together with the venue hire are likely to be the most expensive part of your wedding. You will cherish fond memories of your wedding day for the rest of your life, but is there a way to reduce the costs? Do you really need to call the caterer? Continue reading for 10 ways to cut the catering costs for your wedding reception.

According to a survey in 2017 of 4,000 brides, the average UK wedding now costs £27,161 – the highest it’s ever been.  Venue hire is revealed as the most expensive cost at an average of £4,354, followed by the honeymoon, and then the food at an average of £3,353 (www.hitched.co.uk).  The Bride’s Magazine puts the catering costs as high as £3,959.

What is a Wedding Reception?

Wikipedia describes a wedding reception as a party usually held after the completion of a marriage ceremony as hospitality for those who have attended the wedding, hence the name reception: the couple receives society, in the form of family and friends, for the first time as a married couple.

Traditionally it was the bride’s parents who paid for the wedding reception – and that included the venue hire, food and drink. Nowadays it’s more common for the cost to be shared by both sets of parents and the couple getting married. However, in the current economic climate with stagnating wages for many; increasing living costs; lack of accommodation for first time buyers and with student debt, a lot of couples are finding it difficult to finance their dream wedding. Why forfeit a house deposit or risk getting into debt for one day?

10 Ways to Cut Catering Costs for your Wedding Reception

  1. An obvious way to reduce your costs is to limit the number of your guests to the wedding breakfast.  Menus are priced per head, so naturally it would be cheaper to feed 50 people than 100. 
  1. Have a buffet instead of a sit down meal. This reduces the staffing costs and is also easier to cater for vegetarians and vegans. You can always decide to have a waiter/waitress for the top table and let the other guests help themselves. The typical ratio of waiting staff to guests is 1:10 and normally you cannot hire anyone for less than four hours.
  1. Tell your caterer that you have a budget and ask what they could provide for your budget.  Most caterers are happy to work with you to keep your costs down.
  1. Don’t overfeed. Again your caterer can help with this. Also, if you marry later in the day your guests will not want so much to eat in the evening. You could get away with a smaller buffet e.g. a cheeseboard, for your evening guests and your not so hungry earlier guests.
  1. When you choose a venue for your wedding reception it is often more expensive if you have to use their in-house caterer. Competition between caterers can invariably bring the costs down, so try to choose a venue that does not tie you to a particular caterer.
  1.  Why not try street food?  These are estimated to be typically 75% cheaper than the average typical caterer (according to feast-it.com. Prices tend to start at £7 per head and many can cater for weddings indoors as well as outside. The type of food the offer is varied:
  1.  If you have friends and family that are willing to help, it is possible to do it yourself.  You do not have to call the caterer!  This could be in the format of an afternoon tea – where a station is set up spread with homemade cakes and tea. Alternatively, you could set up a number of tables specialising in different foods, e.g. a salads table, a cold meat table, a hog roast, a cheese and biscuits table, a desserts table, etc.  A DIY hog roast from Don’t Tell Porky’s theflyingporky.co.uk costs approximately £280 for 50 guest portions or £340 for 100 guest portions)
  1. A mixture of DIY and street food. Here you could call upon friends and family to prepare some items, such as a cheese and biscuits table or a desserts table, and hire a street van for other items. The variations on this theme are many.
  1. If you have a catering college near you it is possible they may be able to help you reduce your catering costs – it is worth an enquiry.  They may be able to cater for your whole event, or they may be able to assist you with providing the staff for your event.
Wedding Savings: Don't call the caterer
  1. Wedding Cake.  These are traditionally expensive to buy, and in fairness it is labour intensive to make and the ingredients are expensive. It is usually recommended to set your budget at £500 for a three tier wedding cake.  There are however alternatives – from sponge cakes to cupcakes, although these can work out expensive too. The cheapest alternative would be to have a desserts table with cakes and desserts made by friends and family.

You don’t have to call the caterer for your wedding reception. Everyone wants their wedding day to be perfect – it is after all a celebration of two people’s love and commitment to one another. But no one wants to start their married life in debt. If money is no object, then the world is your oyster – but if you are watching the pennies then there may be a need to compromise.  Most people realise that weddings are expensive, and true friends and loving family members just want to make memories of joy and happiness for you both to remember.  If you can afford to, you’ll probably want to be pampered on your special day and you don’t want to be too tired or stressed to enjoy yourself – but there are ways you can cut the costs for your wedding catering. Also, you may want to provide ‘doggie bags’ for any food left over, or alternatively donate the waste food to those who are less fortunate (for more information click here link to previous blog 30/11/17)

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