Getting married, but looking for way to how cut your budget? Kate Smallwood shares her top tips for keeping the catering costs down The average cost of a wedding in the UK is just over £24,000, with £3,000 of that spent on catering (according to Brides Magazine). While we all want our wedding celebration to go with a swing, there’s nothing less romantic than starting married life in debt. Here’s how to save the pennies when it comes to your wedding menu.
1) Avoid summer Saturdays Sad but true: the most popular times of the year to tie the knot are also the most expensive. Many ctaering suppliers charge more in peak season, and at other times of the year when demand is high such as public holidays. Choosing to marry on any day other than a Saturday, and avoiding the height of summer, can be beneficial to the bulging budget.
•Please don't kill off the wedding cake!
2) Cull the guest list With a large proportion of the wedding budget spent on food and drink, the obvious way to cut costs is to reduce your guest list. While it may sound harsh, menus are generally priced per head, so it goes without saying that you can wine and dine 50 guests far less expensively than you can 150. Keep your wedding an intimate occasion, and splash out on a post-honeymoon drinks party.
3) Marry later in the day The longer you celebrate, the more you’ll splash out on food and drink. Couples who marry at lunchtime are likely to serve their wedding breakfast in the early afternoon, and need to feed their wilting guests again in the evening. Saying ‘I do’ a little later in the day can mean you dine early evening, needing only to offer guests a bit of ‘blotting paper’ towards the end of the night – cheeseboards and cake being the perfect choice.
4) Don’t overfeed We’ve all been to weddings where we happily scoff delicious canapés before sitting down to a wedding breakfast with numerous courses. Within no time we find ourselves indulging in coffee and wedding cake, with just a few twirls around the dance floor before an evening buffet appears. Quite simply, it’s too much food, and food costs money. While you don’t want your guests to be hungry, you don’t need to overfeed them either. Simple touches can save the pennies – stick to canapés instead of a starter, or serve your wedding cake for pudding with ice cream and hot toffee sauce.
5) Provide a children’s menu Cut costs by offering a simple menu for younger guests. Ask any child at your wedding whether they would like the adult five-course extravaganza, or lasagne followed by ice cream… and the pasta will win hands down.
6) Simplify your menu It's better to serve a beautifully prepared, simple menu, than to use elaborate methods and expensive ingredients that won’t appeal to all your guests. Choose talented chefs and seasonal produce. Tasty, well-cooked food will always be popular and doesn’t have to cost the earth.
7) Limit the alcohol Now ,we’re not suggesting that the wine shouldn’t flow on your big day, but it is a good idea to be clever about exactly what flows. Stick to prosecco or cava as an alternative to Champagne, and provide wine, beer and soft drinks if you’re funding the bar. It’s perfectly acceptable to expect guests to pay for spirits if that’s their preference. Cocktails are a great idea, enabling you to offer something fun within a set price bracket. As a rule, long is good, strong is not!
8) Provide your own drinks When it comes to drinks, ask your venue if you can bring your own, taking advantage of the excellent supermarket offers on alcohol. Some venues, particularly hotels, will say no, or charge such high corkage it’s not worth it. However, other venues without in-house caterers will often agree. Shop around for the best deals, including Christmas discounts if time allows, and see whether you can purchase on a sale or return basis – always better to have some left over than to run out.
9) Go informal with service Formal silver service requires waiting staff, and the fewer staff you need at your wedding, the less you’ll spend. Buffets are a good option as guests can help themselves - consider barbecues, street food stalls or afternoon-tea parties as a more contemporary adaptation. Alternatively, introduce a ‘carve at table’ option where each table allocates as guest as ‘head chef’ to serve their joint of meat. It’s fun, a real talking point and it will save your pennies.
10) Be creative Whatever you decide, make sure the food at your wedding is presented beautifully, and the service is impeccable. It should be noticed, appreciated, imaginative and a vital part of the day. Create food stalls that also double-up as entertainment and give home made cookies as favours that your guests can also enjoy with their coffee. You want your guests to remember the food at your wedding for all the right reasons.