The cost of your Wedding Reception catering or “Wedding Breakfast” can vary enormously depending upon the formality and scale of the food you wish to offer your Wedding guests.
Even if you’re a real foodie and have big ambitions for your Wedding food, there are still ways you can get cheaper catering.
Starting points for cheaper Wedding catering
The later the time you hold your wedding, the less food and drink you’ll need to provide. Get married at 4pm, and you can skip canapés and go straight into the wedding breakfast. Get married at 6pm and you could quite happily offer guests just canapés or a light evening buffet.
It’s very common these days to just invite guests to an evening wedding reception after the wedding breakfast has taken place. This is a great way of making your wedding costs cheaper, but can be awkward if you want them to attend the wedding service as well. A great way around this is to follow your church service with an afternoon tea for all the guests, and then a wedding breakfast for just your closest friends and family. You just need to weigh up whether your priority is to have more guests at your wedding service or around in the evening (say, if you’re planning a disco).
If you’re holding your wedding reception at a venue, are you obliged to go with their caterer, or can you choose your own better value caterer?
A huge saving can be had by offering a buffet meal at your wedding reception rather than have it served restaurant style. This is a great option if you have fussy eaters, vegetarians and guests with food allergies to think about, as with buffets you can offer more of a choice and let wedding guests pick and choose what they want to eat. If the idea of a buffet doesn’t immediately excite you, how about adding an individual twist to it? A chic barbeque buffet with tuna steaks and gourmet sausages could be fun. Or how about a country style hog roast followed by a country dancing for entertainment?
Does your meal really have to be a five course extravaganza? If you’re having starters, do you need canapés? And vice versa? Can your wedding cake double up as your dessert course?
Do you really need a midnight buffet to follow two hours after your wedding breakfast has ended? So many times, I’ve seen bacon sarnies bought out shortly after the wedding breakfast only for them to go to left to waste. Save the money for elsewhere in your wedding budget, or simply rejoice in the fact that your wedding will be that bit cheaper.
If your wedding photographer and videographer require a meal, is there a cheaper alternative you can offer them rather than the food you’ll be serving the wedding guests? We bought a big ready-made lasagne from a supermarket and served our wedding suppliers that. It cost less than offering giving them the main wedding meal and was still really delicious.
Save money on your wedding breakfast by being clever with your menu
Save money on the aspects of your wedding that people don’t notice the difference on. Can anyone really taste the difference between tap water and sparkling still water - I don’t think so! Serve sparkling wine, cava or prosecco instead of champagne - no-one will be able to tell the difference. Just do a blind taste test at home, if you don’t believe me.
Talk to your wedding caterer about whether it’s cheaper to choose certain dishes on your wedding day over others. Local ingredients in season will cost less than those that need to be imported for example.
For Richer: If a buffet for your wedding isn’t your thing, but restaurant-style service seems a bit beyond your budget, there are ways to compromise. You may find you can save money on serving staff by offering dishes that are served up individually by an usher allocated to each of the tables. So a huge paella dish could be taken to each table, or a roast beef. To make the usher really feel the part, you could get each one a little chef’s hat and apron! Another good compromise is to serve some courses restaurant-style and others buffet - the dessert along with tea, coffee and wedding cake would be the most obvious candidates for being served buffet-style.
For Poorer: One of my friends asked all the guests to his wedding to bring a dessert with them. The result was the most extravagant and wonderful pudding buffet ever! It was a really individual and unique twist to their wedding day, and saved them money within their wedding budget.
Cheaper Wedding Cakes
Professionally made wedding cakes from specialists are not a cheap option with many costing £500-£600 - only really an option if you’re a complete cake obsessive!
Can you ask a member of your family or a friend to make your wedding cake? You could offer to pay for the raw ingredients, or ask for them to make the cake in lieu of a wedding present.
Marks and Spencers make a really cheap one-tier wedding cake - but you may find you want to decorate it yourselves as it looks pretty plain. One of my friends had this for her wedding day and asked a family friend, who made icing flowers, to decorate it. Alternatively, could you take a couple of springs from the garden, or left over from the florist to lay on it?
For Richer: I’m not a cake fan, particularly not wedding cake - all that dried fruit is just not me! - so we went for Waitrose’s cheese cake (a cake made of rounds of cheese rather than a cheesecake). This was comparatively cheap versus a shop bought “wedding cake” at just £120. The layers included vignotte, brie, goats cheese and a baby bel for the top tier! My sister-in-law decorated it with ivy from the garden. It proved a real hit with all the guests (doubled up as a third course/late evening buffet), and there was enough remaining to serve up any friends and family still there the day after the wedding!
For Poorer: Fairy or cupcakes piled onto a cake stand are in vogue at the moment and can be a cheaper substitution for a traditional wedding cake. They are easy to make but they need to be fresh, so this isn't something you want to do yourself the day before the wedding. Can you ask a friend or family member prepared to spend the day before the wedding making them? Failing that, last time I checked, Asda offered 10 white iced fairy cakes for £1 - whilst this may not sound (or indeed look) immediately exciting - spruce them up with a bit of rose petal decoration, the bride and groom's initials and buy a pretty looking cake stand and they could like they’re hummingbird’s finest cupcakes!
Many cake shops make dummy cakes, which can be hired. You can have your photo taken "cutting" the cake , which is then taken to kitchen and no-one notices that the slices of cake which emerge later are cut from a different cake. This means you can have a wonderful looking Wedding cake for a fraction of the cost.