Need Help Fitting Catering Into Your Wedding Budget? Here Are 5 Ways To Reduce Wedding Catering Costs

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If you're shocked by quotes that you've received from wedding caterers, you'll be happy to know that there are several ways you can make it more affordable. Catering for a wedding is quite involved, since the staff needs to set up tables, prepare them, serve the food, pack up the tables, and clean up afterward, and prices can be high as a result. However, a few tricks can help you fit it into your budget better. To learn five ways that you can reduce the cost of your wedding catering, read on.

1. Ask for an Itemized List

If you ask, wedding caterers will give you an itemized list of their charges, including the charge for food, service staff, and table rental. This itemized list gives you an idea of how you can begin reducing the cost of catering.

2. Go With Buffet-Style Catering 

Buffet-style catering is usually the least expensive route for weddings. This style of service still requires some staff, since a staff member will stand at each buffet to serve food to your wedding guests. However, it requires fewer servers overall than plate service or cocktail service, so you'll be able to save money on service staff charges.

3. Reduce Food Costs

Offering fewer menu items to your wedding guests will reduce food costs since the wedding catering service will need to purchase less food and spend less time preparing it. Keep in mind that you'll still need to provide appropriate food options for all of your guests — make sure you include vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and kid-friendly options depending on the dietary preferences of your wedding guests and whether or not children are coming to your wedding.

4. Simplify Your Catering

Reducing the number of courses served at your wedding, like the appetizer course and the dessert course, is a great way to keep costs down. This reduces the cost of the food as well as the cost of hiring service staff — a meal with fewer courses takes less time to serve, so you don't need to hire them as long. Choosing to serve only a dinner course at your wedding can drastically reduce the cost of your wedding catering.

Similarly, you may be able to remove the dinner course from your menu in certain circumstances. If you're having a quick wedding in the mid-afternoon, for example, your guests will likely have already eaten lunch before they come to your wedding, and they'll eat dinner on their own afterward. You can save money by only serving your guests a round of appetizers and skipping the dinner portion entirely.

5. Skip Alcohol or Purchase Your Own

The most expensive part of wedding catering is typically the alcohol. Your guests may appreciate an open bar, but it can be incredibly expensive. Purchasing your own alcohol and hiring a bartender from the wedding caterer to serve it at your wedding can drastically reduce the costs. Another way to save money is to have an open bar with only beer and wine options, as liquor costs tend to be the most expensive.

Finally, make sure that you contact several wedding caterers and ask for their quotes. Caterers are always willing to work with you to find ways to fit the cost of catering into your proposed budget, and they can help you serve a meal to your guests that they'll love.