1. Know what your food and beverage budget is and share that number with prospective caterers. This will give them the opportunity to give you a proposal with the best menu(s) that you can afford.
2. Limit the number of courses you serve. Stick with a salad and entree and serve your wedding cake for dessert.
3. Plan your wedding around breakfast, lunch or dessert. Meals at these times typically have smaller portions, so you will save money on food,and less alcohol is typically served, so you will save on bar costs.
4. Shorten your cocktail hour to 45 minutes and reduce the number of hors d’oeuvres that you serve. This will save money on both food and bar.
5. Butler-pass your horsd’oeuvres rather than having stations.Your servers can control the speed with which your hors d’oeuvres are served so you can order less without running out.
6. Choose a plated meal rather than a buffet. When a caterer prepares a buffet, he has to prepare portions for more than your guest count so food doesn’t run out if a guest takes a larger portion. Plated meals have set portions, so you don’t have to spend money for extra food.
7. Order chicken or vegetarian rather than beef or fish. Chicken is almost always less expensive and it appeals to a wider range of people.
8. Choose a time other than Friday or Saturday night for your wedding reception. You can often get a better deal on off-times rather than prime times.
9. Provide your own alcohol. Some off-premise caterers will allow you to purchase alcohol on your own. This can offer great savings, especially if you purchase from a place that will allow you to return unopened bottles.
10. Get an accurate guest count. You don’t want to pay for guests who don’t attend. When you send out invitations, send a reply card with a return date of at least two weeks prior to your wedding and call guests who don’t send them back. Then let your caterer know exactly how many guests you are planning for to prevent over-ordering.