How to Cater Your Own Wedding
Looking for ways to cut costs when it comes to feeding your guests? Learn how you can plan all the steps to cater your own wedding to save money.
Whether you’re just starting to research vendors for your wedding day or you’ve been planning for several months, you’ve likely learned that catering costs for a celebration can be high. In fact, many experts suggest setting aside at least 50% of your total budget for your venue and catering. No matter what size wedding budget you’re working with, that’s definitely going to be a decent-sized sum.
With wedding costs rising across the board as a result of the wedding boom and inflation, you might be feeling stressed about the cost of feeding your guests. If you’re planning your wedding on a tight budget, there are still options for you! Perhaps you’ve thought about hosting a potlock wedding and you’re now wondering if it’s possible to cater your entire wedding yourself. Well, we’re here to tell you it can definitely be done! With a little planning and a scaled-back strategy, you can totally conquer this to-do and save money in the process. Below, we’re sharing how to cater your wedding in 10 simple steps.
1. Invite Fewer People
One of the things that can drive the cost of catering up (along with everything else) is your guest count. So, consider inviting fewer people to attend your celebration. Another idea? Invite your immediate family and closest friends to join you for a pre-wedding dinner the night before or on the night of your wedding. Then choose to serve only appetizers or desserts to your complete wedding guest list if you want to make sure to dance with your full group while also saving money on food.
2. Plan Ahead
Like almost every other aspect of your wedding day, the key thing to do if you would like to cater your own wedding day is to plan ahead. You will want to decide on things like your menu, necessary ingredients, plan to cook, and any help you may need well in advance. Then set up a schedule that will clue you in about when you need to complete each step. The most important thing is to stay organized and on point.
3. Consider Affordable Ingredients
Because a wedding day is a special occasion, many catering companies look to serve more luxurious dishes (filet mignon, anyone?). However, if you’re planning to cater your own wedding day to save money, you will want to fill your menu with more affordable ingredients, like beef (i.e: ground meat for tacos), chicken, or pork (think: barbecue), and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Pasta is also another excellent ingredient to have on hand because the cost is low and the yield is high!
4. Reduce the Amount of Meat
If you’re looking for the most expensive ingredient culprit, it’s almost always meat. To keep your total costs down, watch how much meat you include in your menu. Things like barbecue sandwiches, tacos, pizza, and pasta may involve some meat, but you won’t need nearly as much as a typical plate of meat, vegetables, and starch.
5. Serve Lots Of Fruit And Vegetables
If you think about family parties for birthdays and holidays, especially summer holidays, there are always plenty of salads on the table. That’s because potato salad, coleslaw, fruit salad, traditional salad, and others are relatively inexpensive to make, yet they make a ton! Lean into this concept for your wedding day menu to save.
6. Serve Food Buffet Style
Buffets are always the least expensive option at wedding venues, and they will be the best option for you too! Serving your wedding menu as a buffet means your guests will serve themselves, which helps to keep food hot and served in a timely manner. Plus, you won’t have to order additional plates or dishes to ensure everything is served properly. Not to mention, anything that isn’t served buffet style almost always should be served by a team of servers. That adds more to the cost!
7. Choose Affordable Beverages
The high cost of catering is never limited to the food. In fact, the beverages you serve can add quite a bit to the cost — and fast! So, consider stocking your bar with “lower shelf” items that aren’t from top-name brands. You can also only choose to serve wine, beer, sofa, and water (or some variation of this) to keep your costs in check.
8. Source Affordable Tableware, Glassware, and Cutlery
If you’re hoping to make your wedding more eco-friendly, you will want to contact a local rental company to rent tableware, glassware, and cutlery. However, if you’re open to items you and your guests can toss once your wedding meal is complete, Amazon and even the dollar store have plenty of paper and plastic items that won’t break the bank.
9. Consider Presentation and Serving Ware
If you are going to move ahead with a buffet, you will need to present your meal in a way that allows guests to serve themselves. That means you will need large serving platters, baking dishes, and perhaps Crockpots to keep items hot. You will also want to add serving spoons, forks, knives, napkins, and bread baskets and bowls to the mix. The good news is that you will likely use these items again for future gatherings, so it might be worthwhile to add them to a shower registry so you have them on hand well in advance of your wedding day.
10. Buy Wholesale Or Buy Used
Before you jump to purchase tableware, glassware, cutlery, serving ware, and even vases and live flowers, consider where you could buy used or secondhand. Jump onto Facebook, peruse weekend garage sales, or visit a thrift store. You might be able to find everything you need second-hand for much less!
There are plenty of ways to save money or reallocate your budget while you’re planning your wedding, and it’s definitely possible to cater your own wedding day. With planning, the right menu, and a buffet serving style, you can make your goal a reality.
So, are you planning to cater your wedding day? What’s on your menu? We can keep the self-catering conversations going in our community!