How to Cut Your Wedding Food Bill – and Why You Should

Food is typically the biggest expense of any wedding, even though it’s the first thing your wedding guests will forget. Any money you save on your food bill can be redirected to areas like better entertainment, and perhaps a photo booth, that create wonderful enduring memories of your big party. Here are some ways to reduce your food expense without sacrificing anything.

Ask about options for a buffet dinner, plated dinner or family-style dinner. Buffet or family style is less labor-intensive for your caterer, and may save you money. Then again, it may not. But ask!

Ask if a dish can be made with alternate meats, sauces, pastas, etc. Beef costs less than veal. Chicken costs less than pheasant. Your caterer may be able to substitute with no appreciable change in flavor.

Do kids eat more cheaply than adults? Ask whether your caterer charges less for a kids’ meal, and what age limit applies to kids’ meals. Let the caterer know how many kids’ meals you’ll need.

You don’t need 7 courses. Does anybody really need sorbet? It’s fine for a sky’s-the-limit wedding. But rolls, soup-or-salad, entrée and dessert are fine for most weddings; and dinner ends faster, so there’s more time for dancing.

Cater only the entrée. You can buy inexpensive side dishes in bulk.

Provide your own appetizers. A caterer’s appetizers can get expensive. You can buy perfectly good appetizers at Costco or your favorite supermarket. And serving appetizers means your guests won’t be as hungry at meal time; so your serving sizes can be smaller.

Serve “fillers” – especially at a buffet. Popular foods like potatoes, beans, bread and pasta are less expensive than steak or prime rib. A guest who fills up on starches, doesn’t need as much of the main course.

Buy in-season. If you’re serving fish or wild game or poultry, seasonal food is less expensive. The same applies to fruits and vegetables.

Hire a food truck.  A great way to bring in late evening snacks like pizza, hot dogs, tacos, cheeseburgers, etc. to keep the dancers’ energy up.

Potluck. This option may be too extreme for some couples. Asking guests who are already bringing gifts to also bring a dish to pass may seem tacky to many people. But if your friends and families already know you are of modest means, a potluck dinner and celebration may prove immensely popular.

With the money you can save on your food bill, you may be able to hire a real DJ instead of a Craigslist $200 DJ… or even hire a band instead of a DJ, if that’s what you prefer. Your guests will remember the fun they had dancing, long after they’ve forgotten what they ate. Spend wisely.

To learn more about Fourth Estate Audio’s incomparable service, call me at 630.654.4440. I’m here to help.

© Fourth Estate Audio, 2014 – Jay Congdon is president of Fourth Estate Audio, a professional Chicago DJ and Chicago Wedding DJ company.

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