The reception meal can be one of the largest wedding expenses. Thankfully, there are several ways to cut costs without sacrificing taste or quantity.
• Consider Different Dining Styles: One easy way to save money is to trade in the traditional plated meal for a buffet or family style option. “This keeps labor costs for the catering company down, and savings can be passed on to clients,” says AJ Ghazanfari, Catering Director at A1 Catering. If you are looking for a more elegant choice, food stations may fit the bill.
• Supply Some of the Food: Another effective way to reduce catering costs is to provide some of the food items yourself. Some couples might supply their own alcohol, while others take on a larger cooking role. “We have had clients who we provided proteins to, and they had more of a potluck that was customary in their culture,” Ghazanfari says. • Keep Staff Low: Consider catering services that provide their own event staff or hire your own. “Spending $40-$80 on a teenager looking for some extra cash can save hundreds of dollars in staffing charges from a catering company,” he says.
• Where to Not Cut Costs: There are certain areas where one should certainly not cut costs. First, do not under-order food—unless you want disgruntled guests. Next, do not skip over a day-of wedding coordinator. “This is not something you want your mom or friend doing,” Ghazanfari says. “You need a person in charge.” And finally, hire licensed bartenders; the cost will be well worth it.
By Manya Goldstein • Photo by Christina Lily