Choosing a caterer for your big day is one of the major decisions you will have to make. It is no secret that wedding costs add up quickly and with there being so many options within your catering decisions, this may seem like a good place to cut down on some of your budget. There is no harm in trying to trim some costs, but not everything you think is going to save you money will actually do so. I am here to explain some misconceptions when it comes to catering and ways to save. Get the most out of your caterer with these four tips, learn what will actually save you money and what only sounds like it will.
- Thinking an all vegetarian event will save you money
It makes sense when you initially get the idea, but when it comes time to crunch the numbers, you may be surprised. While steak can be pricey, it doesn’t mean that vegetarian options would save you much money. Instead of looking at meat vs no meat, consider the products. Mushroom ravioli with truffle oil can cost just as much, if not more, than some meat entrees. Take into consideration the products used with each dish when you are choosing your menu items. If something is imported or out of season, it may add a few extra bucks per person.
- Assuming action stations are cheaper
Actions stations are a great addition to a wedding! They engage your guests, allow them to pick how they want their food, and they can catch up with family and friends while they wait their turn. However, with each action station comes an additional attendant or two to help serve guests – and that means extra staffing cost for you. When considering action stations, don’t look at just the price per person for the station. Ask your caterer how many staff members are required to work each station you are interested in. If having solely actions stations breaks the wedding bank, choose one action station that is a must-have, and ask your caterer to help you find the right buffet to compliment it.
- Ordering less hors d’oeuvres than your anticipated head count
It may sound crazy, but it happens more often than you’d think. If you have 200 guests attending, and only have the budget to feed hors d’oeuvres to 60 of them, it’s time to come up with a new plan. Think of it from the guest’s perspective – if you attended a wedding and heard people rave about an hors d’oeuvre, you’d want to try it, wouldn’t you? To avoid this, choose lesser priced hors d’oeuvres that you can order more of, or ask your caterer about their display selection. You want to make sure whatever is available to guests is available to all guests.
- Paying for an open bar for half of your guests
This is not a reality. Even if his side doesn’t drink at all, how will the bartender know if they are part of the groom’s side? And how will they regulate it? If you have 250 guests and think only 100 will drink, look into other bar options. Venues and caterers offer a variety of options. If you don’t like the idea of a cash bar, consider drink tickets or a consumption bar. Both are paid by you, but they can be more affordable alternatives in this case. With drink tickets, there are different tiers of pricing depending on the type of bar available. You can purchase as many drink tickets as you wish, and then distribute them amongst the guests you know will drink. An easy way to do this is including it with their place card. Once their tickets run out, they can have the option of purchasing drinks. A consumption bar means every drink has a set price (which also depends on which tier bar you have available) each drink ordered gets tallied throughout the event. You will then get billed after the event for those drinks served. You can set limits to this as well. If your bar budget caps at $2,500, the bar can turn into a cash bar at that point. Most caterers and venues are great about allowing you to extend the cap as the night goes on as well.
It is easy to see why Brides and Grooms may see some of the above options as smart money saving ideas before they are really looked into. It is important to make sure you evaluate and compare your options before actually making a decision. Don’t cheat your guests out of something delicious by thinking you are saving a few bucks when in reality, you may not be. Don’t stress, caterers are well aware that there is always a budget to aim within when planning a wedding. A good caterer will work with you and be able to make suggestions so that you will be happy with your food choices and your spending!