Monday, January 25, 2010

Q&A: Affordable Catering

I've spent the last few days sicker than a dog, so please bear with me as I pull out a recent Q&A that I was emailed a bit ago. I'm always flattered when a bride turns to me for advice, and I hope that my experience in our budget wedding can be helpful!

Q: My fiance and I are trying to spend around $5000-$6000 and your wedding really inspired me. I was wondering if you had any tips on searching for a caterer. It seems like it can be the most expensive part of it all, and I know your budget was fairly limited in that area, too. Thanks!
A: I'd be happy to share my experience with our catering and how we made it possible in our budget! Catering was one of our most expensive costs, and it's usually determined by the number of people you're feeding, the fanciness of the meal, and specific day/time you're needing it served. 
I started by searching for a well known caterer who had great local reviews and I spoke with them about my budget. Luckily, they were able to work with me and allow me with the flexibility to look over the menu and pick and choose what I wanted. For example, I didn't feel like we needed iced tea for an evening wedding, so we scratched it and saved some money. We went with a cheaper version of fruit and cheese for the appetizers, and chose to provide our own eco-friendly paper plates, serving ware, and cups instead of the caterer's plastic and styrofoam ones. We skipped dessert all together, bought our wine from Trader Joe's, and rented a couple kegs for the beer. 
Another thing that greatly reduced the price was that we chose to have it served buffet style, meaning everyone had to stand in line. We only had 80 guests so that was possible, although not ideal. It was the only way we could afford the quality of food though, so we were willing to compensate. The cost is also of course dependent on what style of food you want to provide. We were having a pretty laid back wedding so at one point I was even considering an affordable barbecue option. Of course, if you're having a black tie event this probably wouldn't work. If you're not finding what you want through the local big wigs, try going through a restaurant. Ethnic food usually falls into a cheaper category and a lot of restaurants are eager to work with you. I've even known of people ordering sack lunches for their picnic afternoon wedding! Think outside the box a bit and don't be afraid to ask around, there's something out there that will be affordable and provide you quality, yummy food. 
Think of anything I missed? Please feel free to share your thoughts!


Ruthy G. said...

Hey Cori,

We are actually using the same caterer...question...we are doing a buffet as well but we are paying for staff (so i'm assuming they will bus the tables and such). It seems like the service cost just as much as the food..was that the case for you?

Cori Jessy said...

I honestly don't remember the cost of the service alone, we were quoted the cost all together, but it wasn't equal to the food! I'll try to dig up some documents and email you more detail.

Anonymous said...

I've been to two weddings that were potlucks! On the response cards guests said if they were bringing bread, side dish/veggie, or appetizer. The bride and groom provided the meat and drinks. It was a lovely way to incorporate community at the wedding - because isn't that what a wedding is all about - friends and family support of two people becoming united?

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