Budgets + Menus: Ways to Save

'Tis the "season" of the engagement. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Valentine's Day there is plenty of opportunity to find a beautiful, special moment for the ultimate special moment.

That said, many newly engaged couples are embarking on figuring out the nerve-wracking budget crunch.  I have writing quite a bit about wedding trends for 2011 but lets pause for a moment to get some real information on budgets.

When beginning the wedding planning process, creating a budget is a very necessary beginning step. And it’s often one of the toughest. And what is typically the largest wedding expenditure? Yes, you thought correctly…FOOD! So many people really get sticker shock when they see the average cost of feeding 150 people, as a large chunk of your overall budget goes to feeding your guests {in addition to the venue they will be eating in, the chairs they will be sitting on, the tables they will be sitting at (with linens! and flowers!) and the plates and utensils they will need to eat with}.

Going all out with a seven course elaborate meal is not necessary. The food you serve can be simple food bars {a much nicer idea than buffets}, a light brunch, or a variety of tasty desserts or hors d’oeuvres {Even after writing that word hundreds of times I still have to look ups the correct spelling!}.  But yes, you do need to serve your guests SOMETHING and it should correspond with the style and time of day of your wedding.

Ways to save on the dinner portion of your wedding day {and a word to the wise, if you are serving anything but a full meal, be sure to note that on your invitations!}:


  • Host a morning wedding ceremony followed by brunch around 11:00am {omelet station anyone?}
  • Host a late night wedding ceremony followed by "Desserts + Dancing" at 9:00pm
  • For a tea reception, begin your ceremony between the hours of 1:00 and 3:00 pm {tea! scones! pastries!}


  • For a full meal, it does not need to be fancy. Sometimes the best meals are the comfort meals. Serve a delish roast with assorted grilled veggies, a salad and a mashed potato bar and voila! Instant comfort. Instant hit.
  • Cocktail hours are typically not strictly necessary so consider seeing each other prior to the wedding or at least keeping post-ceremony photos to 20 minutes tops. If you decide to go this route, go ahead and ask your guests to be served. Chances are, they have already waited an hour or so at the ceremony and you want them to enjoy themselves, not starve themselves!
  • Keep in mind what is seasonal and what is not. Strawberries + January is not budget friendly. Plus fresh, in season food always tastes better!
  • Pass hors d’oeuvres: Have waiters pass appetizers during the cocktail hour instead of setting up stations. You will pay a little more for service, but can cut food costs by controlling quantity. People are picking up one piece at a time instead of approaching a display of shrimp and loading their plate.


  • Its math, people. The more guests you have the more your catering bill will be. Consider what is most important to you: a large wedding or a nicer menu?


  • If your venue will allow it, bring in your own alcohol from a local liquor store. Depending on what you serve, this can cut your bill from $23 per person to $7. Consider buying from discount clubs like Costco, which sell alcohol to nonmembers.
  • If you serve a full open bar, your bill could be astronomical. Consider a Limited bar that serves wine + beer + one signature drink or you can drop the Sig drink and save even more.
  • If you must have champagne, serve it later in the evening after the cake has been cut and served. Many guests leave shortly after the cake has been served and you will serve less champagne.

If you have any other ideas or ways to cut your food bill please share! Or, if you have any questions you are always welcome to ask. :)

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