It’s estimated that 50% of a wedding’s reception budget goes towards food.
Put into context, that’s around $5,000. It’s no wonder that saving some extra cash on the food might be one of your top priorities. Here are a few tips to help you keep the expenses down while still giving your wedding guests a good time.
1. Use the Wedding Cake for Dessert
Most of your guests won’t mind if you don’t offer three or four different types of desserts. Depending on the size of the reception, the main wedding cake might be all you need. Perhaps look into having different flavoured cakes for different layers of the wedding cake for a bit of variety. A wedding I went to recently had a three-layered cake, White Chocolate Mud, Coconut Rum Chocolate Mud and a traditional fruitcake. Serve with custard or ice cream – it was delicious – and frugal!
Alternatively, having a nice small (inexpensive) wedding cake with additional sheet cakes in the kitchen can save you a lot of cash. Cupcakes are super cute, but they can really add up cost wise as decorating each individual cupcake is expensive!
2. Don’t Have a Wedding Cake at All!
There are so many options now that people don’t need a wedding cake! Having a beautiful pile of sugary doughnuts arranged into a cake (like above) is a cheap and beautiful way to celebrate your wedding – and for your guests to enjoy!
Other wedding cake alternatives include:
- A Cheese Wheel Wedding Cake
- An Oreo Biscuit Stack
- A selection of beautiful pie’s (who doesn’t love pie!)
3. Hire a Pizza Oven
Pizza Oven weddings are HUGE now – I’ve been to one myself – and they are just delicious! The pizza oven will be set up a few hours before the reception, then guests can just order whatever pizza they like, or the pizza person will just keep cooking and everyone can take huge slices of all types of pizza!
4. Plan the reception between meal times
If your reception is at 6pm, you are going to have a lot of hungry guests expecting dinner. Not so much at 2 or 3pm. If you plan it right you can keep everybody happy with just a light meal, sometimes only dessert. It helps to make sure your invitations specify the type of meal you plan to serve.
5. Hire a Mobile Roast Company
There are mobile catering companies around now that can do roasts with all the trimmings and even dessert for a ridiculously cheap price. They will even serve it for you! I’ve seen some advertised as low as $10/head – so it’s worth looking into!
I Googled Mobile Roast Companies in Australia and the following seem popular:
- The Golden Roast Company
- The Spit Roast Company (Sunshine Coast based)
- Swagmans Roast
- Carve It Up Catering
- Hot Rod’s Roast (Melbourne)
- Aussie Ripper Roasts
6. Food Trucks are a Fun Option
Food trucks are another great option. With so many options now you can choose all your favourite food fare! I’m a big fan of taco trucks!
To find a food truck in your area, try some of these websites:
- Australian Wedding Food Truck Guide
- Sydney Food Trucks
- List of the 10 Best Adelaide Food Trucks
- The Italian Job Food Truck (Byron Bay, Gold Coast and Brisbane)
7. Order Takeaway Food
If your wedding is a lovely casual affair, why not pre-order some of your favourite takeaway dishes from a restaurant you love, and have them deliver piping hot to the wedding! This works well if your wedding guest list is under about twenty people. Think Chinese food, pizza and beer or Indian. Place the food into beautiful dishes and put it in the middle for everyone to be able to help themselves!
8. Have a Grazing Table and No Sit Down Meal
Grazing Tables are very 2018 – and if you have a friend that can do it for you at a reasonable cost, then you could potentially save thousands of dollars in wedding food. The good thing is there is minimal clean-up and and it looks incredible!
9. Hire students from a Culinary School
Students are often eager to get a job and willing to work for less than professional caterers, and the food is usually just as good. Find a local culinary school and inquire to see if they offer special catering services. Alternatively, the ladies from places like the CWA are old hands at catering for crowds, and man can these ladies cook! Perhaps approach a local group or charity to see if they can cater the event for you!
10. Serve Finger Food Instead of a Sit Down Meal
Some weddings set up an open buffet where the guests can help themselves to everything they like. Passing around finger food or appetizers limits the amount that people eat, thereby decreasing your food budget. Finger food can be classy and light on the hip pocket, think about rice paper rolls, mini quiches etc. Delicious and filling!
Plus if you are making the food yourself, this is a great option to save big bucks as you can cook and freeze ahead of time, then get some helpers in the kitchen to reheat, plate and the younger set can take the platters of food around to your guests.
Fantastic and frugal options for Wedding Finger Food include:
- Mini Sliders (mini burgers)
- Noodle Boxes
- Lasagna Cups
- Tomato and Bocconcini Skewers
- Mini Caramelised Onion Tartlets
- Chicken Rice Paper Rolls
- Beer Battered Mushrooms
- Shepherds Pie Cupcakes
11. Offer Fewer Menu Options
At a sit-down dinner with multiple dinner options, caterers will usually charge an overall rate that covers the most expensive choice on the menu. If you only have 2 options that are similarly priced, you can avoid spending a lot of money. You could also offer a buffet bar with pasta or something similarly economic.
A friend of mine is hiring a renown Spanish paella cook for her wedding. There will be three choices, meat, seafood or vegetarian paella. Guests will eat from noodle boxes with disposable cutlery.
12. Offer Kids meals
What do you think kids would go for first – a filet mignon or chicken fingers? Giving the kids smaller meals is usually a less expensive option that caterers offer for big events. The kids will be happier, and so will your wallet.
13. Buy Your Cake from the Supermarket
I found this AMAZING cake transformation video on Facebook, transforming three simple cakes from the local supermarket into a wonderful wedding cake that looks like it cost a fortune! I love this idea! If I ever get married again – I’m so using this!
14. Buy your own alcohol
Instead of relying on the catering service to provide all of the alcohol for your reception, which usually comes with a steep price markup, hit up a local grocer or liquor store to load up on alcohol at the normal shelf price. Many stores will take back unopened bottles, and you can always hold onto the partially finished ones for later.
15. Have Your Family Cook Buffet Style
Remember having a progressive dinner in times gone by, where you would go to different houses and have a different course at each place? Well what about having the amazing cooks in your family bring their infamous dishes you can serve it buffet style. Like a pot-luck style dinner!
Food in lieu of gifts is a great way to have amazing food without the huge price!
These are just some ways to save money on a wedding – do you have more great ideas we can add?