Wedding Caterer Ideas

How to find cheap wedding catering services?

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    The big day is, well, a huge affair, and we all understand that everything must be perfect. You should give careful thought to the food and drinks you provide at your reception. Finding a fantastic wedding caterer is essential, whether you plan on having a sit-down meal or a cocktail hour with passing appetisers.

    It might be difficult to choose a reliable caterer for your wedding when you're also planning the cuisine, the number of guests, and the overall budget. The good news is that if you hire the appropriate wedding caterer, they will be able to assist you figure out all of these details. Start the search by narrowing down a list of caterers you adore if your wedding venue doesn't provide in-house catering or a list of favoured providers. Once you've narrowed your choices down to a manageable number, now is the time to schedule meetings.

    Need Melbourne Wedding Caterers? Not to worry, Boutique Event Group has you covered.

    What makes a wedding catering so expensive?

    When it comes to food, it's common knowledge that lobster is more expensive than tilapia, and that items from organic farms, seasonal markets, and farm-to-table restaurants will set you back more than those from a warehouse club.

    It's not just what you serve, but how you serve it, that makes a difference. It's possible to cater a wedding in one of six different ways.

    • Plated - Similar to a sit-down restaurant, diners order their food on answer cards and then wait for it to be brought to them seated at their tables.
    • In a family-style setting, diners help themselves to food from a communal platter placed in the centre of the table.
    • Meals served buffet-style allow diners to select their own ingredients or have them plated for them by wait staff.
    • Self-serve or managed by a chef who makes meals to request, "stations" are a succession of buffets specialised in different types of cuisine or segments of the same meal (often referred to as an "action" station).
    • Instead of a traditional sit-down meal, guests will be treated to a night of cocktails and hors d'oeuvres.
    • Meal trucks are mobile kitchens that can serve customers anywhere. Guests place their orders at a window, and then wait a short time while their food is prepared.

    In the end, the price tag for any type of food service comes down to three not-so-obvious elements: kitchen setup, number of employees, and average daily calorie intake per diner.

    What are the tips for budget-friendly catering?

    We thought about many of the suggestions here, implemented a few of them, and managed to throw an enjoyable party without going into debt.

    Tips to Reduce Wedding Cocktail Hour Costs

    Take use of these techniques to cut down on the overall expense of the time between the conclusion of the ceremony and the commencement of the reception.

    Encourage Guests to BYOB

    It's not as cheesy as it seems at first. Remember that "BYOB" does not stand for "bring your own flask," though you will likely turn a blind eye to visitors who do so, provided they don't cause a disturbance.

    Include a note on the invitation or on the website to inform guests that alcohol will not be served during the cocktail hour. Then, you may perform one of the following to establish the mood for a classy cocktail hour:

    Invitees can bring the party's trademark drink in premixed form if the recipe is posted or sent out in advance.

    Choose a drink type, like as craft beer, to serve during cocktail hour, and ask attendees to bring their own favourites to share.

    To plan a drinks potluck where everyone brings a different beverage to share, use a shared spreadsheet (or your chosen organising tool).

    These are some suggestions for how a BYOB cocktail hour may appear.

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    Stick to One Drink

    One option for the time between the ceremony and the start of the reception is a BYOB cocktail hour, but if you're not into that idea, you can always keep things simple by serving just one drink. You could:

    • Draw from a keg of your prefered regional brew or cider.
    • Get out the champagne glasses (they're recyclable!) and pop the cork.
    • Provide the establishment's house wine, or buy a case or two of inexpensive red and white to stock up.
    • Make a batch of your favourite drink to share with your spouse or guests.

    Don't stress out trying to choose a drink that will suit everyone at your party; preferences vary widely. Since many people prefer not to drink beer or strong liquor, and other guests may be hesitant to slam down drinks before dinner, white wine may be the safest option.

    Keep the Booze Locked Away

    Cocktails are not required, or even alcohol, to be served during wedding cocktail hours. Lock up the alcohol until dinner time, regardless of whether BYOB is acceptable at your location. Make a distinctive non-alcoholic mocktail in the meanwhile, like your go-to libation minus the alcohol.

    Get Photos Out of the Way Before the Ceremony

    It is common practise for the wedding cocktail hour to double as a way to keep guests entertained while the bridal party takes photographs. It is not necessary to have a long cocktail hour if wedding photographs are taken before guests arrive. A formal cocktail hour might not even be necessary if the ceremony and reception are held in the same location.

    Serve Bar Snacks

    Guests should not be offered heavy appetisers until they have been seated for dinner, or at least brought into the dining room. Snacks like almonds, pretzels, and dried fruit can be served to stimulate hunger during the cocktail hour. Guests that join in these activities are likely to eat less during the formal appetiser round, which will help you save money on wedding food.

    Tips to Reduce Wedding Appetizer Costs

    Whether you serve appetisers during cocktail hour or wait until guests are seated for dinner, you may be able to save money by following these guidelines.

    Put Out an Open Call for Contributions

    What about asking the crowd what they would like to eat as an appetiser? Request that guests sign up on the wedding website or in the invites themselves to bring their favourite homemade or store-bought apps.

    Remember to:

    • Make sure to double-check with your event's location ahead of time to ensure you'll be able to (and think twice about holding your reception at a venue closed to outside caterers – more on that below)
    • Donations may be easily tracked with the use of a spreadsheet.
    • You should set a maximum amount of donations that you feel comfortable managing, bearing in mind that you may have to answer queries from donors ahead of time and collect their gifts on the wedding day.
    • Provide a headcount for the number of servings (most visitors won't be able to prepare for 150 or 200 people, but if everyone brings 25 serves, there will be plenty to go around).
    • Encourage your visitors to report any severe food allergies in advance.
    • If you're planning an all-vegetarian wedding or have guests with severe food allergies, be sure to specify these needs.
    • Be sure you abide by all rules about serving food safely (in some jurisdictions, you may need to prep food on site)

    Limit your hors d’oeuvres served

    While it may seem necessary to provide a wide variety of tasty hors d'oeuvres for your guests to graze on before dinner, the fact is that you can get away with serving no more than three or four different appetisers.

    Have a Wedding Party Potluck

    To put it another way, this is a less daunting take on the crowdsourcing concept. As an alternative to traditional wedding favours, you might have your guests create a version of their favourite app (or one you choose) to be used throughout the reception.

    To the same extent, the rules apply. With fewer people pitching in, you'll need to double-check that you have enough food; depending on the guest count, each person may need to prepare 50 or 75 dishes.

    You may have a cooking marathon the night before the wedding at a cheap commercial kitchen close to the site if everyone in the wedding party is available then. For example, many places of worship will let you use their kitchens for a little price.

    Use Off-the-Shelf Appetizers

    Rather than spending time in the kitchen, buy some inexpensive appetisers such as crudités trays, pita and hummus, and cheese plates (but skip the expensive unusual or sophisticated cheeses).

    Of course the last thing you want is for your visitors to suspect that you're going to slack off during the appetiser round and have someone else handle it for you. If you want to improve your already-available products, use these strategies:

    • Maximize the visual impact of fresh, colourful vegetables by skewering them and asking visitors to assist if required.
    • Instead of using paper plates, put the various appetisers in wine or champagne glasses that can be reused.
    • If you're stuck for topping ideas, try some of your family's old recipes.

    Especially for recipes that use rare or regional components like cheese, type up some cards to designate the dishes and their provenance.

    Avoid Passed Appetizers

    Although passing apps (where waiters round the room providing customers individual appetisers) almost always results in lower consumption than buffet-style apps, it is not always the most cost-effective option. Because of the requirement to compensate the servers and the higher cost of the materials and preparation time, passed apps are often more expensive. (Think of shrimp cocktails, scallops coated in bacon, and small savoury pies with who knows how many components.)

    Eliminate the need for servers and unnecessary fanfare by setting up well-spaced stations where guests may assist themselves to appetisers. This will also help people mingle with one another.

    Offer a Hearty Soup Option

    If it's not too hot, serve a robust soup to your visitors as an appetiser before dinner. When compared to seafood ceviche and Caprese salad, hearty soups like clam chowder and tomato bisque are much more cost-effective.

    Play Up Color Contrasts

    Ingredients for an appetiser that are both visually appealing and inexpensive include seasonal vegetables. A summer garden salad from the farmer's market is nearly guaranteed to be cheaper than a shrimp cocktail or a lamb skewer of the same colour. It's equally stylish to look at.

    Take advantage of a wide range of vibrant, low-priced app choices by Choosing

    • Creating More of Them
    • Putting them where people will see them first, such the edges of buffet tables or stations.
    • Reducing the serving sizes of foods with few colours
    • Colorful substitutes to more expensive items can be used to cut costs, such as substituting sliced mango and peppers for lump crab flesh.

    Tips to Reduce Wedding Dinner Costs

    If you want to save money on the dinner service at your wedding reception, consider adopting these practises.

    Write Off Venues That Require In-House Catering

    If you want to save money on the reception supper, this is the most effective and least time-consuming thing you can do. You can easily find out if outside catering is permitted by calling the locations you're interested in. In the event that a venue's insistence on in-house catering is met with a firm "no," you should cross that location off your list.

    Research Ingredient Costs Ahead of Time

    You need not be well-versed in the costs and availability of individual ingredients. Even so, knowing the average price range for common seafood, produce, meat, and side items might be helpful.

    You will be in a better position to haggle over menu prices or make substitutions in favour of more cost-effective selections if you have a firm grasp on the per-serving costs of both individual components and fully constructed menu options. This is crucial if you are creating your menu from scratch, rather than selecting items from a predetermined list provided by your caterer or venue.

    Keep the Appetizers Coming

    If you're feeling really daring, here's a radical proposal: try going without dinner one night this week. In place of a sit-down meal, serve hefty appetisers during the cocktail hour and keep them coming until the toasts.

    When I go back to one memorable wedding, I remember a combination of appetisers and a formal dinner. They continued serving appetisers until they were ready to serve dinner, which consisted of one small entrée. The goal was to make sure everyone was so full they couldn't notice how little the supper was.

    Go Completely Vegetarian

    If you're not feeling brave enough to forego supper entirely, at least try reducing the amount of meat you consume.

    Filet mignon, prime rib, lamb, and sea bass, to name a few, are among the more pricey kinds of animal protein recommended by wedding caterers. Substitute robust veggies and plant-based proteins like tofu, seitan, Portobello mushroom, eggplant, and cauliflower for these costly meats. Use fancy sauces and dressings to spice things up and keep guests interested.

    Set Up a "Build Your Own" Bar

    The standard dinner service is dull. Create a "make your own" bar with inexpensive condiments to increase guest participation and save food expenditures. Typical concepts include:

    • Sandwiches or burgers piled high with sauces, fresh vegetables, and meat.
    • Traditional Mexican fare like tacos and burritos, with a focus on inexpensive ingredients like ground beef, chicken, and other common meats, and staples like beans and rice.
    • Crisp salads bolstered by chicken, fish, or plant-based proteins.

    If you decide to have visitors "make their own," it is recommended that you set up at least two double-sided stations so that up to four guests can serve themselves the same ingredient at once, hence reducing bottlenecks.

    Do a Basic Buffet

    The self-service alternative is a little less exciting here. Low-cost buffets often have inexpensive yet filling accompaniments, such as:

    • Beans with rice
    • To prepare greens for cooking
    • Casseroles
    • The Potato Salad
    • Cream of potato soup
    • Rolls
    • Veggies cooked in steam
    • Whole ears of corn

    If you're on a budget, stick to a small selection of meat and veggie proteins like:

    • Soybean curds on the grill
    • Portobello mushrooms on the grill
    • Eggplant cooked on the grill
    • Breast of chicken, as an example
    • Cod fillet
    • Ham that's been dragged through the mud
    • Stir-fry

    Go With Simple Serving Stations

    Adding basic, themed serving stations with one or two dishes per station to your buffet will elevate the dining experience. Guests who want grilled tofu or eggplant can be separated from those who want chicken or pulled pig in a visually appealing and practical way. Make sure to properly mark stations and optimise station location for flow to ensure that all guests can move quickly and easily from one area to another, eliminating any potential bottlenecks.

    Serve Family-Style

    You may save money on labour for dinner prep, plating, and service by providing family-style meals, even if you don't like buffets or are concerned about traffic. In a family-style setting, diners are seated and then help themselves to food from shared platters or bowls set in the centre of the table, which both encourages discussion and allows diners to better manage their portions.

    Foods that are ideal for serving a large group are often rather inexpensive. Consider:

    • Lasagna
    • Mac & cheese, maybe with some extra meat to fill you up
    • Stir-fry
    • Casseroles
    • Barbecued beef on buns
    • Fajitas
    • Dishes based on rice

    Stick to Two Entrée Options

    If you insist on serving a typical supper, provide only one vegetarian (or vegan) alternative and one inexpensive meat option.

    Reducing the number of options available helps keep costs down by minimising time spent on preparation and plating, and it also helps keep mistakes from happening during serving. Instead of hooved meats like cattle, lamb, or hog, choose for chicken since it is more affordable and less taxing on the environment.

    Order Takeout

    Wedding buffets with a stack of takeout pizza boxes may not be the most visually appealing option, but they definitely are budget-friendly. Besides, how many visitors are really going to refuse free pizza?

    Consider purchasing in quantity from your go-to local restaurant instead of paying for expensive in-house catering or going with a personalised menu from an outside caterer. The total cost for simple alternatives like pizza, Tex-Mex, and sandwiches should be well under $10 per person, making takeout a terrific option for informal daytime gatherings.

    Most decently large restaurants should be able to provide catering for 150 or 200 people with ample early notice, maybe a week or longer. Safer bets are fast food restaurants like Chipotle, which may accept orders the day before or even the day of delivery. Avoid paying the listed amount at a restaurant without first haggling; many establishments will gladly reduce their pricing in order to quickly sell off perishable goods.

    If you choose this path, discount gift cards can help you save even more money.

    Non-Traditional Cuts of Meat

    There's no rule that says you have to have appetisers, a salad, a main course, and dessert during your wedding reception. The details of your wedding day are entirely up to you.

    If you want to save money on the reception meal, consider having it at a time other than supper. Serving brunch for a morning wedding, heavy hors d'oeuvres, or even a dessert reception are all viable possibilities.

    We've hinted at this before, but consider this your official warning to substitute less expensive or less conventional pieces of meat with more expensive or more conventional ones like fillet, prime rib, and lamb chops. Flap steak and sirloin tips that have been properly marinated are excellent alternatives to more expensive cuts like fillet mignon. Do your homework before meeting with the caterer so you can offer them more affordable options.

    Skip the Wine With Dinner

    There has to be wine served at the reception; I've never been to a typical wedding where there wasn't. Don't get me wrong; I like a glass of wine with dinner as much as the next person, but I've always found it strange to require visitors who are just completing their cocktails to order another round so early in the evening.

    Instead of following tradition, why not allow your guests to drink during dinner? Depending on how much wine is served each glass, even a small wedding reception can use an entire case of wine.

    Price Out Local-Only Menus

    It's possible that seasonal, local cuisines may end up costing less than high-end menus that use items from all around the world. They're also probably better for the environment.

    It's not a bad idea to do some preliminary research on pricing, but keep in mind that small-scale manufacturers may not have the same economies of scale as large-scale industrial food producers. Keep in mind that if you have to stick to a locals-only policy, you may have to buy and prepare part of the food yourself with the help of your visitors.

    Opt for a Tasting Menu

    The logistics of serving a six- or eight-course tasting menu are more complicated and time-consuming than those of serving a main meal that diners can choose to like or dislike. However, if you offer less food overall, you can save money on ingredients, which may outweigh the disadvantages of a slower pace and smaller portions. Imagine this as a novel replacement for dinners consisting solely of hefty apps that deliver the same satisfaction.

    The cost of catering a wedding is substantial. Since the cost increases linearly with the number of attendees, cutting down on invitations may be the first step.

    Stick with food trucks if you're set on your ultimate guest count but still looking to save money. Get a location that isn't too far away and will let them in.

    Need some assistance reserving a caterer for your wedding? If you need assistance locating a caterer for your wedding, we can assist you.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Wedding Catering

    Arranging a set menu is the most affordable option. Set menus are often inexpensive choices, like barbecue, pizza, tacos, falafels or kebabs. A set menu will also help you avoid long lineups. If each guest has to order, then wait while their food is made, the lineup will be terrible.

    How much is food catering for a wedding? It depends on the cost per plate, but most receptions for 100 people cost around $5,000 to $10,000, with average cost being around $7,000.

    For a colleague or acquaintance, $50 to $75 is acceptable. You can work within that range at your discretion. For family or someone close to you, $75 to $100 and even as high as $150 is perfect. Then if you're going as a couple, it's routine to double the amount or keep it at $200.

    How many guests are typically invited to each size wedding? These numbers may vary a little depending on who you're speaking with, but a small wedding typically includes 50 people or under, a medium wedding has a guest list of anywhere from 50-150 guests, and a large wedding has over 150 attendees

    The average wedding gift amount hovers right around $100, which is a great place to start, and you can increase or decrease that based on how close you are. If you're very close or related to the couple (and have the wiggle room in your budget), you may choose to spend more—about $150 per guest (or $200 from a couple).

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