Budget Wedding Planning: The Food!

Food, we all need it. We all love it. And at a wedding, there is probably nothing more that your guests will be looking forward to. Some of your guests may have even skipped lunch to make your wedding on time, so it’s always important to feed them and feed them well. Food can also potentially be a huge cause of stress in planning your wedding day, especially if you have to worry about allergies in close family members, picky eaters, vegetarians, etc. etc. But, don’t stress. There is always a solution.

And Okay, so I don’t want to undermine the value of a great caterer here either. So that’s what I am going to start off with. A great caterer (as well as a great wedding planner) is worth it’s weight in gold. Not only will they know off the top of their head, exactly what is in season, how much food to feed your exact number of guests, which foods will stand up well in your environment, the most popular foods, etc. But they will also have access to a wide variety of foods you may not have readily available, and they will also be able to purchase all of these items at a cost much lower than you will be able to. Add to the fact, that in most cases you’ll be paying for a team of people to take care of the food for you. No burdening a relative, friend, co-worker, etc. No renting equipment to hold and heat food, utensils, the list goes on & on. Sometimes these things are overlooked and by the time you calculate the cost of renting everything you need for your big day, and purchasing and cooking all your own food (time is valuable), you’ve far exceeded the cost and expertise of a great caterer.

Some suggestions on dealing with a caterer? Well, you’re on a budget first of all, so tell them that. Hi, my name is Amy and I am on a budget. Phew! It’s out. Good job. The next step, explain to your caterer what you would ideally like at your wedding. Go all out, give her everything that would make your dream day perfect. You want lobster? Tell them. Now, get a price quote. Chances are, the crazier you go, the higher that number will be. But, what happens if your dream wedding day meal is within your budget through this amazingly awesome,  Super Hero caterer? It could happen. So, tell them your plan. Let’s say the quote is much higher than your budget. Okay. No big deal. Deep breaths. This can still work. Find substitutions for your perfect wedding day meal. You wanted steak & lobster, it’s not happening. So, what about a pasta bar with Seafood Fettucine, and Spaghetti & Meatballs? Serve it with garlic bread and a salad bar, substitute the big cake for tiramisu and you have an Italian inspired, romantic wedding day meal.

Another great suggestion when dealing with your caterer, tell them you only want to serve local and in-season foods. This will cut the cost drastically, and chances are your caterer has already cultivated a relationship with a local produce & livestock provider.  If they haven’t already, your request may spur them in the direction of securing that relationship. Above all, remember that this is a professional you are dealing with. If at any point, they are unable or unwilling to accommodate your needs, be sure to check with another caterer. It’s never a bad idea to take your menu to another caterer anyway, just to see if they can compete with the price. But, never choose a caterer BECAUSE of price…their food may come from Sam’s Club, Costco, or any other unsavory means. Unless you’ve ok’d this in advance, you don’t want your professional caterer using these places since after all, these are all things you could do on your very own.

Alright, so let’s say you have checked with a couple caterers and it’s completely out of your budget. I understand. You can still have a fantastic meal that will please everyone. Stick with the hints and tips I gave you for your caterer previously. Check with some local farms and see if they can work something out with you as far as a bulk price on meat. Shop local farmer’s markets, if it’s in season. Check out my list below for vegetables that are in-season for each season of the year.

Of course, these aren’t the only foods available during these times, but they are some of the most popular and well known. It also makes it a lot easier, if you’re aware of these things whether your doing it yourself, or dealing with a caterer. So, now that you know these things, you can build a cost effective menu around them and begin your shopping. Before shopping though, you need to know how many people you will be having attend your wedding. You should plan for 1 full pound of food per person attending your wedding. If you’re having a 4 course meal, that means you need 1/4 pound of each of the 4 courses. Multiply that by the number of guests you will be having at your wedding and you have your amount. You need an example? Okay. Let’s say you are serving steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, and dinner rolls for 250 guests.

Each guest = 1/4 lb. steak, 1/4 lb. potatoes, 1/4 lb. green beans, and 1/4 dinner rolls.

Multiplied by 250 guests, you have 62.5 pounds of each item to serve all of your guests.

Once you know the amount you’re being charged, you can also figure out your grocery bill before you even hit the grocery store. Don’t forget though, you also need to figure in the costs of heat lamps, food warmers, cooking supplies, you’ll need butter, seasonings, milk, etc. You’ll also need to ask friends and family if they will help chip in, since doing this on your own is going to be a little hard. You’ll also need plenty of freezer space, and plan to make things ahead of time. There are many foods that once prepared, will keep very well if they are properly stored in the freezer. This means freezer wrap, freezer safe bowls and storage containers, etc. will all be needed.

I am overwhelming myself just typing this! Are you overwhelmed? Alright, so this isn’t an option. It’s just too much to add to planning your day, what’s another option? I’ve been to weddings where the bride & groom have went this route and the results were nothing short of delicious. Check with your local groceries stores and ask for pricing on catering, as well as the food options that come with catering. Someone else does all the cooking for you, and now all you need to do is rent or borrow equipment to heat and hold your food. The downside to this option, is that you probably won’t have many options. Most grocery stores have a limited selection of things that they will have on their catering menu. You can curb this pitfall by supplementing things you’d like from specialty stores or outside catering services. You could also choose to take on some of the smaller things for yourself.

Last of all, I think the easiest and cutest way to have a DIY meal for your wedding day is if you’re having an outside wedding. I’m giving you a great tip I saw long ago, that I absolutely LOVE. It’s adorable, and it will have your guests talking for days. First…buy lots & lots of ice. LOTS, probably even some dry ice. Rent or borrow a canoe from a friend or family member. Fill the canoe with your ice & dry ice, and ask your closest family members to bring their most popular dish to pass. Potato salad, bean salad, caprese salad, fruit salad, fruits, etc. and put it all in your canoe. Had I known long ago, that I was going to be doing blog posts about this super awesome canoe, I would have saved the photo…unfortunately it’s long gone, as is the memory of who did this. If you’re reading this, or you know who did, help me out here because I am racking my brain. As it is, this canoe filled with beverages from Arkansas Bride will have to serve as the inspiration for now.

So, that’s it for Budget Wedding Planning today! I hope it’s helped you to come up with some creative ideas on how to save some money for your big day. After all, there are so many other things more worthy to spend your money on, right? Like the new house you love, the honeymoon you’ve always wanted, or just to pad the newlywed savings account. Whatever the reason you’re planning on a budget, there is always a way to cut the cost!

(Source: Arkansas Bride)

Bobbie Sue Portrait SquareHi! I’m Bobbie Sue, I love spending time with my family. Travis & I have two boxer dogs, Kane & Atlas, who are my children. I talk to them, kiss them, carry them around the house (YES!) and they even sleep in my bed. They are my babies and one of the most important pieces of my life puzzle. Read more about me!