Wedding Planning: 4 Ways to Cut Down on Catering Costs

So, you've recently gotten engaged (congratulations!) and are getting started with the process of planning your big day. First of all, if you're feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Yes, there's a lot involved in planning a wedding, but with a little persistence and help from loved ones, everything will work out beautifully.One of the more important decisions you'll make regarding your wedding day is what to serve your guests at the reception. Will you have it catered? Will there be a buffet or a menu? Regardless of which route you are thinking about going, you'll probably realize off-the-bat that wedding catering can be downright expensive, with the average food cost per-guest nearly $70! Fortunately, there are a few simple ways you can cut down on your catering costs.

1. Be Creative With Dessert

We know what you're thinking: how can you possibly have a wedding without a wedding cake? Believe it or not, it's becoming more and more common to skip the large, extravagant cake during the wedding reception. Of course, this doesn't mean you and your guests can't indulge in a delicious celebratory dessert. Instead of a traditional cake, consider setting up a tier of cupcakes. Not only are cupcakes less expensive than your typical wedding cake, but you'll also enjoy the added benefit of not having to pay to have the cake cut. Plus, your guests will enjoy getting to pick out their own cupcakes. It's a win-win situation all around! And, if you are wondering what you will do for your cake cutting ceremony, many companies will include a small cake in their pricing, which you can use for the cake cutting ceremony.

2. Stick to Three Courses

If you think your guests need a five-course meal at your wedding reception, think again--especially if you're planning on holding a cocktail hour with h'orderves or appetizers after the ceremony. More than likely, your guests will be entering the reception hall with some food in their bellies and therefore won't be hungry enough to need a five-course meal. By cutting back from a five-course to a three-course meal, you can save a significant amount of money on your catering costs--and your guests probably won't give that skipped salad or soup a second thought.

3. Select In-Season Options

Depending on where your wedding will be held, there may be certain meat, vegetables, and other foods that will be in-season at the time of your wedding. These items will be much more affordable than out-of-season food items, so working with your caterer to find out what's in- versus out-of-season is a great idea.For example, summer months tend to be the peak time for seafood. Therefore, if you're planning a June or July wedding, consider speaking with your caterer about the possibility of doing a lovely salmon or lobster dish for your wedding. You might be surprised at just how much of a difference this can make.

4. Forget the Open Bar

Finally, don't feel obligated to pay for an open bar at your wedding. After all, you could pay anywhere from $15 to $90 per person for an open bar (depending on the liquor selection you want and the number of guests in attendance). Yikes! Instead of paying for a full open bar, consider offering your guests free beer and wine with the addition of a cash bar. Or, if you'd like your guests to have access to some free liquor, consider offering a couple of signature drinks for your reception and pay to have those included. Your guests will have a great time regardless of whether they have to pay for their drinks or not.Don't let the sticker shock of wedding catering get you down; simply follow the tips outlined here and you could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your wedding catering costs. That means more money to save for your new lives together (or...more money to spend on the honeymoon)!