One of the most expensive aspects of a wedding is the food. Catering can take up a great portion of the wedding budget. When you have your wedding at a venue that requires you to go with their catering, you’re looking at about $40/plate and up. So that means for 100 people, you’re spending a minimum of $4,000 just on food. And that’s on the cheap end! When I was looking up places to have our wedding, we saw food and beverage minimums¬†between $7,500 and $10,000. That’s about $75-100 per plate, and sometimes the food is hit or miss! In this economy, that’s absolutely unacceptable. So for those brides who want to save money on your catering budget, this is the route I suggest:

Choose a Venue Where You Can Bring Outside Caterers

Unfortunately, the wedding industry is full of sharks, profiting off the happiest day of your life. They’re not all that way, but many places are. They know many brides will spare no expense when it comes to the day they’ve been dreaming about all their life. Instead, take matters into your own hands. Find a venue where you can bring outside caterers. An in house caterer may sound convenient, but it can get very pricey. When you have options, you have room to negotiate.

Check With Your Favorite Restaurant

Many restaurants do outside catering, and have great prices. One of my favorite restaurants had great catering prices, and more options than many of the venues with in house caterers. If you’re a frequent customer, tell them that, and let them know you’re really interested and having their food at your reception. Restaurants may be more flexible with their prices, and many times they will give you a lot more bang (food) for your buck. In some cases, you might even be able to get some of their restaurant workers to serve the food.

Choose Lunch Over Dinner

There are “prime times” for weddings, where you’ll pay top dollar for premium time slots. You will most certainly pay more for a Saturday evening wedding than you will for a Sunday afternoon. If your heart isn’t set on a particular date and time, consider having your wedding during the afternoon, where you can have lunch as opposed to dinner. Lunch portions are sometimes smaller, but always cheaper. That way, you can have the same great food for a greater price.

BYOB & Cake

Another ridiculously priced aspect in the catering budget is the booze and the cake. If you have a bakery in mind, go with them. This is also a great opportunity to support small businesses when it comes to your cake. You could get some Cake Boss quality at your local bakery if you show them your ideas. Our cake came out amazing! When it comes to the alcohol, ask if you can bring your own to the venue. You can stock up on all your favorite liquors and champagnes at places like BevMo or ordering ahead online. Find your own bartender, and make it happen!

BYOF: Bring Your Own Food

Depending on where you’re having your wedding, your best bet may be to provide your own food, and just hire chefs to cook it or servers to handle the food. This may be your best option when it comes to saving money on the food bill. You buy the food from wherever you’d like. This will save you money on markup, especially if you use store sales and coupons. Either you can make the food yourself and have a team of people serve it, or buy the food for the chefs, and they make the dishes. I watched Extreme Couponing and one lady spent about $150 on thousands of dollars worth of food. It was genius! When I renew my vows, this will most certainly be an option.

These aren’t the only ways to cater your wedding on a budget. What are your suggestions?