Tightwad’s Ways to Save on Wedding Food

Everyone knows that food is one of the biggest components of a successful rehearsal dinner and wedding reception, and one of the biggest costs. With some creative thinking, you can whittle down your list of must-haves to create a workable plan that will make everyone happy.

  1. Ask friends and family if they would be willing to cook for the reception in advance. Perhaps you have a relative who is a budding chef and would like to help out!
  2. Select lower-priced entrees such as chicken instead of beef, or pasta instead of scallops. Simpler vegetables — like broccoli instead of asparagus, for example — will also help cut costs.
  3. Minimize courses. If you’re having a cocktail hour, do you really need an appetizer course? Do you need soup and salad?
  4. Buy in bulk. Food, wine and champagne can be purchased in volume at a substantial discount.
  5. If you move your reception to an afternoon lunch, it can help you save money on food and alcohol charges. Food will be lighter and less expensive and guests will drink less in the afternoon than in the evening. If you choose to have your event catered, there are still lots of options to ensure that you get the most for your money.
  6. Be honest with your caterer about your need to save money. Ask them which are the least expensive entrees and whether a buffet is cheaper than a seated dinner, and work with them to find a good solution to keep your bar tab at a manageable limit.
  7. Ask your caterer about the availability of children’s plates. You can save about 50 percent by ordering these special meals for the people on your guest list who are 12 years and under. A child’s plate is usually a smaller portion that an adult meal and, in fact, often consists of something that will have more appeal to children. Many caterers will not mention the option of children’s plates unless they are specifically asked because they make a larger profit selling adult plates only.
  8. See if a local culinary school could recommend a student or two to cater the event. Who wouldn’t shine with such a terrific opportunity?
  9. Go for a plated dinner. Plated dinners ca3n limit the amount of food you’ll need because people tend to eat less than they would at a buffet.
  10. If you know someone in the restaurant or food service business, ask if they can order certain things for you through a distributor and let you purchase at their cost.

Who is Tightwad?

Tightwad is a gal who likes to make sure she’s getting her money’s worth. She blogs about this mission at tightwadblog.com. Her wedding wasn’t even that fancy, but she was surprised by how quickly everything added up.

Tightwad likes it that being frugal often does double duty as being green, so you’ll find lots of tips about creative reuse in this book.

It is Tightwad’s sincere hope that Tightwad’s Frugal Bride will help you stay within your wedding budget, whether it’s $500 or $500,000. The most important part of your wedding planning journey is that you make it personal — that is what you and your guests will remember forever.

For hundreds more tips on how to save on everything to do with your wedding, come and visit Tightwad and get a copy of her ebook: Tightwad’s Frugal Bride: How to be Fabulous for Less on Your Big Day.

[Editor’s Note: Emma Lotto from Tightwad Blog is a great writer and although I might never get married, she really has some great tips that brides and grooms can easily incorporate into their big day.  Visit her site and check out her eBook!]

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10 thoughts on “Tightwad’s Ways to Save on Wedding Food

  • Great tips! We saved by limiting our guest list and finding a restaurant that had great rates. The food was awesome.

  • Thankfully we’re having our wedding at my girlfriend’s church and they do the reception for free–minus the cost of the food. They even prepare it. HUGE expense taken off. We’re also having an afternoon wedding which really cuts down on the cost…you don’t have to feed the guests as much…;)

  • These are great tips to help a couple cut thier food expenses when planning a wedding. We had many family members offer to help cook and I had an aunt who knew how to make wedding cakes and made our wedding cake as a wedding gift.

  • Similar to 20 and Engaged, we had a tiny guest list. We had our reception at a jazz themed steak house and people could order the most expensive things on the menu and it still ended up being a very cheap wedding reception relative to what most people spend. I didn’t have to have a band or centerpieces or pay room rental fees. It was great.

  • Great post! I haven’t planned a wedding, but I’ve been to a fair number and I can say wholeheartedly that I don’t care at all about the food — so long as there is some! The best wedding food I ever had, I think I was served breaded chicken and potatoes or something. Super simple, and delicious.

    About the kids food, I went to one wedding once where they skipped the children’s plates altogether, and everyone under the age of 12 (and I think some teenagers who were picky) just got a Happy Meal from McDonalds that someone in the bridal party went to pick up before dinner. It was a great idea! Waaaaay cheaper, and the kids prefer it, plus it comes with a toy to entertain them during the speeches. Not exactly classy, but really practical.

    • The McDonald’s thing actually sounds like an awesome idea! I wonder if they cater. I guess I’m just a classy kinda girl. 😉

  • Nice. While the kids meals were cheaper, it was still painful to pay ~$20 for chicken fingers and fries. There was some savings when one of my friend’s ordered the kids meal, though. She says she’s always jealous of the kids at weddings getting fries.
    I honestly think you could do really well having more distant friends cater for you. As long as the couple was laid back, I would be totally willing to do a basic buffet or BBQ with some friends to help out. The other day my spouse offered to be a valet for some friends who are getting married, it’s nice to help and feel like a part of the celebration.

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