If you missed part 1 of my series on how to save money on your wedding, click here to read it!
Part 1 focused on a few early planning decisions that can help you keep your budget down. This post will focus specifically on catering choices you can make to help minimize costs.
1. Buffet vs. Plated Service
There's one big reason why buffet service costs less than plated service: staffing. The caterer needs to bring more people if each meal will be individually plated and served to guests. When you choose buffet service, waitstaff can focus on keeping water glasses filled and clearing dirty dishes, while only a few staff members are needed to monitor the buffet station and replenish foods as necessary.
2. Stationary vs. Passed Hors d'oeuvres
Along the same lines, a stationary table of charcuterie, fruits, cheeses, and crackers requires far less personnel to manage than small trays of passed appetizers. Even if you want to serve something interesting, like miniature ahi tuna cones, caprese salad spears, or gazpacho shooters, you can still make use of stations to cut down on the number of staff needed. Another bonus: your guests can find what they want at the station, rather than having to wait for the one server who has the gazpacho to wander into her vicinity!
3. Wedding Cake
Most couples, even if they're not serving wedding cake as the exclusive dessert, still want to have the cake cutting ceremony. Wedding cakes are priced by the number of people they will serve, and more elaborate decorations can spike the price pretty quickly. One classic cost-saving measure is to order a small, nicely decorated cake to be the showpiece that the couple will cut for the photos, and then order sheet cakes to be cut behind the scenes and served to the guests.
Sheet cakes don't have to be elaborately decorated, and are actually easier to slice and plate. You can have them made in multiple flavors, just like if you were ordering a large multi-tiered wedding cake.
Some couples forego a wedding cake altogether and serve cupcakes, cake pops, or even doughnuts. YUM!
4. Homemade Desserts
In some parts of the country and in some cultures, it's common for family members of the couple to make cookies or other desserts to populate the dessert table. This can be in lieu of or in addition to a wedding cake. This idea really only works if your family is local to the wedding location. If your guests are flying in from far away, asking them to bake and bring desserts is an unwanted burden. But in the right circumstances, homemade desserts are a great way to save money and personalize your wedding even further, with, say, you and your spouse-to-be's favorite childhood cookies. Just add milk!
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