How to Save Money on your Wedding: Dinner, Drinks, and Dessert

Via Society Bride

Welcome to the fourth post in our series about how to save money on your wedding! If you haven’t already, check out the other posts we’ve done so far:

Getting Started
Stationery and Favors
Ceremony and Reception

In this post, we’re discussing one of the most important aspects of the evening: FOOD AND DRINK! While many couples want to provide amazing food and unlimited drinks, they also want to do so without breaking the bank. Using our knowledge of the catering and beverage service industry, we’ve put together a list of ideas that can help you save, while still getting what you want for your big day.


  • For appetizers, consider having an appetizer station instead of passed appetizers, since passed appetizers generally cost more because of the extra staff that’s required
  • If you’re okay with providing cheese trays and fruit platters from the grocery store, check with your caterer to see if they will allow you to do so, since it will probably be less expensive (obviously if you want things like stuffed mushroom caps or baby back ribs, leave these to the caterer since it will be more hassle than it’s worth to provide these yourself)
  • Don’t go crazy with appetizers – you will probably be okay with 2-4 items
  • Choose items that are less expensive in general (for instance, whereas a shrimp platter could be around $15.00 per person, chips and salsa could be closer to $4.00 per person)
  • Ask your caterer if you can provide appetizers for about 80% of the guest count, since you probably won’t need them for your whole guest count
  • If you’re having a Friday wedding, you may want to consider skipping appetizers altogether, since the ceremony will be later than a Saturday or Sunday wedding
  • Along the same lines as passed appetizers, a plated meal usually costs more than a buffet-style meal because of the extra staff required to be in the kitchen plating up the food (our rule of thumb when doing plated meals is to charge about $2.00 more per person to cover that extra staff)
  • Check with your caterer to see if they have a kids price for children (sometimes caterers will even offer a “kids meal” of chicken tenders and mac and cheese, for example)
  • Skip the bread baskets at each table – this way, your guests won’t fill up on rolls, and they’ll actually eat all the good food you’re paying for!
  • Although you may have your heart set on china, consider a less-expensive form of dinnerware like Masterpiece disposable dinnerware¬†(you will have to check with your venue to make sure this is allowed)


  • Order a small “Bride and Groom” cake for picture purposes and get large sheet cakes from the grocery store to be served to your guests
  • Get a larger cake from the grocery store and put the finishing touches on yourselves (lace, fresh flowers, etc.)
  • Opt for fresh flowers rather than fondant flowers, since fondant flowers can be very pricey
  • Skip the cake altogether and go for something less traditional, like assorted mini desserts, pies, a s’mores bar, or even an ice cream sundae bar!
  • Instead of a full bar, offer limited alcohol options such as two signature cocktails and two different types of beer
  • Limit the open bar to cocktail hour and after dinner (usually your guests will not be getting up to get drinks during dinner anyway)
  • Provide your own alcohol and hire only bartenders (you’ll have to check with your venue to see if they will require you to purchase liability insurance for the event)
Happy planning!

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