Apart from the venue & (sometimes the honeymoon!) the wedding food will be one of the biggest parts of your budget so it’s important to spend it wisely but also bear in mind what is involved in the catering cost itself and ensure that your quote covers everything so there are no stressful surprises before the wedding.
Catering quotes should include the following- Amazing food of course, staff including the chefs & the food waiting staff, crockery & cutlery & all ancillary items. cruets, bread baskets etc. laying up, kitchen equipment & VAT as well as event management to ensure service on the day is perfect.
We always offer suggestions on saving money and the following are a few tips to help without a need to compromise on your day, for instance booking a late ceremony to reduce the food you will need to serve will simply leave you feeling on the day that it was all a little rushed, and evening food shouldn’t be a huge part of your budget a 1pm church ceremony & a 2pm ceremony at your venue are ideal times for a relaxed day to fit everything in & time to just enjoy the day too.
So the obvious part of how much you spend is how many people are coming, so give plenty of thought about who you invite, other than close family & friends I also say to our couples, invite people that you still want to be enjoying a night out with 20 years later, people who will always value being part of your day. It’s also ok to just invite immediate family children, most parents will enjoy a day off and appreciate the cost to yourselves. If you have a large budget and just want everyone to be there then that’s wonderful but if not take another look at the guest list, it is hard because you may worry that people may be offended but explain that you are limited to numbers by your venue and then invite more guests to the evening reception instead (& make sure to feed them!)
Reduce your courses
A really good way to save a substantial amount on your catering is to serve canape & a 2 course wedding breakfast, this is a much better option than having no canapes & 3 courses.
Guests will not have had lunch before the ceremony and often a light if any breakfast..so by the time the ceremony is over or they have arrived at the church they are hungry and of course the first thing offered is usually a glass of bubbly on a very empty stomach, so canapes are essential for a happy wedding, without canapes guests will be asking what time they will be eating & can get a little restless during the reception. However an exciting choice of canapes will keep them happy & engaged and dare I say it less wobbly! It also makes your menu choosing easier as you should be able to choose a wider variety to cover more tastes & dietary requirements. If there is a starter you have set your heart on ask if this can be served as a canape in mini version. For instance we have a beautiful House smoked duck starter, so for a canape we just wrap a slice of the Duck around a piece of orange or poached pear and pop on a skewer.
Most caterers will provide a form of afternoon teas & they are often considerably cheaper but are a good interactive wedding breakfast , we would recommend a more substantial high tea with sandwiches etc., plus savouries such as mini pies & tarts, or more of a pic nic feel with shared platters of meats, cheeses, salads, breads etc.. then finishing with cake stands of mini desserts & scones with cream & jam. These are of course more suitable to Summer weddings
We would suggest offering some hot food in the evening such as bowl food for around £ 10 per head, a traditional finger buffet is not a good idea after afternoon tea, too many sandwiches! but bowls of tagines, mac’n’cheese, stew & mash always go down well half way through the dancing.
Family style dining
For a winter version of the afternoon tea, big dishes of a slow cooked dish of Beef & red wine with bowls of mustard mash & vegetables which a guest serves may be offered as a reduced winter menu to help your budget, we offer a Winter Sparkle menu offering dishes that are less labour intensive or require less service staff for instance. Within this menu we offer whole joints of slow cooked pork with bowls of crackling or boned whole chickens that have been stuffed & roasted & brought to the table on boards for a nominated guest to carve, wearing a chef’s hat of course, great photo opportunity and a way to save on the catering cost, so ask for any winter, midweek menus that your caterer may have.
To provide evening food or not, this of course depends on whether you are having evening guests, if you are then you really need to offer them food in the evening but keep it at a reasonable amount. We normally recommend serving 50% of the day guests and all of the evening guests, to avoid waste & guests missing out, we nearly always offer evening food to the guests from trays so we can also ensure the evening guests are fed. Theremay be a minimum spend per head however to ensure there are enough staff to serve and that everyone should be offered some food, though more to the evening guests, most day guests will get a little peckish during the evening, especially as the drinks may be flowing.
You shouldn’t consider spending more than £ 6-8 per head for all your guests for evening food based on the calculations above
If you’re not having evening guests then simply add a cheese course to the wedding breakfast menu and ask that this be set out a couple of hours later , it only needs to the equivalent of a half portion per person but of course there will be staff charge to consider.
We are often asked to serve clients wedding cakes as the dessert and this isn’t always suitable, you would need twice as much cake, for instance a 14” base cake can be cut into a 100 2.5cm finger size pieces but would only provide 20 slices of cake, so as well as the extra cake to pay for there is also the crockery & cutlery, staff to plate & serve etc.. so we prefer to turn this on it’s head and serve a dessert as a wedding cake, this of course can only be with ambient style desserts but especially our Baked cheesecakes, we offer a two tier such as White chocolate & berry plus a Salted caramel both tiers garnished with chocolate shards & a few of the table flowers, they just need to be cut once the main course is finished or at the end of the speeches if before the meal. We don’t charge any extra for this service, it works really well & no wedding cake to eat for weeks after the wedding. So discuss this idea with your caterer.
One final piece of advice is to research the catering at your venue before confirming that it all fits in your budget, having a stunning venue and hungry guests won’t make for a perfect wedding.
And finally we’re often asked why is it called a ‘wedding breakfast’..the answer .. because it’s the first meal you will share as newly weds! Enjoy!