How To Cater Your Own Wedding On A Budget
Money,  Weddings

How To Cater Your Own Wedding On A Budget

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The first thought that comes into my head when someone says ‘How do I cater my own wedding on a budget?’ would be ‘Don’t!’. I catered my own wedding and massively regretted it. However, I did learn a lot too, so today I’m going to share with you some tips on ideas for how to cater your own wedding on a budget.

How To Cater Your Own Wedding On A Budget

Catering your own wedding is a huge commitment and a massive challenge, one that only gets bigger the more guests you have. However, it is possible.

The first thing I would say it put someone else in charge of the food on the big day. Even if you do all the organising beforehand, you’ll want to relax and enjoy your special day without worrying about the food. Give them a list, instructions, texts whatever they need to get the job done.

Should You Cater Your Own Wedding?

Catering your own wedding is a lot of work and a lot of stress. Here are some things to consider before you get started:

Will it actually be cheaper? – Cost is often a big factor as to why people want to cater their own weddings. But there are additional costs such as hiring glassware and cutlery that you need to factor in as well as how much your value your time.

Do you have helpers? – If you’re catering your own wedding you’ll definitely some help from friends and family – make sure they know exactly what is required and whether they’ll miss anything such as photos or part of the ceremony.

Have a plan B – Always have a plan B in case something goes wrong- even if it’s only ordering 20 pizzas from your local Dominos – wedding guests will always expect to be fed!

Lunch and Dinner – Many weddings have a wedding breakfast followed by more food served in the evening. So that’s two lots of food. Think about whether this is something you can realistically do yourself or look at alternatives such as having a later wedding ceremony or a cheese wedding cake that then becomes evening food.

Logistics – Think carefully about the logistics of catering your own wedding. Does your venue allow it? Do you have enough fridge/freezer/oven space to cater to a large number of guests? How will the food get to the venue? Does it need to be kept hot? Who will do the clearing up/washing up/ putting away when everything is finished?

Plan Ahead – Plan for nibbles to be out around your reception venue in case there are any delays with the food.

So here are some ideas and ways you can cater your own wedding on a budget and a few options that are probably best avoided too.

Cater Your Own Wedding On A Budget: Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea would be one of my go options for catering my own wedding on a budget. Scones and cakes can both be bought relatively cheaply and as there is no hot food or actual cooking to be done is easy for someone else to take the reigns on the day.

In fact, fully loaded cake stands can be placed on the tables before the ceremony (as long as their not left for more than an hour or two) meaning no-one will be missing the ceremony to sort the food.

Sandwiches can be made the night before the wedding and stored in the fridge and most other things, like scones and cakes, can be kept at room temperature. Ask family members to make a cake or two for you or if you have access to a cash and carry they are brilliant for catering a big event cheaply.

Scones are cheap to make and could either be made ahead of time and frozen or ordered from a local bakery to be collected on the day of your wedding. While this isn’t the cheapest option it’s still cheaper than actual caters and will take some of the pressure off you having to do everything.

Italian Deli Buffet / Charcuterie Boards

This is another great option because it provides a big variety of foods but it very easy to put together. You will need lots of fridge space though! However, as deli meats keep well they can be bought a few days in advance of the wedding. Before sitting down for food, simply ask you designated catering helpers to lay the meats out on wooden serving boards and away you go.

Pair the deli meats with, olives, pieces of bread, crackers, breadsticks, cheeses, nuts, and vine tomatoes. You can also make vegan charcuterie boards if required.

Picnic Baskets

For a super informal and thrifty wedding breakfast, you could try using picnic baskets. Allocate one basket per 4-6 people and fill with bread, cheese, ham, fresh fruit, and other nibbles. You could also include a cheap bottle of bubbly in each one to make it extra special.

Cater Your Own Wedding On A Budget: Pot Luck

Pot luck is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to cater your own wedding. You simply ask for all of your guests to bring a dish and then lay them out buffet-style on a large table for everyone to enjoy when it’s time to eat.

While this is a lovely way to cater your own wedding on a budget, you’ll still need to provide some dishes yourself to ensure there is more than enough food to go around.

You may also want to allocate what you ask people to bring so you don’t end up with too much of the same thing. While I don’t think it’s fair to ask for specific dishes, asking for a meat dish, vegetarian option, side dish, dessert etc can really help make sure things are balanced.

Classic Buffet

A classic buffet of sandwiches, crips, crudites, sausages rolls etc is cheap to do. While it does require some organization, it’s something most people will be familiar with so I’m sure there are family members or friends who would help put it together for you on the day.

How To Cater Your Own Wedding On A Budget

This a great option as it easily caters to everyone as most people will be able to find something they like to eat on this type of buffet and it can mostly be bought cheaply from the supermarket.

How To Cater Your Own Wedding On A Budget: Extra Tips

Avoid Pizzas (unless ordering them in).

We have a pizza oven and it’s great for family pizza night, but mass catering pizzas for lots of people is never going to be easy or fun. If someone in your family offers to do it for your wedding politely decline. I’ve seen so many complaints about pizza vans at weddings as it just takes to long for everyone to get fed, and that’s with professionals doing it.

Consider Catering Half of Your Wedding

If cost is the biggest issue, could you cater half of your wedding and allow professionals to do the rest? For example, you create an afternoon tea but hire a high roast in the evening. This keeps costs lower but eliminates some of the stress of catering your own wedding.

Talk To Your Venue

If you’ve been put off by your venue catering prices, is there anything you could do to get them to lower the prices? For example, ask for one less course to be served, ask for your wedding cake to be served as dessert or even opt for a weekday or winter wedding to bring down the overall cost.

Plan Your Menu

Really think about the foods your serving and the preparation they need and consider this alongside what you’ll need to do the day before your wedding such as organising and decorating etc.

Serving crusty baguettes with cold meat and cheeses is much easier than making hundreds of sandwiches.

Joints of meat can be cooked 2-3 days before the wedding and then kept refrigerated.

Roast potatoes taste great hot or cold.

Avoid foods that become soggy easy such as Bruchetta.

Don’t forget to cater to dietary requirements such as GF, DF and Vegan. These foods will need to be clearly labelled as such.

Opting for disposable cutlery and dinnerware is cheap but terrible for the environment. You could look at more eco friendly wedding options here.

As a rule of thumb, ready to eat foods shouldn’t be out for more than four hours.

Opt for plenty of non-perishable foods – they can be bought ahead of time and are easy to transport and replenish as the day goes own.

How To Cater Your Own Wedding On A Budget – Final Thoughts

To cater your own wedding on a budget is a huge task and not one that should be entered into lightly. What you save in money you gain in added stress especially as there is usually already a lot going on with a wedding.

While I can totally see the appeal of catering your own wedding on a budget, it’s not something I would want to do again!