How To Cater A Wedding On A Budget: 4 Tips To Save

There are four ways to help you how to cater a wedding on a budget. We’ll help you create a budget or manage a small budget for your wedding catering. 

You’ll also have tips below on maintaining an affordable reception menu. And for additional reference, here’s how to cater your own wedding

how to cater a wedding on a budget


Here’s How To Cater A Wedding On A Budget


Consider packages from venues 

If you have a small wedding budget, the best way to save is to check the venue if they offer a package that will include the reception catering. In-house catering is ideal for an inexpensive wedding because you can also save on the additional costs the venue may charge if you bring another wedding vendor. 

Some venues will include an additional fee if you don’t acquire their in-house catering. So if you want to cater a wedding on a budget, you can ask the venue manager for the catering options they offer. 

Furthermore, you might save on costs if you acquire wedding services at the reception venue. And besides the menu for the catering, don’t forget to ask about the bar for your reception since the corkage fee can also increase your wedding catering budget. 


Compare menu and ingredient costs

Another way to ensure affordable wedding catering is to source from various vendors and caterers. You can compare their menus and packages or ask for recommendations from people who catered weddings. 

Some ingredients or menu types are more inexpensive than others. For example, why not lessen the meat dishes or opt for a more straightforward menu? 

A buffet-style reception, for example, is less pricey than a sit-down reception. You can also select dishes that are not too complicated or would need ingredients that must be sourced out. 


Opt for a cocktail reception

Another way to have affordable catering for the wedding is to consider a cocktail-style reception. Instead of the typical wedding dinner, why not only have a menu with appetizers and hors d’oeuvres?

They are cheaper than serving a full-course menu. But of course, you have to allocate a budget for the alcohol. 

You can also shorten the reception or have the wedding earlier, so the guests won’t expect an extended celebration with alcohol. And to help you plan the catering for the appetizers on a budget, you can read how many different appetizers for a wedding


Have a dry reception or cash bar

The final tip you can try to have an affordable wedding catering budget is related to the drinks or alcohol you’ll serve at the wedding reception. So besides the meals to cater, your wedding alcohol budget also affects your expenses for the wedding reception. 

The first option is to have a dry reception where you won’t serve alcoholic drinks. The second option is to limit the open bar or offer a limited alcoholic beverage menu to save on expenses. 

Finally, it’s acceptable nowadays to have a wedding cash bar. This means the guests will pay for their drinks instead of the host paying for the wedding bar. 


What Is The Cheapest Food To Cater?

Wedding budgets are usually more affordable by going the DIY route, including catering. But, of course, you must be realistic with your time and effort, mainly if you’re catering for a large wedding. 

That being said, you can consider catering food items that can be made from readily available home ingredients. For example, consider dishes you can create with ingredients you can buy at the grocery store. 

Some specific examples are baked potatoes, pasta, casseroles, or a selection of bread and pastries. You can also read what is the cheapest food to serve at a wedding


How Much Food Do I Need For 150 Guests?

The key to inexpensive wedding catering is considering having a small wedding or short guest list. Of course, the more guests you have, the more budget you need for the wedding catering since you’ll cater to more people. 

So, for example, if you have 150 guests, you can apply the following tips to know how much food you’ll need at the wedding:

  • 6 appetizers per wedding guest
  • 6 ounces of the main entree per wedding guest
  • 4 ounces of side dishes per guest 
  • A cup of salad per wedding guest
  • 2 pieces of bread per wedding guest
  • A slice of cake or a piece of dessert per wedding guest

Note that these are just estimates. The specific type of food and guest preference can increase or decrease these numbers. 


How Would You Cater For 100 Guests On A Budget?

Decide on the budget you can spend for the wedding catering to help you plan the menu. Furthermore, for a 100-person wedding, you can assume that at least 25% of the guests won’t attend the reception. 

A 100-person wedding is realistic to have a $5,000 catering budget. Alternatively, spending $40 per guest can also be a helpful guide. 

What’s next is choosing meals or a reception menu style that can help you further cut costs. For example, food stations might be cheaper than a sit-down reception. 



And that’s it! You just learned how to cater a wedding on a budget by considering in-house catering, comparing and sourcing menu costs, opting for a cocktail reception, and considering a cash bar or dry reception. 

The type of meals and how you’ll cater for the wedding can also influence your catering budget. And, of course, have a smaller guest list if you’re limited with the budget. 

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