Sunday, November 6, 2011

Minimize Your Reception and Catering Budget

5 Ways to Minimize Your Reception and Catering Budget
Find out how to cut costs while still creating a one-of-kind event! Sure, everyone wants to have an amazing wedding that stands out in people's minds - the problem is, not every bride and groom has an unlimited budget that can make that a reality. Looking for ways to save and STILL make a impact? Check out these hot reception and catering trends that promise to "minimize" your financial investment and maximize everyone's enjoyment.

1. Reduce Seating 
The latest trend is to move away from assigned seating and create a cocktail feel. Cut your tables in half and substitute high-tops or add a lounge area. You can still create a small (assigned) formal seating area for older guests and those with small children if you like, but encourage the rest of your guests to mix and mingle, move around, and generally table hop to ensure lots of mingling and socializing.

2. Go With a Tapas Menu
Chicken or fish? Forget about it! These days, lots of guests may be on special diets, have food allergies, or simply prefer to sample numerous things rather than being stuck with one option. A tapas menu is ideal because it let's you do just that without straining your budget. Opt for 10-15 dishes and space them out throughout the evening so everyone has a chance to try something without filling up on one item.

3. Offer Cocktail Flight Samples During the First Hour
Worry about being stuck with one too many bottles of beer or wine? While you're getting your pictures snapped after the ceremony, have your serving staff prepare "flights" or small samples from your cocktail menu to try. Whether it's five microbrews, a trio of cocktails, or even a few different wine varieties, this allows your guests to taste-test each one and then settle of a specific beverage that they like. This should cut down on your costs (since most stores or outlets will let you return opened bottles or cases) AND make that post-wedding hour fly by for your friends as they learn more about each drink on the menu.

4. Cut Down on Wedding Cake
We've said it before and we'll say it again: Not everyone likes wedding cake, so before you drop a bundle on a 6-tier confection, think about reducing the amount of cake you plan on ordering. A mini 2-tier cake is just as lovely, plus it frees up your budget to create a fun dessert bar or candy station. There's lots of options that exist when it comes to dessert, but also think about accompanying elements like a cool coffee station if you're serving traditional desserts. (If you feel like being creative AND a bit more interactive we think a  mini "do-it-yourself" parfait station with granola and fresh fruit is great, as is a topping station for frozen yogurt.)

5. Be Your Own DJ
We still think having a traditional DJ or band is important, but it may not be necessary for the entire duration of your reception. Include a music request card with your invitations when you mail them out and dedicate the last two hours to your guests requests (via your iTunes playlist on your own computer).  From oldies but goodies to modern dance tunes, it'll keep everyone up on their feet and engaged as they wait for their special song to play.

10 Easy Ways to Save on Wedding Catering Costs
Creating a memorable culinary experience for your wedding guests doesn't have to eat away your catering budget (no pun intended). These ideas from Nadia Digilov of Celebrating in Style will show you how.
1) Know Your Guests.  The first step to designing a reasonable quality budget is to know your people.  What are their priorities?  Are they primarily drinkers, eaters, or both?  What is more important; a top-shelf bar or Surf and Turf?  Your answer to this question will drive the rest of the decisions you make.

2) Make a Great First Impression.  We've all heard the saying, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression."   Set the tone with a well-dressed server greeting guests with champagne or signature cocktails.  This will set the tone for the rest of the evening, as guests feel welcome and comfortable in their surroundings.

3)  Cocktail Hour.  If you are having a cocktail hour, consider having the servers hand pass the pricier items, and leave veggie and cheese platters out on tables. This will typically save an average of 30% of your catering budget.

4)  Not All Seafood Is Priced Equally.  Ask your caterer the specifics when making seafood selections.  For instance, did you know that calamari are about half the price of shrimp?

5)  Know Your Seasonal Foods.  Some dining options are perfectly affordable during the summer season and are expensive in the fall and vice versa. Scarcity of a particular food will increase the cost by up to 40%.

6)  Discount Options If you will have children at the reception, make sure that your caterer offers a discount for their meals.  They eat less, and don't necessarily need "grown-up food."  This will save tons of cash, especially if you have a huge family.

7)  Mix It Up.  Depending on the evaluation of your guests, consider a tasting menu that offers an array of mini courses instead of a hearty entree.

8)  Mix Up the Alcohol Brands.  Certain brands of vodka for example are pricier than others.  If you're having a full bar, mix up expensive brands for guests that will inquire on brand and have your bartender use the less expensive brands for guests that do not have a preference. This little trick will save you about 30% on the cost of alcohol.

9)  Close the Open Bar An Hour Earlier.  Begin serving coffee and tea approximately one hour before you party will end.  This will save you money, give closure to the party and give guests a chance to "sober up."

10)  Forego the Over-the-Top Dessert Bar.  People are generally happy with a good slice of cake or a cupcake, and maybe one other option.  

Ah, the wedding guest list — you're excited to celebrate with your loved ones on your very special day, but you're also alarmed at the rapid pace your list is growing at. Don't let your wedding guest list get out of control, and read these six money tips from The Broke-Ass Bride's Dana LaRue.
  • Guest List Musts and Wants: Start by segmenting your guest list into musts and wants. Put the people you absolutely must invite (like immediate family or closest friends) on one list, and the people you'd really like to include (like co-workers, newer friends, second cousins etc.) on another, to help you keep perspective on the numbers. Every couple has different priorities on who to invite, so don't feel too pressured by traditional etiquette's rules.
  • Compromise With Your Partner: If you and your partner have opposing ideas pertaining to the size of your guest list, consider a compromise. Plan an intimate ceremony with a big reception afterward, or elope and have a hometown party to celebrate with friends.
  • The Kiddy Factor: Deciding if children should attend is always a conundrum, but if budget is a concern, check with your caterer. Many catering companies don't charge for children's meals, so ask what their "cut-off age" is for kiddies and let that inform your decision.
For more savvy wedding guest list tips, read on.
  • Cut Back on Other Areas: If your guest list is ever expanding, but you can't bear to leave out your postman and dog groomer, look at cutting back in other areas. Limit your bar to just beer and wine, or plan a laid-back picnic atmosphere to cut down on rental costs.
  • Set a Guest Count: If you're paying for the majority of the wedding yourselves, set boundaries with your families by allocating each parent a number of guests to invite and sticking to it.
  • Establish Ground Rules: If your family is paying, or making a large contribution to your budget, discuss guest count expectations up front and try to establish some ground rules to avoid misunderstandings, late additions, or guilt trips from left field. Try setting a target number of guests they can invite, and see if they'll agree to fund the costs of any overflow they might encounter if they get too "guest-list happy."

Budget Wedding Woman’s Day Specials July 12, 2011
-Don’t get married on a Saturday night which is prime time and expense. If you want a sit down dinner, you’ll get a better price on a Friday, but allow enough time for guests to get there from work. Have it on a Sunday or Thursday evening.
If you still want it on a Saturday but it’s too expensive consider doing a sit-down lunch.
-A sit-down dinner with a fixed menu can be just as cost effective as a buffet style.
For an informal wedding consider a brunch with signature drinks. Can be classy, unique with style. You could save 40%-50% of what a dinner could cost.
-Cocktail reception 5-7pm hors d’oeuvres and drinks on a non-workday or Friday

Wedding Notes The Knot Complete Guide to Weddings in the Real World:
- Most expensive months: June, August, and Sept. next are May, July, Oct. and Dec.
-Late night events with cake and champagne is cheaper than sit down dinners –or all dessert reception
-Or consider 3-5pm cake and champagne or signature cocktails maybe Sunday afternoon
- Don’t give guest a choice of entrees on day of wedding have a meal preference on RSVP card or select food that appeals to all guests at wedding
-To cut costs on favors/place cards do it by couples rather than individuals

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