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Wedding Tips and Ideas

Updated on July 27, 2011

Reception Ideas for Weddings on a Budget

Despite the economy people will still fall in love and plan their wedding. The key is to find the best deals to still make your dream day come true. I tell my clients to start at the food.

As the catering manager of a BBQ restaurant, you can just imagine the look on Brides’ faces when I even mention BBQ food for their wedding. However, when I start going over the prices, their mouths literally fall to the floor. Why pay $25 plus a plate when you can have the same quality, if not better, with a non-traditional wedding caterer?

Here are some great tips I give my clients for menus and extras:

Make sure the catering service you chose allows you to keep the leftovers. Not all of them do, so beware. Having left over food can be a real treat for those with short honeymoons, or to give away as a thank you to those that helped with all the planning and organizing.

Pick items you like. To-be Newlyweds are so eager to appease everyone else, but at the end of the day the food is coming back to you, so pick items you like first then splurge if you have extra money in your budget to appease the relatives.

Don’t overdo the appetizers. A typical appetizer should be around 4-6 ounces of food per person. The real purpose of the appetizer is to occupy your guests until you arrive, not to feed them.

Consider the beverages carefully. Be sure to always provide water for your guests throughout the evening. When ordering from the caterer, be sure to ask for extra beverages to be served with the appetizers. If alcohol is part of your reception, always have coffee served with or after the cake.

Choosing BBQ meats can be easier than you think. Typically when you think of BBQ, your mind immediately goes to ribs. However, most BBQ restaurants have other great selections that work out great for more formal events. Consider sliced meats; pork, beef, or turkey. If able, request a carving station to add more formality. Don’t go overboard with choices; over three items is overkill and unnecessary; not only will it slow down the serving of your guests, but it can be very costly. Do not serve meats with bones. Pulled meats like pulled pork, brisket, or even pulled chicken are great choices as well. Some BBQ restaurants, like ours, may also offer other items for you upon request. Don’t be afraid to ask if there are any items not listed on the menu that they have available. Most caterers will allow some flexibility with the menu choices to make the sale.

Do not exceed four side items. Start with the basics. Do you have a starch, a vegetable, and a salad? Common starches include potatoes, corn, and pasta dishes. Consider a variety of choices to create a steamed vegetable medley that is in season. Green beans, asparagus, caramelized carrots, or peas also make great vegetable choices. If you aren’t looking for a traditional garden salad, look for summer or spring salads, Caesar salads, or even coleslaw.

Always have a bread choice. I’d suggest an assorted variety if available.

Think carefully about the menu as a whole; does the food work together? If you have a “theme”, are you true to it? Does the menu fit with the season?

Don’t forget the dessert. It is a huge misconception that the wedding cake is the dessert at a wedding. Keep in mind that some guests may need to leave before the cake cutting. Offer a light dessert that will also serve to cleanse your palate. Choose something small and not filling such as sorbet, Key Lime pie, or a classic flan.

Consider plastic ware for your place settings. I recommend Milan or Masterpiece place settings and Reflections for the cutlery. In my experience, these offer the best quality without looking cheap.

Lastly, ensure the caterer you choose serves the food and does not just set up a buffet line. Not only do servers add to the formality of the event, but they also serve to control portion sizes to your guests and move the people through a lot faster. Ask your caterer what the servers will be wearing. Most companies will offer semi-formal or formal attire based on the event.

Over the last two years, our BBQ restaurant has tripled the amount of catered wedding receptions. It is to no surprise that with this economy people are looking to save money wherever they can. Keep in mind, a good catering manager will go above and beyond to help meet your budget needs and make the sale.

When to Choose Plastic Over China

  1. When on a budget. Most rental companies seem inexpensive at .50-.70 cents a piece, but when you start adding up the pieces it can be very costly. If you want china for an average wedding of 100, expect that cost to be over $500.
  2. When you need many pieces. So many times brides forget the littlest things; a salad plate, cake plate, second fork, etc. Keep this is mind when looking into your service ware. It's great that you save money by supplying all the alcohol yourself, but did you remember the glasses? Do you have separate glasses for wine and beer? Are you toasting? Do you need champagne glasses? All these types of glasses can be found in a durable plastic form at an affordable price.
  3. When time is limited. The last thing you want to do is spend time collecting and rinsing off every dish then returning it to the rental service. Most often, the caterers will do this for you if you source through them, but it will cost you the rental up charge and extra labor to do so.
  4. When your reception is semi-formal, don't over-do it if you don't have to.

With the average wedding cost of over $20,000, many couples are choosing to cut back on expenses to find room in their budget for an elaborate honeymoon. After all, isn't your first moments together as husband and wife more important than what food you serve at your reception?


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    • thevoice profile image

      thevoice 7 years ago from carthage ill

      smart hub ideas thanks