23 Cheap Wedding Reception Food & Drink Menu Ideas on a Budget

When my husband and I were planning our wedding, we wanted to keep it simple, elegant, and most importantly under budget.

So we were a little shocked when our caterer quoted us her lowest price of $35 per person for dinner – not including alcohol. With 160 guests, we were already at $5,600, and with an open bar were looking at a total bill of more than $10,000 just for food and drinks! Our total budget was around $10,000, so we needed to find a few ways to scrimp and save when it came to the dinner and alcohol.

If you want to save a bundle on food and drink at your wedding as well, here are 23 ways to do it.

Save Money on Appetizers

1. Provide Your Own Appetizers
This may sound time consuming, but it’s actually quite easy, particularly if you choose appetizers that can be made ahead of time and frozen, then just warmed up right before cocktail hour. Most caterers charge an overinflated price for appetizers, and you can save up to 50% of the cost this way. Here are some of my favorite, quick and easy appetizer recipe ideas you can use.

2. Do Not Have Servers
My mom thought it would be really fun to have servers walking around with trays of appetizers at my wedding. In the end though, we decided to pass on the idea. Your guests will care a lot more about actually eating appetizers than how it is presented to them, and you won’t have to pay the extra wait staff.

3. Go Simple
Your guests will probably be hungry when they arrive at the reception, and most of them will not care what they eat as long as they can have some sort of snack before dinner. So set out some simple crackers, cheese squares, and some fruit. Your guests will be very satisfied with just that.

affordable wedding appetizers

Save Money on Drinks

4. B.Y.O.B.
When you book your wedding reception venue, make sure to ask if it is okay to bring your own beverages (B.Y.O.B.). By bringing your own beer, wine, and liquor, you will not have to pay the inflated prices that the venue will charge if they were to provide that service.

5. Limit Open Bar
If your reception is for four hours, consider only having open bar for the first hour or two. Many guests will have a drink when they arrive at the reception while they are waiting for the festivities to begin and will not have a second drink. Others will leave after dinner is served and will not even be there for the second half to enjoy an open bar. Another option is to close the bar during the dinner hour. Most guests will be busy eating and conversing and won’t need a beverage during that time.

6. Serve Only Wine and Beer
Limit the types of alcoholic beverages served to just wine and beer so you will not have to pay for liquor. This will still give your guests who want to drink alcohol two good options to choose from.

7. Serve Non-Alcoholic Beverages
I went to a beautiful wedding on a farm once that served a bunch of fun, non-alcoholic drinks, such as frozen mocha and fruit smoothies. After my third frozen mocha, the last thing I cared about was having an alcoholic beverage!

8. Serve One Signature Drink
If you really want to serve liquor at your wedding, consider serving one signature drink, perhaps you and your future spouses’ favorite. It would be fun for the guests to try it out, and it would save you money since it would require limited alcohol.

wedding drink raspberries champagne

Save Money on the Meal

9. Don’t Have a Sit-down Dinner
Serving heavy appetizers instead of a meal has been a big trend in recent years. Guests can mingle more, and can still get satisfied with the appetizers. And your wallet will thank you too.

10. Pick a Venue that Allows Outside Catering
In order to find the best deal, make sure your venue allows you to use the caterer of your choice. This is not the case with many hotels that require you to eat their food.

11. Check the Prices of Both Plated and Buffet Meals
I have always thought that a buffet is more expensive because guests will eat more food, and therefore, more food is needed. At the venue for my wedding, this was true; the buffet was more expensive than the plated meal. Others will argue the opposite. My advice is to check the prices of both options, and go with the cheaper.

12. Consider Stations
Similar to the idea of a buffet, the stations concept allows guests to visit different “stations” to get their food. You could have a carving station, a pasta station, a taco station, a southern cooking station, and so on. This is a really popular option for modern weddings and is priced competitively.

13. Serve Family Style
Have you ever been to a restaurant that serves family style? The entire table orders a meal as a group, and the food is passed around the table just like at home. A big pan of lasagna is certainly less expensive than 10 plates of filet mignon for a table.

14. Order Take Out
There are no official wedding food rules, and if you and your future spouse like pizza, then order some pies. If you like Chinese food, order a couple pu pu platters along with some fried rice. It’s your wedding so serve food you love, and you could save big time.

15. Have Your Family Cook
You could have a cooking party the day before your wedding where the cooks in your family get together to make their signature dishes. This idea could work great with either a buffet or family style service.

16. Don’t Serve Out of Season
Many foods are seasonal, so make sure you do not serve anything out of season. This can be very costly because the food needs to be transported long distances, which inflates prices.

dinner buffet at a wedding

Save Money on Desserts

17. Have a Simple Display Cake
It may be tempting to have an extravagant seven tiered cake, but resist the temptation and have a simple two tiered cake and a large sheet cake in the back. Your guests will be none the wiser (and most people don’t eat the wedding cake, anyway).

18. Have a Cupcake Cake
Instead of a $400 cake, my husband and I spent less than $100 and had a beautiful tiered display of yummy red velvet cupcakes. You could also send your guests home with a matching boxed up mini cupcake as a wedding favor!

19. Have a Sweets Bar
Go to a drugstore and pick out bags of candy to serve in different dishes on a candy buffet. Or, you can have different desserts like brownies, pies, and cookies for your guests to choose from. This is much cheaper than a wedding cake and a lot more fun.

20. Serve Smaller Slices
If you have your heart set on having a particular wedding cake that is expensive, see if you can downsize it and serve smaller slices. Most bakers charge by the slice, and if they’re getting two servings per slice, they might be able to cut you a break.

small simple white wedding cake

Other Ways to Save Money on Wedding Food and Drink

21. Have a Daytime Wedding
Breakfast and lunch cost less than dinner so consider having a daytime wedding. I went to a wedding a few years ago that served breakfast at the reception. I got a made-to-order omelette and pancakes!

22. Invite Fewer People
As I mentioned, food is where a huge chunk of your money goes for a wedding. Since food is typically charged by the head count, invite fewer people as a way to save some dough. This applies to wedding invitations as well.

23. Check for Hidden Fees
If your venue charges fees for things like cake cutting and champagne toasts, avoid those fees if possible. Instead of having champagne passed out by the serving staff, have the best man raise whatever glass is in his hand, and all the guests will follow suit.

just married classic car cans

Final Word

There are plenty of ways to save money on food and drink at your wedding, without sacrificing style or having guests leave with an empty stomach.

What are some of your best tips to save money on food at drink at a wedding? Please share them in the comments below.

  • http://www.savings.com/blog/blog.html Amy Saves

    I love #18. cupcakes are so cute!

    also, buffets are a good way to go.

  • D’Metria Clarington

    #15=We are getting married May 28,2011 and my aunts are all getting together and making their signature dishes. This is so much cheaper than having it catered. I have cut extremely cut costs. I wish i would have read this aritcle earlier about the cupcakes. I opted on a local baker who works from home. I got a nice deal but the cupcakes would have sufficed me. LOL

  • http://twitter.com/SmallBudgetBigD Kari

    Great tips. The bf and I aren’t engaged yet, but I’m saving this article for when we are :-)

    • Casey Slide

      Good luck! Enjoy your time dating though. That is a really fun time in a relationship that is often missed when your married!

  • Trisha

    Doing a limited open bar looks so cheap, don’t do that

    • Casey Slide

      It may look cheap to some, but to others it looks smart. Not to mention that it’s better to have a limited open bar than no open bar at all, and for many couples, that would be the alternative.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ekrauter Ella Krauter

        I see no reason a couple should splurge on a full open bar UNLESS it is a high priority and really expresses who they are an their lifestyle. Some people are party-ers, some are not. My fiance and I are doing limited open bar (wine, beer, non-alcoholic drinks) for the entire event, and a customized martini bar just for the cocktail hour (of 4 martini types – blood orange/mango, chocolate/mint, traditional triple olive dirty, and lavender/honey/vanilla.) By having a martini bar we are saving money because we only have to buy vodka and other liquors you use in martinis. Our venue / caterer allows us to provide the booze. That also saves money. And we’re buying from a local liquor store that allows a customer to return unopened bottles. Just in case, may as well get our money back if possible. We’re also buying our toast wine from them – not going with champagne (I don’t care for it) getting moscato. (And if we have extra unopened bottles of these, we’re going to save them for our own, future dinner parties.)
        Many people think faux flowers such as silks look so cheap too. But, for some couples flowers are not a high priority or there are allegies etc. Again, I think it depends on what a couple will prioritize and what expresses them best.

  • Cady

    buffet is a good idea but beware that buffet sometimes doesn’t mean all you can eat. The venue I went to have buffet option and they said it enough food for all the guest as if they are served on the table so if one or two dishes may get empty before others and they won’t get refilled. Make sure you ask the venue about it.
    Wedding cake usually not being eaten as your guests already so full after appertizer, full meals and desert. You can go for 1 cake ( to be cut) and all display cake for other tiers (display only) I heard that option is available, never really find out myself

    • Casey Slide

      That’s a great point about buffets! Thanks for adding that!

  • Jrf2amf

    Great ideas for weddings or anniversaries. As far as an open bar how about no bar or drink coupons. Don’t forget potential legal problems if a guest drunk at your wedding and kills someone on the way home.

    • Casey Slide

      Eek! Good point! Thanks for mentioning that!

      • tawnysmom1

        you probably wouldn’t be found liable for that. unless you’re in the business of selling or manufacturing alcoholic beverages, you’re not responsible for someone else drinking and driving of their own free will.

        • WA Caker

          not true, tawnysmom1. If you are the person whose name is on the contracts for the event, you share responsibility with the bar vendor for the safety of your guests. Applies to private, in-home casual dinner parties to formal occasions in a rented venue.

    • michellem5

      Good point! We were told if we didn’t hire a bouncer who checked ID’s and who would not allow one to keep drinking even if they’re noticeably drunk, that we WOULD be liable for a party goer driving drunk.

  • Guest

    We did 1 signature drink (frozen hurricane),champagne, wine and beer (kegs) plus water. Never underestimate those who will want just water. Our food menu was a group of heavy hors d’oeuvres served as a self service buffet–that was easily as filling as a meal. At $20-25 a person it was not cheap, but cheaper than $100 for plated meals. We also had a large cake so people could fill up on that if they did not get enough food. No one walked away hungry or lacking drinks. A lot of people just think they HAVE to do the sit down dinner and you don’t. That was never done by anyone except the extremely wealthy until very recent years–now everyone thinks it’s required. Even most of the people who do them can’t really afford to, but they struggle with it anyway…

    • Casey Slide

      Sounds like there definitely would have been enough food. I love that you did the signature drink!

  • http://www.cutbaddebts.com/ Geoff

    I have never thought about all those possible savings on the wedding reception. If only more people adopted some of those tips. The cost of weddings has got ridiculous.

    • Casey Slide

      I agree. There are so many ways to save, but when it comes down to it, people want exactly what they envisioned for their wedding and they don’t realize until they get the final bill how costly everything ended up.

  • Mecheleburgess

    I’m planing on getting married this Oct. 2012. And i to have been looking to cut the cost of food for my reception. I know it may sound a little cheese but i’m going to have a pitch in reception. That way i will not have to deal with the cost and headache’s that come with planing a high priced reception of food. I used to be a activities director in a local nursing home for 3year’s. With a very very small budget and i alway’s was able to make very little out to be ALOT each and every month. I’m very crafty so i know how to make and put just the right perfect touches on that will make my decor’ of food and it’s display look like I’ve paid a pretty penny for all the decoration’s and food. I’m sure my guest will be very pleased with the out come. Now for drink’s….. I plain on having four big beautiful glass jar’s of ice filled lemonade/punch/sweet tea/lime drink. with all fresh cut lemon’s and limes. With only wine and beer served also. I will have family help with making brownies,cookies and a candy station. with big bowels of fresh cut fruit, and platter’s of veggies and assorted bread’s and cracker’s. I’m looking to spend about $300.00 on food. This is Not including the CAKE! I didn’t want to waver on that so i’ve saved for our cake. Over all i believe our total cost will round off to be $950.00 And that’s with all the decorations. I hope sum of my idea’s will help with cutting your food cost for your wedding down also. Congrat’s!

    • Casey Slide

      That is really impressive to only spend $950! And those are some great ideas on how to save money. Everybody throws a wedding differently so every wedding ceremony and reception are different, and that is a good thing. I like the idea of doing four big glass bowls for drinks. Good luck on your wedding, and more importantly, your marriage!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Liz-Leyden/100003766056570 Liz Leyden

      If you’re having a potluck reception, try to find out what guests are bringing beforehand. There’s nothing like a wedding reception with 10 types of potato salad, 5 types of pasta salad, and nothing else.

    • http://www.facebook.com/millie.rodriguez.186 Millie Rodriguez

      I am getting marrie on Oct 13, 2012 and u gave me an idea out the drinks thanx!

    • Low budget caterer.

      I do baking on the side and catering for indian food. For people on budget, I can make few indian vegetarian dishes at a very reasonable cost

  • Mrs Maganatobe

    Where did you find your cupcakes for less than $100?

    • Casey Slide

      A family friend who ran a small business at the time made them.

  • Cindee99

    Awesome… great tips! Thank you!

  • Future Sanchez

    I plan on getting married December 8 2012 and i am only 21 i have never planned a wedding before and have only in one when i was younger. also I am trying to do all of this planning and everything on my own while going to school and trying to manage our 1 year old son. We do have a low budget because we are doing all of the finances ourselves I want a simple but nice and pleasant wedding do you have any ideas for me or advice i can really use it because at this point i am completely stuck

    • Casey Slide

      To get the best ideas on how to save money on your wedding, take a look at all of the articles about money saving ideas for weddings on Money Crashers. You can do that by running a search at the top of this page. There are at least a dozen articles that you will find helpful. Good luck!

    • Casey Slide

      To get the best ideas on how to save money on your wedding, take a look at all of the articles about money saving ideas for weddings on Money Crashers. You can do that by running a search at the top of this page. There are at least a dozen articles that you will find helpful. Good luck!

    • Duso

      Hey Sanchez. I’m gonna be totally honest and really try to help. 1. Get married on a week day. I am making my wedding on a Thursday and I got so many extras from the venue just because it was an easy day for all. Go buffet style if you must order from your venue but the way to go have an outside party Carter like you favorite local rest, but make sure your venue will provide you with flat ware that will make things look elegant. With a week day wedding you get all the bank for your buck. You might be able to even get your own soft drinks. When it comes to bar ” who wants to be hung over to go to work the next day” limited bar. Order a small nice cake just for the look in the back you could have someone serve a sheet from SAMs or Costcos. No Dj needed with Pandora you coul satisfied your music needs or download all your favorite songs in a MP3 and that’s it (if going with pandora paying full service for that month is good for no commercials ) so $14.95 vs 1K for a Dj
      Last but not least. Flowers….. It’s almost a must. Do it your self. Best way supermarket florist always have cheap bouquet go to a dollar store buy your vase and get creative I made my own hand bouquet ” YouTube was the helper” Good luck with everything you could do something really nice just gather your thoughts search how to do it yourself on line write everything down so you don’t forget and it will work. If you need my help with anything let me know I enjoy helping others email ma @ [email protected] just write on the subject I wedding help…?

    • Missgagrl1968

      Take a look at state parks or community centers that offer tables, chairs, kitchen use, etc all for one price. Have the wedding and reception in the same place, which makes it cheaper. We live in the south, so we love fried chicken. I was surprised to find that one of the local southern cooking restaurants in town would deliver our meal to the state park facility we used for about 80 guests for about $150. They set it up buffet style so guests could serve themselves. We had sweet tea, lemonade, bottled water, fried chicken, green beans, turnip greens, biscuits, cornbread, and mac n cheese. Plenty of food!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003608073815 Pace Venkman

    how to save money on a wedding:
    go to a courthouse; apply for a license ($70-$100)
    pay the justice ($40-$80)
    congratulations; you are married.

    now invite all of your friends over for pizza and movies.

    • Duso

      You are right but sometimes you want to wear the nice dress have your friends a fam there have a little gathering to celebrate that you just got married so why not. If you really think about it with 1,500 you could do all that. I am doing it in about 10 days 10 people ( really close friends a fam ) with a wonderful outdoors ceremony follow by a wonderful lunch buffet a gorgeous cake music drinks flowers wedding dress (Vera Wang clearance sale @ David’s ) a hotel room everything you could think and more extras. But I am doing it on a Thursday and I’m pretty much burning down google with all the re searching so I could get the best for the least. And I like to think that I am…

      • naturalbrownbride

        Hello…ARE YOU ME??? LOL! I am doing the same…Im inspired by your 10 friend deal….hmmmmmmmmmmm. only problem there is between my mom and dad there I have over 10 aunts and uncles! But yet, Im still inspired!

  • Jacqueline White

    I am getting married on October 20, 2012. Currently I am the one making all the plans because my fiance is in AF Basic Training and will be to Tech School right after, I will literally see him in person for the first time about 1 1/2 weeks before the wedding. I’m trying NOT to go crazy doing the planning myself. We have a decent budget for the reception, but I have a few complications. We have guests who are diabetic and others who are vegetarians so I am trying to find food ideas that can satisfy ALL parties. If I was having the wedding where I live then I would have the perfect place to cater for us and it would be great food at a cheap price as I am good friends with the owners, but it wont be here in state so thats out of the question. The kitchen at the venue is HUGE so I am actually planning on having family and friends help with the cooking. Are there any good but cheap ideas for dishes that you might have to suggest for making the food myself?

    • Casey Slide

      I would recommend casseroles. They always make a lot of food for little money. Rice and mashed potatoes make good sides because everyone likes them and they are inexpensive. Don’t forget salad and rolls as well because people tend to fill up on these. Good luck!

      • Tricity Weddingbaker

        That may solve the problem of having vegetarians in the mix, but the diabetics shouldn’t be eating a heavy starch meal, which rice & mashed potatoes both are. I’d suggest plenty of veggies and perhaps an inexpensive meat choice (ham, meatballs and chicken all come to mind; ham can be cold, meatballs do well in a crockpot, and chicken can be purchased from the local grocery store deli or someplace like KFC…).

        As a cake decorator, though, I have a problem with telling people to have a small tiered cake and then “just serve sheet cakes from the back to everyone else.” The same amount of ingredients will need to be purchased, and while the decorating can be minimalistic on sheet cakes, the cost factor is not vastly diffrerent. What actually costs the most in a wedding cake, folks, is the expertise of the decorator in construction. Ever seen a wedding cake fall over? The reason they don’t is because the decorator is skilled in how to prevent that. Those skills take much time and effort. And if the decorator won’t be delivering your cake, you’d best have someone who is capable pick it up — not exactly something that your average cake decorator is comfortable in doing. Your best bet with a cake is to interview decorators and find out if they can work within your budget. Let them tell you what they can do for you. You’d be amazed at how accommodating we can be!

    • Sunshine_327

      I totally understand how you feel. My fiancée is in afghanistan, where he has been since he came home and proposed. When he gets back we will be getting married. And it is very difficult planning a wedding when your other half isn’t here…especially emotionally :/
      Good luck with your wedding plans!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Liz-Leyden/100003766056570 Liz Leyden

    I got married on a Sunday afternoon in fall 2005. We tried to keep the guest list small, despite my husband’s very large family (he has 8 siblings, who all had families). We had a dry wedding, partly because of cost, partly because we don’t drink, and party because a significant number of guests were either underage or recovering alcoholics. A few people thanked us for it. A bunch of guests who wanted to drink went to a bar later.

    We bought our cake from a bakery, but we used their retail menu, which was much cheaper than their custom menu. The main cake was a large round, heavily decorated white cake. We also had a smaller round chocolate cake because Hubby wanted chocolate. They didn’t deliver it, but so many people wanted to help I had no problem finding people to help, so someone else picked it up. Everyone loved the cakes, they photographed beautifully, and 75 servings cost $85.

    • Casey Slide

      Thanks for sharing your story, Liz. Those are some great tips!

  • Kmgerhke

    I got real creative and asked where I work A Assisted living facility if we could hold the wedding and reception in there facility,They have gone as far as donating the food for our event. we just need to supply cheese and crackers. But we chose 2 PM wedding-people already have eaten lunch and all will be done by dinner time. We are having wine and champagne-and water. I found cheap lables that will have our names and wedding dates on them. Just to cool. Total with attire-less than 3 grand

    • Casey Slide

      Wow, you are awesome! Good for you! That is a great idea, and it was so nice that your work did that for you. Thanks for sharing!

  • Loves to cook

    We cater for people who want classy but can’t afford it. We ask you how much you anticipate spending on food (excluding cake). Then we plan 3 menus that satisfies $$, taste, and guest count. You pick the menu. So far all of our clients have been very pleased. When you talk to the caterer try to not pick from their pricing sheet. Let them know the maximum amount you will spend and ask them to devise a menu for that price. For example: in August 2011 we did an elegant outdoor reception for 159 guests serving pulled pork ‘sliders’, spring mix salad w/ strawberry vinagrete, marinated fresh fruit, and handmade garlic chips for a total cost of $568. The buffet was crystal and silver serving dishes so not only was it inexpensive, it was elegant too.

  • Sammy Smith


  • Liz

    I’m getting married next June on my family’s dairy farm. I have a big family and a small budget. I have the venue all set, I’m a baker so I’m doing the cake myself, and a family member is catering for us. We are trying to do everything for 5k, for close to 200 people. I traded my culinary services for a friend who will dj for us also. The tent will be the biggest purchase. I was very stressed out at first thinking it was impossible to invite all family and keep it under 5k, but things seem to fall in place.

    • Casey Slide

      That’s awesome that you have skills to help you save money on your wedding and were also able to work up a trade with a friend! Good for you!

  • soontobeturner

    I’m getting married March 2, 2013 and I am leaving for basic training March 18, 2013. I am kinda freaking out about the details of planning this wedding because my husband-to-be works nights (so its nearly impossible to keep him awake long enough during the day to help with plans). Thanks for the tips, now the food situation doesn’t seem like such a huge load on my shoulders.

  • Sleepy

    I have been enjoying this site and all the comments! I am getting married October 13, 2012. My fiancé proposed to me in June and we decided to do it so soon because he deploys again at the first of the year. I have kept everything under $1000. That includes my dress, cake, rental of tables and chairs and really having to get all the things needed. I have made everything! I made the invites, favors, decorations, center pieces, head items for myself and the flower girls, made the flower girl baskets. My maid of honor and bridesmaid will be helping me get the food prep. A friend is letting me use her chocolate fountain and there will be all kinds of fruit to dip. Also doing the punch bowls with fruit punch and sweet tea. Coffe to go with cake. Byob, but I am providing the wine for the toast. It’s an outdoor wedding/reception at my fiance’s aunts house so I don’t have any cost for that. And between the chaos of all that and work… Trying to find time to sleep

  • Ken2idy08

    Thank you. My boyfriend of 3 years just told me he wants to get married 12-12-12… its the end of october. This really helped calm my nerves .. we can bairly afford rent

    • Jaymee Altland

      I know this was a while ago, but I was in your shoes… my now husband proposed to me on christmas night 12t ge-25-12 and said he wanted to get married on New Years which was 5 days later…. I was super stressed out because I didn’t know who to invite and where to do it and I had always dreamt of a big wedding, after talking to my friends they assured me that it’s ok to elope and then have the time to save for the big wedding, and even though people give me weird looks when I tell them I’m planning a wedding re-do I know that when the big day gets here they’ll all understand that we just wanted to get married so that that stress was out of the way and then have an enjoyable experience planning a day we can enjoy with our friends and family. At least this time around we can make it more personal by having a friend “marry” us instead of hiring a judge/priest/etc.

      • Abigail

        We’re doing the same thing! My husband’s in the military so it’s very hard to plan a date for a big wedding (they might not be available or have leave that day!) So we eloped this last year and are planning our wedding for this summer! :D I actually think it’s better doing it this way lol

  • anon

    For me and my fiance’s wedding we’re planning on having it all in my parents back yard. We’re self catering (we come from a farm so we’re hiring a couple of gas roasters for the meat, and having salads etc with it). To eliminate issues of accomidation and people travelling we’re camping everyone that’s not local there (so many friends have offered us tents and caravans already, plus it means that we could put the marquee to an extra use), then the next mornign we’re having a brunch and relax with everyone that’s still there. One of my good friends and my auntie are making bridesmaid and flower girl dresses, and we’re going to use hydrangeas from my future mother in laws garden for the flowers. The Marquee is probable the biggest cost, but I’m really pleased we looked around for quotes because there was a really big difference between company’s.

    Another idea I’ve heard for catering (if you want to do it yourself) is to make it a fundraiser for a local group. Do all the prep yourselves in the days before, but on the day have a couple of people from your local school/charity group etc. to do the serving/carving etc. That way none of the attendants have to miss out on the wedding, and you give the group/school a donation for the work. It’s cheaper than paying caterers, and is a great way to donate to a local organisation.

    • Casey Slide

      Those are some unique ideas that you have about the camping out and making the catering a fundraiser for a local group! Good luck with your wedding, and thank you for adding your suggestions!

  • http://www.facebook.com/katrina.hellicksonwardlow Katrina Hellickson Wardlow


    • Andrea


      • Leah

        why are you yelling !!!

  • Thecakegoddess

    As a scratch baker and cake artist, I have a problem with “serve a SAM’s or Costco or Walmart, or any other commercially prepared sheet cake in the back”. I put a lot of effort, time, and skill into all of my “cakes”, along with my company’s reputation. The last thing I want is for guests to be served a cake that was made by a “commercial” store, loaded with garbage ingredients, tasting like a “store bought cake”, and then thinking that it came from my bakery.This could seriously damage a bakers reputation, and make it harder to get bookings in the future, thereby creating a hardship for a local business owner.
    That is comparable to hiring a caterer to do one fabulous item, to keep costs down, then getting the rest from walmart. Or hiring a photographer to take one picture with his professional camera equipment, and then asking them to use a little 2 megapixal point and shoot camera, developed at walmart, for the rest of the wedding pictures, you just don’t do it. Just like a marriage, you either commit completely, or don’t do it,lol. The cake, or cupcakes, or whatever else the wedding couple decides to go with for the cutting ceremony, is the centerpiece of the reception,it is the first thing people look for when they walk into the reception. it is the “table” they stand in front of and oohh and aahh over. the same way the dress is the centerpiece of the ceremony.
    Better to have a budget, find a reputable baker to work with that budget, and then stick with that budget. I have worked with many brides to accomdate their budget, including offering a “kitchen cake” to go along with a smaller tiered cake for them to cut. That way the guests have a good experience with all of the cake as well, because the flavors and quality is the same no matter which slice you get. Also, most wedding cakes are based on a 1″ wide by 2″ deep by 4″ high slice. Not much wiggle room for “extra slices” in that without the guest feeling like they are being fed ” Costco samples” instead of “slices” of cake. And, on another note, I have yet to have a couple come back and say, “we ordered way to much cake”, or “not everyone ate the cake”,lol Just sayin :D

    • Jolin798

      Bakery’s in my area will not do your wedding cake if you want to supplement with “cheaper” cakes. You work hard for your reputation and you don’t need a sam’s club cake to ruin it.

    • BridenMI

      You bake cakes and probably overcharge for a simple and fun task, guess that is how it is nowadays though. Many bakers rip people off for a cake that would normally cost less were it not a “wedding cake”and that is what causes them to lose business. People are getting more savvy with their spending, get with it or go out of business case closed. Love the ideas above :-).

      • thecakegoddess

        I really take offense to the comment that making a wedding cake is a “simple and fun task”. You likely see the pros tackle competitions on television and think it’s easy. It is a very technical craft, and one which took me a while to learn correctly. I don’t live in an area where there are a lot of schools to teach me this kind of work; I am completely self-taught. Yes, for me it is a fun job, but it is anything but simple. No baker wants to have his or her cake topple on a bride’s wedding day. There are technical efforts that must be made to avoid that happening. No bride wants to see the construction it takes to keep her cake standing, so we must be careful to keep that hidden. And every bride wants ever aspect of her day to be perfect, so we are much more careful to insure a lovely produce for her day. And, like everyone else, we deserve to be compensated fairly for our work. I don’t appreciate seeing that some bakers are getting $12-$15 per slice when I can only get $3-$4 in my area; but like every other job, there are going to be people who can command a higher price depending on the area of the country they are providing their service. After all, an architecht in Boston will garner a higher price than an an architecht whose office is in the middle of Iowa farm fields. Is that fair? I don’t know, but it seems to be the way our world functions. I’m sorry you have such a problem with paying professionals for their expertise. I recommend that you talk to your baker and let them know you have a budgetary limitations; you’d be surprised at how many of us are willing to work within a budget if it’s presented to us. I am honored to do what I can because you want to hire me.

        • Amanda

          I understand your point of view because i enjoy making cakes and doing cake decorating (Just a hobby for now) but also as a bride on a budget, i dont feel you should be offended if a couple chooses to pay much less for a cheap sheet cake for the guests. If i were to do that, i would not try to pass it off like it was the cake you made, it would be obvious that the fancy cake was for me and my fiance while the guests cake was much lower quality. This will not be an issue at my wedding because we plan to have a small two tier cake with a full dessert bar filled with various pies, cakes, and cookies made by family members!

        • http://ecofrugality.blogspot.com/ Amy Livingston

          So the bridal couple gets the good cake and the guests get second best? Seriously? That’s the way you want to treat the people you love on your wedding day – “Here, this is good enough for you”?

        • bride-to-be

          I teach cooking to middle school students and have been doing quite a lot of baking lately. Cakes are one of the easier things to make – they are a quick bread, not a yeast bread, thus mostly a matter of mixing wet ingredients mixing dry, combine without over mixing, bake until fluffy and not sticky in a reasonable sized pan. As long as you have a good recipe to follow, there shouldn’t be much of a problem. Some people have some super amazing decorating skills and outstanding recipes, and some people seem truly cursed when it comes to cooking and can’t make box-mix cake or boil water, but generally cake should be doable. My groom-to-be wants a tiered cake with columns separating the layers… and we’re having a semi camping wedding, so transporting a catered cake is out, though there is a lode with a good kitchen, so I guess that means my brides maids and I will be doing some cooking the day before! I have been doing a lot of cake research and made a “practice” tiered cake last weekend. I used a vegan recipe without thinking, yet it turned out quite well! 3 cake recipes to go, many more to try. My neighbors have been appreciating evening deliveries of extra cakes. :)

        • bride-to-be

          Though, I totally agree with your first post for this thread – advertising a real cake made of quality ingredients then seeking out chemical Walmart garbage cake to actually feed people is terrible. Using quality ingredients is the secret to every food. I shutter at the thought of store bought cake, and Costco cake is probably why I am afraid of catered cake as well – I’ve never paid for a better cake than I or my mum make – always too much sugar or sub-par ingredients… or just a bad recipe for mass production? No one should substitute a commercial cake for a custom cake at their wedding. I’m glad there are good caterers in the world to draw people away from Costco cakes.

        • bride-to-be

          *sneaking out chemical Walmart garbage cake

        • lovergirl

          costco is a wealthy company…..they really are…..I just googled it….check it out :)

      • Crystal

        My baby shower cake for 50 people cost $100 from a baker that makes everything from scratch. I priced the same size cake from a local grocery store & Walmart & both stores quoted $150. Not all bakers rip you off!!

    • lovergirl

      you should donate some of your cakes so that folk like me who have a tight budget can get the “good stuff” and not the “commercial sheet cake”….do you know a photographer who would like to do the same…. :)

      • Thecakegoddess

        I actually have charged less for clients who could not otherwise afford to have a nice cake. I try to find out budgetary restrictions if it is appropriate. In fact, for one military wedding I did a few years ago, the bride came to me 3 weeks before the wedding just to see if I was available. Fortunately, I was, which relieved a lot of stress for her. She only had a short window of notice that her fiancee was going to be coming home from overseas and really had to throw their wedding together on a shoestring with very little notice. As a part of my service to them, and as a way to thank them for hiring me and for her husband’s service to our country, I only charged them $100 for their cake. It essentially was my cost with enough left over the put gas in my tank so I could deliver it and go back to the reception and cut their cake. If I recall, her attendants got together and paid for her cake as their gift. I will bet you that she had a lot of that type of generosity and she deserved it. She was one of the sweetest brides I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

    • Randallsocks

      It would not damage a bakers reputation, It came from a store NOT a Bakery. And We understand you put a lot of time and effort into cakes which is why you charge so much for something that will be gone in 4 hours. Some of us would rather start a family, buy a house or Save for the future than spend $500 on a cake. But that is why EVERYONE has the right to make their own decision. I am offended by your post as I will be making my own cake (I am not a Pastry Chef or Baker) to save money so that my kids can go to college, because very few people will remember the cake.

      • Thecakegoddess

        Well, if you’re baking your own cake “to save money so that my kids can go to college…”, don’t forget to add up every little thing you did to save that money. Every egg, every 1/4 tsp. of baking powder, every lemon. Don’t forget the cost of your baking vessels (cake pans, etc.), the cost of the energy to run your mixer, operate your oven, run the dishwasher. And don’t forget the cost of your water and dish soap for washing those dishes, the price of the plate or serving platter you put your cake on. Everything. Now, how much money did you really save? Remember, you haven’t taken any value for your time yet. Still think you’re saving a lot of money? Maybe not. But people will surely remember your cake.

        • Meghan Curtis

          don’t waste your time responding to these people. I don’t think they’ve realized how much a great cake matters to most people and how they will remember it.. If the cake is worth remembering that is. duh.

          Support the little guys!!

        • Cindy Ward

          I am paying a dollar per serving

      • nancy

        i totally agree with you, it’s cake people get over it. i think people have totally forgotten what the point of getting married is.

        • http://ecofrugality.blogspot.com/ Amy Livingston

          Oh, I dunno. I think it’s up to each couple to prioritize which things are most important to them for their big day. We skimped on a lot of things; we had potted plants instead of fresh flowers, served no liquor (couldn’t anyway, in a public park), and had no bridal party to dress. But we had a FABULOUS cake, because that was important to us. I think it’s the best cake I’ve ever had, at a wedding or anywhere else, and our guests agreed.

      • http://ecofrugality.blogspot.com/ Amy Livingston

        Read the comment again. She’s not saying it’s damaging to serve a store-bought cake if you admit that’s what it is; she’s saying it’s damaging to her reputation if you serve a small presentation cake that allegedly came from her bakery…but what most people actually get to eat is the cake from Sam’s Club. And I agree; it’s dishonest. If you’re going to serve a store-bought cake, or a home-made one, fine; just don’t try to pass it off as something else.

    • Shan

      I agree 100%! That particular post was not thought out very well. Glad you brought that up cakegoddess :)

    • Cindy Ward

      I am having the same person who is making my wedding cake, make a sheet cake to go along with it.. still cheaper and feeds more, but by the same person

    • Maya Debourguignon

      It’s all about what you can afford. My wedding budget is small and I’m not that big of a fan of cake so I’m probably going to go with a less expensive option. Times are tight so we have to decide which elements are most important to us. For me, cake isn’t where I want to drop funds. I’d rather spend more on food.

  • George

    Thank you….i do catering and your idea was perfect…thank you.

  • Georgekcadams

    Casey, I would love to know more secrets to saving cash for my wedding. Thing is mine will be in another state and guests will be paying for airfare and hotel. We plan on keeping it smile and cheap, just immediate family and friends. Thank you

  • http://www.facebook.com/ali.burcham Ali Burcham

    I disagree a tad with not hiring servers. When you pass your apps, you can get away with less food because people aren’t going to grab 10 shrimp like they would if the food is just sitting there. People tend to load up on food that’s not monitored!! Check with your venue to see what the extra labor charge is and weigh the difference.

    • swaggy p

      You suck

  • mkc

    Ive never understood why people feel the need to invite 100+ people to their weddings, maybe its because i don’t have a huge family or anything but it just seems ridiculous both budget wise and because it wouldn’t be that close of a gathering.

    • Andrea

      We are only inviting parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles because we both have very tight knit families. Just our families combined is 86 people.

    • Crystal

      Most invite 100+ for the gifts (envelopes of cash) ideally you should make your money back from your guest!

      • Tracy Clements

        “Ideally” you are inviting folks who mean the most to you and who have helped you be the person you are today in some fashion, who you want to share the most meaningful day of your life with; you NEVER invite folks thinking that their gifts will offset your wedding day expenses. How incredibly rude.

    • kfpolchies

      Just in case this is someone who is an only child, I will explain the concept of a large family. My mother is 1 of 4 children. Each of them had at least 3 children. My cousins each had 3-4 children. 5 of their children are now married. My father is 1 of 9 kids. 7 of them had at least 2 children. Of them, some have kids of their own and are married. That is just my family, not including my wedding party (3 people). My fiance has 2 sisters. The one has 4 kids and is married. His mother has 2 sisters and a few very close cousins that want to come. His father has a sister, father, and a couple other family members who wish to come. The above people are all very close family members and close in on that 100+ mark just including them. There are a few, like 15 people, that I am very good friends with that have to attend my wedding. My fiance only has 8-10 depending on +1s. Sometimes the numbers are high because the families are large. Family is important, and those are the people that should be at a wedding. Even with the limited amount of friends we are inviting, we are still looking at a very expensive reception.
      Because we have so many family members, we are having only parents and siblings at a private ceremony for the wedding and spending the bulk on the reception so we can afford catering and deserts. We don’t want to work on our wedding day so a caterer will be necessary. I am lucky that I found someone who, like me, would rather have an intimate ceremony and a big celebration with family and friends with all the trimmings at the reception.
      Family is family, they will always be there. Sometimes it is worth forgoing the big ceremony to have everyone there to celebrate with you at the reception.

    • http://ecofrugality.blogspot.com/ Amy Livingston

      I suspect these are mostly people who have large families, or large circles of friends (like, for instance, they want to invite the whole congregation of their church). The Marriage Project actually did research and found that people who had 150 people or more at their weddings report higher marriage quality than those who had smaller weddings. They speculate that it’s because these folks tend to have a stronger support network. They call it the “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” Factor. But I’m still glad we didn’t do it, because we actually got to spend time with all the (75) guests at our wedding, beyond just saying “Thank you for coming” over and over in a receiving line.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rosy.fernandez.7374 Rosy Fernandez

    Great article, but besides food I think a lot of money can be saved in entertainment expenses. I recently attended the wedding reception of my niece that was so wonderful. They had put up a big-screen tv and played a musical show made with pictures of the couple’s dating days. It was perfectly synchronized to music and because it was professionally made, the results were awesomely romantic and touching! They got the show custom-made for them by SmilingSnaps and I had never seen anything like that before.

  • Kym

    this sounds like a 10,000 dollar wedding


    I can’t even read some of these posts because of the spelling and punctuation mistakes. I think all of you should go back to elementary school.

    • meme

      or maybe you could just learn how to read and shut up. no one really cares

    • meme

      or maybe you could just learn how to read and shut up. no one really cares

      • http://ecofrugality.blogspot.com/ Amy Livingston

        Well, obviously this person cares.

    • courtney

      really? if you don’t like it, GET OFF

  • Cross Keys Banquet Center

    I am the Banquet Manager at Cross Keys Banquet Center in New Oxford, PA. At our facility you could have an extremely nice reception for 150 guests for less than $5,000.00. For example, you could choose one of the following entrees for your guests; (Boneless Herb Roasted Chicken, Roasted Turkey, Chicken Marsala w/Mushrooms, Baked Sugar Cured Ham, Swiss Steak w/Vegetable Bordelaise, or Lemon Buttered Haddock). With whatever entree you chose, you would also choose a potato (parslied red potatoes, baked stuffed potatoes, buttered whipped potatoes, baked Idaho potato, or garlic roasted potato), along with another vegetable (glazed carrots, peas, French cut green beans, corn, Italian blend, or brussels sprouts). Your guests would also get a salad, rolls & butter, and coffee, hot tea, or a soft drink. You would have (2) kegs of beer on tap (your choice), and prior to your arrival, the guests could munch on a vegetable & dip display. The Bride & Groom would be given a complimentary Jacuzzi room to stay in at the end of the reception. They would also receive a FREE full breakfast in our attached restaurant the following morning. AND, the Rental of the Banquet Room (complete with a 24′ x 24′ wooden dance floor), would be completely FREE as well. This entire package, as presented in this comment – with all taxes and any fees included – for 150 guests……….is just $4,841.89. Call me at (717) 624-7778, Ext. #101. Nice does not have to be expensive. Plus, our food is top notch!

    • Cindy Ward

      Sounds expensive to me!!

      • Cross Keys Banquet Center

        Dear Cindy,
        For the menu, and everything else as is outlined in my comment above; for that large of a group; what amount would you expect to pay? Have you checked around at other facilities and inquired as to a cost for everything as it is listed? I’m just curious, as I have generally found that our facility is generally the least expensive one in our area.
        But, thank you for reading the comment and responding; we appreciate all input.

        • Andrea

          lol. I can have all that for $3000 in my area and its still too expensive! We are going with a homecooked meal, probably be better anyway :)

        • Cross Keys Banquet Center


          What area are you located in? If something doesn’t work within someone’s budget, yes…then it would be expensive. However, I admire you still making your day special by having someone prepare a home cooked meal for you and your guests. Regarding being better anyway……that I’m sure is up to each person’s individual tastes. Our Restaurant has been in the exact same location for 76 years (since 1937). You don’t achieve that type of longevity if you do not have a good product that people enjoy.

          Thank You for reading our post, and for your opinion. I wish you and your husband-to-be all the best; and many, many happy years together. Congratulations!

        • tracie

          I agree!!!! family bring side dishes im going to supply some of the meat and in law are bringing side dishes and meats of course this is for my vow renewal but we did the same thing the first time around. we are in the south so ribs chicken potatoe salad baked beans and deviled eggs is what im shooting for this go around and im not feeding 150 people either 60-70 at the most but yea my whole budget wasnt 3,000 or 5,000 dollars thats just CRAZY, but some people have it like that but i anit one lol. Thanks ladies

        • Jenn

          I like that your response (to a negative comment) is so nice and professional! I would pay a bit more to work with someone like you, who gives honey when given vinegar. I am not near you and my budget is much closer to $500 than $5000 but I give you props for being the bigger person!

    • Wedding Diva

      Dear Cross Keys,
      As a professional wedding planner, I have to agree that your package is A GREAT DEAL for our area, given the add-ins (complimentary banquet room with dance floor, overnight suite for bride and groom and breakfast next day). Please know that I will be adding you to my list of vendors for my couples looking for a budget worthy celebration for their wedding in Central PA.

      • Cross Keys Banquet Center

        Thank You Wedding Diva, I appreciate it. If you are ever in our area, please stop in. I would love to meet you and show you our facility.

    • KLB999

      I wish you were that cheap and in Los Angeles! Anyone who thinks that’s expensive for a catered reception for 150 people let alone with the overnight stay, etc. is pretty ignorant. I mean, it may be over your budget but it’s very low for what you get.

  • Heather

    We had a Potluck/Carry In Dinner for our reception. At first my wedding coordinator didn’t think it would work, but after she told me she had been wrong. My husband and I had both grown up in churches and were established in life, so it was perfect for us to have people bring food to share instead of feeling they had to bring a gift. Everyone loved the selection and we received many complements. We had about 250 people at our reception.

  • chefswife

    One thing that you all need to remember is that we, the catering industry, are professionals. This is how we make our living. You are hiring us to do a job because you are unable to do it yourselves. You want someone who is knowledgeable and professional to accomplish these things. We all have careers, and for those of us in the catering industry, this is ours. If you have a shoe string budget, then don’t expect a gala wedding. You wouldn’t expect a 10 carat diamond ring for $100 so why expect that kind of thing from your caterer for nothing? We have trained staff to prepare the food, water, electricity, the equipment, the rent for the kitchen space in which to prepare it, numerous permits and different insurances that must be paid to ensure that you are getting the best possible experience and food that assuredly will not make you or your guests sick. This is all before we even purchase your food to make the meal for your wedding. So, while you think $50 per person for a wedding dinner is extravagant, think about everything that goes into making your perfect night. It isn’t just the cost of the ingredients. There are many other factors, just there are many factors that make what you do for a living interesting, and more technical than something that just anyone can pull off.
    If you don’t want to have the extravagant wedding, my hats off to you. That is totally your choice. However, if you do decide to go for it, please remember that we are not here to rip you off. We are here to give you and your guests the most memorable night of your lives.

    • wooten

      The intent of this was not to bash on the pricing of the catering industry. It is here to offer additional advice on how to stretch a tight budget. Nearly all of the advice works for someone who isn’t using a professional caterer…. aka me. I am getting a local restaurant to cater but am picking it up everything else is done on my own. I can do all these options and my caterer is not going to be screwed over.

  • Missy Sue

    is sort of a ridiculous set of suggestions for a wedding. If you CANNOT afford
    a catered wedding…than find a different route. But to nickel and dime a
    caterer to death and expect the service these professionals provide with their
    expertise and knowledge is wrong! Let’s break it down to what is wrong with a
    lot of these suggestions. 1) If you do provide your own appetizers DO NOT ask
    the caterer if they would “be a dear and set these all out and make it look
    pretty” DO NOT expect dishes or clean up from the DIY offerings from your
    caterer…it is simply not fair to expect that. So find a friend who isn’t in
    the wedding party who love to do this type of stuff and make sure they don’t
    get so involved in partying themselves that they leave the table in a heap of a
    mess after the cocktail hour. 2) Thinking that you have hired servers for just
    specific things at a reception is ridiculous! If you hire servers you are
    charged for a set amount for the event, there is usually a minimum amount of
    hours that you have to hire them for. Who exactly do you think set the tables,
    and the buffets etc. before the hour cocktail party? Little elves? You most
    certainly want the tables set up before your guests arrive…right? So, they are
    already there to serve. If you are having a caterer merely drop off the food,
    then you have friends or relatives who are doing all the set up and just
    signing off for disposable aluminum pans filled with, hopefully, delicious hot
    food. 3) Finger Foods cheaper than a buffet? Had the person that wrote this
    ever gone to a restaurant and order an appetizer would know that this is not
    the fact. Have you ever noticed the price of appetizer and desserts versus
    entrees on a menu. They are always a small portion for about 1/2 the price of
    the entree. It includes a few items, without sides, salad or any other items.
    When you look at volume of food paid for you are paying way more for the
    appetizers.WHY? Because of the labor. So…look at it as putting a roast in the
    oven is a lot easier than making hundreds of little works of art. Catering is
    expensive…PERIOD. The suggestions for stations, Family Style, lunch or
    breakfast is not going to help if you can’t afford catering. And for this
    author’s information…Stations and Family Style are not cheaper!!!! The
    problem with this entire post is that the author is totally out of her league
    of understanding the costs and the reason for the costs involved with Catering

  • Missy Sue

    Even Boston Market has a catering division…it starts @
    $24.95…for frozen pre packaged garbage food…check it out online
    The reason it is so expensive…beyond a price of a restaurant… are many. 1) when you go to a
    restaurant you order off of their menu…their menu that does not change day to
    day. You will notice on their menu that they have a lot of items that use the
    same ingredients, it is what keeps their food cost down. If you went to a
    Chinese Restaurant and ordered Surf & Turf…Well you couldn’t…could you.
    But you can say to a caterer that you want an Asian Station and a Surf and Turf
    station and it is produce…FOR YOU…just for you and for your day. 2) When
    you walk into a restaurant…the people that are serving you from the kitchen
    to the hostess are there whether you show up or not. The more people that show
    up the greater the profit margin…to order off of their menu. The dishes are
    there…glasses…linens…everything, no matter what, they remain there. The
    server who waits on you…gets a whopping $2.45 an hour because she totally
    depends on her tips to support her. Servers at an event come to you…just for
    you and they get paid a flat rate or an hourly rate. 3) Not only is the food
    brought just for you…the servers brought just for you…the actual set up and
    design elements on your buffet or station is just for you- it goes with your
    specific theme or colors, most of the time never to be used again…obviously
    if fresh flowers are involved 4) The food prices tend to be higher for a
    smaller group than a larger group why? Because the lights in the kitchen cost
    the same if they are cooking for 50 or 500..the staff gets paid the same, the
    temperature on the oven is set for 350 degrees and doesn’t care if it is filled
    to the max or just has a few chickens in it. The Gas for the Vans/Trucks to get
    to the event cost the same for a filled to the rafters Truck or a half filled
    Van. I understand that not all can afford catering…and that is fine…but do
    not try to get a professional caterer to lower their prices to fit an
    unreasonable budget and think they are inflexible because they
    “won’t” or they “can’t” and stay in business.

  • Elizabeth

    My apologies for the random comment, but there were exactly 99 comments, and I wanted there to be exactly 100. :)

  • tbradnc

    My wife and I got married for $500 (1988 dollars) and had a beautiful wedding. Our friends and family were there and that’s what mattered. And… a few hours after it started it was all over and everyone was gone… :)

  • Janine

    My fiance & I are only paying about 3k for our wedding. $35 a head, about 50-60 guests or maybe even less depending how many rsvp…( we don’t have much family ) No alcohol, so having a punch bowl thank to my matron of honor donating that, & instead of the traditional champagne toasts, toasting w/ sparkling cranberry. ( We personally don’t care for champagne ) room fee & ceremony are $200 ea, and we have the majority of the decorations done. :) Very excited. Looking forward to Feb 8, 2015. Venue is the Historic Maxwell Room, here in Fort Lauderdale, FL

    • Cross Keys Banquet Center

      It’s too bad you are not in Pennsylvania. For 60 Guests at our Banquet Facility you could have the following – for a Grand Total of $2,350.33 – which includes all taxes and gratuity. Herb Roasted Chicken, Red Parslied Potatoes, French Cut Green Beans, Salad, Rolls & Butter, Coffee, Hot Tea, or a Soft Drink (with Free Refills during the event), plus 2 – 1/2 Kegs of Beer (you get approximately 160 – 12 ounce glasses out of each 1/2 Keg). And, the Banquet Room Rental Fee is already included as well in the above mentioned Grand Total. And for another $105.99; you could have a Jacuzzi room to share for the evening. All of this for $2,456.32! (Less than $2500.00)

      • tiffyJames

        @Cross Keys Banquet Center….where are you located exactly and do you have a link to your facility?

        • Cross Keys Banquet Center

          We are located at 6110 York Road, New Oxford, PA 17350. This location is actually at the intersection of Route #30 & Route #94. We are West of York, PA, North of Hanover, PA, East of Gettysburg, PA, You can find us on Facebook at Crosskeys Diner Motor Inn. You will find many photos of our large Banquet Room, decorated from many of the numerous wedding receptions we’ve hosted. If you have any questions, or would like to see the facility in person. Just give me at call at (717) 624-7778, Ext. #101

    • Annie

      I went to a wonderful wedding years ago. It was a second marriage. The bride and groom asked that our gift to them would be a special dish that we enjoyed. I made a wonderful fillet of salmon with a honey mustard sauce. All of the food was delicious. The wedding favors were compiled from the recipes everyone brought to accompany their dish. So everyone went home with a cook book!!

  • Rowan

    So far, my fiance and I have gotten everything for our wedding (a small outdoor affair) and even bought everything to make food for the reception, for UNDER $500! This is including our pavilion reservation, all decorations, bridal gown, a two-tier wedding cake, MOH and bridal party gifts, favors, chair rentals, any food, and tableware. We planned the wedding in less than 2 months and have at least 30 guests. Ceremony and reception are at Woolly Hollow State Park (Arkansas.)

    • gena

      I need ypu as a friend. Lol how did youbfo.that??

      • http://ecofrugality.blogspot.com/ Amy Livingston

        By living in Arkansas, for a start.

      • Rose

        By only having 30 guests.

  • Reeeb0k

    Uh, all the weddings I’ve been to, the guests buy their own damn alcohol at the bar. Unfortunately, the place I’m having my reception has some “food and drink” rule or law or something, that basically says if I’m having an event in their premises, they HAVE to cater. Something about them having a kitchen in the building, blah, blah, blah. I came here to figure out how to budget with that – but ah, no help here! :(
    STILL spending only $5k on the wedding :)

    • Cross Keys Banquet Center

      I’m sorry, I hit the button in error. I wanted to hit reply. Unfortunately, I can’t undo it or I would. At any rate I don’t know where you are located; but, I would love to give you a quote on your reception. Depending upon the number of guests you are having, I should be able to hit your spending goal. Give me a call at 717-624-7778, Ext. #101.

  • Janine

    My fiance & I are having our ceremony & reception held at a nice wedding chapel that holds 50 people, we only have 40 people to cater to, & our venue will let us bring our own food & drink. SO, we are going with some beautiful handmade platters from Publix, along with a nice sky blue flavored punch, toasting with sparkling cranberry ( not a champagne fan ) AND, Publix can custom make our cake. So all we are pretty much spending is about $600 for food, drinks, & cake. Everything else is done with minus attire, so we are good to go. 8 months left & I’m already worn out lol

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  • Steve Dodson

    Please re-title the article to “How to save money at someone else’ expense” because that’s what you really mean.
    1. Provide Your own Appetizers – make a family member make them, store them, deliver them, display them, clean them up and provide the paper products you will forget.
    2. Don’t Have Servers – Again you can goad a family member into setting up the whole venue and cleaning it all up after your guests have destroyed it. Savvy!
    3. Go Simple – Because nothing says “all out” like Velveeta
    4. B.Y.O.B. – Yep, you’ll save tons of money when you over serve a guest who drives home drunk and causes damage and the lawyers call you and say “we’ll settle for 15K”. May want to check your state laws on who holds the bag when it happens.
    5. Save money on the meal – Most DIY disasters will put all the responsibility on a parent or some other sap who will end up doing all the work and paying all the price because 2 weeks prior to your wedding you’ll be an emotional mess and they’ll have to save you. Then the aunts will have to pitch in and whomever else. They’ll come, they’ll smile, and all the while they’ll be thinking…..
    Or you’ll dump your food or goodies off and expect someone (random soul) to set it all out and clean it all up for you while you get ready…ASK ME HOW I KNOW

    There’s a time to be cheap, but there may be one or two days when you may want to spend a little of that hard saved money, unless you don’t really expect this to be your last wedding. I get tired of seeing these cheese filled articles on how to be cheap on the biggest day of your life while you completely ignore the sacrifice someone else has to make for you because you were too cheap to spend a little more for your honored guests.

    Perhaps you can write an article on DIY Funerals next? How cardboard box painted just right can look just like the real wood ones? Save big on the headstone with a wooden marker and call it vintage. Dedicate a plot in the backyard and save big!

    • Laura

      Weddings aren’t about how much money you spend…. you don’t have to go all out. Not everyone has the money to blow on a wedding. It is supposed to because you love the person and want to spend your lives together, not “look how much extra money we have to blow on ONE day of our lives together!!!!”. Maybe people are saving because they are saving for a down payment on a home so they can actually start their lives together. No sense in blowing all of that on one day. If the family and friends truly should be there, the won’t care whats being served. All they will care about is that they were there to witness you on the happiest day of your life. Just because you’re trying to do things cheap doesn’t mean you have to screw other people over. I’m sorry that you looked at it that way.

      • Michelle Sheridan

        I am getting married later this year , My fiance is looking at a budget of 5,000 euro OMG I said I’m looking at no more then 2,500/ 3,000 if that . Our venue is at home with a Marquee for up too 80 guest, building our own Bar, A band I found for 300 euro entertainment for the hole night , buffet style food bar ,sweet corner ,I am making my own favor’s( 3 tier wedding cake candles), center pieces,. I Agree with you Laura its about the love you have for each other not what money to have to out do Mrs Joans . I will cry if i spend more then I need too

    • Reba

      Some one got left at the alter. So grumpy

    • PancakeSorting

      Lol… I bet you aren’t invited to many weddings anymore with your attitude.

      The most important people in your life won’t give a damn about your decorations, the cake, the food, the venue, your dress, the lighting, or any of that other crap – they will be too busy being thrilled that you have found someone you want to spend the rest of your life with.

      You’ll note that these important people will be thrilled to help you with your wedding, because they know it’s a huge undertaking and want to help. They will not mind being “inconvenienced” by helping decorate or clean up (the HORROR) because they are your family and/or friends (I’m guessing you don’t have many friends). In fact, not too long ago, weddings were conducted in the backyard with the help of family and friends. My grandmother made my mother’s wedding dress herself, the whole family cooked food, and the wedding happened in the beautifully decorated backyard. And everyone was happy.

      I think it’s completely ludicrous that the average cost of a wedding is around $30k in the US these days. The focus of a wedding is supposed to be on two people committing to spending the rest of their lives together, not on the damn bisque and signature drinks! And if they don’t want to begin their lives together in thousands of dollars in debt, then why should they? Unless a huge, elaborate, expensive party is what you WANT – then by no means should you feel pressured to have one. If what you really want is to have a nice, simple, budget-friendly celebration with a friends and family, then by all means – do that!

      And for the love of God, if you are going to be offended by people who don’t particularly want to spend $30,000 on your stupid fancy appetizers and hired help – then STAY HOME, BUY YOUR OWN DINNER, AND QUIT BITCHING.

    • Danielle

      Ok I’m sorry but this just really rubbed me the wrong way. Not everyone can afford $30+ per person. Not everyone has a huge stash of money. This comment was very small minded and inconsiderate of you. And if you don’t like reading articles like this then STOP READING THEM! I understand, there will always be that one or two guests who will be disappointed no matter what you serve and honestly I don’t care. It’s not for them. Anyways, I know I’m rambling but I really hope you learn some compassion and respect.

    • http://ecofrugality.blogspot.com/ Amy Livingston

      I think you must not have read the article very carefully. When the author says “Don’t have servers,” she is not recommending that you conscript a family member to do the job; she is saying DON’T HAVE SERVERS. Instead, set everything out buffet style for guests to help themselves.

      Likewise “Provide your own appetizers” does not mean “make your mom do it,” it means PROVIDE YOUR OWN–as in, make them yourselves. Or buy them from Costco.

      As for “go simple,” crackers and cheese does not have to mean Velveeta. If you serve grapes, Brie and table water crackers, I don’t think anyone will consider it tacky.

      And your objection to “BYOB” makes no sense at all. Do you really think guests are LESS likely to get drunk when there’s an unlimited open bar? Or less likely to sue because the booze they got sloshed on came from your caterer, not from Trader Joe’s?

      You have a legitimate complaint about suggestion #15, “Have your family cook”: it isn’t fair to put that burden on them (though it’s perfectly fair to accept if they offer it as a wedding present). But there were seven other suggestions under “Save Money on the Meal”; did you read any of them? Or did you just home in on the one idea you found offensive, and assume that all the rest were more or less the same thing?

    • Nicole

      Reading comprehension skills are very important. #1) I believe the article said to make YOUR OWN, as in You make the appetizers Yourself. 2) She never said hire your family. She said don’t have servers PERIOD. Are people too lazy to walk over to a table and pick things up for themselves? 3) Simple does not mean tacky. Those are not synonyms. You can google their definitions. 4) I don’t know where you live, but our laws say that the drunk driver is responsible for his or her drunk driving; not bars, restaurants, or family members. Adults are responsible for their own actions around here. I don’t see why you think an individual is any more likely to get drunk than at an Open bar. 5) This is the only comment of yours that has any solid ground and it is true. This would be a terrible thing to force onto family. However, there are a million ways around it and if you truly do the work yourself, then what is the harm? It sounds like you’ve had a bad experience and it has tainted your entire view, but there is no reason to be rude, hateful, and spiteful. If you don’t like these articles, don’t read them and allow the people who want to read them to do so in peace.

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  • Kristy Volk

    That is one thing ppl forget with making your own food. The time. The electricity or gas the gas in the car to shop and then bring to reception. Does the transporter know enough basic food safety? Is there a place for chilled items when you get there and in working order? If it’s hot food how much for those little heaters etc. there’s fees no matter the route you go. Only you know what will work for you and your spouse. I think this is a guided article to get you thinking. If you don’t have relatives/friends that like doing extras do not think you can do it all on your big day… It’s impossible. Good luck

  • michelle

    I am getting married later this year , My fiance is looking at a budget of 5,000 euro OMG I said I’m looking at no more then 2,500/ 3,000 if that . Our venue is at home with a Marquee for up too 80 guest, building our own Bar, A band I found for 300 euro entertainment for the hole night , buffet style food bar ,sweet corner ,I am making my own favor’s( 3 tier wedding cake candles), center pieces ECT,. its about the love you have for each other not what money to have: to out do Mrs Joans . I will cry if i spend more then I need too

  • naloijos

    Wow. I looked through the comments below and am shocked how judgement and small minded people can be. Every couple is different and has their own priorities when it comes to the wedding and reception. Here is an idea–don’t judge other people on what cakes they use, what food they eat, or how the beverages are served (etc.) at the wedding. Open your minds and have respect, celebration, and happiness for the couple. Isn’t this the point?? In my opinion people get lost in how things are “supposed” to be. Super traditional expensive weddings are beautiful. On the other spectrum simple “low budget” weddings are wonderful and amazing. I appreciate each wedding I’ve been to (and am currently planning one for myself and fiance).

    I hope people agree- weddings are about celebration and happiness. Please think about this before you criticize others. i would love to hear your feedback. Cheers:)

    • naloijos

      Yes, I just noticed spelling mistakes in my writing. Don’t need to hear about this;)

      • Avon gal

        So true, I agree with you a 100%. I am keeping my wedding low cost. Renting a party room at no charge. Then renting linens, plates, cutlery. Making my own centerpieces. Serving open bar wine and beer. Looking at making our own wine. Plus lots of non alcoholic beverages that I’ll be buying when on special. Serving a signature drink at the start too. I’m abit of a control freak I can’t see anyone looking after my big day. My fiancé and I are making our own food and renting warmers. As for DJ-making Cd’s and using the rooms sound system. We want our wedding to be relaxed and fun for our guests. None of my family will be attending nor helping with the bills. We have 5 kids between us. Would rather have the 10K go towards our future then blown in one day. To us it matters not that it’s all about the show. We care more about the personal touch and I love entertaining.

    • LifeIsTooShort

      right on sister. Been married 30 years this August and our wedding was traditional but within our budget. Our reception was organized by our parish with a very simple lunch. I did, within our budget, a beautiful cake which was the focal point. Mostly, it was about family, friends and love. Doing a wedding for a friend this April. It will be simple but elegant. Yes, you can do that for 150 guest under $1,000. And just to put thing in perspective, I have attended a rehearsal dinner at the top restaurant in town with a bill of $8,000.00. Really? Your choice in what message you are sending to your guest.

    • B real

      I agree, but I don’t want to hear bellymoaning and bitching from the bride to be about her fiance’ not putting up enough $$$ for the reception while inviting 30 more people because all of his buddies had large weddings.

  • cookie

    As a cake decorator I have to say that decorating and setting up a display of 160 cupcakes is so much more labour intensive and usually more costly than decorating a wedding cake

  • Mrs. Chapman

    They say the MOST EXPENSIVE weddings..are the least likely to withstand the marriage.

  • Nikki

    Regardless of whether we spend $10,000 or $1,000 on our wedding we will be no more or less Marie once the event is done. My focus is on marrying the man of my dreams, why should I have to brake the bank in order to make a public display that will last less than a day? We are making a public profession of a love that is private, we do not need to be lavish in order to make that statement.

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  • Nicki

    Look, there are a million ways to do a wedding. Do what works for you. Screw everyone else and their opinions. If you want to splurge, splurge. If you want to save money, save money. Saving money is huge for me. With that being said…I know I have A LOT of work to do, and I’m not lazy, so this isn’t a problem. Yes, I will probably need the help of a few friends/family members, and THAT’S OKAY! Fortunately for me, I have wonderful relationships with the people I am inviting. And these people are HAPPY to lend a hand on my wedding day. Just like I was happy helping them on their wedding days. Knocking people for taking a route other than the traditional one, and leaning on TRUE friends/family to make their wedding work, is small minded and rude. Sorry to the guy who feels put out by the work he had to do to help his loved one have a great wedding……I’m sure you are super close ;) P.S., I hate Velveeta, but am now considering using it in my penny pinching, hillbilly, low class, inconsiderate wedding that isn’t good enough because I’m not paying someone to do for me what I am perfectly capable of doing for myself. Does anyone know if I can get a Velveeta fountain instead of a chocolate fountain?!?!?!?!?!?!? lol ;)

  • Danie

    Reception don’t make the marriage to be last,why would spend a lot of money or probably take a loan just for the reception?After the 4 hours for the reception everyone will go home,you and your husband will have the loan to pay backand other bills,sometimes because of detbs marriage fall apart,mine gonna cheap,ill have 150 pple,having friend to cook for me,friends for the decoration,the hall is really cheap since I choose to have the reception in the morning.I am gonna have open bar,but with someone responsible to serve the alcohol,and everything that im going to do will heve 1or2 pple to help.

  • Michelle Enzenroth

    I came here looking for some simple ideas, as my husband and I are planning to renew our vows on our 20th anniversary this year… When we got married the first time, we paid for the majority of the cost of our wedding ourselves. Our families actually ended up bringing the food (each providing something) My husbands mother supervised the kitchen at our venue, because she had experience in running a kitchen thru her work experience. And my sister in law cut the cake,as she was experienced with decorator cakes. It really did save us a lot of money (I never kept track of the actual figures). Another sister in law did the photography, as she had studied photography in college. We tried to pay her, but she refused even money for the film! Make use of the strengths of your families. If they are at all like ours they will do whatever they can to be there for you.

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  • Julie

    My daughter will be getting married soon and one thing we’re doing is to rent a guesthouse near the venue It’s about $500 for 3 nights through VRBO. Not only will it sleep 8 out of town guests, it will provide a place for the bridesmaids/bride to congregate, dressing rooms, and a full kitchen in case she decides to spend her allotted amount on her dress rather than catered food. It’s about a third of the cost of hotels plus she doesn’t have to pay the extra $150 her venue charges for the dressing room.

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  • TSDS

    We are getting married in May 2016, since we live in the North Woods and hunt, we chose our theme as Camo and ceremony will be outside. Our meal will consist of Pulled Pork and Manwich sandwiches (these are future hubby’s favorites). Other then that my daughter is doing the Camo cake and my family took over on the salad and side dish menu. Our menu cost was the Pork, Manwich, fixing for them and the buns. Serving somewhere around 100 guests, spending about $100 out our pockets, not bad 1.00 per person for us. Family ROCKS!!!!!!

  • Amy Setlock

    FOODTRUCKS!!! My wedding is next June and me and the future hubby opted to do food trucks instead of traditional catering. Not only is it significantly cheaper then catering (only $10 per person for my taco truck and wood-fire pizza truck) you can save money by not having to rent a ton of plates/silverware etc. The food trucks provide what the dishes will be served on and silverware/Napkins. We are also saved some money by making all of our own centerpieces out of mason jars (that I scoured garage sales for), burlap, twine, and candles. Lastly, we chose to do a 6″ cake for him and I to cut into but then just serve cupcakes to everyone else, these were about .50 a piece. We still have a lot of other things to get like linens and flowers, but we are thinking we will be able to pull off our dream wedding with about 150 guests for under 8K. And that price is with alooooottt of booze. (Sidenote: anyone thinking of doing a backyard wedding, don’t forget to think about things like restrooms, it did not dawn on me when I decided to have a backyard wedding that I would need more restrooms for that many people, and unfortunately a “luxury” portapotty cost me almost $1,000.00)

    • Alana Bell

      Omg, we thought of most of the same things!! I’m having a rustic/vintage wedding and am using food trucks as well!! Main differences are I have 150 vintage different plates to still add a nice touch of instead of the provided containers. Also the indoor/ outdoor venue cost us $1,000 for a Saturday in the coming June and we can bring our own bar, bartender and anything you can think of by a pond that sits alone. Congrats and good luck!!

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