How to Save Money on the Wedding Reception Dinner

bread table food station
Photo Courtesy of Teresa K. Photography

After the dress, the flowers, the cake, and decorating the reception hall, let’s face it – you are quickly running up the bill and are probably looking for ways to trim costs where you can. Luckily, wedding reception dinners are one area where you can really pare down costs without cutting corners with some of the methods in this article.

Shop Around for a Wedding Caterer

Make sure to get several quotes from caterers in your area before signing a contract with anyone. (Just make sure that a caterer with a much lower rate than others isn’t planning on “surprising” you by tacking on extra charges after the fact.) Don’t be afraid to haggle with your caterer, either. Just like when you’re buying a car, catering prices aren’t set in stone.

Look At Caterers-in-Training

Just like beauty schools provide salon services to the public for cheap, culinary schools and catering colleges will be happy to cater your wedding reception for a steeply discounted rate. The students will be supervised by professionals, but their rates will be drastically discounted.

Choose Less Expensive Foods

salad for an LDS reception
Photo Courtesy of

Seafood and beef dishes are bound to be the most expensive wedding reception foods. Pare down costs by using pasta or chicken dishes as your main entrée. Soups and sandwiches are cheap and appropriate for a more casual or lunchtime reception. Fruit trays are cheap and tasty sides. If you are having a buffet, place the most expensive items at the end of the table and let guests fill their plates with cheaper food items first.

Keep Your Guest List Small

The more people you have at your reception, the more you will spend on everything meal-related. Couples on a budget can try this trick: hold a small full-meal reception for close friends and family, and a casual open house with finger food appetizers for the entire ward after the honeymoon.

Skip the Full Meal

rehersal dinner for LDS weddings
Photo Courtesy of Whitney Lewis Photography

If you hold your reception at dinnertime, you’re forced to serve a full meal. But consider an afternoon reception at 2pm or 3pm. This will be between mealtimes, so guests won’t expect more than light appetizers or hors d’oeuvres and a slice of wedding cake.

Have a Buffet or Food Stations

Reception buffets cost less than sit-down dinners since the food is generally less expensive and you don’t have to pay for a wait staff. Food stations are also a trendy new option, where circular tables are scattered throughout the room, each with a different type or ethnicity of food to try out.

Go the DIY Wedding Buffet Route

Is it a lot of work to handle your own reception buffet? You bet it is. But if you’ve got lots of family members who are willing to pitch in homemade dishes and some manpower, it can seriously slash your expenses on wedding food.

If you have never paid for a full meal for a large crowd before, you’re in for a big shock when you start shopping around for quotes for your wedding reception. But you have a lot of sway over your wedding food budget, and a lot of different options at your disposal for reducing costs.

♥ Jenny Evans
Exclusively for
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Catering for LDS weddings, LDS reception, LDS open houses

LDS weddings, LDS reception, LDS open houses

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