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Thrifty Weddings: Food

Food at a wedding can easily become outrageously expensive.  Without proper planning it can become a disaster.

I will admit, I’m a country girl.  I love food and I love showing off my culinary skills.  I made some food for my wedding but there was no way I could do all the food.  I had some of it catered.  Since it was a garden wedding, I went with tea foods which are hors d’oeuvres in essence.  We served scones from my favorite tea shop and a variety of small foods (mufflata, mushroom stuffed pastries, etc) from a local bakery.  I think the scones were about 25 cents each and the bakery charged us 50 cents for each item we bought from them.  I made apricot jam earlier in the summer and then several spreads for the baked goods. I can’t give you the exact amount but I know it was less than $200, maybe even less than $100 but I couldn’t say.

For that much money, I feed all our guests (I think about 50) and then my husband and I ate the leftovers through most of our honeymoon.  There came a point when I actually threw out a little of the leftovers because I was sick of them.

My best friend had a potluck for her reception.  It was cozy and friendly.

Before you decide the menu for your wedding, here are a few things to consider:

1. Meals are more expensive than “snacks”.  They are also more difficult to cater to everyone’s dietary restrictions. These days everyone is avoiding something when it comes to food.  Having a buffet with hors d’oeuvres not only gives your guests choices but it also encourages mingling.

2.  Alcohol is horribly expensive.  We chose not to have alcohol at our reception.  We were outdoors and there are laws that prevent drinking out in “public”.  There are also licensing requirements that can get pricey depending on your state and your needs.  If you are in a venue that has a bar, then it becomes easier.  The other reason we wanted to avoid alcohol was I just didn’t want that one drunk person to ruin my wedding.  Not that I think it would have happened with the guests we had but I could see it as a potential problem.  We served a high quality iced tea and toasted with sparking cider.  That way everyone was included and the kids got fancy glasses too.    My SIL’s wedding, they opted for one alcoholic drink for the toast.  The reception was in a bar that specialized in Brazilian consumables and since my SIL is from Brazil it made sense to have them cater.  Any additional drinks were charged to the drinker.

3.  Having your reception or wedding at non-meal times reduces the expectation for a meal.  Afternoon is perfect – a wedding at 1 and reception at 2 opens up a lot of less expensive options or Late evening – wedding at 6, reception at 7 on a Saturday (later for during the work week).

There is no rule that says you have to have just one place cater your wedding.  You can pick and choose what you want for the best combination.  It may mean a little more running around but it’s not the end of the world to have someone run an extra errand.

Let’s talk cake – there is no need for a super fancy $1000 cake.  It, most likely, won’t even taste as great as you think it will.  Did you know that those fancy cakes are made days, sometimes a week or two, in advance?  They take a long time to decorate.  Yes they are pretty and make a statement but then you dice it up and eat it.  Seek out a cake that tastes good.  I had my mom make a basic lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting because that’s my favorite cake.  I will admit I’m not crazy about store bought cakes.  I don’t even like cake mixes that well anymore.  And I can’t stand that gummy nasty frosting that they put far too much of on the cake.

No one says you have to make the cake from scratch but make sure it’s something you love.  You will remember that far longer than what it looked like.

Don’t like cake – get creative.  I know cupcakes are still cake but you could have cupcakes – in an assortment.  We have a cupcake place here that actually caters weddings.  A beautiful cake stand will make a longer lasting impression and it’s something you can use over and over.  Or have an assortment of truffles in cupcake papers.  Make “shots” of pudding (if you haven’t seen them, my new want is cake shot glasses).  Serve ice cream.  Make it fit your personality instead of the tradition.  Remember this is your day!

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