Money-Saving Tips for Catering a Large Event

by Clinton on May 13, 2010 Filed under Catering Tips

Wine and Dine Your Guests

If you’re worried your black-tie event will put your books in the red, relax. While it’s true that large events sometimes come at great cost (thinking of an arm and a leg?), they don’t have to. Typically, as much as half of a wedding budget will go to food and drink, but by following a few simple money-saving tips, you can still wine and dine your guests without breaking the bank.

Tips for Saving on Your Catering Budget

  • The need to carefully choose a caterer cannot be stressed enough. Choosing one that will accommodate your wishes while respecting your budget is important; make sure you take the time to discuss the fare that will be offered to guests and look for openness and honesty on their part with regard to pricing. Ask questions until your concerns are satisfied. Be sure to schedule a ‘tasting’ to sample the caterer’s culinary finesse and watch for presentation skill as well.
  • Ask about ‘guaranteed numbers’ with regard to pricing. If prices are based on a minimum ‘guaranteed’ number of guests, find out what that number is. Many caterers base their quotes on a minimum number of 100 guests, and if your guest list is smaller than that, an extra fee is charged.
  • Carefully select the type of food you want served. Prices vary hugely according to menu selection. For example shrimp, salmon or beef tenderloin will inevitably cost more than chicken. If you do want to serve one of those dishes, choose it as an appetizer instead of a main course. Use quality ‘filler’ food, such as fine breads and fresh rolls to help fill up your guests.
  • Instead of having a traditional five-course, over-the-top meal, why not opt for a superb tasting three-course meal? Cutting a soup or salad and an extra dessert from the menu will virtually go unnoticed if you serve an extraordinary three-course meal.
  • Be reasonable in choosing hors d’oeuvres. Again, having a quality caterer means they will not try to talk you into having eight different options for hors d’oeuvres when four will suffice. Or, think about setting up an appetizer table instead of having passed hors d’oeuvres.
  • Consider saving on manpower by having a serving table where guests line up for food buffet style; you’ll require less servers than for traditional plated service.
  • A new trend is emerging which creates a more casual and intimate affair. Instead of having a sit-down meal (dinner is the most expensive to host), why not have a relaxed theme such as a barbeque or Mexican fiesta? Or, host a brunch, cocktail or dessert reception.

For any special occasion or large event, you want the memories to last a lifetime, but you certainly don’t want to be paying for it for the rest of your life! A more modest approach can help to relax guests and makes for a more intimate affair. Consulting with a professional, quality caterer can also help you to make frugal decisions that will result in an event you’ll be proud of, yet one that stays within your budget!

{ 1 comment }

1 Patti Shock August 1, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I disagree about having an appetizer table instead of having food tray passed. You may save on labor, but guests will have unlimited access to the food. With tray passed food, you can control the pace and send servers out in timed waves. I recommend a backup table with inexpensive items, such as cubed cheese (which is very filling), crudites, and dry snacks, but expensive items, such as shrimp, should be tray passed when trying to save $$$.

I teach catering at UNLV and have written several catering books.