Part 2: Twenty-Two Insider Tips for a Beautifully Cost-Efficient Wedding
We’re embarking on a new era and a new year. Although everyone’s watching their pennies, that doesn’t mean Crave Catering can’t host a beautiful wedding for you and your guests — and still keep it within your budget. With more than 15 years of experience, we definitely can!
Regardless of your wedding budget, this will be one of the most important, long-dreamed-about days of your lives. You know the one where Prince Charming sweeps Sleeping Beauty off her feet — while your closest friends and family gather to watch as you profess your love to the person with whom you’ve chosen to spend the rest of your life? Well, that day is almost here.
Simplicity equals elegance. If you want to throw a fun, elegant soireé but worry about managing costs, look no further. Crave Catering has put together some suggestions on how you can host a wonderful wedding reception on any budget. Just follow our well-tested guidelines:
- Start Planning Now.
Everyone knows the key to saving money is to plan ahead and be organized. First decide what type of atmosphere you’d like to create. What things are most important to you? Is it the invitations and the entertainment? Or the food and the drinks? Think about where you want to spend your money. Once you’ve got a plan, making choices gets easier.
- Set the Date Immediately.
Each year more than 6,000 marriage licenses are issued in Multnomah County alone. Summertime is the most popular, and those “premium” days fill up quickly on vendors’ calendars, especially Saturdays. Once you find the right day and vendor, be sure to commit to them and place a deposit to secure the date. Crave Catering books up anywhere from 6–18 months in advance.
- Sunday-Friday Weddings?
Because Saturday is the most popular day to get married, try setting the date on a different day. For instance, Sunday weddings may inspire more of a daytime feel where you can serve a light brunch and champagne — while also cutting back on the bar bill.
- Get Married During the “Off-Season.”
January-April tends to be a little quieter for wedding professionals in the Northwest. This is often the time when finding a good deal is easier. Crave Catering can offer you lower rates for winter and early spring.
- Choose Your Location Immediately and Choose Wisely.
Many great locations in Oregon and Southwestern Washington fill up a year or more in advance. Confirm your venue offers many amenities such as tables and chairs, to name but a few.
- Is Your Venue Flexible with Your Caterer?
Some venues require you to use their in-house caterer. If that fits your needs, great. But never settle for so-so food once you find what seems like the right venue. Many times, a venue with its own catering will allow reputable outside caterers — but you have to ask!
- Hold Your Wedding on Private Property or at a Private Residence.
If you aren’t having luck finding the right place, hosting your wedding and reception at a private residence will allow you to control costs much more easily. You’ll be able to set the rules and have the event exactly the way you dreamed.
- Buffets Are Usually Less Expensive Than Sit-Down Dinners.
As a general rule of thumb, sit-down dinners are nice but require more service staff — which, in the end, you’ll pay more for. Alternatively, buffets and food stations can be artfully presented and arranged to please the crowd.
- Choose a Caterer Who Makes Pricing Easy to Understand.
Caterers are in business to make money, but how exactly can you know what you’re paying for? Typical charges to expect include food, beverages, rentals (if needed), service staff, transportation/delivery, and service charge. “All-inclusive” pricing hides how much will actually be spent on food and beverages, and leaves you wondering what you’re really paying for.
- What’s Your Style?
As a caterer with our own farm, you can bet Crave provides the freshest local ingredients in town. That’s why we’re known as the “Foodie’s Caterer.” Choosing a caterer who shares your tastes is a surefire recipe for success.
- Ordering Off the Menu Saves Money.
Many catering chefs carefully plan menus to inspire, be seasonal, stay balanced, and help you to stay within a specific budget. When starting from scratch, often a great idea becomes a much larger process to execute than planned. Most chefs will rise to the challenge, but the overall costs have the potential to increase because custom-menu planning creates an additional expense for the caterer.
- Ask for a Price Range When Shopping.
The best way to find out how well your budget fits with your vendors is to find out what their average range is. Often, actual detailed quotes take time to put together, and everyone knows that time is money. So if you’re just window shopping, and want to take a closer look, learning the average price range will help you determine whether a particular caterer can meet your budgetary needs from the start.
- Hire the Best! You’ll always find bottom-budget caterers — and it’s true: you get what you pay for.
- Do you really want to risk running out of food?
- The caterer not showing up on time?
- Unprofessional staff?
- Will they embarrass you?
- Or even worse, is the caterer still in business?
Hiring the best will ensure everything goes off without a hitch; after all, this is one of the most important days of your lives. Don’t let cost-cutting measures make your big day a disappointment.
- Does Your Chosen Caterer Cook Their Own Food?
Not all catering companies are created equal. While all must have appropriate licenses and pass the same health evaluations, that’s where the buck stops. If you wanted frozen food, your family could just go to Costco and do it yourself.
- Have the Caterer Just Drop It Off.
Instead of the expense of a wait staff and bartenders, simply have the caterer bring everything, set it up, then leave. Arranging for them to return and pick up their equipment on the next regular business day will keep delivery and staffing costs to a minimum — which means the majority of your budget will go towards the food.
- Think About Your Guest List.
Do you really need to invite every single person you ever knew? Or is it more important to have only closest friends and family members present? Keeping your guest count on the smaller side will save you money.
- Do Your Best to Give Your Caterer an Accurate Final Head Count.
An accurate guest count will allow you to pay for only the people you know are going to be there instead of paying for no-show guests. Choose a caterer that allows you to make additions without penalizing you. One week to 72 hours notice should be considered fair and reasonable.
- Simplify the Bar.
Offering a limited alcohol selection will save you money. For example, serve only beer, wine, and a signature drink. Then use champagne for the customary toast instead of a full bar. Or better yet, just toast with whatever is in your hand!
- Wedding Professional vs. Wedding Vendor.
We see hundreds of vendors in this industry, but only a handful are true professionals. An unscrupulous vendor may try to get your hard-earned dollars regardless of being a good fit for you. A true professional will be honest and up-front about making sure you’re a business match.
- Don’t Go Overboard on Gifts for the Wedding Party and Your Guests.
The best gift I ever received was a mixed CD with all of the bride and grooms favorite songs. Each time I listen to it, I think of that day and how beautiful it was. —Mark Lopez, President, Crave Catering
Seriously! Go to the Oregon Coast for a couple of days with your honey and get married at sunset. Then hold a reception at home later. This will create a more relaxed atmosphere, and you can get away from some of the more costly, traditional things like bridesmaids’ dresses.
- Crash Someone Else’s Wedding!
Only for the adventurous, of course. Get dressed up and get married at your local courthouse. Then, hit up the town in search of the perfect wedding to crash! OK, maybe we went a little too far with this one. The point is to have fun. Don’t take it so seriously; enjoy the process. This should be one of your fondest memories for the rest of your life! The Crave Catering team can make sure your wedding day is exactly that.
We’ll be happy to answer any questions or provide more information. Or complete our online Catering Request Form at www.portland-catering.com/contact.