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Gourmet wedding food on a dime

By Kim Fulscher · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Posted: 4 pm ET

If you're a regular reader of this Saving Money blog, you already have your frugal-but-fun reception costs down for drinking and music. But there's one more thing that will eat up your reception budget: the food.

Your guests will probably be hungry after dancing the night away, so give them what they want without going broke.

Let the good times roll

"Right now, food trucks are hot," says Jodi Furman, owner of the LiveFabuLESS blog. So why not roll one in for your wedding?

Depending on the food truck, upscale burritos, barbecue, sushi, burgers or pasta can be all yours for about $15 to $25 per guest instead of a four-course meal, which could reach up to about $100 per person, Furman says. "It's a way of having more personality and more funk but doesn’t cost a lot of cash."

You can also opt for a catered buffet, which is something Brittany Renkel, a frugal bride in Mississippi, did for her wedding in October 2010.

"We wanted to do a down-home, laid-back thing," Renkel says. "Instead of doing something fancy, we made it a little more casual with barbecue."

The DIY reception

Working on a $10,000 budget for her wedding, Renkel and her fiance saved on reception costs by buying disposable plates, cups, forks, knives and all the beverages from a warehouse store. She approached a barbecue restaurant that had never catered a wedding before -- but in this case, it worked in her favor. The restaurant was excited to delve into a new type of service it could offer, and the owner cut her a deal.

Furman points out that if you plan to bring your own supplies for your reception -- food, drinks, tablecloths, etc. -- get that agreement in writing with the venue.

After bloating your guests on all the ribs they can eat, you know you're dying to smear some cake on your new spouse's face. But how much do you want to spend doing this? Couples can save by opting for cupcakes, which are usually about half the price of a cake.

In hindsight, Renkel says, she should have opted for a less expensive dessert. She suggests buying the cake from a grocery store that has a nice bakery and has experience making wedding desserts. "No one's going to know where your wedding cake came from," she says. "Don't waste money on stuff that's trivial."

If having a more expensive sit-down dinner is important to you, says Kristin Koch, senior editor of WeddingChannel.com, you can simply cut a course from the meal or you can trim your guest list. It'll give you more room in the budget to spend on food -- or more money to roll in a food truck for a late-night snack or dessert.

"If you trim your guest list 10 people, you're going to use one less centerpiece and you' re going to need to rent one less table and use 10 fewer chairs and 10 fewer favors," she says. "It completely adds up."

What have you done or plan to do to get gourmet wedding food for a fraction of the cost? Tell me in the comments section!

Follow me on Twitter: @KimSavesMoney.

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3 Comments
Kim Fulscher
July 07, 2012 at 3:10 pm

That sounds fantastic! I'm glad you had a fun, low-cost wedding! Thanks for sharing.

jeanne
July 03, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Our wedding was planned for July 4th. We had a BIG picnic wedding, complete with Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Corn on the Cob, wedding cake, etc. It was held at a rented pavillion in our town which included a swimming pool. People tell me they have never had a more fun time at a wedding, since they could change into a swim suit or shorts/jeans and be truly comfortable. We had kegs of soda and beer for refreshments. Two young men volunteered to be DJ's for us. Dancing was done under the pavillion until 10:00pm. People constantly ask me if we could get married again since they had such a great time.

A low cost fun wedding.