Our real Bride to Be tackles finding wedding catering on a budget which can be a daunting task especially at a DIY wedding venue
Wedding catering on a budget
I have 416 days of planning to go until my big day- I know this because my WedHappy app tells me so. Knowing when to plan caterers, florists, photographers, bands etc. is a bit of a minefield but the app makes this easier for me by building a customised to-do list based on our wedding date. My app has been telling me I should be looking at booking the catering for my wedding…so I suppose that is my next job.
Formal Vs Informal Lunch
Booking an alternative venue has many benefits in that we have freedom to choose which caterer we want but the level of planning is not for everyone. There are many options open to us from a formal wedding breakfast to more informal BBQs, hog roasts, buffets etc. Formal wedding breakfasts cost on average about £50 a head and with approx. 200 guests at our wedding this would cost us around £10,000. This is far beyond our food budget and so we have a very difficult decision to make; do we cut the number of guests to our wedding or do we reduce the cost per guest?
For us the most important part of our wedding is having everyone there to celebrate all day and perhaps a formal three course meal isn’t well suited to our music festival event anyway. We absolutely love hosting summer BBQs so this option seemed most suited to us. There are a lot of options out there for BBQs and hog roasts which can work out as little as £10 a head. I am a keen researcher (and as a teacher enjoying school holidays) I contacted many local catering companies and compiled spreadsheets, word documents and powerpoint slides of possible catering options to present to my future husband/excel spreadsheet lover. I tried to keep the prices even lower by asking for quotes for ‘a party’ rather than a wedding and negotiated some extras like side dishes or salads in the price.
After my hours of thorough research and information gathering my lovely dear clever fiancé (who perhaps could have mentioned it before), suggests his friend who is owner and Chef at The Royal Oak restaurant in Alton may be able to do a BBQ. Thankfully he agreed and now we are in the privileged position that we have someone we can trust to serve great quality food and in our budget. Don’t be afraid to pull in favours from friends, even if it’s just asking a few friends to contribute dishes for an evening buffet. I know I would do anything to help my friends on their wedding day and I think we sometimes forget that feeling when we are the organisers.
Street Food Vendors
If the pressure of finding suitable lunch for our wedding wasn’t enough- there is also the decisions on dessert and how to cater the evening food without available kitchens and only a couple of fridges. This is when I started looking at street food vendors who could bring all the catering equipment whilst adding a genuine festival feel to the day. I went into full on crazed researcher mode once more and even ended up approaching the falafel man who serves food off the back of his bicycle in Cheltenham town centre.
We have been to weddings where fish and chip vans and burger vans worked amazingly well by serving food when guests have had a few too many wines or jägerbombs. We love the idea of serving pizza and we found a local company which serves handmade pizza from their mobile wood fired oven on the back of their van. The other option we have considered is ordering a massive pizza delivery of 70 pizzas from a local delivery company. We have opted for the pizza van because we think it would be incredible to have the working oven and the smells of fresh homemade pizza wafting through the venue and grounds.
You only need to pick up a wedding magazine or look on Pinterest to know that Ice cream vans are a massive trend at weddings now and there are lots of custom built wedding catering ice cream vans out there that do an amazing job. I contacted independent ice cream companies that supply fayres and local community events rather than wedding catering. With these vendors you pay per ice cream at around £1.50-£2 per head rather than a more inflated price for wedding catering. We are always keen to use local produce and our local ice cream company produces organic ice cream and sorbets perfect for our big day. Of course it was only fair to continue the research into the quality of the product with numerous trips to test it out, and after several painstaking ice cream tests…..we decided it was suitable. The food and drink tasting is definitely one of the many hardships of wedding planning- the things we do for our guests. Now all we need to do is pick 5 flavours out of the possible 30 to be served on our big day…. Perhaps an excel spreadsheet and a rating system is needed!?
Things I learnt:
- Find out if your venue allows outside caterers before you book your venue
- Work out the budget to spend on food first so you can work a price per head
- Shop around for the best price and negotiate.
- Hold out on mentioning that the catering is for a wedding if you are happy to miss the extra frills they put on for weddings
- Pull in favours from friends to help with catering- If they are a good friend they will be genuinely happy to help- if not strike them off the invite list
- Look at alternative food vendors not associated with wedding catering for competitive prices and genuine street food feel
- Don’t forget to consider dietary requirements in your catering (our icecream van is serving sorbets for our vegan/lactose intolerant guests and we have a local vegan café making vegan alternatives to BBQ meat)
- Consider the time of day you want to get married and supply enough food to keep people going
- Pick catering that you will love- it is your day after all (we are much more comfortable at a BBQ than a formal 3 course meal for example and my future husband is crazy for ice cream)
- Enjoy the food tasting… but not so much that you have to be rolled up the aisle.
Cotswold pizza company: www.Cotswoldpizza.co.uk
Winstons icecream: family icrecream business in Stroud serving a range of 30 real dairy icecream flavours
Others Festival Wedding ideas:
Wiggly machine: www.thewigglyworm.org.uk money made from food they serve out of their Citroen H van at night goes to funding hot food to vulnerable people at night
Simpsons Fish and chips: http://simpsonsfishandchips.co.uk/
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