Wedding Question: What Food & Drinks Should I Spend the Most Money On?

Photo from The Wedding Lens

We just received this question from a reader: I am in the process of figuring out the food and drinks for my wedding. I’m not (yet) over budget, but I’m having a hard time figuring out where I should bother to put in the extra money and where it will make no difference! What is it that people notice the most and what won’t they care about?

Great question! It’s always hard to know where the extra money on food and drinks will make the difference. Here’s my advice:

First, spend a little more on great appetizers & h’oeuvres. People remember the first bits of food they eat — because it’s usually right after the ceremony and before the alcohol kicks in!

Second, spend a little less on the main courses. You can do this by having a buffet or by selecting less expensive options with your caterer (or at the restaurant — depending on the venue). Most of the time people dont expect fabulous main courses. And by then, they’re chatting and drinking and ready to dance! Usually chicken and fish dishes are less expensive than steak, but that’s not always the case. And, of course, be sure it’s something you don’t mind eating!

Third, save some money on drinks and alcohol by sticking with beer and wine (or just wine!). Once you start getting into purchasing hard alcohol and mixers, things go downhill for the wallet. If you do decide to purchase hard alcohol, try to make purchases that mix well with the non-alcoholic beverages you’re already going to have. For example, if you’re already going to have cola, go for a rum to mix with that cola! You get the idea.

Hope that helps! Good luck!

~ Natasha


How to Create a Wedding Budget

Photo from The Wedding Lens

Photo from The Wedding Lens

A friend recently told me that she wasn’t sure how to start planning her budget. She didn’t really want to start by saying she had X thousand dollars to spend & then figure out how to spend it; she wanted to work her way up and figure out what she would need. So, how do you start planning a wedding budget?

  1. Start by doing some research about the cost of weddings in your area (or the area where you want to get married). This will give you an idea of what you can expect to spend — though, of course, careful planning can save you money!
  2. Think about which expenses are fixed and which are dependent on the number of guests. For example, food is dependent on the number of guests; attire costs are not. This will help you decide how much you will need to limit your guest list.
  3. Consider the costs. The items below give you a general idea of the expenses you’ll face. The (f) next to the item means it’s a fixed cost, independent of the number of guests.
    • Attire (f)
    • Rings (f)
    • Paper: STDs, Invitations, Program, Menu, Thank you cards, Guest book
    • Ceremony venue & officiant (f)
    • Reception venue & catering: Food, Drinks, Alcohol
    • Wedding cake
    • Photographer/videographer (f)
    • Decorations: Flowers, Centerpieces
    • Entertainment (f)
    • Transportation
    • Gifts: Wedding party, Favors (optional)
    • Tips & service charges

 4.   Think about the percentages that things cost. For example, the reception can cost between 35 – 50% of your total expenses because it includes food and drinks! Here’s a quick break down of costs…. Keep in mind, there are things that should also fall within these categories, such as hair & makeup, dress alterations, jewelry, dry cleaning. Oh, and the marriage license! 🙂

    • Attire (f) – 5%
    • Rings (f) – 15%
    • Paper: STDs, Invitations, Program, Menu, Thank you cards, Guest book (and stamps!) – 5%
    • Ceremony venue & officiant (f) – 1%
    • Reception venue & catering: Food, Drinks, Alcohol – 35%
    • Wedding cake – 3%
    • Photographer/videographer (f) – 10%
    • Decorations: Flowers, Centerpieces – 10%
    • Entertainment: DJ, band (f) – 4%
    • Transportation – 3%
    • Gifts: Wedding party, Favors (optional) – 2%
    • Other expenses: rehearsal dinner, after party (optional) – 2%
    • Tips & service charges – 5% (10-15% tips based on the charge)

5.   Decide which parts of the planning are the most important to you. You might decide that you would rather spend more on the food and drinks and less on the decorations; or you’d rather donate to a cause than give out favors. If you’re way over budget, think about what you can do without — and consider some the wedding tips that help you save money!

This should at least get you started on what you need to do to start planning your budget. Do you have any other tips or ideas? Let us know!

~ Natasha