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Saving money on wedding catering

Photo by: Cassandria Alvarado | Staff Photographer
Private party room at Palmer's Restaurant Bar and Courtyard.

Planning a wedding can be stressful because many aspects have to be juggled and organized. One of these facets is the meal served to the guests. Often, couples choose to have evening weddings and serve dinner.

Most couples also have to decide what to serve at the rehearsal dinner. The menus need variety so there is something for everyone attending the event.

Palmer’s Restaurant Bar & Courtyard holds all types of events, including bridal showers and rehearsal dinners.

Monte Sheffield, owner and chef, said one of the most popular dishes served at Palmer’s is the pecan crushed chicken.

Here in San Marcos, there are several catering restaurants. Some do off-site and in-house events. Since we reside in Texas, many caterers are barbecue establishments.

When planning for the big day, a person has to factor in not only the food options, but also whether or not the venue or caterers will provide cutlery. Hays County Bar-B-Q offers full catering for $10.99 a person. This includes the main course, sides, tea, plates, cups and plastic ware.

“That’s the basic price. It increases if the customer wants to add an extra meat or side,” said Jessie Miranda, general manager at Hays County Bar-B-Q.

Weddings are known to be expensive. The venue, photographer, flowers and food are just a few expenses included in planning a wedding. Couples often look for ways to save money without sacrificing quality.

There are different ways to cut back on the overall price of food for a wedding. Limiting choices to a few varied dishes is a good idea.

Keeping the guest list small is a viable choice when trying to save on catering.

“Invite less people and be flexible is my best advice,” said Megan Turbeville, executive chef at the Root Cellar Cafe & Brewery.

Staying away from seafood dishes can decrease menu costs, as they tend to be pricier than red meat or chicken.

A third way to make the menu cost effective is choosing a less expensive way to serve the meal. The options are buffet style, family style and plated. Plated meals are served on an individual plate.

“What people don’t realize is that it’s almost impossible to get everyone’s food out at the same time or to keep it at the right temperature until it’s served,” Turbeville said.

Buffets are the most frequently chosen way to serve food during a wedding. The guests line up and are able to get any amount of food whenever they want.

“Buffets are cheaper than plated meals, since you don’t need as many servers,” Sheffield said.

If buffet style is too casual and a couple is looking for a less expensive option, another choice is to have the meal served family-style. The guests sit at a table where platters and bowls are served and passed around.

“It’s a combination of the buffet and plated-in style, and midway between the two in price,” Turbeville said.

When planning a wedding, every couple wants their big day to be special and unique—this will often extend to their food menus as well. A memorable trend becoming popular is dessert bars.

“Not everyone likes cake,” said Turbeville. “With a dessert bar, you can have things like parfaits and mini pies.”