To feed or not to feed? Do you have to serve a meal at your wedding?
The traditional wedding has gone the way of the dodo; anything goes! You are free to let your personalities shine through as you plan your perfect day. Whatever your vision, you are free to let it come to life on YOUR big day. As you consider your perfect wedding and make preparations, budget can put some restrictions on your plans. So...what are some items that can come off of the list, and what are some non-negotiables? I can't even scratch the surface on all of the options, but one that I can address is food.
If I can encourage you to keep one thing, it would be food.
Let me put it to you this way - your guests spent anywhere from $40-$100+ on your wedding gift and came to your wedding to support you. Some people paid even more than that in travel expenses to show you that they love you and support your marriage. Can't you spend $10 to feed them something (yes, you CAN feed people a meal for $10/head)? The simplest, smallest way to show someone that you appreciate them is to share a meal. One of the simplest ways to show someone that their efforts don't mean much to you is to communicate to them that they aren't worth the expense of feeding.
Maybe you think that I am being dramatic, that's ok. To each his own. But I just ask you to consider your wedding from your guests perspective - you want everyone in attendance to be glad they came and sad when it's time to leave. You don't want your guests' stomachs grumbling, looking at their watches wondering what good restaurants are close by. You want them to be 100% there with you at your wedding.
So, what do you do if you can't afford to feed everyone? Here are a few options:
1. Just ask. If you look at a caterer's prices and you feel like you can't afford their menu options, ask what they can do within your budget? You may be surprised to find that many caterers are willing to work with a budget if you tell them you have one. Here in San Diego, there are a lot of pricey caterers. If you are here in SD, look East. Many of the caterers located in East County have extremely reasonable prices compared to what you may find Downtown, Mission Valley, by the Coast or North County. Demographics matter!
2. Get creative. If you feel like you can't afford a meal (or a sit down meal would cramp your style), consider appetizers instead of the traditional meal. You may be able to bring in some great hot appetizers supplemented with meat, cheese, crackers, fruit and veggies. If you have enough of these low cost items people will keep eating and will leave satisfied.
3. Cut your guest list. If you can't afford to have a 300 person wedding, that's ok. Just don't invite 300 people. If you find that you can't afford to feed the number of people you are inviting, consider cutting the list down by a few dozen...or hundreds! Again, you want to have a wedding the people attending will remember and enjoy. They are your guests after all.
4. Have a later wedding. If you really can't afford to feed everyone, have your wedding after 7pm. Make it clear to guests that no meal will be served so they can eat before they come. And if you make it late enough, that is realistic for them. Dessert and cocktails sound pretty good as long as they aren't on an empty stomach.
5. Don't be too good for.... a taco guy, Rubio's, your local BBQ restaurant. Anything! You may not be able to afford a gourmet meal, but what about some of the restaurants you frequent on a regular basis...did you know they cater? Here in San Diego, you have great options like: O's American Kitchen, Rubio's, a taco guy (so good), your favorite local mexican food shop, pizza (it can be done right), Phil's BBQ or any other local BBQ restaurant (Jones Brothers Mississippi BBQ - so good, great value). Think outside of the traditional caterer box if you must.
At the end of the day, it's your marriage that matters most about your wedding. But the next biggest deal about the day is the people you celebrated it with. Do it right, laughing and celebrating around a table.