Tips For How to Save Money on Catering For Your Wedding

There are many ways to save money on events these days and DIY is a term that pops up everywhere. After seeing some well-meaning attempts fail, we’d like to chime in with a few suggestions! If you’re on an extra tight budget, here are some ideas for things you could and should not provide yourself and hopefully find some considerable savings in between.


When people DIY alcohol for their wedding or event, general and liquor liability is often forgotten. John Bagge of Twelve Baskets Catering says “we are often asked to cater an event where the client wants to provide the alcohol and hire a friend-of-a-friend or a family member to bartend. With detailed organization and effort, you could save $4-6 per person by purchasing your own alcohol (don't forget you'll have to haul it and chill ahead of time as well!). But if you are not careful to hire the right licensed person, you can end up with an unprofessional inebriated bartender that is over serving guests and minors or out on the dance floor instead of watching the bar while people are helping themselves (can you tell we’re speaking from personal experience!?). Any caterer that is licensed to sell and serve alcohol will supply the liquor liability insurance needed, but if you DIY you'll have to procure your own insurance and most likely need to obtain a banquet permit from your state liquor control board as well.” A licensed and professional bartender will take the stress out of that aspect of your party.

{Catherine Straume photo with Twelve Baskets Catering Bartenders}

Real glassware vs. Compostable Options

Justine Cosme, a sales and event manager with Cameron Catering says that she “works with a wide range of couples and is always happy to suggest ways to make every penny count.” One recommendation she often makes is to “go green at the bar! Glassware rentals can REALLY add up so by using green compostable cup options at your bar and beverage stations, you can literally save hundreds of dollars. Sustainability is good for our environment and great for a wedding budget!” Going the compostable disposable route, will also save you money on labor since it most often requires less event staff to bus all the glasses and plates. Linda Geiger, owner of Celebrate Catering suggests her budget conscious couples “provide their own beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages but utilizes her experienced Staff to help serve their guests.” She agrees with Justine and says, “use eco-friendly products rather than real dinnerware; this will lower your labor costs!”

{Joshua Lewis Photography with Twelve Baskets Catering}

{Twelve Baskets Catering photo}

Licensed Caterers

John Bagge says “another way people think they can save money is by hiring a friend to cater their party. Often, they are unlicensed and don't have a legal facility to prepare and cook food for public consumption which could put your guests at risk for potential food borne illness. The other side of this is that the friend may realize they bit off more than they could chew. We have had people call us frantic saying their caterer bailed and need help fast. Don’t risk having an unsuccessful or stressful party because of budget. If you don't have the budget for a traditional dinner spread, consider the time of day as a money saver. Having a mid-afternoon event where people have arrived after lunch but too early for a heavy dinner, so you can serve some delicious but light bites. Or consider an evening event after your guests have already eaten dinner and you can just serve dessert and drinks – these would be great inexpensive alternatives that lower the amount of food you’d need to order.”

{Jon Kaplan Photography photo with Twelve Baskets Catering and Dairyland}

Alcohol options

A few other ways to save are in the drinks. Instead of offering an open bar, serve a few local beers and a couple wine options with possibly one or two signature cocktails that you’ve personalized with a clever name. Skip the Champagne toast and have guests toast with drinks in hand. Besides requiring less staff to tray pass the glasses, not everyone likes Champagne anyway, and it is a big cost factor of which a lot will end up tossed down the sink! Or explore serving other sparkling wines like cava or prosecco instead. Many caterers offer these alternative options.

{Joanna Monger Photography with Pour Girls and Some Guys}

You are more guaranteed to have a smooth party when you don't run out of ice, beverages, food, plates, cups, napkins, etc; if you leave all of that up to an experienced, referred, and vetted caterer, you not only save yourself from embarrassment, but are also able to enjoy your own party like you should! I’ll end with a great reminder from Benjamin Franklin - “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”


Jaffrey Bagge is the Social Media and Marketing Manager for Twelve Baskets Catering. Being the owner's daughter means she's been in the business for all of her 34 years of life. When she isn't organizing open houses or snapping photos of food and setups, Jaffrey loves to travel with her husband, watch films, and cut paper snowflakes.