Keen to keep your food costs in check? No wonder: the average wedding catering bill tops £4,000. Don't worry - there are plenty of ways to make savings. And don't be scared to do things differently - you're more likely to save money while making it more memorable.
Have a late afternoon wedding
Get married later in the day and you can ditch the traditional formula - canapés with the reception drinks, a sit-down meal and a hot buffet in the evening - and instead have a few nibbles, followed by a sit-down meal or a buffet of pasta and rice dishes, charcuterie, cheese and salads.
Ditch the six-course menu
You don't need a fancy multi-course sit-down meal. Chances are, your guests won't remember it once the drinks start to flow. Think about what food suits the season in which you're marrying. Having a summer wedding? Why not go for picnic-style food, a barbecue or hog roast (try thehungryhog.com, spittingpig.co.uk or hogroastlondon.co.uk)? Opting for a winter celebration? How about fish and chips with mushy peas?
Use local talent
Contact local catering companies and restaurants to see if they can do your food for you. Or find out if there's a catering college nearby. A wedding would be the perfect opportunity for students to test their skills.
Do it yourself
Okay, you might only want to consider this if you're having a small wedding - but it's certainly possible to do a buffet with the help of friends and family, it'll just require a bit of planning. Tips: Keep your dishes simple and choose things you can make in advance and that can be served cold (you don't want to be cooking on the day!). Shop locally - you should get better quality produce at competitive prices. When it comes to glasses, plates, cutlery etc, it's probably best to hire them (try joneshire.co.uk or rayners.co.uk). Think about how the food will be served - your venue might be able to help out with waiters and waitresses; alternatively, enlist a few family members or friends. And don't forget about food hygiene (food.gov.uk/safereating), including cooking things thoroughly and chilling them correctly - the last thing you want your wedding to be remembered for is giving guests food poisoning!
Let caterers take the strain
If you don't fancy going down the DIY route, go for caterers who are happy to work with different budgets. Check out jacarandacatering.com or kingfishercaterers.co.uk.
Want more food for thought? Check out do-it-yourself-weddings.com and ellenskitchen.com.