How Can I Save Money On My Catered Event—Without Cutting Corners?

Did you know that the average American wedding costs more than $25,000? That’s a huge amount of money. It amounts to a down payment on a house, or a brand-new car. But this is one of the most important milestones in life, and people are willing to pay a premium to make it memorable.

On average, weddings are certainly the most expensive celebratory event; but there are many other parties and events in our lives—and they cost money too. In fact, any party or gathering can cost quite a bit of money, depending on the number of guests and the services needed.

As people continue to shift their focus from owning fancy things to having rich and fulfilling life experiences, catered events are becoming more popular than ever. People want to throw a party that’s truly unique and enjoyable for every guest. But they also want to save a buck. Getting the cost down and stretching the budget farther has become an essential part of effective event planning, whether it’s the corporate get together, informal graduation party, or a full-scale wedding event.

The danger, of course, is compromising integrity and quality of the event by making drastic and misguided efforts to bring costs down. Saving money without cutting corners is an art form. Here are a few essential ways to do it.

1. Budget carefully from the beginning

This may seem obvious, but establishing your budget is one of the best ways to keep it manageable. It may be tempting to fly blind and look for the lowest prices on all of the services and amenities you need from the caterer. But this rarely works, and it also adds stress to the process.

2. Get a complete estimate

Many companies are reputable and trustworthy. They certainly aren’t going to hit you with hidden fees and extra charges after-the-fact. But there are some companies out there who will. When you reach out to a professional caterer, make it a point to establish whether an estimate is complete, or whether there are additional extras or fees that can and will be added to the final bill.

3. Manage RSVPs with care

When the RSVP process is not handled in a detailed and organize way, there are often last minute changes to the guest count. This brings about unexpected costs, or lost savings. Maintaining clear communication with your caterer, especially where guest lists and potential changes are concerned, is a handy way to avoid surprises and save money in the end. It’s important to remember that staying true to your budget and avoiding extra costs is one of the most common ways to “save” money on catered events.

4. Ditch the waitstaff

It’s certainly nice to have table service at your event, but is it entirely necessary? By removing table service from the equation and setting up a walk-through buffet, or providing boxed meals to your guests, it’s possible to save considerable amounts of cash. For certain types of events, this casual approach is actually preferable and more fitting.

Talk to your caterer

The most skilled catering companies are perfectly willing and able to help you find creative ways to have the kind of event you want at a lower price point. Keep in mind, these are experts who have catered hundreds and in some cases thousands of events, with budgets and crowds of all sizes. This gives them a strong working knowledge of money saving techniques that won’t compromise the quality and integrity of the guest experience.