Wedding Guide: How to Finance and Budget For Your Dream Day Chapter 5: The Wedding Breakfast

On average, 50% of the wedding budget is spent on food, drinks and the venue. Personal Loans Now explores fantastic money-saving ideas for your wedding breakfast and evening party.

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Learning Highlights
  • Paying for food and drink usually accounts for the highest single piece of wedding expenditure.
  • There seems to be no such thing as an ‘average’ price, but you should budget anything from £2,000-£3,000 for a sit-down meal in a hotel.
  • Some venues do not permit you to hire a caterer independently.
  • For every 100 wedding guests for a meal and evening ‘do’, you should estimate at least 150 bottles of wine.

What is a Wedding Breakfast?

Often called the wedding breakfast (irrespective of what time you eat it), food and drink have been a traditional part of any wedding since earliest times. It is a symbolic unification of two families. In this chapter, Personal Loans Now, offering best rate personal loans, will consider the factors to bear in mind when choosing what type of meal to serve. We show you ways to save money whether you have a sit-down meal, buffet, home-made food or alternative solutions like hiring street food vendors. This chapter also contains money-saving ideas when it comes to the provision of alcohol.

Factors Which Affect Your Choice Of Wedding Breakfast

You need to decide how you are going to fund your special day. You might want to consider a cheap wedding loan to help you pay for the big things. The first thing to consider is how much your budget allows you to spend and how many people you are planning to invite. The venue where you will hold your reception also dictates to a great extent whether you use in-house catering, hire caterers or choose something alternative or more economical.

The time of the ceremony also plays a role in how much your wedding breakfast will cost. If you have a morning wedding, you will have to think about offering food at the evening celebration as well as providing a wedding breakfast.

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If you decide to dispense with the evening ‘do’, you will limit the number of guests since you will only invite some guests to the latter part of the reception only. Holding your ceremony in the late afternoon means you are only providing one meal and this can save you lots of money and maybe even the flexible personal loan you were thinking of taking out.

In the past, the church ceremony often included a Eucharist Mass. This meant couples would not be able to eat anything in the morning. A wedding breakfast was just that; they were breaking their fast.

Receptions In Hotels; In-House Catering Or Outside Caterers?

Many hotels have their own kitchens and can cater for a wedding breakfast. Before booking the venue, check whether you are limited to in-house catering or whether they have a preferred or recommended list of outside caterers. If you would prefer to hire your own caterers independently, does the venue allow this?

The advantage of using in-house caterers or caterers from a prescribed list is that you know that they are familiar with the kitchen and its equipment. Being on a list is a recommendation since the venue has obviously used their services before and been satisfied with them. It is worth asking for details of previous clients so you can check their credentials and receive an unbiased opinion.

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On the other hand, you may find that going with the catering staff, and above all the chef, stipulated by the venue means that you are limited in the choices available to you. This applies in particular if you would prefer something a little different such as ethnic cuisine. Venues talk about bespoke menus but what this usually means is that you choose from a pre-prepared list of starters, main courses and so on. How much scope does that really give you?

  • Think about factors such as the number of guests, the type of venue, the type of meal you would like to offer and the time of the ceremony when deciding on your wedding breakfast.
  • Before booking the venue, ask whether you can hire an independent outside caterer or whether you are restricted to a prescribed list.
  • Hotel in-house caterers or caterers from a recommended list are familiar with the kitchens. You might have limited scope for deciding on your own menu.

Choosing A Wedding Breakfast Caterer

Before selecting a caterer, you should check their availability and send an email to ask the types of menus which they offer. You should ask if they have any specialities. If you have no personal preferences, this might give you some ideas of what to serve your guests. Ask for recommendations of what will be in season at the time of your wedding and dishes they could create with them. In this way, you can make substantial savings on the food (exports will always be more expensive). It could mean that the ingredients used are fresh rather than frozen, making the food so much tastier.

When asking for quotations for any wedding services, always ask if the price includes VAT. This will save you any unpleasant surprises later on!

To provide you with a rough quote, the caterer would need to know the dates, times, the number of guests, the level of service you require, your menu choices and the location/type of venue. The venue is important for caterers to know as it gives them an idea of the size. It also lets them know whether the kitchens are on a different level to the dining area (all those stairs!) and what equipment is already available onsite.

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Issues To Discuss With The Caterer Beforehand

When choosing a caterer, there are a number of other practical matters to talk over before making your final decision. Ideally, this consultation should be done face-to-face. You should clarify what you are paying for exactly and take nothing for granted. Is there an extra charge for the equipment? Can they provide a wedding cake and if you have it made elsewhere, do they charge for the cake-stand and the knife? What about the staffing levels; what duties are the waiting staff prepared to undertake apart from serving? For example, are they prepared to do cloakroom duty or layout name settings? Also, ask if they have scheduled any other weddings on the same day as yours. This would not be unusual in the summer and should not affect their level of service. However, it is something worth thinking about.

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As far as the food is concerned, ask the caterers if they supply children’s menus. Ask whether they cater for people with dietary restrictions due to allergies or religious beliefs as well as vegetarians and vegans. Some caterers are quite happy to provide a menu tasting so at least you know what you are paying for before the big day.

  • Ask caterers for their recommendations for the meal. They will have their own specialities and as professionals will know what is in season. Do not forget to include an option for those with dietary restrictions if necessary.
  • To provide a rough quotation, caterers will need to know the dates/times of the wedding breakfast, the number of guests, your chosen menu, the level of service required and the venue location.
  • Always try to clarify with the caterer what you are paying for; think about everything from staff to equipment.

So Which Caterer Should You Choose?

Before booking any caterer, you should receive quotes from at least 3 different businesses. Do not automatically choose the cheapest or the most expensive but instead think more about your consultations with them. It really comes down to personal service. Which one was more helpful? Which one did you feel was more willing to take your ideas on board. Or which seemed more enthusiastic about making your day special?

FAQs: Wedding Breakfast

How can I decide what kind of wedding breakfast to give my guests?
Your choice of which wedding breakfast to serve depends on your budget, the venue of the reception, the time of the ceremony and whether you prefer a sit-down meal or buffet.

If I have my reception in a hotel, do I have to use their in-house catering?
This chiefly depends on the hotel. In some, it is part of the wedding ‘package’ while others offer you a choice of caterers from a recommended list. Some forbid the use of independent caterers so it is a subject you should raise before booking the hotel.

What information does a caterer need to know to give me a quotation?
A caterer would need to know the dates, times, the number of guests, your menu choices, the level of service you want and the location of the venue to give you an initial rough quotation.

How many staff members will the caterers provide?
This depends on the level of service you would like and whether you want them to take on other duties apart from serving. In the catering industry, the average is one member of serving staff for every 10 guests.

What questions should I ask in my consultations with caterers?

You could ask for their own personal recommendations about which food to serve. You should also ask about every aspect of the food preparation and service, so you know exactly what you are paying for.

Wedding Breakfast Ideas: Sit-Down Meal Or Buffet?

Whether to serve a sit-down meal or a buffet is purely a question of personal preference. A sit-down meal is usually more formal than a buffet. It is ideal for people who feel that a 3-course silver service meal is the most suitable way to celebrate a wedding. It also offers hospitality to their guests. Some people also believe that it is not a ‘real’ meal if it is not hot. A buffet is more casual. It has the added advantage of allowing guests to mingle as they refill their plates. A sit-down meal to some feels like being ‘stuck’ at their table during the entire meal.

Do not fall into the trap of thinking that a buffet is automatically cheaper than a sit-down meal. It all depends on the dishes you opt for. The only way that silver service can work out more expensive is that you need more people waiting on the tables. For a buffet, staff are only needed to help guests make their selections by explaining the ingredients, etc. and to refill the serving plates as necessary.

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Wedding Breakfast Menu

When choosing a set menu for a sit-down meal, you may have to take into consideration dietary restrictions and children’s portions. Whatever you decide to serve there will inevitably be someone who does not like it. (Although, hopefully, they will keep their grumbling to themselves!) With a buffet, guests are free to choose whatever dishes they fancy and as much as they want.

Have you ever been to a wedding breakfast where you are not particularly hungry, and your food is taken away barely touched and then an hour later you are starving hungry? A buffet can be left out on the serving tables so that guests can help themselves later when they feel peckish.

Another advantage of a buffet is that the food can for evening guests. In this way, they do not have to be served something different. Adding separate dishes for the evening meal means that day guests do not feel they are being served the same food.

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Wedding Desserts

Do not feel obliged to serve a dessert after the meal. You can reduce your food bill and save yourself an unsecured personal loan in the meantime if you serve the wedding cake for dessert. You’ be surpirsed how much dessert can add to the expense. Most guests would be perfectly happy with a starter/appetisers and then the main course or a buffet.

  • Do not choose your caterer by price alone; which one was willing to advise you and seemed involved in making your day special?
  • A sit-down meal is ideal for those who wish their wedding breakfast to be more formal.
  • A buffet is usually cheaper, allows guests to mingle and lets them choose a variety of different dishes.
  • You can save money if you serve your wedding cake instead of a dessert.

A Home-Made Wedding Buffet

One certain way to make savings on your wedding breakfast is to prepare a home-made buffet. Although this might not be possible in some venues such as hotels, it is ideal if you are hiring a village hall or community centre.

There is a wealth of ideas on the Internet about ‘finger food’. Many of these foods, can be prepared beforehand and then frozen and warmed up on the actual day of the wedding. This means you will feel less stressed in the weeks leading up to the wedding when you have other pressing matters to deal with.

If you feel you will not be able to manage alone, you could enlist the help of family and friends to contribute a dish. This would require more organisation to make sure you have a variety of dishes, but it could you can arrange it beforehand. Make sure that each dish has a label, so guests will know exactly what it is.

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Do not forget to consider the practicalities of setting up the buffet. Check the facilities beforehand so you know if it has all the kitchen equipment you will need especially things like ovens and/or microwaves. It might be worth hiring the venue for an extra day, so it gives you more time to organise. You could also pay someone to do this for you and arrange for them to be ‘on duty’ during the buffet, replenishing the plates of food and so on. They do not necessarily have to be a professional caterer especially if you explain to them exactly what needs to be done.

FAQs on Wedding Breakfast: Sit-Down or Buffet

Should I have a sit-down meal or buffet?
It depends on how formal you wish your wedding breakfast to be. Although a sit-down meal allows everyone to eat at the same time (there is no queuing!), a buffet lets your guests mix informally and means you do not have to worry about catering for dietary restrictions or children’s portions when choosing the main course.

Is a buffet cheaper than a sit-down meal?
You should check with your caterer as to whether they have set menus or are more flexible on the number of courses. It is quite acceptable to serve your wedding cake as the dessert.

Won’t a home-made buffet be a nightmare to organise?
Not necessarily. Think about food which can be pre-prepared and then frozen. You could also enlist the help of relatives and friends; some coordination may be necessary, so you do not end up with 10 dishes which are the same!

Alternative Wedding Breakfasts: Street Food Vendors

An increasingly popular trend is to hire street food vendors to cater for wedding breakfasts. The choice is endless; you could go for something traditional like fish and chips or pies and mash or choose something different like tacos or pizza. Prices start at around £7.50 per head so you can save a great deal of money. But also make sure to offer your guests something filling and unique. A pricier – but equally unusual option – is to choose to have a hog roast (£10-£15 per head.)

Drinks At The Wedding Breakfast

The whole issue of which alcohol and how much to serve at the wedding breakfast can cause as many headaches for the couple as the issue of food (and by that, I do not mean of the hangover variety!) Also, paying for alcohol can make serious inroads into your wedding budget and can mean more low rate personal loans.

Like any aspect of the wedding, it is something that should be discussed beforehand as a couple and possibly with close family. Ask yourselves a number of questions: how important is it for you to have a champagne toast or serve cocktails? Do you wish to provide a free bar or only put a set amount behind the bar and after that, guests pay for themselves?

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  • A home-made buffet is ideal if you are hiring a village hall or community centre.
  • A lot of ‘finger food’ can be pre-prepared and frozen while relatives and friends could also contribute.
  • Think about the practicalities of setting out and serving beforehand.
  • Street vendors, serving traditional or ethnic food, offer an alternative wedding breakfast at competitive prices.
  • Alcohol can be one of your biggest wedding expenses.

How To Reduce The Drink Bill At Wedding Breakfasts

You should ask the venue if you could provide your own alcohol. In some cases, it is not allowed. While in others, the corkage fees might be so high that it works out more expensive than ordering from the venue or caterer. It is worth asking whether you can pay a set fee for corkage rather than a price per bottle.

Another money-saving idea is to arrange a day-trip to France to stock up on alcohol. Alternatively, you could arrange for a limited choice of alcohol. For example, a choice of red or white wine or lagers, beers and cider but no spirits. Preparing a cocktail before food is served can also reduce your guests’ later alcohol consumption and works out quite economically per head.

The other question if you are providing alcohol yourselves is how much you should buy. This depends on how much your respective families drink but as a general guideline allows for every 100 guests (meal and evening party):

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If you provide your own alcohol for the celebration, many wholesalers offer a deal where you can return any extra bottles. This means you do not spend money unnecessarily.

FAQs on Alternative Wedding Breakfasts

How much do street food vendors charge?
Charges usually start at around £7.50 per head.

What kind of food do street vendors serve?
Anything from traditional fish and chips to ethnic cuisine.

Will hotels let me supply my own alcoholic drinks for the wedding?
This depends on the venue. Some might allow it but then add corkage fees to your bill so it could end up as expensive.

How can I reduce the drinks bill at the wedding breakfast?
Think about having a set sum of money behind the bar rather than a free bar or limiting the drinks to wines and beers only.

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