Wedding Food & Drink: How to Save on Wedding Reception Catering?

Q: I am getting married next April in an afternoon wedding, and my fiance and I are trying to figure out how to save on catering. What do you suggest we serve in order to save money?

A: Timing is everything, and just by having an afternoon wedding you've already saved yourselves some bucks. The key is planning to have the wedding reception meal at a time of day when your guests do not expect a full, seated, serious meal. If your wedding ceremony is at 1, 2, or even 3 p.m., you can have a tea reception. At a tea (starting around 3 or 4 p.m. and lasting 2-3 hours, tops) you'd serve tea (naturally) plus finger sandwiches, scones, and mini pastries. At a cocktail reception (starting at 4 or 5 and lasting several hours), the focus is on the drinks and passed hors d'oeuvres. Your wedding guests will probably be able to tell by the timing that no major meal is being served, but make it easy on their stomachs and note it on your wedding invitations: "A tea [or cocktail] reception to follow."

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Q&A: How soon before the wedding should we give the final guest head count to our caterer?

My wedding is a little less than two months away. We just mailed our invitations about a week ago, and now we're wondering how to communicate the final number of guests to our vendors, especially the caterer. How soon before the wedding should we give final numbers to our caterer?

by The Knot