In an attempt to help you stretch your food and beverage budget, I wanted to outline where to spend or save. Your food and beverage bill can account for almost 50% of your event or wedding budget. On average you can expect a DC catering cost per person to range between $125 to $200. This is before tax and service charge.

Don’t let this scare you because in today’s planning field, everything can be customized to fit your needs. Often times people pay for things because that’s what happened at an event they attended. That doesn’t mean you have to follow their tradition.

Being smart about how you spend your money and what you spend it on doesn’t mean you are going to compromise the quality of food, your wedding or event. It simply means you are more focused on spending your money in areas that matters most.

Event Food Budget

Where To Spend Your Event Food Budget

Your cocktail hour is truly a money saver if you do it correctly. Cocktail hour is when all of your guests are together and can easily catch up verses being restricted by dinner tables. Most of your guests will be hungry and want to dive into your passed hors d’oeuvres or your food display stations. Consider spending a few more and giving them anywhere between 4-6 items to pick from or select items that are more filling. I’ll show you why this saves once you keep reading.

If you are doing a food station, consider something that doesn’t have a protein. Your guests are not going to die because there isn’t a carving station with lamb or a roast. If their main entree is a protein, they don’t need a second one. If you have a variety of hors d’oeuvres during cocktail hour that has protein no one should complain.

We are now in the holiday season. Focus more of your attention on healthy versions of comfort foods. These are items that can easily be made in bulk and are not expensive to produce. Ask the Catering and Sales Manager what items are popular in your event location and consider those.

Ask your chef if there are any alternative versions of beef. Did you know you could swap your beef? Discuss with your chef the difference in taste between a male steer and a female cow filet if you must have beef.

Event Food Budget

Where To Skimp On Your Event Food Budget

Since your guests had 4-6 hors d’oeuvres at your event, there isn’t a hug need to also give them an appetizer once they sit down. We did a poll on our Facebook Page, and found that guess rather skip the salad than to have a generic salad that isn’t customized to their taste. You can easily ask your hotel to skip the salad and use the money from that to add to the hors d’oeuvres you serve during cocktail hour.

As nice as a champagne toast is, no one cares what they are drinking when it comes time to give a toast. Not everyone will drink champagne or sparking wine. Ask to remove that from your bill or see how it can be substituted.

I’ve yet to meet someone who decides not to drink alcohol because you didn’t have premium brands at the bar. Ask for the package that is below your high-end alcohol brands and your guests will drink it, trust me. Consider also mixing up when and what your guests drink. Maybe for cocktail hour you only serve beer and wine. During the dinner you serve a full bar. Remember your food and beverage budget is up to you. The only thing hotels care about is you meeting your food and beverage minimum.

As much as I love cake, it hurts me to say you don’t need to have a large cake to serve everyone. Consider a smaller cake for cutting or ask your baker to add your cutting cake to a display cake. A display cake isn’t real, but looks as if it is.

Opt for a dessert station. Remember that champagne toast or that salad you bypassed? Ask your catering team to substitute those with a dessert station. Don’t be the couple or event host going home with pounds of cake. Your dessert bar could even serve as your favors if you package them in nice to-go boxes.

Planning a wedding or an event and looking for help with your event food budget? We’ve got you covered here.