How To: Scrimp & Save on your Big Day: Food & Drink

Deep breath everyone….here is where you generally spend the majority of your budget…..

But before you splash out and spend a ridiculous amount of money, I have a heap of tips of how to pinch pennies and still have a ruddy good knees up. Food and drink is vital at a wedding…it isn’t something that you can leave out….in my humble opinion anyway. Food makes a party…I can leave the alcohol (although it does aid the less confident to bust a move on the dance floor later), but food is essential to every celebration. So to make sure that we could have the best feast possible I had to make our menu work really hard. I also had to choose a venue where I had full say over what we ate and drank…if you wed in a hotel, you will find that this choice is taken away from you and you can’t get your ‘price per head’ any lower than they say so.

Let’s do it in the order of eating and drinking shall we?

Arrival drinks and canapés

I know that champagne is apparently the ‘only’ choice for arrival…..but pah. It’s your wedding, it’s your party and you can serve whatever you like. We decided to go for a crowd pleaser that would slide down easy. Pimms. We bought bottles when they were on offer (in fact we bought 24 bottles and ended up bring 12 home….I have since told off our friends for not drinking enough….they vouch that they REALLY did drink enough due to their hangovers). This is such a nice soft drink that everyone likes (I mean WHO doesn’t like Pimms?! Get them out of England….PRONTO!) Big jugs of cocktail are often cheaper than bottles of fizz, as you can water them down with more juice/lemonade etc, so making your expensive alcohol go further.

Arrival drinks bride groom pimms thrifty

And as for canapés? Well let’s be TOTALLY honest shall we? I do not want some piddly little floppy crudite after hours and hours since breakfast where in I have spent most of my morning getting ready and then standing around in stupid shoes….I want carbs and I don’t care if they are classy.

We served crisps. Yup…crisps. Yes…I know it isn’t salmon bites, but ruddy hell…this is just fodder to keep them going till the main event…. come on…who can honestly tell me that a teeny little canapé is going to keep you going till after the speeches?! This saved us SERIOUS amounts of cash and I have had nothing but great feedback from friends and family.

The Speeches

Now again…you don’t have to have bubbly if you don’t like it. I don’t like champagne, the taste or the cost, so we had a nice Asti instead. Speak to a friend or family member who knows about such things if you aren’t sure. I had no idea and just asked my Aunt to sort it out for as little cash as possible. She did me proud.

The Main Event

Now…there is nothing cheaper than a buffet. It doesn’t require as many staff to plate it up and serve it out, and it also goes a lot further making your overheads less. We had a Hog Roast which came to about £400 for the pig, the man to cook it, the baps, the stuffing and the apple sauce. That fed EVERYONE except our herbivore friends and family who had another option. Our sides included the usual pasta dishes and salads, meaning everyone got a fully rounded meal for little expenditure.

We opted for red and white wine with our main course. If you can do a booze cruise….go… if you can get a bulk buy in Tesco with a discount….flaunt it. A lot of supermarkets will also hire you the wine glasses too, so check if it is cheaper for you to do your glass hire that way or with your venue.

This was also the last lot of alcohol we paid for for our guests. I did feel a bit of a Scrooge for this, but I couldn’t afford to water them ALL day….I tried really hard to get them pretty soggy before the venue bar (at pub prices) opened and they had to fund themselves. Our guests really didn’t mind….being quite merry by 5pm due to the amount of Pimms… but do make sure if you are in a small or rural venue that they take cards and inform your guests if they don’t.


cake table wedding thrifty competitionWe asked our guests to bake and take part in a cake competition, where the prize was £20 to pop behind the bar later in the evening. The amount of effort our guests put in truly amazed us and I loved the healthy competition between friends from the moment it was announced on our wedding invite. Even my husband concocted a fridge cake for the event! It was lovely to have our loved ones contribute to our day in pudding format and yes… I am quite aware that I am an actual penny-pinching GENIUS, when it came to our dessert option.

Guests wedding cakes

This also meant that everyone had an option of something they liked, they could go up for seconds and some even took a load home! So pudding cost us £20. I thank you.

Wedding cake table thrifty idea

The Cake/Evening Buffet

So we opted for a pile of cheeses as our wedding cake. This was to balance out the mountains of cake that our guests were providing and also to be the main fodder for the evening buffet. Cake doesn’t go very far once everyone has had a bit, but cheese….. oh my golly gosh…..people were stuffing their faces for hours and still we took WHEELS of it home and ate it for weeks.

We coupled it with oodles of crackers and fruit for easy pickings between dancing and mingling.

Cheese wedding cake thrifty food

By doubling up the cake and the buffet we saved ourselves a heap of cash. All it took was a little planning, shucking ‘tradition’ and some forethought to make our food work really hard for us.

I hope this has helped! Feeding our guests ample amounts of yummy things was very important to me, and I found that this was the best way, for us, to do that. Just remember to plan well and stick to your guns…. some of my family members asked if there would be another meat option over pork…. I put my foot down and said no….despite offers to pay for chicken and not-so-polite calls to my caterer (who thankfully asked before she bought any!). I flatly refused. It was my day and I wasn’t about to be bullied into changing my menu, because somebody wanted meat but not pork…pfffft……

Stand your ground, because as I very well know…some people just don’t understand that it is a party….that they are lucky to be invited to!

Big Love!






3 responses to “How To: Scrimp & Save on your Big Day: Food & Drink

  1. GOOD for you sticking to your guns.I cannot believe some people had the audacity to ask the caterer etc!!its your fuckin wedding!I love cheese so much that id blate have a cheese wedding cake!are they just stacked on top of each other or connected in some elaborate way?I think the byoc idea has become quite common but I like idea of making it into a competition so people get something out of doing so!I also really like the idea of chips for canapes because,like you say,by that point you just want carbs anyway.I know if I was to ever get married the traditionalists would have something to say but I dont care!! Xx

    • That was my stepfather… I had a few choice words to say don’t you fret!
      The cheese was all bought from a supermarket and stacked… Just make sure you put hard cheeses on the bottom and soft ones on the top! X

  2. You clever girl, think the cake competition and the ‘cheese cake’ are both fabulous ideas. Well done, Im all for the idea of something different. I bet all the little touches that were so ‘you’ (both) will be remembered (and smiled about) for many years to come. Bravo pidgey. :o)

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