5 Easy Ways to Save on Wedding Venue and Catering Costs

All the more moola to spend on the wedding dress of your dreams!

Reception table

Photo by The Grovers

As you move along through the wedding-planning process and are fast approaching your big day, are you finding yourself toeing the line between staying within your budget and spending money you don't have? Don't worry. We've got five tips for saving on wedding venue and catering costs that you may not have thought of. (You can thank us later!)

Say "I Do" Where You'll Party Too

One of the easiest ways to save big is by having both your ceremony and reception at the same venue. Not only are venues willing to work with you on costs and logistics, you'll also save money on transportation, potential vendor transportation, time, and even stress! Like anything else, there are pros and cons to getting married on-site, but it's certainly something to consider if you're looking to cut costs.


Some venues have regulations on this, but for those that don't, consider bringing in your own booze. Contact local distributors or wholesalers to see what type of pricing you can expect if you buy your own favorite beers, wines, and liquors in bulk. Then crunch some numbers and figure out if you'd save by doing it yourself. Just be certain you've made sure you bought enough—and buy extra just in case!

Per-Head Pricing

Typically, wedding venues and caterers will offer two prices per head: those for adults (over 21) and those for children. Often neglected are teens, the in-betweens, and nondrinkers. Most of the time, adult head counts will include alcohol in all-inclusive packages, and alcohol is expensive! If you have nondrinkers, pregnant guests, or teens, speak up. There's no reason to pay for the alcohol you know they won't be consuming.

Curated Cocktail Hour

Cocktail hours with buffets, attended stations, and passed hors d'oeuvres cost a pretty penny. To cut back on the bill, you might want to opt for butler-passed munchies only. Especially if you're planning a few courses in your main meal, you don't need your guests to fill up ahead of time. By offering cocktail-hour staples passed on trays, you'll significantly reduce food waste and quantity, therefore saving big dollars too.

Make a List and Check It Twice (Or Three Times)

One of the easiest ways to spend unnecessary money is by providing an inaccurate final head count or overcommitting to a minimum guest count you might not meet. Guarantee only a minimum head count you know beyond a shadow of a doubt you will meet or exceed. (You don't want to pay for guests who can't make it or resort to inviting those who weren't originally on your guest list.) As it gets closer to your wedding date and your RSVP date has come and gone, track down every last guest to confirm their attendance—or not. Triple-check your final head count before providing it to your wedding venue and vendors so that you know it's accurate. While caterers and venues typically won't mind adding one or two guests before the big event, most of the time you will not receive a refund or credit for no-shows or a lighter attendance.

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