Tips for Elegant Weddings Without Breaking the Bank

MARCH 14, 2014

We’re embarking on a new era in wedding receptions and catering. Although everyone’s watching their pennies, that doesn’t mean Saint Germain Catering can’t host a beautiful wedding for you and your guests — and still keep it within your budget. With more than 15 years of experience, we definitely can! Regardless of your wedding budget, this will be one of the most important, long-dreamed-about days of your lives. You know the one where Prince Charming sweeps Sleeping Beauty off her feet — while your closest friends and family gather to watch as you profess your love to the person with whom you’ve chosen to spend the rest of your life? Well, that day is almost here.

Simplicity can equal elegance. If you want to throw a fun, elegant reception but worry about managing all the costs, look no further. We have put together some suggestions on how you can host a wonderful wedding reception on any budget. Just follow our well-tested guidelines:

1. Start Planning.

Everyone knows the key to saving money is to plan ahead and be organized. Decide what type of reception you would like to create. What things are most important to you? Is it the decor or the entertainment? Or the food and the venue ? Think about where you want to spend your money. Once you’ve got a plan, making choices gets easier.

2. Set the Date.

Each year more than 30,000 marriage licenses are issued in  the Metro DC area. Summer and Fall are the most popular times, and those “premium” days fill up quickly on vendors’ calendars, especially Saturdays. Once you find the right day and vendor, be sure to commit to them and place a deposit to secure the date.

3. Sunday Wedding?

Because Saturdays are the most popular day to get married, try setting the date on a different day. For instance, Sunday weddings may inspire more of a daytime feel where you can serve a light brunch and champagne — while also cutting back on the bar bill. Many venues also offer reduced rates on certain days of the week.

4. Off Season Wedding.

January-April tends to be a little quieter for wedding professionals in the DC area. This is often the time when finding a good deal is easier and vendors are willing to be more flexible.

5. Choose Your Venue.

Many great locations in Washington DC and Northern Virginia can fill up a year or more in advance. Confirm your venue offers many amenities such as tables and chairs, to help determine how much money you will need to set aside for rentals.

6. Hold Your Wedding at a Private Residence.

If you aren’t having luck finding the right place, hosting your wedding and reception at a private residence will allow you to control costs much more easily. You’ll be able to set the rules and have the event exactly the way you dreamed.

7. Buffets Are Usually Less Expensive.

As a general rule of thumb, sit-down dinners are nice but require more service staff — which, in the end, you’ll pay more for. Alternatively, buffets and food stations can be artfully presented and arranged to please the crowd.

8. Choose a Caterer Who Makes Pricing Easy to Understand.

Caterers are in business to make money, but how exactly can you know what you’re paying for? Typical charges to expect include food, beverages, rentals (if needed), service staff, transportation/delivery, and service charge. “All-inclusive” pricing hides how much will actually be spent on food and beverages, and leaves you wondering what you’re really paying for.

10. Ordering Off the Menu Saves Money.

Many catering chefs carefully plan menus to inspire, be seasonal, stay balanced, and help you to stay within a specific budget. When starting from scratch, often a great idea becomes a much larger process to execute than planned. Most chefs will rise to the challenge, but the overall costs have the potential to increase because custom-menu planning creates an additional expense for the caterer.

11. Hire the Best!

You will always find lower cost caterers — and it’s true: you get what you pay for.

• Do you really want to risk running out of food?
• The caterer not showing up on time?
• Unprofessional staff?
• Or even worse, is the caterer still in business?
Hiring the best will ensure everything goes off without a hitch; after all, this is one of the most important days of your lives. Don’t let cost-cutting measures make your big day a disappointment.

12. Have the Caterer Just Drop It Off.

Instead of the expense of a wait staff and bartenders, simply have the caterer bring everything, set it up, then leave. Arranging for them to return and pick up their equipment on the next regular business day will keep delivery and staffing costs to a minimum — which means the majority of your budget will go towards the food.

13. Your Guest List.

Do you really need to invite every single person you ever knew? Or is it more important to have only closest friends and family members present? Keeping your guest count on the smaller side will save you money.

14. Simplify the Beverages

Offering a limited alcohol selection will save you money. For example, serve only beer, wine, and a signature drink. Then use champagne for the customary toast instead of a full bar. Or better yet, just toast with whatever is in your hand! Also by applying for your own one day permit and purchasing your own beverages, you can save alot of money.