Generally, the food cost can be the most expensive element of the reception. There are those who believe that if you provide the food, you will save a great deal of money. But there are additional expenses to consider when planning for the food cost. First of all, the chef will need plenty of room and several cooking utensils to prepare the food for a large number of guests. He or she will need ample storage space in freezers and refrigerators that can accommodate large trays. You will also need a large crew of people to be responsible for keeping the food trays filled and attractive during the course of the meal.
Most catering services will charge you a “per plate” rate, which means one plate per person. On average, a caterer charges $35 to $40 per plate depending on the menu you select. But remember, this price includes the servers, the food, the table linens, dishes, silverware, tax and tip. If you think you can provide a meal for less than that, then by all means, go for it. But remember, on your wedding day, you will want to focus your energy on what is happening and not on whether the food table is running low on mini-quiche and broccoli florets.
Another way to cut back on expenses is to host a dessert reception. This is best served following an afternoon wedding, between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Cakes, pies and a variety of candies and cookies can be made well in advance and kept frozen until 24 hours before the reception. All of these desserts displayed on silver or crystal platters, which can be rented from most party rental companies, looks lovely. If you decide to have this kind of reception, be sure to make arrangements with a trusted friend or relative to return the platters on the next business day so you will not be charged a late fee.
Ultimately, the decision of who prepares the food for your reception is up to you. Keep in mind that sometimes hiring a professional will save you a lot stress and money in the long run.