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Beginner May 2021

a "no food" wedding? Catering too expensive!

Candyce, on January 1, 2021 at 6:47 AM

Posted in Wedding Reception 61

Has anyone had a "no food" wedding? Lol. Our venue is $4K and we are slowly paying that down. The list of "approved caterers" that we are to use are off the charts with the prices ($100-120/guest). We cut our guest list down from 75, to 60, to 45, and are now at the point where key people would be...
Has anyone had a "no food" wedding? Lol. Our venue is $4K and we are slowly paying that down. The list of "approved caterers" that we are to use are off the charts with the prices ($100-120/guest). We cut our guest list down from 75, to 60, to 45, and are now at the point where key people would be getting cut. That's still over $4K additional for catering. Not to mention all the other expenses.

So my question is, is it unusual to... not feed people at your wedding? I have heard of "dessert only" weddings if you have one later at night. What about an appetizer(s)/small plates only wedding? Alcohol only wedding? Everybody grab a sandwich and lawn chair wedding, and have a seat ??? 😬😬
We are not receiving any financial help from either family. Which is fine of course, but I do not want to be obligated to pay for these people to eat a lavish meal and drink it up on my tab 🤷🏻‍♀️ So where can I cut out a major expense? If not the food, is it weird to have a wedding with no music/DJ? Anything else that can go? We are already DIYing and saving everywhere we can find, but still looking at a $10-12,000 wedding. Need this down to about $6-8K (do dreams really come true? Lol).
Other issue is vendors not responding on this app. It's like pulling teeth to get a response!


  • Katie
    Rockstar August 2020
    Katie ·
    • Flag
    Hi Candyce! A few thoughts that may help with the decision- non alcoholic weddings happen all the time (been to some myself and good times!), so that could save you the bartender fee and reduce costs quite a bit. I too get anxious and for me, having our DJ was such a blessing. He kept the flow going, handled the microphone setup, kept soft music playing so it never got awkward. For me, he was worth every penny as he was the leader of the event 👍
    Another thought is we had a cookie table (individually wrapped due to covid) and candy favors that are economical. With the meal and cake cutting with edible favors, this may work nicely!! Hope this helps ❤️
    • Reply
  • Michelle
    Rockstar October 2022
    Michelle ·
    • Flag
    If you are required to use a caterer from their list then you will have food/beverage minimums that you must meet and all the alternative suggestions won't make a bit of difference since they are not options as long as you are at that venue. That is why all inclusive venues are more expensive.
    If you forfeit your deposit and go to a different venue with no restrictions, then you can serve restaurant catering or just desserts. You cannot serve alcohol on it's own or with just sweets since you will have a ton of drunk guests you are legally responsible for.

    That said, people do remember if the food was good or bad or if there was any. Or if they had to pay for drinks themselves.
    If entertaining your guests doesn't matter to you, just elope without guests.

    • Reply
  • Day
    Devoted July 2021
    Day ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    I agree with you. These guests are taking time out of their schedules to travel and come celebrate your wedding after being extended an invitation from you. Celebrations typically last a few hours and it’s considered rude to not feed/entertain your guests... that’s just part of being a host/hostess. It’s a way of thanking your guests for sharing in your special day. I recommend heavy apps, cake, and drinks from the approved caterers.
    • Reply
  • Yasmine
    Rockstar October 2020
    Yasmine ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    I would definitely do the appetizers then! I know I personally wouldn't mind it, I love appetizers lol
    • Reply
  • Pirate & 60s Bride
    Legend March 2017
    Pirate & 60s Bride ·
    • Flag
    Personally, the venue doesn’t seem worth it and I would change it. But if you have your wedding at a non-meal time (2 pm) and only have a 1 or 2 hour reception, dessert only or light appetizers are fine! No alcohol needed. No DJ or entertainment either (although a soloist or background music may be nice). 😃
    • Reply
  • Kristen
    Master November 2020
    Kristen ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment

    Sorry I have not read all the replies but I know I would hate to go to a reception and there was not food. Only way you can do appetizers only would be during a non meal time before dinner. Late night weddings not sure if all people would come due to the time. I would say cut alcohol as you do not have to get people liquored up. That may be a sore topic to some but I never feel I need to get people tipsy but yeah at least feed me. Just like if I come to a house party I hope there is some food. I would say cut the DJ & Alcohol but depends on the type of reception you want. You could just do the ceremony followed by a cake & punch reception but what kind of wedding are you looking to have because for some people they want the fun and dance filled reception.

    • Reply
  • Tracie
    Dedicated April 2021
    Tracie ·
    • Flag
    Also on a budget here. We decided to have our reception be a fancy dinner party - no dancing. I mean we'll still do a first dance and with our parents, but otherwise our wedding is "good company, good food, good wine". I've got a Spotify premium account and I've been working on a playlist to last a few hours, and arranging the music list so that it flows well. Saves us a lot of money to not hire a band or dj or worry about renting a dance floor since it's an outdoor wedding. We'll just be renting a friend's sound equipment for the ceremony.
    • Reply
  • Hanna
    VIP June 2019
    Hanna ·
    • Flag

    My advice would be to switch venues ASAP to a place that lets you use whatever catering you want. Not having food at your wedding isn't just unusual, but it's rude. The whole point of a wedding reception is to thank your guests for attending your wedding and to not feed them properly just isn't ok.

    You can get away with just appetizers or cake/dessert if you hold your reception during a non-meal time and it's much shorter in length. However, I think it would be very strange to do this at a fancy $4000 venue. In general, guests assume that the style of reception will match the venue. i.e. I wouldn't book the Ritz Carlton as my venue and then only serve my guests appetizers.

    So my advice would be to switch venues if a cake and punch style reception is more in line with your vision.

    • Reply
  • Nicole
    Devoted August 2022
    Nicole ·
    • Flag
    Can you use the venue just for the ceremony, and then take your guests to a restaurant after for dinner?
    • Reply
  • Paige L.
    Super September 2021
    Paige L. ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment

    My thoughts exactly. OP, people WILL be miserable at your wedding and will trash talk it for years to come. I went to a wedding close to four years ago where they only had a baked potato bar and lemonade with no music or entertainment. My friends and I still talk quite regularly about how completely horrible the wedding was. By far it was the worst wedding I've ever attended and they at least gave the guests baked potatoes.

    • Reply
  • A
    Super December 2020
    Anais ·
    • Flag
    The whole point of the reception is that you’re giving back to your guests, thanking them for coming to your ceremony to see you get married so saying that you don’t care about feeding them is a little weird. Why invite them then?
    If you’re not into anything formal then you could just elope the two of you and have a bbq or party at your house afterwards to celebrate with everyone.
    If you have a small guest list and don’t care about dancing, you don’t really need the DJ. Just remember that the DJ does also help guide the event by making announcements too. We had 17 guests and didn’t have a DJ, just a playlist and it worked out well! Otherwise an appetizer heavy wedding would be great, I would absolutely go to that especially since I love trying different foods. Just absolutely let your guests know so they don’t expect a full meal.You also don’t need alcohol if you want to cut costs more.
    • Reply
  • Rebecca
    Rockstar August 2019
    Rebecca ·
    • Flag

    If you do not want to feed your guests, than the only cut you can make is to not have guests.

    There aren't a lot of hard-and-fast etiquette rules, anymore, but feeding people you invite to a multi-hour event is one of them.

    My 3 rules for a wedding are:

    1. License/officiant

    2. Couple

    3. Feed guests

    That's it, that's the bare minimum.

    As someone who is hypoglycemic and *must* eat frequently, if I were invited to a no-food event, I would not go.

    • Reply
  • Amanda
    VIP December 2020
    Amanda ·
    • Flag

    I'll agree with PP's here! Book a new venue ASAP!! Have you looked into golf courses/golf resorts? They typically are all-inclusive when it comes to vendors (aside from photography, DJ, floral) and have indoor venues as well as outdoor photography options. If you want to save money or stay on budget I would highly suggest looking at changing the time and location as others have said and rethinking what that day will look like. Have you considered a brunch reception? They are often more economical and people love brunch!!

    • Reply
  • J
    Dedicated November 2021
    J W ·
    • Flag
    We're not doing a dj at our wedding since neither of us like dancing. We're just creating a playlist and hooking it up to a sound system (that we're renting for $50). And we're doing bbq for food, which still came out to around $2,000 for 120 guests (at our $3k venue). I'm also doing my own centerpieces with fake florals for about $300 total and our only real flowers will be bouquets and boutonnieres ($600 for bridal bouquet, two bridesmaid, two wrist corsages, and 11 boutonnieres) so that really cut down on flower cost and opened us up to spend more on food. That said, back in the day my parents had a sandwich and beer reception and I hear everyone had a great time so something like that is always an option too. Maybe you can have your reception at a different location from the ceremony and that will open your catering options more? If you want to just have a hangout spot available after the wedding for guests then maybe look I to renting a room at a restaurant? You could do your ceremony and then all travel to the restaurant (there'd be an expectation of food but not of entertainment) and you guys could duck out whenever you wanted as it seems you don't want to stay for long. Or possibly at someone's house?? We're doing our rehearsal dinner at my FMIL's and she's renting a tent for the backyard (only a few hundred) and either going to make food ahead of time and freeze it, like lasagna, or just order a bunch of pizza.
    • Reply
  • Kali
    Savvy November 2022
    Kali ·
    • Flag

    I wouldn't cut food--if I was a guest, I would be very unhappy. Cutting alcohol or offering 1 drink ticket would be a better way to save some money.

    What's the outside vendor fee? It might be cheaper to do that. Alternatively, if there is a good restaurant nearby, could you move dinner to the restaurant and return to the venue for dancing and cake?

    What about cutting your decorations? Or DJ?

    • Reply
  • Gabbysitaxo
    Dedicated October 2021
    Gabbysitaxo ·
    • Flag

    Ive never heard of a wedding that had no food at all. Ive heard of micro weddings that had brunch style or small snacks but theres always something!!

    • Reply
  • Ngwena
    Just Said Yes October 2021
    Ngwena ·
    • Flag
    Please girl have some food at your wedding. These are people coming to celebrate with you and your husband so food and drinks is a way to say thank you for coming. And as for the catering $4000 is wayyy to expensive for just 40 guest , if I were you I will keep looking for other caterers or another option is to order tray size dishes from your favorite restaurants for pickup and then you can display it nicely for your reception. This will not cost you more than $1500
    • Reply
  • Stacey
    Super October 2018
    Stacey ·
    • Flag

    I wouldn't do a reception if you don't want to be around people, don't want to pay for food/drink and are thinking of not having music. Just do a ceremony with a few people and have appetizers, cake and some champagne afterwards.

    • Reply
  • Florida Marlins
    Expert October 2017
    Florida Marlins ·
    • Flag

    Okay, I will be the crabby voice of reason here:

    If you can't afford to feed your guests, elope

    If you don't care about entertaining your guests to make them comfy, elope.

    People will leave ASAP, probably taking their gifts/cash gift with them and speak poorly of your wedding for years. "My family and friends will understand!'' No they won't, they want food. It is a basic principle of entertaining. I make sure my cleaning lady has a snack and preferred soda/coffee for God's sake.

    Hard core advice? Scrub your mission, tell people you are rethinking things due to Covid, have a simple ceremony and host a dinner for immediate family only and SO/spouses.

    • Reply
  • Michelle
    Dedicated March 2021
    Michelle ·
    • Flag
    I never heard of it . My guest list is only total of 28 and everything came up about 6000 that includes the food , alcohol chairs etc.. only thing we had to get was wedding cake and dj . If you want a photographer have someone like family to take pictures , also you can set up your own music and play thru speakers dont really need a dj . If u want centerpieces u can make it if you are crafty that way it be much cheaper rather than renting them .
    • Reply

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