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How to Have a Wedding for Under $1500: Food

Charge an entrance fee (also called a plate fee): in our situation, since we are so young most of our guests understand that we can’t afford to pay for everyone’s meal. The original plan was to simply have the reception at a restaurant (which should definitely be your back up plan if you opt out of the fee, just inform guests on the invitation that there will be a restaurant reception right after the ceremony and that guests are responsible for their own meal). However, we figured it would be easier and less expensive for the guests to simply charge an entrance fee. If 50 people pay a $10 entrance fee, that’s $500 for food right there without the bride and groom having to reach in their wallets. If you charge a fee, however, make sure that the guests are all fed and full. Don’t take their money and only give everyone a slice of pizza and potato chips. As long as they’re well fed and had to pay less than they would at a restaurant, guests should be happy. Is this tacky? Some might say yes and some might say no. However, usually as long as you explain to people why you really can’t afford to pay for all of the food, people are pretty understanding, especially those who have had their own weddings. For people who help out or work at the wedding (such as photographers, the bridal party, or clergy), I wouldn’t charge them. They’re staff, staff has perks. Also, determine how the fee will be paid. Should they mail it? Deposit it straight into your account? Pay via PayPal or another online service? Talk about all of that with your spouse and figure it all out ahead of time. Include these instructions on your invites and make sure to always warn guests of any fees or restaurant plans long before the wedding, maybe even before the invite goes out.

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