Best Budget-Friendly Catering Options for a UK Wedding: Delicious and Affordable Choices

Planning a wedding can be expensive, but you don’t have to break the bank to serve delicious food to your guests.

The first meal of the day is typically less costly because of the ingredients required: lots of eggs and potatoes with fewer amounts of meat.

This makes hosting a daytime wedding with a brunch menu a great option.

Dishes like quiche, French toast, pancakes, scrambled eggs, omelets, fruit, pastries, and salad can go a long way to satisfy your guests.

A table spread with a variety of delicious and colorful dishes, surrounded by happy wedding guests enjoying the budget-friendly catering options

In the UK, you can explore ideas like vegetarian options, which are generally less expensive than meat dishes.

Spiced beans, vegetables and houmous, and cheddar sandwiches are tasty yet affordable choices.

For a unique twist, consider adding seafood to your menu if you’re having a beach wedding.

Seafood doesn’t always have to be pricey, and it can impress your guests without draining your budget.

Another budget-friendly tip is to look at award-winning caterers in the UK who specialize in providing memorable dining experiences without high costs.

Some companies, like Southcott Events Catering, work exclusively with unique venues to create flavorful dishes that enhance your celebration.

With these strategies, you can offer a delightful catering experience while keeping your wedding budget in check.

Understanding Wedding Catering Costs

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Planning your wedding catering in the UK can be complex due to various expenses and hidden fees. We’ll explore these costs to help you stay within budget.

Breakdown of Catering Expenses

Catering costs for a wedding can vary widely depending on several factors.

For a small wedding of about 40 guests, you might expect to spend around £2,600.

For a larger gathering of 160 guests, the cost can be about £10,400.

Types of Caterers:

  • Affordable: £20 – £40 per head
  • Moderate: £40 – £60 per head
  • Luxury: £60 – £80 per head

Other costs include rentals for tables, chairs, and linens which can add to your bill.

Also, professional staff, including waiters and bartenders, are often charged per hour.

Remember to consider the 20% VAT when budgeting.

Hidden Costs to Watch For

There are several hidden costs that might surprise you.

Tasting Sessions: Some caterers charge to sample their menu before making a final decision.

Service Fees: Extra fees might include setup, breakdown, and overtime for staff. Check if these are included in your initial quote.

Dietary Requirements: Catering for guests with specific dietary needs can incur extra charges, especially if these requirements are communicated late in the planning process.

Travel Fees: If your venue is far from the caterer’s base, additional travel expenses might be required.

Keep these hidden costs in mind to avoid budget surprises on your big day.

Choosing the Right Catering Service

A festive wedding banquet with diverse, affordable catering options in the UK. Buffet tables display a variety of delicious dishes, while staff serve guests with smiles

Choosing a catering service for your wedding involves balancing quality with budget. It’s also important to find a caterer who aligns with your vision and accommodates dietary needs.

In-House vs. External Caterers

In-house caterers are typically provided by your wedding venue. This option can be convenient as they are familiar with the kitchen space and venue logistics.

Often, venues will have pre-set menus which can be customized to some extent.


  • Easier coordination
  • Potentially lower costs due to existing contracts
  • Familiarity with venue


  • Limited menu options
  • Less flexibility in pricing and food styles

External caterers, on the other hand, offer more variety and customizability.

You can choose caterers who specialize in specific cuisines, like the Hot Sausage Company known for hot dogs.


  • Greater menu flexibility
  • Can select based on cuisine type
  • Potential for unique offerings


  • May involve higher costs
  • Need to manage logistics and coordination

Evaluating Professional Caterers

When evaluating potential caterers, it’s crucial to research their experience and portfolio.

Look for experienced caterers like The Indian Dish, known for offering luxury authentic catering.

Steps to Evaluate Caterers:

  1. Check Reviews: Look at customer feedback to gauge reliability and food quality.
  2. Portfolio: Ask for a portfolio or attend events they are catering to see their work first-hand.
  3. References: Speak to previous clients to get a sense of their experience.
  4. Certifications: Ensure they have necessary health and safety certifications.

Interest in specific dietary needs and flexibility is also important.

Catering services should be able to handle allergies and dietary restrictions, as noted in this Wedding Catering Guide.

Food Tasting Sessions

Tasting sessions allow you to sample menu items and understand the caterer’s presentation and flavor profile.

This is an essential step to ensure that their offerings meet your standards and preferences.

Benefits of Tasting Sessions:

  • Ensures food quality and taste meet your expectations
  • Allows customization of dishes to match your wedding theme and guest preferences
  • Opportunity to discuss presentation and service styles

When scheduling a tasting, consider involving key people in your wedding planning process.

This includes your wedding planner, as they can offer professional insights.

Key Points:

  • Schedule the session well before the wedding date.
  • Bring notes to compare different caterers.
  • Be honest about what you do or don’t like, so adjustments can be made.

Food Options for Every Palate

A buffet table with a variety of dishes, from traditional British fare to international cuisines, all presented in an elegant and inviting manner

Making sure every wedding guest is happy with their meal can be tricky, but planning carefully with diverse and inclusive food options can help.

Think about both variety and dietary needs to create an enjoyable experience for everyone.

Menu Planning for Diverse Tastes

Offer a variety of foods to cater to different tastes.

A buffet can be a great choice because it allows guests to pick what they like.

Include popular dishes like grilled meats, fresh vegetables, and side options such as mashed potatoes or rice.

For something more unique, hire a food truck that can serve specialty items like gourmet tacos or wood-fired pizzas.

If you prefer plated meals, go for a versatile menu with appetizers like canapés and main courses that feature both hearty and light options.

Catering for Dietary Restrictions

It’s important to consider guests with dietary restrictions.

Make sure to provide options for vegetarians and guests who need gluten-free or dairy-free dishes.

Discuss your needs with your caterer to ensure that fresh ingredients are used, and all dietary needs are covered.

Including labeled stations at a buffet or offering a clearly marked menu for a plated dinner ensures everyone can enjoy their meal without worry.

Simple touches like a separate vegetarian entrée or a dairy-free dessert can make a big difference.

Partner with a caterer known for handling special dietary requests, such as those listed on Social Pantry’s Caterer’s Guide, to ensure an inclusive menu.

Food Presentation and Style

A table set with elegant yet affordable dishes, featuring a mix of traditional British and international cuisine. Decorative plating and colorful garnishes add a touch of style to the budget-friendly catering options for a UK wedding

How you present food at your wedding can significantly impact your guests’ experience. This section focuses on various ways to serve your meals, creative serving ideas, and how to decorate your tables.

Buffet vs. Plated Meals

Choosing between a buffet and plated meal depends on your budget and style.

Buffets can offer a variety of dishes, allowing guests to choose what they like. This style is often more affordable and minimizes food waste. Options like grazing tables or hog roasts add a fun twist to traditional buffets.

On the other hand, plated meals provide a more formal dining experience.

Each guest receives a pre-selected meal, ensuring consistent portion sizes.

Plated meals can include bowl food and intricate dessert tables, offering a lavish feel.

Cost-wise, plated meals might be pricier due to added staff and service requirements.

Innovative Serving Ideas

To make your catering stand out, consider using innovative serving ideas.

For example, finger foods served on elegant trays can create a casual yet chic atmosphere.

Mini sliders, skewers, or bite-sized desserts work great here.

You might also use bowl food for a more casual, easy-to-eat option that doesn’t sacrifice presentation.

Bowls of pasta, salads, or crafted desserts look stylish and are easy for guests to enjoy.

Another unique idea is setting up grazing tables, filled with assorted cheeses, meats, and fruits. These tables can be a visual and culinary delight.

Table Decoration and Crockery

The way you set your tables can elevate the dining experience.

Using coordinated crockery that matches your theme adds a touch of elegance.

For example, vintage weddings might use antique plates and glasses, while modern weddings could feature sleek, minimalist designs.

Decorate the tables with fresh flowers, candles, or even small lanterns to enhance the ambiance.

High-quality linens, including tablecloths and napkins, make a noticeable difference.

Adding personalized touches like name cards or small favors can make your guests feel special.

Setting up a beautiful dessert table with cake stands and decorative platters also adds to the charm. This is not only practical but visually appealing, creating an inviting space for guests to gather.

Budget-Saving Tips and Tricks

A table adorned with a variety of budget-friendly catering options, including finger foods, mini sandwiches, and small desserts, all beautifully presented on elegant serving platters

When planning a wedding on a budget, there are many ways you can save money on catering without sacrificing quality.

Consider doing some catering yourself, buying in bulk, or exploring alternative options like food trucks.

DIY Catering Considerations

DIY catering can be a fun and budget-friendly way to provide food for your wedding.

Choosing simple, easy-to-make dishes is key.

Finger foods, sandwiches, and salads can be prepped ahead and stored easily.

Borrowing or renting equipment like chafing dishes and large coolers can help keep food fresh and ready to serve.

Get family and friends involved. Many hands make light work, and this also creates a personal touch for your special day.

Create a clear plan and assign tasks to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Storage and timing matter.

Ensure you have enough space for food storage, and consider the timing of cooking and serving.

Remember, freshness is crucial for both taste and safety.

Wholesale and Bulk-Buy Options

Buying ingredients from wholesale stores like Costco can significantly cut down costs.

Bulk buying is great for essentials like pasta, rice, and meat. You can freeze the meat until closer to the date to maintain freshness.

Stock up on disposable serving ware and utensils in bulk to save more.

Large bags of frozen fruits and vegetables can also be more cost-effective than buying smaller quantities.

Compare prices and consider splitting purchases with other budget-conscious friends or family members. This way, you can all benefit from wholesale prices without unnecessary waste.

Alternative Catering Choices

Consider non-traditional catering like hiring a food truck.

Food trucks often offer unique and trendy menu options at lower prices than traditional caterers.

They provide a fun, casual vibe and can serve various food types—from tacos to gourmet burgers.

Hosting a daytime wedding with a brunch menu can also be a great way to save.

Breakfast items like quiche, pancakes, and pastries are cheaper and just as satisfying as a traditional dinner.

You might find that some cheap wedding venues offer package deals that include catering.

Look for budget wedding venues that partner with preferred caterers for discounts and reliable service.

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