Weddings cost a bundle no matter how you look at it. Either you pay someone to do it (cook, clean, decorate, etc. . .) or you pay for it with time and energy and do it yourself with the help (hopefully) of friends and family. Having been a caterer for years, I would not recommend using one if cost is an issue. Often food/catering costs will be in addition to facility rental and equipment rental fees. Very spendy and you pay gratuity on top of food costs. That being said, food preparation and service isn't necessarily the thing you want vital family or bridal party members tied up doing the day of your wedding. It's incredibly time consuming and takes longer the less experience your helpers have. The way I see it, there are two cost effective options for food /venue:
1) Have friends and family doing food UP UNTIL the day of the event and then spend a little extra on a few staff people to actually put the food out, stock the buffet, and clean up. Still a huge drain of time with shopping and prep plus requires someone to direct the staff the day of.
2) Or my favorite - utilize a facility that has everything on site already such as a restaurant. Too often, wedding venues cost a fortune and include little beyond the use of the site. With our restaurant, what I do most often for brides, is offer them a wedding venue where they can have the ceremony and the reception (cut out a site rental fee right there) that also includes most of the basic equipment rentals. Restaurants obviously already have tables, chairs and china. Rentals would be limited to arches and possibly ceremony chairs if desired. Restaurants may have a fee for renting out part of their space, but more often than not, they are just looking to
make money off of the food and alcohol. What I do at my place is what's called a 'Food and Beverage Minimum.' Meaning if the cost of food and beverage for the event meets the minimum set for the day and time scheduled (obviously a weekend has a higher minimum than a weekday) then there is NO FACILITY RENTAL FEE! I am sure there are places in Portland who do this.
Other cost cutting options to think about
- Time your wedding so it doesn't center around a meal time. Mid afternoon weddings are too early for dinner and too late for lunch. You could get away with lighter food. Late weddings (after 7) could get away with just doing desserts for their guests. You just notate it in the invitation: "A dessert buffet will be served following the ceremony at _____."
- Don't include alcohol service. Instead, have a cash bar where people can pay for their own alcoholic beverages. Bar costs add up faster than any other if not controlled. It is perfectly acceptable to ask people to pay for their own liquor these days. Again, just notate it on the invitation so your guests are prepared with money. If you want to provide something, do
drink tickets that way consumption isn't
Hope this helps a little!