Or downsize dessert: Rather than a fancy finish like a chocolate torte decorated with mango sauce, serve sliced fresh tropical fruit with raspberry sorbet. According to Eddie Levy, of Signature Creations Caterers, in Linden, New Jersey, this could cut five dollars per person off the bill. Multiply that by 200 guests and you’ve instantly saved a cool thousand.
2. If you’re inviting a large number of guests, ask you caterer if he’ll give you a discount. “Use your guest count as a negotiating point,” suggests Levy.
3. Eliminate a course. You can easily lose the appetizer and start the meal with a salad. No one will notice.
4. Rather than serving top-shelf, or premium, liquors, offer the house brands, which are significantly cheaper.
5. Change the date. If you’re booked for a Saturday night, which is prime time (Only fifty-two Saturdays a year! Note levy), ask your caterer if you can switch to a Sunday afternoon. He may offer you a price break if he thinks he has a good chance of rebooking your original time slot.
6. Instead of costly pre-made favors, make inexpensive ones yourself. Sugar cookies cost pennies; bake ahead and freeze, then package in glassine bags.
7. Being flexible is key when you’ve got a redefined budget says Luis Colazo of Lotus, a New York florist. Rather than insisting on certain types of flowers, remind your florist of your preferred style – for example, you want a pink and yellow English garden theme – then trust him to find what best fits your
Once I sign a contract, can I change anything?
That depends on the vendor and how understanding he is. For example, “a reputable caterer will work with you even though you’ve signed a contract,” says Eddie levy, of Signature Creations Caterers. Why would he be so compliant? “To keep your business and generate good word of mouth.” If you decide, though, to cancel a vendor’s services altogether, be prepared to lose your deposit, usually one-third to one-half the total. Some vendors go out of their way, however, to be as accommodating as possible. “If I can rebook the date, I’ll return the deposit,” says Melanie Nashan, a Montana photographer.
Loan and Behold
If you’ve exhausted all other possibilities and are still coming up short, consider a short-term loan. Doug Henderson of Credit Counselors, a nonprofit agency in Richmond, Virginia, advised that you read – and understand – the terms and conditions of any agreement so you know exactly what you’re getting into:
A CREDIT CARD Make sure the account’s monthly interest rate is no more than 4 percent, and have a specific plan for how you’ll pay off the balance in a few months.
A BANK LOAN Be sure to make all payments on time; if you don’t you may forfeit your low interest rate for one that’s much higher (as steep as 30 percent, in some cases).
A LINE OF CREDIT this is a more flexible, higher-interest-rate loan, also available from a bank. It’s the way to go if you’re not certain how much you need to borrow.