No food for evening guests - invitation wording?

Hi everyone,

Our wedding is on a very tight budget of £2000 and we can afford this only because that money has been gifted to us. So one of the ways that we have kept our costs so low is by not paying for a £8 per head evening buffet. 

Our day guests will be fed a breakfast shortly after the ceremony but there is likely to be nothing more than sweets and cupcakes for our evening guests. There might be some super light snacks and nibbles (crisps, breadsticks, etc) if we can provide them ourselves but we have yet to discuss this with our reception venue so can't be 100% sure.

I've read a lot online that says that it's good etiquette to let your guests know in advance that food won't be served but I have no idea how to word that on our invitations. Has anyone got any suggestions or maybe been in the same situation?

Thanks in advance!

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  • MrsTwizbeMrsTwizbe Posts: 3,352 New bride

    You can do a few things for this.

    1) start the evening do later so that people can have time to eat beforehand. I would say an 8pm start rather than the usual 7.

    2) On the invitation refer to it as evening drinks and nibbles rather than evening reception. That will let guests know there won't be a buffet.

    I would say though to see if you could do something for the evening guests even if its just supermarket sandwich platters.

  • Ozzy2bOzzy2b Posts: 143

    We did cupcakes and the venue provided hot sandwiches for the evening guests at £5 per head. I just put that on as a note for the evening guests RSVP (we did all these online) and in the itinerary to let people know what would be served when. 

  • I wouldn't have evening-only guests if I couldn't afford to feed them anything more than crisps. I would not, as a guest, want to worry about and pay for attire, travel, possibly childcare, and a card/gift to attend a wedding for a few hours with no food. Why not just skip the evening-only type of guest and just invite everyone that you can properly wine & dine for the whole day?

  • MrsS85MrsS85 Posts: 688 New bride

    I think Mrs Twizbe's idea of inviting people for drinks and nibbles or 'We would like you to join us for a drink on the evening of our wedding' or similar if there is no nibbles, Could you possibly delay your cake cutting (if you are having one) to the evening, so everyone can have a piece then?

     

  • MrsJ2017MrsJ2017 Posts: 3,017

    Could you not have a later ceremony and instead of having a wedding breakfast, just feed everyone once with the evening buffet?

    I don’t think you should invite people if you can’t afford to feed them, and I think even “nibbles” would be interpreted as a buffet, a buffet is nibbles.

    Ive happily attended a wedding where there’s only been a buffet, but I wouldn’t be thrilled with attending one were I wouldn’t get fed at all.

    I suggest either rethinking the food you are paying for, or not having evening guests.

  • I'm afraid i don't have much advice on how to word things, but my concern is what will your ceremony guests do for food in the evening? Sure they will have a meal after the ceremony, but even if thats 3-4 by 9-10pm they'll be wanting a bit of a top up. 

    I fully understand needing to do it on a budget, but with all respect this is something you should have taken into account when looking for a venue, as its a bit late to realise you cant feed people. 

    I do agree you should only have people there you can feed. Some people will be travelling, arranging childcare, buying a card and maybe a present, and whilst im all for waving the flag of doing what makes you happy for your day, i think its a bit disrespectful to ask people to attend you event and not give them anything.

  • MrsGtoBMrsGtoB Posts: 712 New bride

    I have to agree I think I would just have day guests, what time does your wedding start?

     
  • SadieeeSadieee Posts: 1,781 New bride

    What will your day guests do? Even when I attend a wedding and eat the main meal I am starving again by evening due to dancing and drinking 

  • MrsGtoBMrsGtoB Posts: 712 New bride

    Also will everyone not be really really drunk with no food?

  • I'm starting to think maybe this isn't the right forum to ask this question haha. 

    My ceremony is at 2pm with the breakfast at 5pm, evening reception at 7:30pm and most of our day guests are non-drinkers so I'm not too worried about hunger or drunkenness being an issue.

    I appreciate that yes in an ideal world I could accommodate to pay for everyone's food and drink but sadly I can't. The evening guests are all aunts, uncles and cousins who expect to be invited. If there was another way then I would do it but it simply isn't financially viable for us. Is not being invited at all really better than going to a reception with no buffet?

  • CE26CE26 Posts: 349 New bride

    We had 60 people to our whole wedding so no separate evening guests.  Ceremony was at 2pm and we had a 3 course wedding breakfast at 4pm.

    At 9pm we rolled out fish and chips. Everyone was still pretty full from dinner and so much went to waste. Hardly anyone touched the evening food...they really just nibbled on a bit of cake and went to the sweet bar we'd done. 

    I wish we'd just put out some crisps or a few cheese and biscuits rather than paying out for the evening food. 

    With this in mind, if your evening only guests have notice to be able to plan their meals during the day then I think that's fine. Not everyone has a budget to feed people multiple times, and not everyone would want to cut their day shorter to fit round meal times. 

    I would talk to your venue about the cost of decent nibbles particularly if alcohol is being served, but if your budget doesn't stretch to anything more then that's just the way it is.

    As a guest I'd just make sure to eat decently in the late afternoon...would probably plan a nice meal out with OH and then rock up to your do to celebrate with you. I'd rather be invited to share your day in some way and have to have a chippy tea before I went out than not get to be part of it. 

     

  • SadieeeSadieee Posts: 1,781 New bride

    Just because we disagree with your plan doesn't make us the wrong forum. We are simply giving you our opinions and the facts.

    Your all day guests will be hungry by evening.

    7.30 start will be a push for people to eat, get ready and get there on time. 

    No matter how you word it, people expect some form of food in the evening so there probably will be mutterings/side eye.

    Evening food should have been factored into your budget when working everything out. 

    But, if you're determined to do this -

    Change your evening start to 8pm to give them more chance to have food beforehand

    Say something like 'join us for a drink' on your invite and let them know by word of mouth there is no food.

    Prepare for early leavers from your all day guests (I'd head out early to ensure getting somewhere to have food before bed if I was a guest in this situation).

  • MrsGtoBMrsGtoB Posts: 712 New bride

    I would be starving going from 2pm through to late with only one meal. Is there an option for guests to purchase their own food?

    I think you will have to be really clear to all guests not just your night ones that there isn't any food in the evening. 

    Like others have said it will probably impact on peoples decision to attend but you know your guests x

  • MrsS2019MrsS2019 Posts: 137 New bride

    Personally for me I would not attend if I knew beforehand there was not going to be any food. I have to eat little and often due to medical conditions so there would be no way I would be happy with that arrangement. You have to think are there going to be children? or older people? especially in your day guests as I would not expect children or any of the older relatives to go without a second meal. Like others have suggested make the evening start time a bit later so that they have time to get food. 

  • Grouchymamabride wrote (see post):

    I'm starting to think maybe this isn't the right forum to ask this question haha. 

    My ceremony is at 2pm with the breakfast at 5pm, evening reception at 7:30pm and most of our day guests are non-drinkers so I'm not too worried about hunger or drunkenness being an issue.

    I appreciate that yes in an ideal world I could accommodate to pay for everyone's food and drink but sadly I can't. The evening guests are all aunts, uncles and cousins who expect to be invited. If there was another way then I would do it but it simply isn't financially viable for us. Is not being invited at all really better than going to a reception with no buffet?

    I'm going to say in a word, yes. I would rather not be invited than go through the expense and time commitment of getting attire, travel, childcare, arrangements for my pets, and a card/ gift only to attend an event for a few hours without anything to eat.

    A wedding reception is a party; food and drink for all is typically expected. I couldn't afford a proper reception for my first wedding either. We just had a nice sitdown dinner for immediate family at a fine restaurant.  They let us order straight off the menu and everyone had an incredible meal. I'm sure my then h2b's (much larger) family had some relatives that were disappointed but they would have complained a lot louder if they had been invited and then not served anything.

  • SadieeeSadieee Posts: 1,781 New bride
    MrsS2019 wrote (see post):

    Personally for me I would not attend if I knew beforehand there was not going to be any food. I have to eat little and often due to medical conditions so there would be no way I would be happy with that arrangement. You have to think are there going to be children? or older people? especially in your day guests as I would not expect children or any of the older relatives to go without a second meal. Like others have suggested make the evening start time a bit later so that they have time to get food. 

    I hadn't even thought of children and I'm a mum lol no way my daughter would be able to go without food in the evening do or only having the one meal wjen there from 2pm. She's very well behaved but a grump when hungry so I would end up leaving early to make sure she ate 

  • MrsCToBeeMrsCToBee Posts: 2,949 New bride

    If the evening guests are local, I actually think it's fine not to do a buffet, as long as you say so on the invite. I almost never eat the evening food at weddings, whether I'm a day or evening guest. If I've eaten at 4ish that does me fine for the night, and if I only go to the evening, I always eat first as I'm fussy and might not like the buffet!

  • I too would not travel all the way to a wedding with a gift and be left hungry. To me it’s a celebration event and therefore food and drinks are expected. I would not call it an evening reception without proper food - in fact, why have an evening reception if it’s not affordable? 

  • Thank you all for your responses. It may not have been exactly what we were hoping for response-wise but we're listening, taking note and trying to shuffle some things around so we can afford the most basic buffet offering that our venue offers.

    With that in mind, I've just heard about not catering for the full 100% of your evening guests when talking about numbers? Some people say you take 20 off the total number of guests, others pay for 75-80% guests... Is this really a thing?

    And would you opt to lose budget on every other area to cater for an evening buffet or would you just do the breakfast for your main guests and then have everyone leave shortly after? (It's an option I guess!)

  • SadieeeSadieee Posts: 1,781 New bride

    Yeah, only catering for around 75% is definitely a thing :) not everyone will eat so it makes sense to cater for just a few less :) 

    I would find an area to cut back on. Dress, transport, favours, decor etc are all areas that can be cut back on

  • Eeek! I know it's been said but I would strongly advise against not having any evening food. People will likely have travelled and not really had a decent meal beforehand, plus your day guests will also be getting hungry. In answer to your question, you definitely can just cater for 80% of evening guests if it's not a sit down meal. That's what we did and it worked out fine (and I had about three servings of fish and chips alone 😂)

    To answer your other question, yes I would consider cutting the budget back elsewhere to allow for catering. Happy well fed guests will impact massively on the overall mood and energy of the event, in my opinion it's really worth it for everyone to have a good time and enjoy themselves! 

    Also, consider how it would feel as a guest to turn up and realise there are only leftovers for you. We wanted our evening guests to feel immediately welcome when joining the party so feeding them was a huge help. 

    I think the idea mentioned above of maybe having a later wedding and then a buffet for everyone could be your answer if you're really not keen on extra food, that way you'd only have to feed people once. 

  • gill17gill17 Posts: 568 New bride

    I think if you don't start til 7 or 8 then it's more than reasonable to expect people to have eaten first. That would be quite late for me to be eating otherwise. Hardly any of our evening food got eaten, and we had day guests only. 

    I don't think you need to cut back elsewhere to afford a buffet. Make it clear by invite and word of mouth that it will be drinks only, I'm sure all your guests are grown ups and can feed themselves before they arrive! My sister attended a wedding once where no food was put on at all. They popped into town for fish and chips, was not a big deal. Check with venue about putting out crisps etc or sandwich platters of your own before making any decision. 

  • OmRumOmRum Posts: 893 New bride

    I think it's marvellous that you've managed to keep to such a small budget! Weddings don't need to be expensive.

    One meal served later in the day should be fine. Personally, I would try to serve nibbles in the evening too (crisps would do, or wedding cake if you have one), so people can top up if they are peckish. I've only been to one wedding that have provided evening food, so I don't think this is unusual at all. We were all too full to eat the evening food, anyway!

    If you do decide to serve evening food, don't spend so much that you have to compromise on those things you and your partner really want in your wedding. It would be awful if you provided evening food and everyone was too full from the main meal to enjoy it, when you'd rather have spent the money on a honeymoon or something else special to you!

    Remember, these people are coming to celebrate you and your marriage, not to eat free food.

  • MrsCToBeeMrsCToBee Posts: 2,949 New bride
    Grouchymamabride wrote (see post):

    I'm starting to think maybe this isn't the right forum to ask this question haha. 

    My ceremony is at 2pm with the breakfast at 5pm, evening reception at 7:30pm and most of our day guests are non-drinkers so I'm not too worried about hunger or drunkenness being an issue.

    I appreciate that yes in an ideal world I could accommodate to pay for everyone's food and drink but sadly I can't. The evening guests are all aunts, uncles and cousins who expect to be invited. If there was another way then I would do it but it simply isn't financially viable for us. Is not being invited at all really better than going to a reception with no buffet?

    I find it really hard to believe that if you ladies ate a 3 course wedding breakfast starting at 5pm that you'd need another meal a couple of hours later. 

    However, I used to work in catering and it's perfectly normal to cater for 70%ish for guests for a buffet - any more and the food will go to waste.

    One idea would be to have a cheese wedding cake rather than actual cake, you can then serve it as evening food along with a few French sticks, crackers, grapes, celery & chutney, for minimal extra outlay compared to a normal cake. People go mad for cheese, both my best friends have had a cheese cake and they've gone down a storm.

  • MMrsCToBee wrote (see post):
    Grouchymamabride wrote (see post):

    I'm starting to think maybe this isn't the right forum to ask this question haha. 

    My ceremony is at 2pm with the breakfast at 5pm, evening reception at 7:30pm and most of our day guests are non-drinkers so I'm not too worried about hunger or drunkenness being an issue.

    I appreciate that yes in an ideal world I could accommodate to pay for everyone's food and drink but sadly I can't. The evening guests are all aunts, uncles and cousins who expect to be invited. If there was another way then I would do it but it simply isn't financially viable for us. Is not being invited at all really better than going to a reception with no buffet?

    I find it really hard to believe that if you ladies ate a 3 course wedding breakfast starting at 5pm that you'd need another meal a couple of hours later. 

    However, I used to work in catering and it's perfectly normal to cater for 70%ish for guests for a buffet - any more and the food will go to waste.

    One idea would be to have a cheese wedding cake rather than actual cake, you can then serve it as evening food along with a few French sticks, crackers, grapes, celery & chutney, for minimal extra outlay compared to a normal cake. People go mad for cheese, both my best friends have had a cheese cake and they've gone down a storm.

    Mrs C, I think it’s more that evening guests would need to be catered for, those only joining from 6pm onwards (or whenever they’re arriving.) I don’t think day guests would need another meal, although the munchies do kick in! For me it’s about those who haven’t eaten and are only joining in the evening turning up and not being fed. Also, gentle reminder that not all wedding breakfasts are three course sit down meals these days! 

    We did the wedding cheese cake thing - I highly recommend! However we also did it alongside evening food and a sweet table - maybe were just massive foodies!😂 you could maybe have a cheese table and a sweet table for balance? 

  • Sian91Sian91 Posts: 829 New bride

    We had canapes at 3.30, our wedding breakfast at 5 (everyone was an all day guest) and then had 10 large pizzas and garlic bread delivered at 9.30...

     

    EVERYTHING WAS GONE. Can you have external catering? I contacted a local pizzeria preordered 10 pizzas and garlic bread for £100 including delivery, which fed 65 for the evening- less than £2 a head and it wasn't rubbish pizza/cheap kebab style. 

  • I think it depends what your wedding breakfast is. If it’s a filling three course meal then day guests wouldnt need evening food. But I went to a wedding in the summer where it was a picnic type meal and they then served bacon sandwiches in the evening and they went so quick.

    We’re having afternoon tea for our wedding breakfast so are getting a hog roast in in the evening.

  • MrsGtoBMrsGtoB Posts: 712 New bride
    MrsCToBee wrote (see post):
    Grouchymamabride wrote (see post):

    I'm starting to think maybe this isn't the right forum to ask this question haha. 

    My ceremony is at 2pm with the breakfast at 5pm, evening reception at 7:30pm and most of our day guests are non-drinkers so I'm not too worried about hunger or drunkenness being an issue.

    I appreciate that yes in an ideal world I could accommodate to pay for everyone's food and drink but sadly I can't. The evening guests are all aunts, uncles and cousins who expect to be invited. If there was another way then I would do it but it simply isn't financially viable for us. Is not being invited at all really better than going to a reception with no buffet?

    I find it really hard to believe that if you ladies ate a 3 course wedding breakfast starting at 5pm that you'd need another meal a couple of hours later. 

    However, I used to work in catering and it's perfectly normal to cater for 70%ish for guests for a buffet - any more and the food will go to waste.

    One idea would be to have a cheese wedding cake rather than actual cake, you can then serve it as evening food along with a few French sticks, crackers, grapes, celery & chutney, for minimal extra outlay compared to a normal cake. People go mad for cheese, both my best friends have had a cheese cake and they've gone down a storm.

    I would only have breakfast before a 2pm wedding as with travel and getting ready there would be no chance for lunch.  So for me the wedding breakfast is lunch and then evening buffet is tea.

    To be honest I would be starving by 5pm and that is why we are serving canapés after our 2pm ceremony.  There is nothing worse than being a hungry guest (apart from those weddings that don't include wine with their wedding breakfast).

    For me it's the normal thing to do to feed your guests and offer some drinks, you've invited them after all so you should be hosting.

    I love my food though and think about it all the time haha!

  • kitty-kitty- Posts: 121 New bride

    I think you need food. I went to a wedding without food in the evening and it was very early ending.. everyone left early to go get McDonald’s! No one stayed beyond 9pm

    We had a tight budget and asked people to bring a cake in the evening for judging as a bake off (maybe consider doing that) that way plenty of food for all? 

  • Could you do something less expensive than the buffet, for example a cheese tower? There would still be food and definitely cheaper than a full on buffet.

    We're not doing a buffet, our meal is at 5pm so in the evening we have cheese tower, desert bar and sweetie table.....we have loads of kids. Given our meal is late I'm convinced if we did a buffet or baguettes there would be loads left! 

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