Before you begin choosing between filet and chicken, you'll need to consider how you'd like to serve them. The most common serving options include seated meal, buffet and passed-tray reception. When it comes to budget, each style has it's own important budgeting considerations and tips:

Seated Meal:

At a seated meal, guests are seated and served by a waitstaff at tables usually pre-assigned by you. This style is the most traditional and typically the most formal. The types of sit-down services include: 1. plated service - where the full meal is pre-arranged on individual plates before served to guests; 2. Russian service - where wait staff serves courses from platters onto plates already on the table; 3. French service - where two waiters serve guests from the platter, one holding the platter and the other serving.

Budget Tips: Don't assume a seated meal is a drain on your wedding budget. Costs are moderated by the fact that guests eat what they're served and cannot go back for seconds, making the amount of food consumed easier to manage. Costs also depend almost completely on what you choose to serve. One way to save cash is to decrease the number of courses. For instance, serve either soup or salad, not both. Chicken tends to be the most inexpensive of the proteins, and although beef is typically the priciest, you can cut down on cost by serving a triangle-cut sirloin. If you prefer seafood, consider farm-raised salmon which tends to be the most reasonably priced fish with the widest appeal. Other options include pork, lamb, pasta and vegetarian. If you must, rely on dinner rolls and other inexpensive sides to satisfy your guests' appetites.

Buffet:

At a buffet, guests select their food from either one long table or stations strategically placed throughout the room. An advantage is that you can serve a varied menu from which guests can choose what they like. Having a buffet-style meal does not mean that you have to sacrifice sophistication. A buffet can be formal when served by stylish wait-staff or more relaxed with self-serve stations.

Budget Tips: Although you will save on the cost of wait staff by presenting your meal buffet-style, the total cost may not be less. People tend to eat more because they can return to the buffet as often as they wish, so you may have to order more food, which can cut into your wedding budget. Again, costs depend almost entirely on what you choose to serve.

Passed-Tray:

At this style of wedding reception, there is no full meal. Instead waiters circulate the room, offering trays of hors d'oeuvres to standing guests. This style of service is ideal for a cocktail reception, which is often a shorter duration than a full reception.

Budget Tips: If cost and time are major considerations in your wedding planning, then a passed-tray reception consisting entirely of cocktails and appetizers may be the perfect option for your wedding budget. This style is typically the least stressful and the most wallet-friendly. Since these events typically run for only two hours, in addition to savings on food and beverage - location, staffing and other rental fees are also considerably reduced.