There is such a vast array of catering options for your wedding and it all depends on your venue, what kind of wedding reception you are going for and the theme. Some venues won't let you bring in outside caterers and will insist on you using their's which you will obviously find out when you contact them and view the venues. You do get some venues that will let you but more often than not they will charge a fee for this and a corkage fee for any wines brought in.
Be clear what you envisage
Before you approach a caterer have a clear idea of what you are after, some questions to ask yourself while making your plan:
Date and venue - you really need to have your wedding booked before speaking to caterers.
Number of guests - or at least an idea of the number of guests on your guest list.
Style of food - do you want the all singing wedding breakfast, a buffet, a bbq or even afternoon tea?
Food allergies - very important to know any guests with any allergies so that the caterer can factor that in with their costs.
Crockery and cutlery - do you require the whole set up including glasses?
Waiting staff - do you want waiters to serve at the tables or servers to serve at the buffet table?
As we suggested it is a good idea to know what you want from your caterers but there should be an element of flexibility too. Lot's of caterers can give you an idea of cutting costs, food that is in season, food that is easy to get hold of and local. Also making the meal simpler by sticking to things like sausages and mash or fish and chips or a bbq/hog roast can save a lot of money and let's be honest most guests would love something like this rather than the formality of a wedding breakfast and it will save you money!
Catering for yourself
If you really want to save money then there is always the option of catering for yourself. It is not for everyone especially as there is so much involved as well as all the Wedding prep you will already be involved in. You will have to research menus, purchase all the ingredients, cook the food and get it all to the venue. I'm sure you could get family and friends involved but you will probably need some help setting up the room and serving the food on the day. Sometimes it can be more hassle than it's worth and not considerably cheaper to warrant the extra time and stress. The best thing to do is to get some quotes from caterers and then work out what the price difference would be if you cater yourself.
Do your research and book early
Do your research on line, from family/friends recommendations and make sure you get a few quotes, 2-3 is a good idea. Look for caterers that specialise in the type of food you want and maybe go for a quote from the top, middle and bottom of your price range. Some will use top of the range ingredients so will be more expensive, while others may use more cost effective methods and ingredients . Just remember stick to your budget and try to get the best value for you money and the best menu you can.
Make sure you know exactly what is included in the price quoted. Some caterers will add a service charge of up to 20% to cover gratuities for the service staff. Make sure the quote includes tax too!