I talked to a friend this week-end who managed a $5000 wedding for 250 people in Washington D.C.! How you ask? That was my first question. Among the things she shared was this little nugget of wisdom: contact your local culinary art school and ask if there are some students who might be willing to cater your wedding. They get the benefit of experience and the freedom to develop your menu. You get the benefit of much cheaper help than a standard wedding caterer but even better than that, as young enthusiastic foodies, these chefs will take great care to put together a delicious menu. Make sure you meet a few times before the big day to make sure that all is well, that you offer reasonable pay and that you make your expectations clear. This bride purchased her ingredients in bulk a few days in advance for about $900.
Also, she had a church women's group assist the students and serve. And actually you could ask any group to help serve and clean up at your reception. In return you could make a designated donation to their group. Perhaps for a cause that's important to you and your honey.
Just another way to have a fabulous dinner without the outrageous price tag.