Nothing bumps a party past good to great or even spectacular like great catering. One of the things we like to do is try and find unique caterers who really need the support of a big event. Some venues do not allow for outside catering, but if you’re doing an event in a home or in a venue that allows it, we always suggest trying to find someone starting out-or even a non-for-profit. If you have enough experience to understand food costs per person and you can work out a way to give the company in-kind exposure, you can certainly cut costs and deliver spectacular food.
in Chicago, there is a wonderful company called The Hatchery. All they do is support local food business trying to showcase food from their native countries, local grown and produced food businesses, and women and minority owned food companies. Places all over the US have food incubators like this, many of which are non-for profit or city supported as The Hatchery is.
Again, you have to get creative. There might be some opportunities to make not only a great event, but great partners and future successful business owners that will be grateful you gave them a shot.