(WJW) — With the average cost of weddings continuing to break bank accounts across the country, it makes sense people would take note of a bride who found a sneaky way to cut costs on catered food.
Vlogger and TikTok creator Madison Mulkey recently revealed she spent just $1,950 on food for her 99 wedding guests — and she did it by getting Chili’s to cater the dinner.
“We loved the price point, I mean you really can’t beat that price point — you just can’t,” she told her TikTok followers in a viral video posted earlier this month. “It’s insane that we only spent that much money for our wedding food.”
The menu, Mulkey said, included chips, salsa, salads, egg rolls, chicken tenders, sliders, Cajun chicken pasta, and even five specialty meals for guests with dietary restrictions.
Mulkey and her family also offset the cost by picking up the food themselves instead of paying for delivery. And since her nuptials took place over a busy St. Patrick’s Day weekend in the Savannah area, Chili’s could only handle the order at 11 a.m. — even though Mulkey’s guests wouldn’t be eating it until 6 p.m.
“So we had some time in there,” Mulkey explained. “We had to keep things cold and then we had to have our hired servers — who were really supposed to be cleaning, serving, preparing — really do a lot of the cooking … but everyone made it work, thank goodness.”
Their efforts paid off in the end, Mulkey claimed.
“The food was amazing and other people said so, too,” she said. “But they could have been lying to us.”
Mulkey’s video, which has been viewed over 1 million times on TikTok, has garnered praise from users who loved the idea and commended her creativity. One viewer even claimed she catered her own reception with Chipotle, while another said she was inspired to “get Olive Garden” to provide the dinner for her own wedding.
“Normalize this! Weddings are so out of control. Such a great idea!” another viewer wrote.
Others, meanwhile, were concerned for the servers who were given the additional task of reheating Chili’s takeout for 99 guests.
“All I can think [about] is how stressful this must have been for the staff,” one commenter wrote, while another said she hoped Mulkey “generously tipped [the] servers for the extra unplanned work.”
Even with a generous tip, it’s likely Mulkey’s fast-casual feast was much more affordable than the average cost of catering of a wedding. In a 2022 study, The Knot found that couples were paying an average of $75 per person for catered wedding dinners.
When reached for comment, a representative for Chili’s described Mulkey’s workaround as “iconic.”
“When we saw Madison’s video on TikTok our first thought was ‘iconic’ and there is truly no better way to describe it,” a spokesperson for Chili’s wrote in an emailed statement provided to Nexstar. “Chili’s is grateful to have been part of many wedding celebrations, in big ways and small — whether it’s a party platter of our Crispy Chicken Crispers to even hosting both weddings and receptions in our restaurants (true story), it is an honor to be a part of Madison’s special day. Raising our (margarita) glass to the newlyweds!”