There are a lot of creative affordable wedding food ideas that won’t break your budget. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on your wedding reception meals, unless you want to.
We will share with you a few ways to cut costs when planning your wedding reception meals, including:
- Not doing a sit-down, plated dinner that needs to be served
- Sifting or reducing your guest list
- Self-catering with the help of family and friends and/or
- Going with a caterer that isn’t associated with the wedding venue
This article focuses on how to save money. Both in self-catering your wedding reception and/or working closely with a flexible catering service.
Did you know that couples spend around $10 to $300 (even more) per guest for their wedding meals?
We hope to guide and help you stay on the conservative side of that wedding food budget! Here are our tips.
7 Affordable Wedding Food Ideas
#1: Order a wedding meal from a local restaurant
We have seen couples order their wedding reception meals from their favorite local restaurants. These could be your favorite Indian or Mediterranean restaurants or any place else. The quotes could be as low as seven dollars per person, plus all the dinnerware and serving equipment. Some local eateries even provide the option of serving the food buffet style for usually a very reasonable price.
By going to a family or small restaurant instead of a professional caterer, expectations are not established for either party. Therefore, the prices can often be more easily negotiated. To calculate the amount of food to order, we suggest keeping the guest list in mind when speaking with the restaurant’s management.
Click here to explore a myriad of wedding catering options from the comfort of your home!
#2: ‘Cake & Punch’: Have a do-it-yourself (DIY) dessert wedding
Suppose your event is scheduled after dinner time. In that case, you can easily have a ‘desserts-only’ wedding reception, which can save you large amounts of money. This means that you will be only serving drinks and sweets to the guests.
You can ask the best baker in your family or friends to bake their specialties for wedding desserts. Next, beautifully decorate the serving table along with drinks. This idea may sound frugal to many. But believe it or not, a ‘Cake and Punch’ wedding reception is quite traditional and has been performed on the church lawn for generations!
Let all guests know what to expect beforehand at the wedding reception so that they do not turn up ravenous with just desserts to eat for the celebration.
Need help with desserts at your Cake and Punch wedding reception? Click here to explore a number of amazing cake and dessert vendors in New Jersey!
#3: Set up do-it-yourself (DIY) food stations for guests
In recent years, DIY wedding food stations have become quite trendy. You can also take part in this rage and have your “build your own X” food station for the wedding guests. Some fun and inexpensive DIY food station ideas that you can use at your wedding include:
- S’mores station around an open fire pit
- Donut station; where guests can choose their own toppings
- Make-your-own taco station
- Pick-your-own topping stations for hot dogs, nachos, french fries, ice cream, etc.
This can be an economical option only. If you purchase all the ingredients and set up the kiosk yourself, or even better, if a small group of loyal friends and family can look after the procuring and set it up for you as a wedding present!
Start by breaking down the amounts of everything you require in a shopping list, illustrate a rough sketch of how you’d like the food and other objects arranged on the serving counters, and let them take it from there!
#4: Go big on ‘cheese & charcuterie.’
This inexpensive wedding food idea will work well if the majority of your guests are not vegans or vegetarians, in which case, it is possibly best to head in a different direction. On the contrary, if only a few of your wedding guests are vegetarian or vegan, just be sure to plan another similar food option along with the cheese and charcuterie so that they can eat something as well!
Having cheese & charcuterie at the wedding reception is more like having an hors d’oeuvres-only reception. While giving out reception invitations, you will inform and ask guests to join you for some ‘light refreshments and dancing.’ You can perhaps perform your wedding ceremony a little late (around six or six-thirty) so that your invitees can eat something more filling before heading to your event.
Once everybody is informed about the reception, go to a cheese shop or a supermarket and buy large wheels of cheese and ample fresh charcuterie. Additionally, get some crackers, bread, nuts, fruits (like dates, grapes, strawberries, etc.), and maybe hummus too. Build beautiful cheese and charcuterie boards for your guests to graze over!
Again, you can use this opportunity to call in favors from close family members and friends, asking them each to bring a kind of cheese and charcuterie to add to the boards.
#5: Have a potluck wedding
In the bygone times, and even today in several cultures, wedding meals are not outsourced through a venue or a caterer. Rather, wedding meals were and are a family project, carefully made with a lot of love and care by close family members such as mothers, aunts, cousins, etc.
Nowadays, we seem to overlook this tradition or have forgotten about it completely. People view potluck weddings as ‘lesser than’ for whatsoever reason, and frankly, it’s too bad. Suppose you have family members or close friends who love cooking. In that case, we suggest you to consider having a potluck wedding (where a group of individuals can contribute something to the celebratory feast).
Bear in mind that it is important to schedule a potluck wedding carefully and tasks must be clearly distributed and delegated. Make sure everyone knows what they need to order, in what amounts, and most importantly, take ownership of their supplies and dishes so that on the wedding day you don't have to think about it.
Tip: For a potluck wedding, always ask people who you trust the most!
#6: Hire a food truck
A food truck is not only a trendy, cute option for your wedding reception, it is also an inexpensive wedding food idea that can save you a lot of cash. However, there is stuff you need to keep in view if you plan on heading this route.
Imagine a food truck operating at lunch hour in a city and see how long the queue can get in a little amount of time? Keep in mind that a food truck works best at a wedding reception only if it operates more like a kitchen, and the meals – a set menu – can be presented as a buffet or if pre-made food can be quickly handed out to the guests from the truck.
If you expect every guest to order their meal and then wait in a queue until it gets ready, trust us, you will have a long line of people who are very hungry and irritated. Some other things to consider while choosing a food truck for your wedding reception include:
- Will it be loud?
- Does it need a generator?
- Will it require a power supply from the wedding venue?
- Is there any place or space at your wedding venue to park the truck?
- What flatware and dishware are not included and included with the food truck service?
- Will you have to rent out items? How will that cost?
A food truck can end up being a costly choice for your wedding reception when not prepared properly and carefully. Therefore before making a commitment, be sure to do some research.
Need help with how the food truck will look at your wedding venue? 360SiteVisit can help you imagine that through wedding venue virtual tours!
#7: Go for pre-made or frozen appetizers
We are not necessarily referring to heating a bunch of frozen pizzas, but what you can do to make the catering process smoother and easier on the big day is to cook the meals ahead of time and freeze them.
This way, you can ask your team of close family members and friends to simply heat up the food in the oven or on the stove on the morning of your wedding day. Indeed, it is not for everybody, but it can definitely be a partial solution for any chefs out there who love cooking but may not have time to prepare meals on their real wedding day.
We hope these seven inexpensive affordable wedding food ideas help you have a great wedding, as well as stay on the safe side of the reception food budget. Keep in mind that these are just a few of the many things you can do to make your wedding meals cost-effective, fun, and delicious. So, use your imagination and come up with something creative! Remember, with your unbound creativity, sky is the limit!