Wedding food ideas for cheap
If you are looking for cheap wedding reception food ideas, you have come to the right place.
Choosing which foods to serve at your wedding is always an important decision and one that should be taken seriously.
When I had my wedding just a few years ago, I had to please multiple people attending my day.
So I know it’s not easy, especially when you are on a tight budget and want to stick to cheap food options.
You want to plan a lovely meal for all your wedding guests to enjoy and make sure everything looks as beautiful as it tastes.
After all, presentation is just as crucial.
So what is the cheapest food to serve at a wedding?
Finding ways to cut wedding expenses can help tremendously when you are on a budget.
Not many bridal couples can afford a fully catered affair.
But that doesn’t mean your meal has to be anything less spectacular.
Even though you are on the hunt for cheap wedding ideas, you still need to ensure that what you plan for your guests is lovely and worth it for them to attend your special day.
With most of your budget allocated to the meal portion, wedding food can get quite expensive and eat up that budget quickly.
You will need to put some creativity into planning your food for the big day and sticking to your budget for it to all work out.
Don’t forget to work with your caterer or wedding venue to plan inexpensive wedding reception food you can serve your guests.
They are the best people to come up with excellent reception food ideas that could work with your budget.
Coming up with wedding food ideas on a budget on your own is not an easy task.
Life has suddenly become expensive, and trying to make it work is a battle every couple is currently facing.
I have had brides ask me some of these questions over the last few weeks:
What is the cheapest food to cater to?
What is the cheapest food to serve at a wedding?
Is it cheaper to cater your own wedding?
How can I feed my wedding guests for cheap?
All these are great questions.
It shows that many of you are working with a tight budget and trying to cut costs wherever possible, if possible.
As you start receiving quotes from your caterers, you will soon notice that no one offers cheap wedding food options.
It’s best to find a few vendors or caterers you like and counter with an offer.
Find ways to come up with cheap wedding food ideas and see how they can meet you in the middle.
And if you don’t have a wedding budget yet, it’s time to get started on one before any planning can take place.
Lucky for you you, we have a few wedding reception food ideas on a budget you can use for your big day.
As we mentioned, your reception food budget will account for almost 40% of your wedding budget.
You must carefully consider your wedding reception food ideas, especially if you are paying for the wedding yourself.
You are in luck as you can grab a budget planner for FREE right here.
For those not sure how to create a budget for your wedding that works, read this post.
I also suggest genuinely looking at our Ultimate Wedding Budget bundle for creating a detailed wedding budget.
It’s designed to meet all your wedding planning needs and ensure you cover all your wedding expenses, leaving little to no surprises.
Making a budget will help ensure you can afford your dream wedding and have the budget to cover your cheap wedding reception food ideas.
It will also help you avoid spending more than you planned.
Consider reading this post to learn more ways to plan a wedding reception on a budget.
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So what are some affordable wedding food ideas that are budget-friendly?
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How to come up with wedding food on a budget
Did you know that the average wedding food reception cost typically ranges from $20 to $160 per person plus taxes and, sometimes, gratuities (or tips) also need to be considered?
The higher option is all-inclusive.
If you have about 100 guests, that could easily cost you between $2000 and $16000 plus additional taxes and tips.
That is a lot of money, but understandably, you also want to ensure your guests are well fed.
Unless you have the money, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on your wedding food or caterers.
That’s why we created this post to show you the different options you may have for cheap food ideas for a wedding that you can use on your day.
Whether you are looking for inexpensive wedding menu ideas or affordable wedding food ideas you can try to cater for your wedding, we have some epic tips for you.
We have plenty of ideas on cutting costs when planning cheap wedding menu ideas.
Aside from avoiding sit-down meals, consider self-catering options and even reduce your menu list altogether.
This guide should help you stay on track by following wedding food budget ideas that save money.
Here are some ideas for serving gorgeous wedding food on a budget:
Cater the Meal Yourself
If you are looking for cheap wedding reception food ideas and you are absolutely on a budget, consider cooking it yourself.
This is the best option for cheap food only if you know how to cook and enjoy cooking.
And if you don’t, sit back and explore your network.
Do your friends or family enjoy cooking for family events?
And I am not talking about small dinner parties of 6 or 10 people.
We are talking about sizeable events.
Before looking up wedding food ideas on a budget, be sure you have a solid plan to see this through.
Preparing food for the wedding is a huge undertaking and can put a lot of stress on those involved.
Once you decide who will be in charge of your wedding reception dinner, you can look into ideas for making wedding meals on a budget.
Come up with a few inexpensive catering menu ideas and use your wedding food funds to buy the ingredients needed to cook your meals.
Make sure you budget your grocery list ahead of time to ensure you can afford to cater your own wedding.
Preparing the food yourself and some family and friends can be a special treat for your wedding guests.
This is also a way to make your wedding more personal.
Instead of traditional wedding meals, you can serve your family’s favourite food or ethnic specialties.
Those unique touches will make this a meal everyone will remember with pleasure.
What are some simple ideas for wedding food you can prepare yourself for your big day:
- BBQ foods (simple meats – chicken, pork chops)
- Roast Beef / Chicken
- Garden Salads / Potato salads
- Steamed vegetables / or assorted veggie sides
- Roasted potatoes
- Pasta dishes
These are easy wedding food options you can use to save money.
A self-catered wedding menu with simple-to-make food items can significantly cut the cost of your wedding food budget.
Ensure you have plenty of food available and do not run out, leaving your guests wanting more.
Go halfway on your wedding catering!
If preparing the entire meal sounds too overwhelming, which in most cases it could be, then consider going halfway.
Hire a professional caterer to prepare some dishes you serve, perhaps an attractive main course.
Then round out the menu with your favourite side dishes and appetizers.
By having a caterer do some of the meal preparation, you can relieve your budget and also your stress level.
I love this idea because you can save money and still prepare your favourite foods for your guests.
Consider coming up with cheap wedding catering ideas you can give your caterer to work with.
Your vendor can also come up with inexpensive catering menu ideas.
You just need to ask.
Most vendors are willing to work with you, no matter the budget.
For your part, prepare the appetizers and side dishes and have some late-night snack options.
Inexpensive wedding food stations
I love food stations, also known as food bars.
I have also heard it called a grazing table.
Cheap wedding food stations are an excellent idea for couples looking for ways to cut wedding costs and save a bit of money.
More and more couples are looking for unique ways to personalize their catering to make them more memorable while staying within budget.
The best wedding food ideas are options that get your guests to interact.
And this is where coming up with wedding catering ideas such as inexpensive wedding food stations is fantastic.
Food stations, in my opinion, are a more sophisticated wedding buffet.
You can have a food station theme or keep it simple.
Whether you only have this during cocktail hour or throughout the day, make sure you have enough wedding food to cater to your guests.
A few cheap food options for wedding stations are:
- A pasta station (assorted pasta dishes)
- Sushi or an oyster bar
- Cheese and charcuterie stations
- Gourmet pizza station (various pizzas)
- Tapas bar
- Taco station
- Assorted vegetable station
- Salad bar
- Ice cream stations
- Hot chocolate bar
- Candy bar
Whether you go for easy wedding reception food stations like dessert tables or snack buffets, you know your guests will enjoy them.
Wedding food stations are a popular wedding trend that is here to stay, especially for budget-friendly couples.
You can customize these deliciously cheap reception food ideas and ensure it works with your budget.
You can have an over-the-top food station or scale it back to something more basic and affordable.
Cheap wedding food ideas for buffet
If you are on a budget, consider serving a buffet.
A buffet-style meal can be much easier on the budget than a sit-down meal.
What is a Buffet-Style Reception?
A buffet-style reception usually features one menu set up on a large table or a particular section in one area of your reception room.
This differs from a station-style reception, featuring multiple menu concepts usually displayed on different tables.
You can find a wide range of wedding reception buffet menu ideas on a budget right here!
Some foods that look wonderful on a buffet table are vegetable trays, fresh fruits, salads, rolls, and cold cuts.
Your local deli might be able to prepare the trays for you.
You can also assemble the platters and add lovely garnishes to spruce them up.
Here are a few wedding reception buffet menu ideas on a budget:
- Salad stations
- A pasta dish
- Side dishes (usually one type of veggie and one type of potato)
- Dinner rolls
These are simple wedding buffet ideas you can pull off without a caterer.
There are plenty of wedding food ideas on a budget buffet; list what you enjoy eating and go with that.
Cheap Potluck Wedding Ideas
If you are having a more informal wedding, consider serving a potluck meal.
What exactly is a potluck wedding?
You’ll also get a wonderful feast with a variety of everyone’s best dishes.
If you do decide to have a potluck dinner, be sure to organize what everyone is going to bring so you don’t get too much of one type of dish.
Here are a few wedding potluck ideas for guests to bring:
- Meat dishes
- Pasta and casseroles
You can also theme your potluck and maybe ask your guests to bring their favourite dessert to add to your dessert table.
Either way, these cheap wedding reception food ideas will save you a lot of money.
Consider Affordable Family-Style Wedding Menu Options
Serving your guests’ cheap wedding meals might be the only option you might have as a bride or couple planning a wedding on a budget.
If you are on a tight budget and are not sold on the idea of wedding buffets or food stations, then an affordable family-style menu option may work for you.
What is a family-style dinner at a wedding?
This dinner style is usually served once everyone is seated at a table, and big platters and bowls of food are placed in the centre of the table, allowing your guests to help themselves as they pass the courses around.
Precisely what you usually do at home.
This is a very informal way of serving food at the wedding and keeping costs down.
You can control what you serve by serving cheap wedding meals!
You can start with the first options offering one or two starters such as bread rolls, two types of salads and some dressings/salad fixings.
Once that is cleared, offer the mains with one or two proteins and a few side dish options.
And then serve the desserts.
Cheap wedding catering ideas that work well for family-style service are:
- Assorted plates of pasta
- Rice-based items
- Chicken / Beef
- Mac and cheese
Make sure any cheap wedding dinner ideas you pick for your family-style dinner are filling.
That way, no one will go for seconds.
And have enough food to go around.
Your wedding tablescapes will need to have plenty of space.
This means less wedding decor on the tables.
Family-style dinner is perfect for those looking for simple wedding food ideas on a budget.
Serve Cheap Wedding Appetizers
If you have your heart set on serving elegant dishes like seafood or prime rib, being on a budget doesn’t mean you have to do entirely without them.
These food types can be more expensive, but there is a way to go about this.
Instead of serving them as a main course, plan ahead of time and create appetizers that are smaller, more affordable versions of these expensive dishes.
Creating wedding appetizers on a budget, you can serve on your day will allow you at least to have some food items that you love.
I think these are great and can work well if done right.
For example, serve crab cakes or a tasty lobster sauce with another appetizer instead of a seafood main course.
So what other wedding finger foods on a budget can you serve on your big day?
- Veggie platters
- Mini Sliders
- Mini pizzas
- Assorted cheeses
- Meat skewers
- Tuna tartare cones
- Mini hotdogs and pickles
- Tacos and tequila on the side
- Soft pretzels
- Bacon-wrapped foods
- Moroccan chicken skewers
- Assorted French fries
Honestly, I can go on and on.
Check this extensive list of summer wedding appetizers you can serve on your big day.
As you can see, there are plenty of affordable wedding food ideas, you just have to be creative.
I would also make it a point to serve filling foods, so people do not starve or ask for more food.
Food truck hires for weddings
As you know, food and drink are the best way to ensure your guests have not only a memorable day but are well fed and catered to on your special day.
And catering is such a massive part of the wedding day.
It’s only then expected that you serve the best.
But if you are on a tight budget, things may be a little tricky.
That’s why we recommend looking into food truck wedding catering!
A wedding food truck can be entertaining for your guests and is so much fun.
But you need to do your due diligence.
A food truck wedding can seem much more cost-effective than one catered by a traditional caterer.
But they can also be expensive if you don’t get an all-inclusive quote.
- Rentals such as plates, cutlery, napkins
- Dessert service
- Electricity/ Power
- Parking space
In most cases, wedding food trucks only bring their food and vehicle.
You would be responsible for everything else.
Remember, you want to stick to cheap wedding reception foods here.
So although it might seem cheap, try to get everything needed to ensure your guests are well-taken care of and everything else required for the day, such as cleaning up after guests eat.
Having a service team, an area to dispose of food, and a strategy to execute this is ideal.
Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography via Style Me Pretty
Other wedding menus on a budget:
- Brunch wedding
- Serve family-style meals (lasagna, Fajitas)
- Lunch wedding
- Serve Bar Snacks
- Serve Vegetarian meal Option
- Build-your-own meal bar (Pizza, Tacos, Burritos, Sandwiches or Burgers)
- Creative wedding food bars
- Dessert stations
And if we want to get a little more specific, you might want to check this list of fantastic fall wedding food ideas on a budget!
It’s a perfect list packed with great fall wedding dinner ideas your guests will enjoy.
I know couples having a fall wedding will appreciate all the cheap wedding food ideas we shared.
You can also use these cheap wedding dinner ideas for Halloween-themed and November weddings.
Whatever season you choose to get married, select wedding menu ideas that reflect that.
It’s much cheaper to use in-season ingredients instead of sourcing them out.
Our wedding reception meal ideas would not be complete without wedding drink ideas.
For my summer couples, check out these tasty summer signature cocktail ideas, and for my Halloween couples, these spooky Halloween wedding cocktails will work for you.
My fall lovers should try these simple fall wedding signature drinks to match the energy that comes with the chilly weather.
Winter weddings are simply gorgeous, and I know all the winter couples will appreciate this list of flavourful winter wedding signature drinks.
And if you are planning a bachelorette party, check out these tasty bachelorette cocktail ideas!
There you have it, our examples of cheap food ideas for wedding receptions.
If we missed anything, please share it below.
We want to hear about all the cheap wedding food ideas you might have.
Life has become expensive, and any other tips for saving money on planning a wedding on a budget are always appreciated.
We hope you enjoyed our list of cheap wedding reception food ideas!
The food you serve is an essential part of your wedding day.
At the same time, it’s not so crucial that you should go into debt or break your budget to pay for an elaborate meal.
Creativity and planning make it possible to serve gorgeous wedding food without overspending.
Hopefully, these food ideas for a wedding reception on a budget will help you better budget!
We wanted to share our best wedding food ideas on a budget tip to help you save some extra money.
If you have other tips you would like to share with us, please leave them in the comment section below.
And in your opinion, what is the cheapest food for a wedding?
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