Buffet wedding food ideas on a budget

If you are looking for wedding reception buffet menu ideas on a budget, then you have come to the right place.

Making decisions about what you will serve at your wedding is a big deal and is a task that should not be taken lightly.

Your wedding budget allocated to food will account for almost 40% of your wedding budget total.

It is important that you consider your food ideas for your wedding carefully, especially if you are paying for your own wedding.

Wedding food is expensive, and by the looks of things, they are only getting more expensive as the cost of living increases. 

Finding a way to cut wedding expenses is crucial. 

A quick wedding budget checklist can help you stay within budget. 

At the same time, you do not want to sacrifice the quality of food you serve your guests at your wedding reception. 

In some cultures like mine, food is extremely important. 

Choosing which foods to serve at your wedding is always an important decision.

A buffet-style meal can be a lot easier on the budget than a sit-down meal depending on what you choose to serve on the buffet.

That’s why I wanted to share a few inexpensive wedding buffet ideas you can serve to your wedding guest on your big day.

You will find great tips, from simple wedding buffet ideas to some of the best buffet food for weddings, we have you covered today. 

While you are on the hunt for cheap wedding ideas, we wanted to make your life easier by sharing the best wedding reception menu ideas on a budget for all our budget-friendly couples. 

Don’t forget to work with your wedding caterer or venue to plan and execute your wedding buffet menu ideas so that you can serve your guests only the best. 

They are the best people to consult when finding great wedding reception buffet menu ideas that could work within your budget. 

A few popular questions I hear frequently about serving a buffet at a wedding:

  • What are the best DIY wedding buffet menu ideas

  • What are the best buffet wedding food ideas on a budget

  • What are ideas for wedding buffet food that are unique

  • What’s the best way to come up with wedding food ideas for cheap

These are all amazing questions for couples that are on a tight budget.

Reception buffets are a great idea if you are on a budget. 

Remember, most of your budget money will be allocated to food and drinks, so ensuring you stick to your budget is important. 

So what is the best menu for a budget-friendly wedding reception buffet?

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Is having a buffet at a wedding tacky?

Should I serve a formal meal or have a buffet at my wedding?

A popular question that I get asked frequently. 

When people think of cheap food for a wedding, they automatically think buffet!

This is not necessarily true. 

A buffet can cost just as much as a plated dinner, depending on what is been served. 

There are plenty of unique wedding food ideas you can serve on your wedding buffet, but everything depends on what is on the menu.

The type and style of meal service you choose to serve at your wedding can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be. 

I decided to ask a few brides I know that are having weddings this year and next year to see how much their wedding venues or caterers are charging them for their meals, and this is what we found: 

Cost of wedding buffet from real couples! Delicious wedding reception buffet menu ideas on a budget. 80+ Wedding Reception Food Ideas on a Budget Guests Will Love Low-budget wedding food ideas to satisfy both your guests and pocketbook. Tips and ideas for food choice and presentation at your wedding. Affordable Wedding Food: Menu Ideas For a Small Budget!

Cost of wedding buffet from real couples! Delicious wedding reception buffet menu ideas on a budget. 80+ Wedding Reception Food Ideas on a Budget Guests Will Love Low-budget wedding food ideas to satisfy both your guests and pocketbook. Tips and ideas for food choice and presentation at your wedding. Affordable Wedding Food: Menu Ideas For a Small Budget!

Cost of wedding buffet from real couples! Delicious wedding reception buffet menu ideas on a budget. 80+ Wedding Reception Food Ideas on a Budget Guests Will Love Low-budget wedding food ideas to satisfy both your guests and pocketbook. Tips and ideas for food choice and presentation at your wedding. Affordable Wedding Food: Menu Ideas For a Small Budget! Wedding budget for food!

Cost of wedding buffet from real couples! Delicious wedding reception buffet menu ideas on a budget. 80+ Wedding Reception Food Ideas on a Budget Guests Will Love Low-budget wedding food ideas to satisfy both your guests and pocketbook. Tips and ideas for food choice and presentation at your wedding. Affordable Wedding Food: Menu Ideas For a Small Budget! Wedding budget for food!

As you can see, some couples are getting charged as low as $11 per person and others are getting charged as high as $135 per person with an open bar, cocktail hour, dinner and cake! 

Another couple is getting charged $180 per person with a 3 course plated meal and an open bar. 

Others are opting to stick to serving only stations and others are booking all the bells and whistles when it comes to catering. 

If you plan on having a buffet-style wedding, you need to be creative in order to save some money!

I would not say that having a wedding buffet is tacky by any means. 

It can definitely work and not look or feel tacky if planned correctly.

Depending on the number of guests you do have on your big day, you can set up, and plan logistics and activities/entertainment to help manage the buffet “system.”

What does a buffet-style wedding menu mean?

A buffet is a meal where guests serve themselves from a variety of dishes set out on a table or sideboard. 

If you plan on having a buffet, your guests will serve themselves.

With a buffet, your tables will be set with a selection of numerous meal items you choose – and it typically includes a variety of salads, bread, meats/fish, followed by sides.

Those looking for creative wedding reception buffet menu ideas on a budget need to ensure they are selecting cheap food items. 

And even if buffet-style is typically more affordable than plated dinners, station, or family-style, you don’t have to completely skimp out on your favourite meals. 

I know when I was getting married, I had to please multiple people. 

But I also wanted food item selections that both my husband and I enjoyed eating. 

Food is an amazing opportunity to personalize your big day with your favourite dishes and cuisines that are most meaningful to you. 

I am a big foodie at heart, so having the best buffet food for a wedding was extremely important to us. 

Lucky for you, we have a diverse list of food ideas for a wedding reception buffet for you to choose from. 

Amazing buffet menu ideas for weddings on a budget

We are going to share a few suggested menus for a buffet-style wedding reception that are affordable and tasty. 

Remember, if you are looking for cheap buffet menu ideas for weddings, the first place is to work with your wedding venue or caterer. 

But if you are looking for DIY wedding buffet menu ideas to build something for your DIY wedding, this list will help. 

Cooking for a wedding buffet yourself, along with some family and friends, can be a very special treat for your wedding guests.

Those unique touches will make this a meal one everyone talks about.

If you are looking to save some money and cooking or enlisting the help of a family member, I suggest looking up wedding reception buffet menu ideas on a budget like this one to create something that might work for you. 

Cooking for a wedding buffet can be a lot of work.

But I suggest you serve the foods you like to avoid disappointment.

And if your caterers or wedding venue do not have the reception food ideas you had in mind, give them a few suggestions and see if they can work with you. 

Just ensure that the wedding menu ideas you suggest are within your budget. 

You want to save money and not go overboard. 

Planning to have affordable wedding food at your wedding is not easy but doable.

Here is a list of affordable wedding reception food ideas on a budget: 

Delicious wedding reception buffet menu ideas on a budget. 80+ Wedding Reception Food Ideas on a Budget Guests Will Love Low-budget wedding food ideas to satisfy both your guests and pocketbook. Tips and ideas for food choice and presentation at your wedding. Affordable Wedding Food: Menu Ideas For a Small Budget!

Appetizers:

These are usually served during cocktail hour. 

During the wedding cocktail hour, your wedding guests are encouraged to mingle amongst one another and enjoy some delicious wedding appetizers and refreshing cocktails until the bridal party returns from photos. 

Whether you are looking for delicious summer wedding appetizers or something simple to serve your guests, you will find something on the list below. 

  • Bruschettas
  • Cranberry and brie bites
  • Potato leek soup shooters
  • Mini grilled cheese
  • Sliders
  • Kebabs
  • Meatballs
  • Assorted Charcuterie board
  • Cheese and Crackers station
  • Antipasto station
  • Baked Brie with blackberry compote
  • Raw vegetable station with dip
  • Spring rolls

Consider having a grazing table with a charcuterie station to save money on your wedding. 

These stations come assorted with meats and cheese spreads that your wedding guests will love.

A cheese and cracker station and a vegetable and dip station also work well, especially for couples who are on a budget. 

Cheap wedding cocktail appetizers. Here are a few Cocktail Hour Appetizers Your Guests will love at your budget wedding reception.

Via: SMP

Vegetables/ Salad

Don’t forget to add 1 or 2 vegetable dishes or salads to your wedding reception buffet menu selection. 

You can do a salad bar with salads as simple as a green salad with balsamic vinaigrette, or a full-on salad bar with all the trimmings.

The choice is yours. 

I suggest sticking to seasonal vegetables as this is the best way to keep your wedding food costs down.

Here are a few greens we suggest adding to your wedding buffet table:

  • Grilled seasonal vegetable station
  • Salad bar or mixed greens
  • Chilled pasta bar/ salad
  • Green salad/ Greek salad/ Potato salad
  • Coleslaw
  • Caprese salad

Buffet menu ideas for a buffet wedding on a budget. Check out this of amazing wedding reception buffet menu ideas on a budget!

Photo by Julius & James

Wedding buffet on a budget meal ideas:

Weddings are now being styled as more casual and relaxed affairs.

So you can be as relaxed or elegant as you wish. 

Here is a list of cheap wedding menu ideas that won’t cost a fortune but are tasty, look great and will feed your guests easily.

If you are looking for elegant wedding buffet ideas, the menu items below could help. 

Select a few meal options that you feel your guests will love. 

  • Roasted Filet Mignon
  • Herb-roasted chicken 
  • Grilled chicken
  • Barbequed Ribs
  • Roasted Barbequed Brisket Of Beef
  • Grilled rack of lamb 
  • Roasted pork loin with sautéed apple slices
  • Spring vegetable risotto
  • Wild mushroom risotto
  • Butternut squash ravioli with brown butter sauce
  • Stuffed Portobello mushrooms
  • Grilled lemon garlic glazed salmon
  • Lobster
  • Lasagne 
  • Assorted pasta station – such spaghetti and mushroom
  • Fish and chips
  • Taco station

Taco station food buffet at a wedding! Many of today’s weddings are now being styled as more casual and relaxed affairs. This means that the buffet style of food service is quite acceptable at receptions—along with its great little adjunct: the food station! We’ve been coming across some truly appealing examples of these stations, particularly at weddings held in barns or farmyards

Photo credit: Hannah Victoria Photo

Wedding Buffet Side Dish Ideas: 

Who doesn’t like a tasty side dish?

That’s right, NO ONE!

If you are looking for fantastic side dishes and vegetable recipes to serve for your wedding on a budget, you will find delicious choices below.

  • Roasted Potatoes (regular/sweet potatoes)
  • Medley of sweet summer vegetables
  • Rice with fresh apricot or any rice recipe
  • Grilled asparagus 
  • Green beans
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Baked Lemon Asparagus
  • Balsamic Tomato Basil Salad 
  • Grilled broccoli
  • Sauteed vegetables
  • Garlic green beans
  • Cornbread
  • Roasted Brussel sprouts
  • Creamy bacon cauliflower
  • Smoked corn on the cob
  • Mac and cheese
  • Greek salad with feta cheese
  • Oven-roasted carrots

Delicious Roasted Small Potatoes and Carrots! This Roasted Small Potatoes and Carrots recipe is such an easy side dish to make. The roasting process begins by covering them with foil. Intrigued?

Roasted Small Potatoes and Carrots VIA She Loves Biscotti

You can choose to set out just a few chaffing dishes with two mains and a few different sides, or you can opt to serve several different dishes and offer additional options like a carving station.

These could add to your wedding cost but they can make your buffet wedding more elegant. 

Serve Dessert and Coffee to end dinner service

If you’re planning to serve wedding cake or set up a self-serve dessert display, coffee and tea are “nice to have” items. 

Budget Wedding Drink Station Table 

Self-server drink stations for weddings on a budget are just the perfect idea. 

Just remember to have a bartender monitor and refill the stations.

Alcohol is absolutely expensive and it can eat up your wedding budget quickly.

Consider serving only wine and beer, having a water station, sodas and an alcoholic and non-alcoholic punch station. 

Here are some wedding cocktails ideas you can serve at your wedding: 

  • Bellinis
  • Mimosa bar
  • Sangria station
  • Wine
  • Wedding Punch
  • Champagne and raspberry sorbet
  • Make-your-own Mimosas
  • Flavour variants of lemonade
  • Wine and beer
  • Cold sodas
  • Honeycrisp apple sangria
  • Apple cider spiked with cinnamon
  • Poinsettia spritz punch

Here is another list of over 35 refreshing signature cocktail drinks for summer weddings. 

Self-serve drink stations for weddings on a budget. Your guests will love this unique aspect of service at your wedding.

via Homy Feed

Fruit punch for weddings, are you thinking of having a cake and punch wedding or simply serving punch at your wedding?

via Grey Likes Weddings

Wedding Dessert Table Ideas On a Budget

Don’t forget about your dessert table displays.

Best buffet food for weddings offers a variety of options for your wedding guests to choose from. 

This goes for your wedding dessert display table as well. 

Here are a few dessert ideas for your table display:

  • Homemade pies
  • Cupcakes
  • Ice cream sundae bar
  • DIY smores
  • Mini cheesecakes
  • Mini apple and pumpkin pies
  • Cupcakes
  • Assorted cookies
  • Pop-tarts
  • Macarons
  • Donut bar
  • Hot chocolate bar
  • Cake pops
  • Candy buffet table display

Your wedding cake can also be served as part of your dessert. 

Instead of your caterer or venue offering cake with dinner, maybe suggest using your wedding cake instead and seeing if they can eliminate the small cake fee from your wedding reception food menu.

This is a simple way to cut costs and host an affordable wedding.

Check out this list of epic black wedding cake ideas or pink dessert ideas you can serve at your wedding. 

To keep things, even more, budget-friendly, opt to have a 1 tier wedding cake for cutting and photo opts.

And serve the assorted dessert buffet to your guests. 

Wedding ice cream bar anyone? Throwing a summertime wedding? Ice cream is the way to go for your wedding cake alternative. This dessert is sure to make your guests happy and will add a trendy flare to your big night!

Via Wedding Chics

Coffee and Tea Wedding Station

Keep guests dancing with a boost of caffeine during your party by having a coffee and tea station along with water. 

This way they don’ keep disturbing your reception wait staff for more. 

I am a huge coffee drinker and my mom is a huge tea drinker. 

So if you have a love for coffee, you probably want to have a self-serve station during your wedding. 

My big day wouldn’t be complete without a coffee station, to be honest!

Here is a cute idea for setting up a cute wedding coffee station for your reception.

Here is How To Set Up A Coffee Bar for your wedding. Creative Ways to Serve Coffee at Your Wedding! wedding reception buffet menu ideas on a budget.

Photo credit: Casey Hendrickson Photography

Late Night Wedding Snack Ideas

One of the best buffet foods for weddings is the late-night snack.

A late-night wedding snack is a great idea to have especially if your guests are staying late.

Inexpensive late-night wedding snacks:

  • Pizza platters
  • Self-serve Taco table 
  • French fries station
  • Assorted Flatbread platters
  • Assorted sandwiches
  • Cheese and fruit sticks 
  • Mini hotdogs

French Fry Late-Night Snacks! One way to keep the party going? Late night reception snacks! Offering guests a snack a few hours after dinner and cake has been served is a great way to keep guests energized and ready to party.

Via: The Knot

How many items should be on a buffet at a wedding reception?

Make sure your wedding menu features food that’s both delicious and plentiful.

You will also want to consult directly with your wedding caterer on exactly how much food to serve at your wedding but will give you a guideline to go by in case you are DYIng your own wedding.

For your cocktail hour, we recommend two single appetizer portions per guest if you are on a budget, but ideally, we recommend 6-8 pieces per person per hour to be safe

The salad can be served as a stand-only course or as a side selection in your buffet. 

I suggest having a make-your-own salad option with a variety of dressings and toppings for your guests to choose from.

Limit the number of meats you serve – may be two types of meat, fish (seafood options) and a vegetarian option should be good enough especially if you are on a tight wedding budget.

Most wedding reception meals include two to three side dishes. 

For budget sake, keep to at least two. 

Make sure you have enough food for your buffet and account for some guests going back for second and third servings. 

Whether you want to serve plated or buffet-style food, the entree is one of the toughest decisions.

The best way to go is to choose two or three main entrees and let your guests decide for themselves.

This will allow them to enjoy their favourite item and cater to any dietary preferences that they might have.

And do not forget to ask your guest about food restrictions and allergies. 

Sample wedding buffet menu ideas

Here are a few sample wedding buffet menus to choose from or to help with ideas. 

Whether you are looking for simple wedding buffet menu ideas or something that will help you save money, here are a few menu ideas to steal from. 

Simple Buffet Wedding Menu Idea

  • Green salad
  • Dinner rolls
  • Roasted or baked chicken
  • Roasted pull roast
  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Sauteed green beans
  • Coffee and tea

Tasty Buffet Wedding Idea

  • Potato Salad 
  • Beef Brisket
  • Grilled Chicken (servers with spicy and mild BBQ sauce)
  • Three cheese mac and cheese
  • Grilled seasonal vegetables
  • Rolls
  • Coffee and tea

Cute wedding menu sign/ wedding reception buffet menu ideas on a budget! Elegant Wedding Menu Ideas that you have to steal.

Via: Wedding Chicks

Other wedding menus on a budget:

  • Brunch wedding 
  • Serve family-style meals (lasagna, Fajitas)
  • Lunch wedding
  • Food truck
  • Serve Bar Snacks
  • Serve Vegetarian meal Option
  • Build-your-own meal bar (Pizza, Tacos, Burritos, Sandwiches or Burgers)
  • Creative wedding food bars

We hope you enjoyed our list of wedding reception buffet menu ideas on a budget

As we have mentioned several times, the wedding buffet food you serve is an important part of your wedding day.

At the same time, it’s not so important that you should go into debt or break your budget to pay for an elaborate meal.

With some creativity and planning, it’s possible to serve a gorgeous buffet-style wedding catering menu without overspending.

Hopefully, these wedding reception buffet menu ideas on a budget will help you stay within your wedding spending limit.

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Wedding Reception Buffet Menu Ideas On A Budget