Wedding Reception Food Ideas For The Budget-Conscious Couple

Planning a fabulous and memorable wedding reception can be a daunting task; especially, if you’re on a tight budget. Here are some budget-friendly ideas and options that will have you ditch the formal sit-down dinner and wow your guests in the process.

wedding reception food ideas

Sit-Down Dinner

If you like the idea of a traditional sit-down event, but the price tag makes you cringe, you should consider having your formal reception at noon. A lunch reception would be a more affordable option than dinner without losing any of the decorum associated with great sit-down events.

Another fun option would be a tea party with all the usual — delicious tea sandwiches, scones, jams, and sweets — served at each table. You can also celebrate with a champagne toast before tea and cut a traditional wedding cake during the tea service.

Buffet Style

Buffets are generally thought of as a less expensive dinner option, but some buffets can cost as much as a traditional sit-down dinner — sometimes more. Just like the sit-down option, you could save money on your venue and the menu by having your buffet reception at lunchtime.

Wedding Reception Food Ideas

Another idea would be to have comfort food favorites catered by your local restaurant and served buffet style at your wedding reception. There are also a lot of different and lighter fare buffet options available. How about a dessert-only buffet planned for the middle of the afternoon or a brunch buffet that starts at 11:00 AM?

Cocktail (or Finger Food) Appetizers

Another great option is the cocktail reception with lots of amazing appetizers, finger foods, and hors d’oeuvres — served by waiters on classic silver trays. Cocktail receptions are best held after  8:00 PM. Since it’s a lighter-fare food option, your guests should be expected to eat an early dinner before heading out to your wedding ceremony.

For a more modern and grown-up feel, you could place bar-height tables and stools around the reception area; or even recreate an intimate lounge-type atmosphere with multiple sofas and coffee tables.

Family-Catered Pot Luck

We know not everyone has the budget to have their reception professionally catered. Here are a few options if you decide to let family and friends help you with the food. You can plan a picnic-style reception at the park; a gourmet potluck buffet; or a clambake on the beach. Let’s not forget that a backyard BBQ is always a great option. It could even be a budget-friendly pizza and salad combo. Just order different topping pizzas and offer 3-4 homemade salads on the side. Lastly, top off the meal with a delicious homemade cake.

Beverages Only

The food can be an expensive proposition — so can the beverage selection. If you do not have the budget for an open bar, you can always offer a limited bar (wine and beer only), a cash bar, or a dry bar option (no alcohol).

Your Wedding, Your Way

If you would like your guests to know what to expect prior to the wedding, you can always include a small note in your invitation informing them of the type of reception you have in mind — something like a breakfast reception to follow.

In the end, be confident in your wedding reception choices and stay true to your budget. If you enjoy yourself on your wedding day, your guests will enjoy themselves too. It’s as simple as that!

One Comment

  1. I completely agree that not everyone can afford to have a professional catering service work at their wedding, and thankfully I have been saving my money for when the moment would come. My boyfriend finally proposed, and I said yes! So we are starting to plan our wedding, and these tips are really helpful to help me see what things I could afford to relax on and what things need to go perfectly.

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