Cheap Wedding Reception Food Ideas

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One way to keep within your wedding budget is to serve reasonably priced food at the reception. This is a page about cheap wedding reception food ideas.


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January 5, 2012

I would like to have a variety of foods at my reception set up bar style. I'd like to offer several of our favorite restaurants in town the opportunity to provide food from their restaurant with a server or two. We would of course be willing to pay them, but I'd like a discount in exchange for allowing them to promote their food so to speak. Does this make sense to anyone? Have you seen or heard of this before? How would you feel if you went to a reception like this?

By AdinaS from Chicago


January 9, 20120 found this helpful
Best Answer

Fat chance. Most reputable food vendors would not need "free" advertising. Otherwise why would they be in business. You might find some new purveyors that would do this type of thing, but then it could have disastrous results.


It would seen that you were being cheap to me. If you can't afford good food then don't serve a meal. Stay within your budget with out asking for handouts.

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January 10, 20120 found this helpful
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Unless your guest list is loaded with high profile people or is raising money for a recognized charity, no restaurant is going to be interested in cutting you a deal for catering your reception. I've done a number of buffet style catered charity fund-raisers and have had success with restaurants but they always want to know who's on the guest list.

From the way you've phrased your question it sounds as though you are planning a wedding reception, and it would also tacky to have adverts for your caterer on the buffet table, frankly.


Charity fund-raiser? Yes.

Wedding reception? No.

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January 10, 20120 found this helpful
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I agree this would be tacky for a reception of any sort whether for a wedding, baptism, bar mitzva, etc. The guests aren't there to be bombarded with sales pitches but rather to celebrate a special occasion. Just choose a handful of your favorite restaurants and get bids to choose one from those bids to cater your reception or ask family and friends to help with preparing of food, setting up, serving and taking down but you pay for the items needed.

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February 12, 20120 found this helpful
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I am so glad to read the responses. They are right on. Do you have any idea at all of what it costs to run a business? Especially a food business. They are in business to make a profit, not support your wedding. You think you're doing them a favor by "allowing" them to mention their name?


If you can't afford a reception, get married and don't have a reception or just have cake and coffee in the church basement. It's a "marriage", not a wedding you should be celebrating.

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April 21, 2011

My wedding is August 6, 2011 and I'm on a tight budget. I need to know what foods can I serve at the reception?

By Sherika from Lagrange, GA


April 22, 20110 found this helpful
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I used to own a wedding catering business so I hope I can help you.

I would serve little chicken salad sandwiches and before you say "yuck", do the following. Find a recipe for cream puffs and make tiny ones (approx 2") and instead of filling them up with cream filling, you will be slicing them in half and filling them with a chicken salad mixture using chopped/cooked chicken breasts, celery, chopped onions (optional) and whatever seasoning you might like. I have used eggs in the salad as well. Then you just use a tiny meatball scoop or Tbsp. to scoop into the cream puffs.


Now for the punch. Go straight to your local ice cream plant or grocery store and get the largest 2 1/2 gal. of whatever sherbet you choose that will match your wedding colors. Then you mix that with either frozen pineapple juice and either 7-up or something similar. It ends up being like a frappe and is very yummy. I have even made variations to include almond flavoring or rum flavoring etc. You get the picture.

The above things you can do ahead of time so you don't have to do it on the day before or so. You can freeze the cream puffs up to two weeks before the wedding and just take them out the morning of. Fill them as you use them so you won't have lots of soggie sandwiches to take home that you didn't use. That way you can refreeze the puffs and use whatever is left as a salad or in the puffs at a later date.


I wish you the best and if I can be of any further help please let me know.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

April 21, 2011

I am looking for thrifty food ideas for a wedding reception.

By Holly Adams from Yuma


Cheap Reception Food Ideas

A lot will depend on the type of foods that you want. A lot of people do potluck receptions now. Why not just have cake, coffee, tea and punch. One type of ribbon sandwich that is pretty is to go to a bakery and special order bread made in a pretty color.

For my sister's wedding we made sandwiches made out of pink and white bread with ham salad spread between them. We did a slice of pink, ham salad, a slice of white, ham salad, then a slice of pink or vice versa. These were pretty, each sandwich was cut into four triangles without the crusts. Then we did round buttery crackers with a squiggle of cheese out of the squirt cans and put a slice of stuffed olive on them. That was the food, plus cake and the coffee, tea, and punch. (11/07/2010)

By Joan

Cheap Reception Food Ideas

As a previous poster said, it depends on the type of foods you want, as well as the number of guests. My niece got married about a month ago, and family members provided homemade macaroni salad, potato salad, spinach dip, Caesar salad, and baked beans. The ham and roast beef were prepared by a caterer. Instead of the meats, you could have the salads and a variety of finger sandwiches. That's what we had at my wedding reception many years ago. (11/09/2010)

By Bobbie9395

Cheap Reception Food Ideas

I'm a big fan of the pasta bar. Get a big tray filled with bow tie pasta, and have a few sauces to choose from (heat up some jars of marinara, meat, and Alfredo and serve it all buffet-style from those big warming trays. Add a few huge bowls of salad, oil and vinegar dressing, and french bread.

Roast turkey is inexpensive, and the traditional sides are inexpensive and can be made ahead. Spiral hams are more expensive, but can be served with (frozen) green beans, rice pilaf, and rolls. (01/03/2011)

By Veronica

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November 7, 2010

My husband's niece is getting married October 15, 2005, she has just informed her grandmother that she is going to take care of the reception. I still have all the decorations from my wedding so we will be using those, but we really need some cheap food ideas. As of now, I don't even know what time of day this wedding is supposed to be taking place. Please help!

Shannon in NC


Cheap Reception Food Ideas

One of the things we did at our reception last January because there were a lot of kids there was to make a hot dog buffet table away from the regular buffet. We put everything they could possibly want on there including chips, condiments, and bread. This kept them from holding up other line and was very cheap. We provided the meat for the adults, but the rest was a potluck and it went very well plus a wide variety of foods plenty to go around. Good luck. (09/23/2005)

By Christi

Cheap Reception Food Ideas

I did all the food for our wedding in 1987. I made ribbon sandwiches and tuna triangles, we had a veggie tray and a fruit tray and then bowls of regular potato chips. Then the cake of course.
Ribbon sandwiches are done by going to the bakery and ordering ahead of time, fresh bread loaves and having them cut into 5 stripes horizontally. The top and bottom will be the crusts and those don't get used for the sandwiches.

Then make a ham spread for one layer and an egg salad for another layer. Layers are: bread, ham, bread, egg, bread. Then wrap in Saran wrap and freeze them for a up to a week ahead of time. Take them out the morning of the wedding and they will be firm enough to cut and fresh and soft to serve! The tuna triangles are made on regular sliced bread, however, I also ordered this from the bakery and requested it to be sliced like normal, but no crusts. Again, make the tuna and freeze for up to a week prior. Take out that morning and they are perfect for cutting and serving again too! Just make sure when you freeze them that you wrap tightly! (09/23/2005)

By Rhonda

Cheap Reception Food Ideas

I fixed a little appetizer for one of my friend's daughter's wedding and it was very cheap and very good! All you need is a couple of loaves of party rye, spread a thin coat of cream cheese with a bit of dry ranch dressing stirred in, top with a thin slice of cucumber and sprinkle with a tiny bit of dill weed. This is a good little tidbit for either a winter wedding or summer one.

You can also make little cream puffs ahead, freeze them, then the day of the reception, fill with tuna, chicken, and/or ham salads.

Make cheese balls from cream cheese and onion, ranch dressing mix, Italian salad dressing mix, etc., and cover with the tube type of crescent roll dough. Be sure the cheese ball is well sealed in the dough, paint with beaten egg and bake till the dough is golden. I would spray the baking dish very well with Pam as egg can stick. When you cut into the ball, the cheese inside is nice and oooey-gooey! Just serve with crackers, etc.

For the entree, try either lemon or five-spice chicken. Both of those are easily seasoned and baked during the wedding and ready to eat at the reception. If you are living in the Midwest, buy chicken at Aldi's. It is pretty inexpensive there. If you are having a large wedding reception, ask a small, local butcher if they can cut you a break if you get a quantity of one thing.

Good luck to you all, and may God bless the happy couple in their lives together. (09/23/2005)

By Margie

Cheap Reception Food Ideas

Sausage Filled Wontons

  • large package of wonton wrappers
  • 1 lb. Jimmy Dean sausage
  • 1 sweet red pepper-diced
  • 1 can sliced black olives
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 8 oz. ranch dressing

Bake wontons in cupcake pan at 350 degrees F for 5 minutes or until golden brown.
Brown sausage and drain. Add remaining ingredients and heat through until cheese is melted. Keep filler in warm container until ready to eat. A decorative basket can hold the wontons.

Add sour cream for a topper.

By Chris O'Connell

Cheap Reception Food Ideas

Do you belong to Costco? You'd be surprised what you can get and how you can stretch it. (09/23/2005)

By Jennifer CA

Cheap Reception Food Ideas

I just wanted to add that last fall I went to a low budget wedding and the food was great and cheap! They served pasta and salad, the couple went to a discount grocery store (Aldi) and bought pasta and sauce and everyone knows that pasta serves a lot and is relatively cheap for the quality. They had two kinds Alfredo and regular spaghetti type, they served it with a small salad and bread. It filled everyone up and they had cake!

Also just another suggestion that I saw there also, since it was low budget they made it look really nice at the reception by setting the tables with paper plates, not tacky ones, they were a large round burgundy one and a small gold one on top of that. The people just found their seat and when it was time they took their plates to the buffet line and served themselves. This also cut the cost because people only had those plates, so one trip to the line. I have pictures if you can't get the visual of paper plates, but they're actually nice ones out there. OK, one more thing; if they are doing favors place the favor at their seat on the table that way you can control stingy hands! So sorry for the long post I hope it helps. If you need any other advice let me know. Good luck! (09/29/2005)

By Vickie

Cheap Reception Food Ideas

How about white beans and rice, jambalaya, or gumbo? (I'm from Louisiana, and we had white beans and rice and fried chicken as the main food at our wedding.) I think any of those can be pretty inexpensive and you can make a lot at once. Good luck! Also, try Sam's for cheap rolls, crackers, and dips.

By Olivia

Cheap Reception Food Ideas

As I plan my wedding which is in 4 weeks, I plan on having a bit of Italy, pasta salads, crostini, w/ham and cheeses, (which is cheap and very easy, brushetta, (again, cheap and very easy! ) Breads, cheeses, and various pasta salads. Very cheap, easy to actually throw together for as many as you want. My mother is making a 9x13 cake for guests and we will only have a store bakery bought and lightly decorated cake that's a 2 layer w/ topper. Keeping it frugal, but elegant.

By Deana W

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