Food Ideas for a Reception for 100 on a Budget?

I am on a small budget and trying to find out different ideas for food at my reception. I am anticipating about 100 people.

By Crystal from Alton, IL


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May 28, 20110 found this helpful
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If you are on a small budget forget the wedding and just go get married. Alternative, have the wedding at a time when the guests won't expect a meal, serve cake, coffee, tea, and punch. Otherwise do things like sloppy joes, salads, chips, etc. Forget serving booze, that can add up.

May 28, 20110 found this helpful
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I also agree that you do not need to have a meal at a reception; however, if it is what you want, then there are a lot of possibilities. Pasta can be a good budget stretcher. You could do a pasta "bar", with several types (shapes) of cooked pasta, a small variety of sauces and add-on's (red sauce, white sauce, meat sauce, meatballs, sausage, grated cheese), rolls, and a simple tossed salad. If you are adventurous: a taco bar, baked potato bar, or chili bar are also easy, relatively inexpensive, and let people make food their own way.


Taco bar: soft and hard tortillas, meat, cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced or chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, canned jalapenos, sliced black olives,sour cream, salsa, with extra chips on the side and maybe nacho sauce, and a fruit salad.

Potato bar: large baked potatoes, sour cream, chopped onion, bacon bits, chives, grated cheese, possibly barbequed beef, chopped ham, etc. with a tossed salad.
Chili bar: chili (maybe one with meat and one without), rice, grated cheese, sour cream, chopped onion, peppers, olives, served with a tossed salad.

Tapas is a nice trend, but I would not try to do that myself. If, however, you had a dozen friends/family willing to help, ask each of them to prepare one appetizer (you would have to coordinate to avoid duplication)--enough for MANY; and you could provide something like sliced/cubed meats and cheese and crackers.


Beverages can be simple, too, such as punch or a choice of sweetened or unsweetened iced tea and water. Or, between now and then, you could purchase soda pop on sale and stock up. Avoid the expense of alcohol, with the possible exception of wine or champagne for a toast, but don't buy expensive and limit it to one small glass per adult--though toasts can just as easily be done with punch or ginger ale.

Look in your yellow pages or ask around. There is likely a restaurant supplier in your area who provides wholesale type foods to various restaurants. Most will sell to the public as well. Get their price list, you may be surprised at how affordable buying pre-prepared foods can be. Just keep things simple, don't worry about keeping up with the Joneses, and most of all, have fun!


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May 28, 20112 found this helpful
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I hope you don't think I'm being a smart aleck for this but summer is on it's way and you could hold your reception at a nearby state park or road side park or other campground. You can have a camp fire and roast wieners, marshmallows or S'more's? Pitch a tent for use as an office and encourage harmonica and sing-alongs? Sounds amazing (if you're into this sort of thing).


I'm pretty sure there would be a usage fee at a State Park but not the roadside park or rest area. In Missouri there are some with cook-out grills cemented into the ground & wonderfully massive concrete slab tables, you could call around to the Conservation Depts. or State Highway Dept to find out the rules for such a thing. Also Some wildlife reserves are cookout/camp-out enabled!

I think it would be a blast!

Some people are repelled by the idea of cooking food on a wooden stick, so have some wire coat hangers for them to DIY a roaster! Hot dogs, buns and other picnic "have-to-haves" usually go on sale as soon as picnic weather occurs!

Don't forget campfire popcorn: ... _enUS413US414&q=campfire+popcorn
I am hung-up on this huh?

P.S. I think it's pretty cool to involve this community in your plans by asking for ideas! I got revved just participating in this thread! I wish I had thought of this for myself back in 1985! Everyone would have such an awesome time! How much more comfortable than "suit and tie affairs" where you wish you were home instead!



July 13, 20170 found this helpful

I'm actually planning something similar to this at a provincial park, by the river, in October. It's got an area for camping which both my fiance and i had been to growing up (but never met at). And, tons of other areas, you can rent one of the two covered areas that has built in tables/benches. There's a suspension bridge, tons of trails, a park for the kids (of the 40 guests, ten are children under the age of 8). We're really lucky to have a caterer in the family and he's helping as a gift but of course we aren't breaking the bank with his generosity. He's doing up a couple of lasagnas, greek salad, spanakopita, a couple different kebabs maybe a few other odds and ends. It's the perfect kind of casual for us :D

May 31, 20110 found this helpful
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My grandson recently got married on a budget. Different members of the family donated one item of food (enough to feed everyone) in lieu of a wedding gift. The menu included pulled pork, rye bread and buns, pickles, onions, mac and cheese, pepper jack mac and cheese, baked beans,chips. deviled eggs, plus fresh fruit. One of their friends oversaw the workings of the kitchen and kept the buffet trays filled. A friend baked the wedding cake.


The ceremony was held at the pavilion at a local lake.

June 6, 20110 found this helpful
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We recently did a homemade mashed potato bar, we had grated cheese, bacon bits, sour cream and butter as toppings. We actually borrowed the idea from a wedding reception that was catered. I made the potatoes ahead of time, placed them in the small aluminum pans, kept them warm in a low oven until time, and then served them over the sterno cans. These were a big hit. A fruit tray is always good, pineapple, strawberries, grapes, blackberries, blueberries. Meatballs actually went over really well also, better than the finger sandwiches. Skip the veggie tray.

Recently went to an 1pm wedding where all that was served was dessert, mixed nuts, punch, coffee and iced tea. The desserts were enjoyable and fun. But this limits what the diabetics can eat.

May 28, 20110 found this helpful


Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. As an event planner and silk flower designer of 10 years, this subject comes up a lot. Keep in mind that presentation is just as important. You can make food look fancier just by the way you serve it.

Other ways to save are to use seasonal fruits and veggies that can be bought in bulk and prepared a multitude of ways. Check local farm markets for what's available.

Select recipes that can be made way in advance and frozen until your event. Various casseroles, pies, cookies, homemade soups, breads etc. This allows you to spread out your costs over time. Just make sure you anticipate 4 ounces per person per item.

Good Luck and Happy Planning.

May 31, 20110 found this helpful

Not knowing what your budget is, if you opt for a mid morning reception, or mid afternoon, you could easily get by with just cake and punch. Remember, this is your day to celebrate, not go broke trying to impress people with food. Most of us are on diets anyway! :D Congratulations!

May 31, 20110 found this helpful

Google "Dayle's growlies for groups", large quantity recipes. This website has over 500 recipes for events including make ahead recipes, the different amounts of varying foods needed for different numbers of people and tips for self catering. This website helped me alot when I was planning my daughter's wedding and saved me lots of money! I hope this helps!


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June 1, 20110 found this helpful

You don't say if a graduation, wedding, etc.? Suggestion for the state park is nice but users fees and reservations are a must. Also, people entering state parks must buy a pass as well. Here in MN, a single day pass can be $5-7 for each car.

December 28, 20160 found this helpful

I am getting married in March, we have chosen a beautiful local park for ceremony and reception here in Florida. The cost was $30 for the whole day for the pavilion. But, you are correct; we will be paying the parking fee of $5 per vehicle.

March 10, 20160 found this helpful

I would like to have nice good food for the wedding reception not too heavy but meat salad BBQ fried jerk chicken green grabbing the rice potato salad and some drinks light punch pop and some wine


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