Thrifty Food Ideas For Wedding Reception

I'm getting married in August and we're on a very tight budget. My family is going to cook the food for my reception, but I need some good ideas for food. I don't really want a "sit down" meal, more like a buffet style thing. Any suggestions?


Lauren from Spartanburg, SC


Thrifty Food Ideas For Wedding Reception

Here is a main dish pasta salad that is always a hit with guests. Makes a large dish.

Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad

  • 1/2 # each bow tie, veg rigatoni, wagon wheels, shells (or you could use wacky pasta)
  • 3/4 cup red onion-chopped
  • 2 med green peppers-chopped
  • 2 med red peppers-chopped
  • 2 cucumber-chopped
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 cup broccoli flowers
  • 1 cup cauliflower pieces
  • 1/2 # hard salami-diced
  • 1/2 # boiled ham-julienne strips
  • 1/2 # mozzarella cheese-cut up
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup ground Romano cheese
  • 1-7 1/2 oz. pitted black olives
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup soy nuts
  • 1 bunch parsley-chopped
  • 2 TBLS salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper

Garlic Herb Vinaigrette

  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups olive oil (I use half oil and half water)

  • 2 TBLS water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic-crushed
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper

Mix dressing and pour 1 1/2 cups over salad and let set 12 hours. After the 12 hours:
Add 3 chopped tomatoes, 3 chopped hard boiled eggs, and the rest of the dressing.
Toss and enjoy!

By Wisgal

Thrifty Food Ideas For Wedding Reception

You supply the cake and beverages. Tell everyone you want a family feel to the meal and to bring a covered dish of their favorite or best family dish. (04/13/2008)


Thrifty Food Ideas For Wedding Reception

My husband and I catered our own, of course, he fixed the hog (we have a smoker), but I fixed fingerfood, like coleslaw, meatballs in BBQ sauce, little wieners in sauce, potato salad, mac salad, dips/chips, and a fruit platter. I also did a wedding for a friend's daughter with simple things: fingerwiches made with plain bread with chicken salad, turkey salad, and ham salad.


Take the bread, cut the crust off, spread the salad, top with other slice, then cut in quarters, then quarters in half, you can get 8 out of 2 slices of bread! Mints from the dollar store. Hit the dollar stores, they are great for finding inexpensive items, such as candle holders for mint servers (example), balloons, etc. They have great stuff!
Good luck and best wishes.


Thrifty Food Ideas For Wedding Reception

My to-be hubby and I have to pay for the whole deal pretty much by ourselves because my parents are going through a divorce and aren't very well off to begin with. So we are doing an "afternoon tea" with just fruit and little desserts from Sam's Club! It cuts back on the cost and time, and we are having fun collecting different teacups from all different yard sales and antiques places to have a kind of "Mad Hatter" party! (04/15/2008)


By Karie Anne

Thrifty Food Ideas For Wedding Reception

Why not try the Chinese food restaurants? They're pretty cheap, I called one and they gave me a quote of $4 per person for a 4 dish meal, it would be whatever you choose. A lot of people like Chinese food so this might be a good idea. (04/17/2008)


Thrifty Food Ideas For Wedding Reception

I am getting married May 24th '08. My fiance and I came up with the idea of a taco bar. Who doesn't like tacos! We even have a guest that only eats chicken and we are going to put out some ground chicken along with the beef. (05/05/2008)

By Candace

Thrifty Food Ideas For Wedding Reception

My cousin did a southern themed reception and did a grits bar! Super cheap and they served the grits in the small, clear beverage cups and offered different toppings like sausage, bacon, cheese, sugar, butter, mushrooms, onions, syrup, or anything else she could think of. It was a huge hit!


To go with this they also did things like fried okra, black-eyed pea salad, corn nuggets, and fried green tomatoes. I know that the tomatoes could get time consuming and a little expensive, but the grits bar could be done really cheap and still be served really fancy! Hope this helps. (05/25/2008)

By Leigh Holley

Thrifty Food Ideas For Wedding Reception

For our wedding it is costing us well under $1000. We got the hall for free because my fiance works there, got the minister for free because she's our neighbor, caterer is less than half price because he's my boss and I have been giving him my tip $ to pay down the bill for the past year. For our dinner we are having:

  • pork shisk kabobs
  • pulled pork sandwiches on crusty buns
  • Caesar salad
  • garden salad
  • pasta salads
  • vegetarian soup
  • and for the kids- mini pizzas and juice boxes

The picnic style reception (picnic foods, buffet style) is saving us a ton of money, and it is easy, and people generally like buffet style comfort foods. Also, since it is a buffet, ask your caterer if it is okay to have them set up the food then leave. There is no point paying them to stand around waiting for you to be done.

The only sucky part about that is you have to have someone (friend, family) keep an eye on if food needs to be replenished, and then someone to pack the stuff up for the caterer to come get it. Some caterers don't mind this, some won't do it. Ask if any plate rental fees are tacked onto your final bill, then think about using paper plates (Chinet has some nice ones) if it will save you some $, and if it is a causal reception.

Not many people will be critical about paper plates, because most people don't go to a wedding to critique stuff like that. Also, if you are in a position to do any advertising for your caterer, like if you work somewhere you can post an ad for the caterer, or where you can give frequent referrals (like if you know someone else who is looking for a caterer, or if you work at a hall or something), you can ask for a discount if you do some advertising for them.
There are lots of ways to save money on a reception meal. You just have to ask!

We are also doing this. Not a ton of people are invited to the wedding and reception, there are 130 guests. But we wanted to invite many more, so we invited those 130 to the wedding/ceremony, then mailed out separate invitations for just the dance after the reception.

Put the reason for the dance, location date, and time. Make sure time is about an hour after you expect dinner to be over. That way, your first guest list gets the wedding and dinner, and then everybody you want to be there can come for the dance. It cuts down huge on a wedding budget.

"We, Michael and Stephanie, would love for you to join us for our wedding reception dance at --name of hall-- -date- --start time--".

Good luck and happy planning! (06/01/2008)

Thrifty Food Ideas For Wedding Reception

I am having my wedding on 10/4/2008 we will be serving spaghetti, salad, and breadsticks. My mom says it's cheap and easy. She's helped serve a wedding where this was done, they also had varieties of pastas (cold) for those who don't care for spaghetti. Sandwiches are easy and cheap too.

By princessrivers

Thrifty Food Ideas For Wedding Reception

BBQ pulled pork. Easy to make in a crockpot, place a pork tenderloin, 1 container of BBQ sauce, 1 chili packet, and 2 TBS. of lemon juice. Serve with potato rolls. (06/21/2008)

By Sandy

Thrifty Food Ideas For Wedding Reception

Hi, all these ideas sound great! When we have a wedding in our family the women all get together the day before the wedding and cook. We typically make the salads and cook up the meat for sandwiches. Get some drinks made up or pick up some on sale. Get all the groceries and meet at someone's house. We make the salads in large bowls and then transfer to ice cream buckets. They are easier to carry to the venue and free! This way you have good family food and get to spend the day before your wedding with the women in your life. Congratulations and the best of luck! (08/05/2008)

By Dani

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