Wedding on a Budget Series: Cheap Wedding Meal Ideas

After attending a couple of swaggy weddings in the last few years, I’ve been thinking about how expensive weddings are. This made me look forward a few years to when my own daughters might get married. I started asking friends and others what they’ve done to keep wedding costs down.

The result is this new series on weddings on a budget. I hope these tips are helpful to you and ones I can use in the future. Neither daughter is engaged, but in the next ten years I’m sure we’ll be hosting our own soirees.

Keeping Wedding Food Costs Low

If you’ve started planning a wedding, then you know one of the biggest costs is the reception and feeding everyone. There are a few things you can do to keep costs down.

  • Limit the number of guests. You’ll be paying by the head whether you pay a caterer or self-cater, so limiting the number of people invited will drive down costs.
  • Plan an early afternoon or late evening wedding. If you plan your wedding between meals, you can probably get by with finger foods instead of a full-blown meal.
  • Get married early and serve a breakfast buffet. Breakfast foods are naturally cheaper.

Ideas for Inexpensive Reception Food

Perhaps you don’t want to limit the number of guests and you really don’t want to time your wedding around a meal schedule. If that is the case, consider enlisting family and friends to cook the reception food or hire students from a local culinary school.

What will keep the reception costs down is what type of food you serve. Some foods are naturally less money than others. While your guests might enjoy filet mignon, your pocketbook won’t.

  • Pasta Bar: Pasta is one of the least expensive foods you can serve. Stay away from spaghetti as you don’t want a blob of red on your pretty white dress. Other than that, you can serve any type of pasta you want with both tomato and Alfredo sauce options. Salad and bread round out the meal.
  • Backyard BBQ: Keep it simple. Rent some tables, throw on some hamburgers and hot dogs and serve simple sides. The costs will be greatly reduced by using simple food and your guests will simply enjoy spending time with you.
  • Pitch-In: One new trend in weddings is the reception pitch in. Each guest brings a side dish in lieu of presents. The couple saves thousands of dollars, which is a good present in itself.
  • Sandwiches: Meat and cheese trays with baked rolls can be an inexpensive option that is easy to put out for a large wedding. These can all be made or purchased ahead of time and require no heating at the event.

Another option is to purchase items when they are on sale, stockpile and cook from those inexpensive foods. If you are creative in the kitchen or have a family member who is, this might be an excellent option for keeping costs down.

In the end, what is important is that you spend time with those you love celebrating one of the happiest moments of your life. Getting in debt for one meal just isn’t the best idea or the best way to start married life. With a little planning and creativity, you can afford the wedding of your dreams.

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Crabby Housewife

Crabby Housewife

Lori is a full-time housewife and writer, living in the Midwest with her husband of 27 years - they have two daughters. They have a house full of pets and her house is never quite perfect.

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