Cheap Wedding Reception Menu
Tips & Ideas

A cheap wedding reception menu doesn't mean peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Budget minded brides and grooms are cutting costs while still having a nice wedding. Wedding reception food is often the largest expense, and one of the easiest to manage. Implementing a few of these money saving wedding menu ideas can slash your catering budget by hundreds of dollars.


Tip 1: Make Smart Wedding Menu Choices

Making cheap wedding reception menu choices does not necessarily mean low quality or poor flavor, it's about choosing inexpensive wedding food ingredients that taste good.

  • Chicken, ground beef and fish can be inexpensive main dish ingredients. Make them feel luxurious with spices, sauces and proper preparation.
  • Appetizers don't need to be fancy or expensive. Try a pirogi bar, savory cheese tarts or hummus. Appetizers with more expensive ingredients should be passed around by wait staff.
  • Marinated grilled kabobs on spiced rice looks and tastes exotic, but is a lot more cost effective than putting out big dishes of meat.
  • People love Mexican food, and many dishes are inexpensive to prepare. Have a taco bar or serve burritos or enchiladas.
  • A pasta bar is a classic choice for saving money on a wedding buffet.
  • Always ask for different prices on seafood. Calamari (squid) and mussels are far less costly than shrimp, yet they are made into fantastic dishes.
  • Ask your chef to build a meal around braised short ribs instead of New York Strip.
  • Choose entrées that include ingredients in season. Since the items don't have to be shipped in and most are locally grown, they'll be cheaper.
Recommended: Learn how bride Lisa Spooner saved over $20,000 on her wedding - click here or scroll down to watch the video


When it comes to making making inexpensive wedding reception food ingredients seem luxurious, success depends on two things:

1. The talent of the team preparing the food. Do they marinade, spice and sauce well? Will they overcook your main dishes? Find someone with the culinary skills to make plain chicken (or whatever you choose) taste fantastic with inexpensive ingredients.

2. How well the food is presented. People taste with their eyes as well as their mouth. The food on the buffet must be well lit and well presented, look for a caterer who knows how to create beautiful buffet tables (graduated levels covered by table cloths, decorative items nestled in with the platters).

Tip 2. Keep Your Guest List Small
Invite a limited number of guests to the wedding reception and plan to serve a full meal, or cut costs even further by combining a small guest list with these money saving menu tips. More below...

The Ultimate Budget Bride: Lisa Spooner saved almost 90% on her wedding, now she helps others save big money on their weddings.


Click Here to Find Out How They Did It


Tip 3: Have an Early Wedding

Right behind limiting the guest list, holding a wedding reception that is not at a regular mealtime is the cheap wedding reception menu tip with the greatest impact on your budget. No one expects lunch at 10 in the morning, or a full meal at 2 or 3 in the afternoon.

  • Morning wedding receptions are great because brunch foods are inexpensive, but can feel lavish to the guests. A brunch wedding reception menu can include quiches, made to order omelets, ham biscuits, a french toast or waffle bar, fruit and side salads.
  • For a mid-afternoon reception, serve light hors d'ouevres, salads and cake or have a tea and coffee reception with wedding cake and a dessert bar. While not full meals, they are far less expensive and could serve more people.

Tip 4: Make it Personal
Instead of a gourmet dinner, choose a menu that includes the engaged couple's favorite comfort foods, then build a menu around those two dishes. It's intimate, friendly and makes the day more special.

Tip 5: Save on Labor Costs
Hire a culinary school to cater the reception and save on the costs. Students work cheaper than professional chefs, and some are very talented. Remember, you will still need to limit your main dish choices to those with less costly ingredients.

 Tip 6: Offer a Children's Menu or Special Buffet
Have a separate children's menu. Children are often intimidated by unusual food items, so chicken fingers or hot dogs will suffice.

Tip 7: Have a Casual Wedding

Do you love a good neighborhood barbeque? Then have a backyard barbeque reception! As a rule, the more formal the reception is, the more expensive all the services will be, especially catering.

Marinading and grilling less expensive cuts of meats and serving it all with sauces and side salads is a great plan for a cheap wedding reception menu everyone will love. Formal is not necessarily better. Haven't you been to a nice wedding where the food was mediocre and the guests were not particularly enjoying themselves? Choosing a cheap wedding reception menu does not mean people will think of your reception as cheap. With careful planning, the wedding reception food can appear very lavish, or personal and charming.

More Articles:
Planning Your Wedding Reception Menu: Beyond Cheese Cubes & Chicken Fingers
Book the Wedding Caterer for Your Reception: How to Find and Hire a Wedding Catering Service
Budget Wedding Food Ideas: Wedding Reception Menu Planning & DIY Wedding Buffet Tips
Wedding Cake Designs: Choose from These Wedding Cake Styles and Ideas
Average Wedding Cake Prices: Your Wedding Cake Cost Will Depend on Location and Style
Tips for Making a Wedding Cake
Wedding Reception Planning
Wedding Planning on a Budget: 21 Money Saving Tips

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