How To Choose the Cheapest Food to Serve at a Wedding

A wedding is a one-of-a-kind celebration of love and commitment between two people that brings friends and family together. Choosing the right food to serve your guests can be a stressful and expensive part of wedding planning. Creating lasting memories through food is crucial for a wedding, as it sets the tone for the day.

It is essential to consider your guests’ dietary preferences and the budget you have to work with when selecting food for the wedding. You should also consider the atmosphere you want to create and the impression you want to leave on your guests.

No need to worry, though, because in this article, we’ll provide delicious and budget-friendly menu options without sacrificing quality. By focusing on seasonal produce and preparing dishes from scratch, you can create an appetizing menu that does not break the bank. Additionally, you can reduce the cost of individual servings by opting for family-style plating or shared platters.

Benefits of Cheap Wedding Reception Food

Before we dive into some of the best and cheapest food to serve at a wedding reception, we should discuss why you should consider serving affordable wedding food to begin with.  

  1. The most significant benefit of serving cheap food at a wedding is the lower cost. This is especially relevant for couples who are on a tight budget. 
  2. When couples serve inexpensive food, guests are more likely to eat more significant portions and feel more satisfied. This can lead to a more enjoyable experience for the guests, as well as fewer leftovers and less wasted food.
  3. You can still offer your guests delicious and budget-friendly food options. You can ensure the happiness and well-being of your guests by serving dishes made with fresh, quality ingredients. Additionally, food is an opportunity to show guests that you value their presence and have made an effort to make their experience memorable.
  4. Offering cheap food options allows you to allocate your budget to other aspects of the wedding that are meaningful to you. This includes a larger wedding venue, live entertainment or photo booth. 

It is possible to make cheap food options just as memorable by choosing quality ingredients and presenting them thoughtfully.

Wedding Menu Ideas on a Budget

Now for the fun part, here is a list of our top picks for your budget wedding reception food ideas! 

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  1. Mini quiches: Mini quiches are a delicious and affordable option for wedding appetizers. What makes these egg pies best is that they can be affordable to make in bulk and are easy to transport and serve.
  2. Deviled eggs: Another simple yet delicious option. Deviled eggs are a great way to satisfy your guests on a budget, plus you can have fun with the fillings!
  3. Bruschetta: Bruschetta is a simple and classic option that can be made with a variety of toppings, including fresh tomatoes, basil and balsamic glaze.
  4. Fruit and cheese platters: A fruit and cheese platter is a budget-friendly and healthy option that can be easily customized to suit the tastes of your guests.

Side Dishes

  1. Roasted vegetables: Roasted vegetables are a healthy and delicious option for a wedding side dish. 
  2. Salad: Salad is a healthy and refreshing option for a wedding side dish. It can be made in copious quantities and customized to suit your guests’ tastes.
  3. Rice and beans: Rice and beans are an affordable and filling option for a wedding side dish. An absolutely delicious side dish on a budget!

Entree Meals

  1. Pasta dishes: They are a great option for weddings as they are filling, delicious and can be made in enormous quantities.
  2. Grilled meats: Grilled meats are a classic option for serving as a main dish. A slice of good grilled meat is filling, flavorful and can be made in bulk.
  3. Stuffed peppers: Stuffed peppers are a delicious and affordable option for a wedding entree. They can be made with various fillings and are easy to transport and serve.


  1. Cupcakes: Cupcakes are a fun and affordable option for a wedding dessert. They can be customized to suit the tastes of your guests and are easy to transport and serve.
  2. Fruit tarts: Fruit tarts are a delicious and elegant option for a wedding dessert. They can be made in bulk and are easy to transport and serve.
  3. Mini pies: Mini pies are a delicious and affordable option for a wedding dessert. They can be made in bulk and are easy to transport and serve.

Other Meal Ideas


Can you think of anyone that doesn’t enjoy a good taco? Well, neither can we! Tacos are a great option for budget weddings as they are incredibly affordable, super yummy, and can be very filling. You won’t even have to go the extra mile to hire a team as you can simply have a food truck at the wedding. For an opportunity like that, the owner will surely bring in his entire staff to cater to you and your guests.


Chicken can be a great meal option at your wedding as it is often sold in bulk affordably meaning it is served for an equally affordable price. If prime steaks and seafood are above your budget, you may start looking into different ways to serve chicken. You can opt to treat your guests to a flavor feast by bringing in flavors from different parts of the world without deviating from the budget. If you have kids on your guest list, the good old nuggets will go a long way in keeping them happy.


Potatoes are also another affordable option due to how readily available they are. They are also very versatile and can be prepared differently to fit into every part of your course meal. You can have potato salad, wedges, and even mashed potatoes without hearing a single complaint about having served up a potato fest. As a plus, potatoes are quite filling and you won’t have to worry about anyone not having enough to eat.


Casseroles are great comfort food, easy to make, and very filling once eaten. They can be used to substitute other more expensive items on your menu without compromising on the flavor of food you have served on your big day.

Your guests will be well-fed and satisfied by choosing various menu options while still staying within your budget.

Still a little over the budget?

If you’ve done as much as you can to bring the food costs down and still can’t seem to stay in line with your budget, it’s time to start looking at the drinks. No one wants to have a wedding without some alcohol however, does your budget really allow for using the onsite bar? 

You can bring this cost down by settling for some sangria, punch or even sourcing your own drinks instead of buying from the venue. If you can bring down your drink’s budget even by a little bit, you can reassign the money to help you curate a menu you are happy with.

Take Into Account A Budget for Wedding Menu Ideas

Setting a realistic budget is the first step to serving cheap food at a wedding. Then, you can decide what food options to serve based on the amount of money you have allocated. Choosing budget-friendly options that are still delicious and visually appealing is crucial since food costs can quickly add up. Shop around and compare the prices of different vendors. 

Buffet-style meals are generally less expensive than plated meals because you can get a lot of food for a smaller cost. Food trucks and catering companies can also be good alternatives as they often provide more variety at a lower cost than traditional catering services. And if all else fails, consider a potluck — it’s the ultimate budget-friendly option!

Speaking of a Potluck Wedding

Potluck weddings are actually a thing and can be VERY fun and inexpensive to do! This essentially means that the couple or the caterer does not provide all the food at a potluck wedding; instead, each guest brings a dish to share. 

Cost savings are the main advantage of a potluck wedding. Food and beverage costs can be significantly reduced if guests bring their own food. Guests can also get their favorite dishes to the wedding, which adds a personal touch. Having a potluck wedding is a wonderful way to save money and is also a fun way to get your friends and family involved in the big day. It is an easy way to ensure there is plenty of food for everyone and it also helps create a great atmosphere as everyone brings their favorite dishes to share.

Potluck weddings require clear communication between guests to be successful. You can provide them with guidelines and suggestions about the dishes they can bring, such as appetizers, entrees, sides or desserts. Ensure that you have a balanced spread of food by assigning specific dishes or courses to each guest.

As a rule of thumb, always handle the main courses yourself and delegate the simpler meals to the guests. When having a potluck wedding, we suggest you scrap the registry as your guests are already doing a lot to make your big day a reality. More importantly, gauge your guest list before requesting them to pitch in. While you may have grown up around a community setting that thrives on helping each other, guests on your groom’s side may find the idea a bit startling and maybe even tacky. On the bright side, you and your friend can handle the task just fine.

Consider The Wedding Guests Needs

Even with cheap wedding food, you need to consider your guests’ dietary restrictions when choosing food options for your wedding. To accommodate different tastes and needs, offer a variety of menu options, such as vegetarian, gluten-free or dairy-free options.

Having a delicious menu that is also dietary-friendly is something you can work on with your caterer. This will ensure that everyone at your wedding enjoys the meal and has an exciting time. It also avoids potential embarrassment or frustration if someone cannot eat your chosen food.

Considering any cultural traditions of your guests is another consideration when serving food at your wedding. For vegetarian or halal guests, you may want to provide food options appropriate to their beliefs and customs. In this way, you can ensure that everyone at your wedding has a memorable and enjoyable experience and make them feel welcome and appreciated.

Creating a Wonderful Presentation for Cheap Food Stations

You should coordinate the colors of your wedding food when presenting it. For a Christmas-themed wedding, choose greens and reds. Go for pastels for a spring-themed wedding. Making the food look more appetizing will help to create a visually appealing spread. 

By carefully selecting the colors of the food and beverages, you can create a festive atmosphere that will help guests feel more relaxed and engaged in the festivities. A coordinated color scheme can also help to create an inviting environment that encourages guests to interact with each other and enjoy the food.

Make sure the food table is visually appealing when setting it up. Think about arranging food in an aesthetically pleasing way, such as stacking crostini on a tiered platter or arranging fruit in a spiral. Use platters, baskets and serving trays to present the food. This helps to draw the eye to the food and creates a sense of anticipation and excitement. It can also make the food look more appetizing and encourage people to try different items.

When guests are navigating the food table, labels can be helpful. Include ingredients and dietary information on each dish’s label, such as gluten-free or vegetarian options. As a result, guests will make more informed choices and errors and confusion will be avoided.

In addition, you may want to consider decorating your food presentation. Make your dishes more colorful and textured by using flowers, herbs and other edible garnishes. You can also use food-safe dyes or edible glitter to make your food more colorful.

Don’t Hire an Expensive Professional Caterer

The temptation to hire an expensive caterer when planning a wedding is strong, but there are other, more budget-friendly options. In lieu of hiring a high-end caterer, consider using a local food truck or ordering catering from a budget-friendly restaurant.

Alternatively, you can cater your own event. You can save money and personalize your wedding this way, which is both fun and creative. As we discussed, it might be a good idea to have a potluck-style wedding or to have family or friends cater the meal.

Another budget-friendly catering option is buffet-style catering. Using a caterer in this situation instead of buying food can save you money. Guests are able to serve themselves at buffet-style catering, eliminating the need for a caterer to serve each dish individually. Buffet-style catering tends to be cheaper because you don’t have to pay for the caterer’s time and services. It also eliminates the need for extra staff, such as servers, who would otherwise have to be paid for their labor.

Last but not least, consider serving plated dinners. An alternative to hiring a full-service caterer, this is a traditional way to serve food at a wedding. Instead of serving themselves from a buffet, guests receive individual portions with a plated dinner.

Having a well-balanced meal for each guest can reduce food waste. It is also more economical as the host can order just the right amount of food for the expected number of guests. Plated dinners also give guests a more formal dining experience, allowing waitstaff to provide attentive service.

Try a Brunch Wedding To Save Money

This is a unique and budget-friendly way to serve food at your wedding. With a brunch wedding, the ceremony and reception occur earlier in the day, typically between 10 am and 1 pm and the meal is served as a brunch buffet. 

This allows for a more cost-effective way to feed guests, as brunch ingredients are typically more affordable than dinner ingredients. Plus, guests can enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere and often serve themselves, which reduces the need for servers.

The main advantage of a brunch wedding is the cost savings. Brunch is typically a less expensive meal than dinner and the earlier time allows for a more relaxed and casual atmosphere. In addition, it can be a fun and unique way to personalize your wedding. 

With less food to serve, there is less work for the catering staff, which can reduce costs. In addition, the time of day can allow couples to choose different types of food, such as breakfast items like pancakes or French toast, that may be cheaper than traditional wedding fare. It also allows couples to be more creative with decorations and entertainment, resulting in a more unique and personal experience.

When planning a brunch wedding, consider serving a variety of brunch favorites, such as eggs, bacon, fruit, pastries and coffee. You may also want to include signature brunch cocktails, such as mimosas or Bloody Marys, to add a festive touch to the meal. Signature brunch cocktails can help to create a more relaxed and cheerful atmosphere for your guests.

They also provide a unique touch that will make your brunch wedding stand out from the rest. Just make sure all your guests have a designated driver — after all, you don’t want them getting too festive and ending up in a pickle!

When hosting a brunch wedding, it is crucial to consider your guests’ dietary restrictions and allergies and to provide labels for each dish. You may also want to consider the timing of the meal, as guests may not be accustomed to eating a full meal earlier in the day. It is important to ensure that all your guests feel included and can safely enjoy the meal. 

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the cheapest food you choose to serve at a wedding reception will come down to the number of guests you’re serving. You can manually tally up the per-head cost of serving various foods and see which is the most cost-effective or you can use a spreadsheet to make things a bit easier. Whatever option you choose, keeping track of your budget is best done upfront so that you don’t run out of money — or food — along the way. 

Once you have an idea of the number of guests you’re expecting, you can compare traditional catering services’ costs to more budget-friendly options, like home cooking or buffet-style catering. It’s important to remember that food costs can add up quickly, so you need to be sure that you’re factoring in things like taxes, delivery fees and extra labor costs.

Lastly, choosing food options that can be affordably made in bulk is also important. Bulk orders can provide big savings. You can also look for discounts, coupons and deals that can help reduce the cost. Buying in-season and locally produced foods can also help keep costs down.

Congratulations on your big day and happy wedding food bargain hunting!

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