7 tips on stretching your wedding food budget

By on Dec 5th
Photo by Honeysuckle Photography

Photo by Honeysuckle Photography

We know that you can NEVER have a shortage of budget-stretching ideas. I previously gave you these recession-friendly wedding budget ideas, but let's get food-specific in this installment, shall we?

1. Time is on your side

Have an afternoon wedding and stick to appetizers, serving heavy appetizers instead of a seated meal. Remember, appetizers don't always have to be fancy! Think fresh fruit, gourmet cheeses and crackers, salsa bar, mini tea sandwiches, local veggies, or deli platters.

Alternately, consider a brunch wedding. Take it from Tasha and Andrew:

Our reception was a brunch with lots of music and dancing. We saved so much money having a brunch wedding.

2. Potluck weddings!

Ah yes, the ever-controversial potluck weddingIs it tacky? Is it the best idea ever? I'd say that depends on how well your friends and family members can cook. ;) In Sarah & Chris' case everything went wonderfully:

I handmade all of our invites and asked the guest to bring food instead of a gift, something home made, special to them — their favorite food. Everybody ate, and raved about each other's recipes.

Luke & Suzanne's Muppet wedding

3. Rent a food truck.

I know MY favorite wedding reception dinner has been from the In and Out truck. But not all food trucks have to be um… not so great for your health. Food trucks are going gourmet these days, but the prices are staying reasonable. Try googling "food truck catering" in your area! Plus the photo ops are always fun:

4. Bake it yourself

Bake your own wedding dessert. You can always do cupcakes or make wedding cookies instead of a fancy wedding cake. Our combine the potluck idea with the cake baking idea and pull off a collaborative wedding cake quilt.

5. BBQ

If a potluck sounds like a lot of work (logistics and what-not) then a barbecue wedding might be right up your alley. Turn your wedding reception into a cookout with hamburgers, hot dogs, and grilled veggies. (Ok, I'm getting hungry now.) If you don't want to man the grill yourself, hire a local barbecue joint to cater a la Charla and Joel:

As graduate students, we had to do it on the cheap. The main cost was the catering — pulled pork, ribs, chicken, honey rolls and sides a la Slow Ride BBQ out of Fort Wayne, Indiana. At $11 a plate, the yummy food didn't break the bank.

6. Skip fancy cocktails

Just serve beer and wine. You can always use our tutorial on how to use custom wine labels to save money on your wedding booze. Or, hell, save a bunch of dough and skip alcohol all together.

7. Friends are your friend!

Know one or several people who are culinary whizzes? Talk to them about whether they'd feel comfortable sharing their cooking skills as their wedding gift. I've seen this exchanged pulled off flawlessly at many a wedding.

Now I turn it over to you — what ways did you come up with to save money on your food and catering?

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About Megan Finley

Megan Finley is the Associate Publisher for the Offbeat Empire. When she's not slaving away for the Empire, she's sharing her dork side on her own blog, Twitter @meganfinley, and Instagram @meggyfin.