Is a potluck wedding tacky?

Updated Oct 12 2015
arielmstallings
Photo by Meddy Garnet, used by Creative Commons license.
Photo by Meddy Garnet, used by Creative Commons license.
[blockquote]I am planning on having an informal family-only wedding at my dad's church. I'm considering doing a potluck wedding but was wondering if that was tacky to ask our guest to dish something up for everyone to share in.

My fiancee is in Afghanistan and we'll only know a month in advance when we can set a date for the wedding. This makes catering (already expensive) even more of a challenge. If I where to do a potluck, how would I word it on an invitation? I run the risk of people not bringing anything!

I've read articles online and it seems most people think potlucks are tacky — even my own sister thinks it's too tacky. -Sylvia[/blockquote]

Ok, first thing's first: Yes, a potluck wedding is tacky. Your entire wedding is tacky! So was mine. "Tacky" is a subjective word that can be applied to absolutely anything and everything, from a $500 wedding all the way to a $50,000 wedding. It's all tacky, so let that concern go.

I've featured several potluck weddings on Offbeat Bride — I especially love Kirsten's story, where she explains:

We invited our friends and family to "bring what makes them who they are" to share. We had no idea what our wedding would look like — we were not disappointed. A beautiful and delicious homemade wedding cake just APPEARED OUT OF NOWHERE! Our friends sang, read stories, played music, put on improv performances, made up carnival games, and told each other's families waaaaay too much about the new in laws!

So clearly, a potluck wedding can work beautifully and be an amazing community event that celebrates two families coming together and sharing food, stories, music, and whatever else people chose to bring. I love the idea.

But the issue isn't "is a potluck wedding tacky?" and more "Are you and your fiance's families comfortable enough with the idea to participate fully?" Only you two know your families well enough to know if this is the case. Here are a few questions for you and your fiance to ask yourselves:

  • Did you grow up with family/community potlucks?
  • Do your family members have their signature hot dishes and potato salads and special pies that they love to trot out for community events?
  • Are they foodies who like to cook and bake and share with each other … or do they mostly eat out?
  • Will you guests be traveling far, and will they have access to a kitchen to cook the day before your wedding? If not, can you recommend delis or bakeries where they can grab food to bring? (This one is super important!)

The answers to these questions will be much more valuable to you in deciding whether or not to do a potluck reception than anything I (or anyone else online) could decree about whether or not the idea is tacky.

In terms of invitations, you could try something like: "After our ceremony, we will be celebrating the union of our families by hosting a potluck. Rather than a gift, please bring your favorite signature dish to share." (Note the "rather than a gift" — that's key!)

If you decide a potluck isn't the way to go for your family, I'd suggest hosting a cake & punch reception instead. This goes off the best if you have an early afternoon wedding — people simply don't expect to be fed a full meal at a 2pm reception. This is also easy to message on your invitations … after listing your ceremony information, just note, "Cake and beverages to follow."

For people who believe potlucks are in poor taste, cake & punch is usually seen as the "appropriate" low-budget alternative. If you just don't think your family is going to get into the idea of a potluck, cake & punch may be a good option.

Mostly, remember this: your wedding is about celebrating the commitment you're making to your partner. With your fiance in Afghanistan, this hones the focus even more tightly: this isn't about having a big fancy brouhaha — it's about saying "We're so glad to be alive, so glad to be in love, and so glad you could all be here to share this with us." That's what's important. The rest is just hotdishes and cake.

Want to see some real potluck weddings? Of course you do!

  1. Actually, as a reception gift my cousin (and her family) baked individual mini-apple pies. Pretty cheap AND something people would actually use. Plus, you can make it a day or two ahead of time and not worry about it the day of.

  2. I just got married in May and we had a potluck wedding. We didn't put that in the invitation (which was a postcard) but it was on the website. We didn't ask everyone to bring a dish (no out of towners) just people that we thought would like to do so. they either volunteered or didn't. we asked through email what they would like/or be able to bring. We also ordered entrees from a restaurant (so that even if NO ONE brought anything, there would still be something to eat)and cupcakes for our cake.
    the result was AMAZING!!! there was so so much delicious food! and there was something for EVERYONE. someone brought PB&J sandwiches for the kids, all sorts of salads and pasta's and casseroles and soups and on and on. it was SO fantastic. honestly there was TOO much food! and i think everyone loved it. i don't think anyone thought it was tacky at all (and if they did, they sure didn't say anything to me!).
    I think potlucks are rad. I'm so glad that is the way we went with our wedding. Good luck! 😀

  3. Random lore:

    In old-timey Kentucky, each guest would bring a thin molasses cake to the wedding as a present to the bride and groom. These cakes would be stacked on top of each other as each guest arrived, and so the "finished" cake was a true representation of the bride and groom's entire family and social network in the area.

    This might not be as feasible today, but I think it really gives a sense of what's important in a wedding–and how potluck meals can be a larger symbol for community for a couple. It's also a good reminder that the people who are at your wedding will be those that love you no matter what.

  4. I think a potluck wedding is a really great idea! I found with my wedding that all of my relatives, even the ones I don't get to see so often, and also all of my bridal party were eager and happy to pitch in. Which makes me love them to bits. My MOH is actually getting married in July and doing a "base" barbecue with people making sides to bring. Honestly, the people at your wedding are going to be people who love you both, and who want you to be happy. My guess is they'll be delighted to bring a pasta salad.

    I do think it would be clever to get some sort of count of who is bringing what, though, either through RSVPs or the different names bring different dishes idea. And providing a main "meat" course could help make sure the meal is all filled out. I sure wouldn't worry about tacky, though!

  5. I'm having a potluck wedding next August and I'm so excited. A lot of our friends either work in food or are big geeks about food (or both) and the little potlucks we have throughout the year are always really fun and delicious (and sometimes, just a touch competitive). Of course, no one is required to cook– it's not like we're going to turn away guests who don't have a dish– and I'm not expecting out-of-towners to show up holding Baked Alaskas or anything. We're also leaving space on the RSVPS for people to write in what they're bringing– that way we can fill in any gaps in the menu. Our venue is a camp and we have access to a big commercial kitchen– so there's plenty of fridge and oven space and anyone feeling ambitious can do their cooking on-site, even. And if anyone is finicky about eating food other people prepared, they can just BYODinner. I think if you are someone that needs everything to be just so and can't cope with the unplanned, a potluck might be more stress than fun. We're pretty roll-with-the-punches type folks, and for us, potlucks are just a whole lot of fun.

  6. Thanks for all the suggestion girls 😀 the ideas really do help me out. It's hard to ask my Fiance sometimes, because I can only talk to him when he has time to call, sometimes that is up to weeks at a time! and for Shoshie, funny you should mention kosher, my Marine IS Jewish! We probably won't be doing the ceremony traditionally though….Thanks again ladies!!!!

  7. now why didn't i think of this before i booked the stupid restraunt… oh well… restraunts are nice too…….

  8. We had a potluck wedding, mostly because the alternative was to not invite about 3/4 of the guests! We decided that it was more important to us to have everyone there than to feed them all an expensive meal. So we had the potluck in the park (and everyone brought beautiful food!) and then we supplied some trays of Vietnamese sandwiches and vegetarian fresh rolls (cheap and tasty). This way we didn't have to worry about not having enough food if the out of towners couldn't bring something. We also had a cake so we requested that people bring something to share and mentioned that dessert would be provided (we didn't want to end up with lots of pies and cookies and stuff). We supplied rented champagne glasses and compostable plates, cups, and silverware (compostable plastic gets better and cheaper all the time and some places will ship it to you).

  9. This is an EXCELLENT thread!!! I love how everyone pitches in for a wedding!

    I love the idea of coordinating the containers and labeling the food. And I definitely love the idea of a rounded out meal – I have been to an all dessert wedding but it was much too sweet for me (and the other guests I was chatting with) – by the end of it we were soooo hopped up on sugar and NOT in a good way…. 🙂 I wanted a cheeseburger as soon as I left! ha ha 😀

    I wish I knew how many people you were having at your wedding. We catered a party from a supermarket (Safeway) and it was $350 and we had enough food for about 75 people. They don't need a lot of time to prepare and I was very impressed with how the food turned out. We got chicken trays (strips, wings, & dip), sandwich trays, a veggie tray and a fruit/cheese tray. You could easily add fillers like rolls, crackers, and caesar salad – plus cake of course! Just some random suggestions – I think all of America is on a budget! 😀

    Best wishes for your special day and thank your fiance for his service to our country!

  10. im doing potluck for our wedding,ive bought soda and punch will make like a sandwhich platter with ham and cheese and turkey and cheese and maybe some pb&j,then a tray with dill & sweet pickles and maybe some olives,then a tray with maybe onion,tomato slices and maybe slices of extra cheese.and maybe veggie tray.then i was going to ask local guest to help with potluck which most of them suggested to do anyway.but my wedding will be cosidered way up there on tacky charts.ive bought invitations,some decoration,and all plates and silverware from dollar and 99 cent store.place we rented you have to pay for wedding side(gazebo) and or reception side sepeate or together so we save 250 by renting reception side and doing it in grass on that side.my dress is white on top and black on bottom(like church dress) hes wearing black slacks,white long sleeve shirt my dads(rip) black leather vest and a sude black hat that has lil harley emblems on it that was his brothers(rip)then his dads(rip).oh and did i mention its on halloween ,guest can dress up,wedding party can change after pics are taken.also i bought theses things from peerpetual kid there heas that go on ketchup and mustard bottles .one looks like throwing up and other looks like snot coming out of nose,lol

  11. I was just about to email invitations to family and a few close friends for our wedding which is being held at a family summer residence and thought I should google wedding potlucks to see what others thought about the concept. We are planning on a potluck dinner, voluntary of course and of course considered as their gift to us. We are not doing a potluck because of budget but because of all the weddings we have gone to that were catered and the food was less than acceptable and a lot of money was spent on it….not pretty. I have also watched several of those wedding planner shows…OMG….can't believe people put themselves through so much stress…spending thousands they can't afford!!! That money could be best spent on a down payment for a house or education for their children. Seriously…people gather to help celebrate your love for each other…a potluck is a fabulous idea and takes a lot of stress away from the bride and groom…for whatever reason they choose to do it. Millions of dollars are spent annually on weddings and couples are getting ripped off big time. What is a wedding really about….sharing your commitment and love with family and close friends. Planning a potluck wedding is not tacky if presented in the proper way. I say go for it…the food is always good!!!

  12. Where can you have a potluck wedding? My fiance is an alien and because of his visa I'll only have a month or two notice before our wedding. I expect it will be cold, windy and raining on the day of my event (San Diego winter). We'll have no more than 50 guests. Many venues require you to have a licensed caterer, and 50 people is too many for an in-home celebration. Suggestions?

    • Check out a banquet hall that has a bring your own caterer policy. That way its still inside, but you can make it a potluck. You can also do it in a park and rent a tent that has sides.

    • Lots of places will allow you to self-cater, just ask. Local social halls are great places that often allow this such as the Elks Lodge, VFW, etc. More formal establishments like hotels and fancy banquet halls are less likely to allow it. Also, your city might have places that are run by the parks department that will allow it too (even indoor places).

  13. My parents got married for about $200 back in 1979. Their invitation was handwritten in sharpie then photocopied and read "bring a covered dish and an instrument, potluck and jam session to follow the ceremony". My mom says their friends STILL talk about how much fun they had at the wedding.

    I think a potluck is a find idea, especially (as Ariel mentioned) if your family likes to cook and share meals.

    • my husband and i are foing to repeat our vows after 48 years. not the 50th as we are in poor health. we have decided to do a potluck reception after the ceremony in our backyard which is lovely and also people can change clothes at the cottage if they wish, as our beliefs do not allow acholic beverages, we are moving the reception to a park that ajoins our property, then the guests can drink as they wish, we are going to have potluck and dancing afterward. also all who play an instrument can bring those and singers can sing if they wish. just really casual. also are asking that they bring lawn chairs.

  14. I've actually experienced donating a dish to a potluck wedding… I didn't find it tacky nor was I offended by it. The background story? There was this couple who have lived together for a few years, because they were so poor and couldn't afford to celebrate a wedding at all. But they were reactivated by the church and been encouraged to get married to make things right, so they worked out the legal requirements, but still couldn't afford a reception. Friends wanted to make their wedding feel like a really special occasion, so we agreed to contribute a dish each. There were just 25 guests, but it was fun and memorable and there was even lots of leftover foods afterward.

  15. I had an absolutely no frills wedding reception in a bar. I really wanted to do a potluck, and it sounds like in your situation, it's the best option. Either that, or go to a restaurant. I know too many brides who serve cake & punch made by a catering company because that's all they can afford. I had people coming from miles away who were going to need to eat. In the end, my mother in law caught a whiff of the potluck idea and shot it down. I conceded, but only because she agreed to pay for the catering as a present to us. Otherwise, it would have been potluck!

  16. I've been thinking about having potluck wedding- sort of… In the invite, I will have a question asking "Will you like to assist with the wedding?" For those who check yes, I will ask them to contribute something that is the equivalent of 30 minutes or $10. Mostly, I am hoping I will have enough "contributors" to have them handle the salad course and cake. I am having two celebrations for the cost of about a half of a "normal" one.

  17. As a guest to two weddings already this year, and helping a friend plan another one, I want to be a guest at a wedding, come, enjoy, celebrate, toast, and be able to leave. I don't want to be put to work, stress about having to make enough food for my share plus the friends I know who are coming that can't cook or won't bring anything. So I will spend as much, or likely more than I would have on a gift on cooking food, stay up late after work a few nights for shopping, prep, and cooking, figuring out how to transport the food, and then still have to spend a whole day at the ceremony (worrying about the food) and then start the reception setting up food, praying I don't get my fancy dress dirty. Please let guests be guests and not employees! PS – Cake and Champagne receptions are a great way to go if cost is an issue, even add so appetizers, cheese, bread, and cold cuts from Costco if you want more for pennies..

    • When I planned my wedding, my goal was to throw a party where no one had to do anything except eat, dance, and enjoy themselves. I planned it very carefully and specifically so that none of my guests would have to do anything, down to hiring a couple of theater majors from the local college to assist my day-of coordinator for set-up and break-down. I was very surprised to have a couple of my friends express some hurt that I didn't 'let' them contribute to the wedding. One even said that she felt like I didn't trust her to help me, which broke my heart as nothing could have been further from the truth. If I could change one thing, I would have asked friends what they wanted to do, or if they wanted to contribute anything, letting them know that it was perfectly okay if they didn't want to do anything except show up. I never wanted to assume that anyone would want to do anything (I've heard too many stories of brides being shocked that her friends weren't ecstatic about spending 18 hours making corsages and bouquets and tying 150 tiny ribbon bows on bottles of bubbles the day before the wedding to do that), but in trying not to burden people, I did make some of my friends very sad, which was the only dark part of a very happy, wonderful day.

      In the end, I wound up sending the hired college students home early, as my friends all jumped in and packed everything up for us at the end of the evening before I could even instruct the college students to do anything. Even if my friends were sad, I am still glad I didn't put anyone through any additional fuss or trouble, especially since some of my wedding guests came from across the country. Ultimately, I was just so glad to see everyone and know that everyone wanted to celebrate us and our marriage. I considered my wedding a gift to them to say thank you for all that they had done for me.

  18. My aunt told me about a potluck wedding reception she attended…I had met the bride and groom a couple of times and see how they could pull this off…and said it was really neat because, since it was a WEDDING people made special foods. It wasn't just like a church potluck. I think if you requested, hey, celebrate us with a special dish, it could be amazing.

  19. I don't care what anyone says I think a POT LOCK wedding would be the best way to go!!! I almost thought about doing it myself! NO pressure on what if some people don't like what I/you picked to serve for dinner or dessert! The potluck is budget friendly and you'd have so much more food to choose from! I love the Idea of a Pot Luck Wedding. The only reason why My Fiance and I aren't doing a potluck is because we're getting married out of state.

  20. Some suggestions for Cassandra: church parish hall/meeting area (most have kitchens even), service club hall (Lions, Shriners, Legion), community centre, arena? Just some ideas- hope it helps

  21. My best friends were married last fall, and they had a potluck party at the groom's parents (huge) house. The guest list was quite small, I don't think there were more than 20 people. It worked well for them, and for all of us. Both the bride and Groom are quite shy and were extremely relived not to be surrounded by tons of pomp and circumstance. Everyone ate well and made new friends. After the cake was cut the groom and his friends sat in a dark room playing cards, to relive the anxiety from having so many sets of eyes on him all day. It was wonderful fun and we enjoyed every moment of it. I think that if your guests are people who truly love you and are laid back enough, you could do just about anything, and they would enjoy it.

  22. We're having a potluck reception as well. We're southern, we like southern food, and we have a lot of little old southern ladies in our families who live to cook. Just made sense 🙂

  23. Another idea if you go the RSVP card route, you can make it a recipe card and have people actually give you the recipes for the dishes they bring. Then, not only do you have a wonderful collection of family/friend recipes that you will keep forever, but you can also display them at the wedding for a little extra personal flare! Plus, it would be a good way for people with food sensitivities or dietary restrictions to know what they can actually eat.

  24. My concern with a potluck wedding would be exactly the same as "asking for gifts" — after all, producing food is generally much more effort than buying a gift! So making it clear no gifty-gifts are expected is one way to manage that, making it clear that people should only bring something if they personally feel inspired to is another, and I absolutely love the way cupcakephoraoh handled it by talking to people individually rather than including information on the invite. And the potluck-weddings you ladies have described above sound fabulous!

  25. I think Potluck wedding reception is a greattt idea, especially the way the economy is today!! OMG! If a bride has the money to spend on catering.. great for her. but there are alote more couples today who dont have the money and I am one of them. This is my 3rd marriage and last(Had to go threw some bad apples to get to a great one). I am planning on a potluck for my reception and I am wearing kinda a 50's themed dress(tea length) and my fiance will wear a dress shirt and dress pants. My daughters are wearing cute dresses with small pink flowers and green leaves. Just trying to figure out how to do the Invitations and RSVP's. Anyone got any saggestions?????

  26. My concern is that if you go potluck, then people will use that as an excuse to not get a gift or donate $. They will just bring a big plate of food instead- which is great but doesn't pay for the bills accrued by getting married and taking a few days off. I would also be concerned for sanitation. I have friends that wouldnt mind potluck- but not with strangers or after 'big uncle harry' leans over the table. theres always going to be one gross person.

  27. I was just invited to a "covered dish" reception and the invitation included info identifying where the couple is registered at. Isn't it a bit excessive to not only expect guests to bring their own food and enough to share with other guests AND an additional gift? It seems to border on greedy in my opinion and it makes this wedding seem like a gift gouging opportunity. I am very interested in your opinion.

  28. I love that the women on this site are so realistic. I posted a question about how to best word an invitation to a pot-luck wedding for our 50 closest friends and family members on theknot.com and all I got were brides telling me (not very kindly, I might add) that it was tacky and ridiculous. I love the idea that there are other sane women out there when it comes to wedding planning.

  29. Another idea is to ask for a dish AND the recipe. So the invite could say something like we want to start our life together with the favorite foods of our friends.

    • I like asking for the recipe, but please don't push people for their recipes. I would happily contribute a lot in both time and money to a potluck recpetion. But my best recipes are secret!!

  30. our whole wedding is a collective thing. friends are helping, are the officiants, ..friends are integral for the food, too!

    i'm beyond excited

  31. My fiancé and I are in the same boat – I'm stationed in Alaska, he's stationed in Washington, DC and we're having the wedding in Michigan. We settled on having a small ceremony with just our parents on the waterfront, and then a potluck the following day for everyone else. Neither of us wanted to ask for gifts, so on the invites we said, "Instead of gifts, please bring a dish to pass and all the love, laughter and fun you can supply!" Everyone loves the idea! They aren't pressured to get us a gift, but they still get to contribute in some way.

  32. Nothing wrong with a potluck wedding. Lots of people in the 70s and early 80s did just that! Kept the wedding simple. The money should go more into the MARRIAGE than the wedding.

  33. Also, one pot wonders are great. We are doing a low country boil in Savannah. (Because my mom shot down the pot-luck idea. She firmly believes my entire guest list would go home with food poisoning.) The corn and potatoes are from a roadside stand. The sausage is from a local butcher. The seafood is from local fishermen. And, the best part, we're feeding 100 people for under $300!! If it weren't a May wedding, we would do chili for the same reason.

  34. I LOVE the family/team spirit of potlucks and we would totally have gone down that route, but we have so many allergies through our guests – some of them pretty dangerous – so we felt it was a bit too risky. Instead we are supplying and preparing the food, in a similar style 🙂

  35. We were only engaged 4 months and were still students, didn't have much money so we rented a park and building for the ceremony and party, and we did make it potluck. But everyone was so happy to be there and they brought their best dishes, and deserts, and it was the BEST WEDDING FOOD EVER! SO much fantastic food. You could not get the quality and variety form any catering company ever. I would do it all over again exactly the same.

  36. I was invited to a Potluck Wedding but will be flying hundreds of miles to get there;.What is the proper thing to do, if all I could bring is the tacky deli vegi platter given circumstances of being in a hotel and not much access to gourmet kitchen facilities? If they really expect out of town guests to be also bringing food items, what? Bottle of wine or champagne? Is there a gracious way to handle this. In any case, I intend to drink heavily and early.

    • Elizabeth, these sound like excellent questions for the couple who invited you. There's nothing wrong with asking them for suggestions — they may know of a great bakery where you could pick something up to share, or a local deli that has awesome, easy options for out of town guests.

    • They may just tell you to not bring anything at all, which would be nice. They shouldn't expect out of town guests to contribute since you are already spending money and time traveling to their wedding! I think wine/champagne is a good idea if their venue allows it, or maybe a dessert from a local bakery as Ariel suggested. Perhaps you could also have something delivered from a local business if you won't have a rental car or means to pick up the items.

  37. I think potluck dinners are fine, as long as you do something special for the long distance guests. They didn't travel all that way for nothing. XD

  38. I personally love a pot luck but I want to be really honest and admit that I have declined invitations to pot-luck weddings!
    Unless it is a small tight family wedding it may be a difficult request that won't be loved by all guest. I work a lot of hours have a large family and just might not have time to make something for a wedding and would possible decline the invite! My weekend schedule is sooo tight I may not have time to grab something before the wedding either. So as not to disappoint anyone I have opted out and sent a gift instead!

    Another point to remember is if there is more than 60-75 guest it often does not work well. (I own a wedding design and event planning business, I have seen more bad pot-lucks than good ones) When a pot-luck turns out it is awesome!….. but when it doesn't it is SUPER stressful and you will not find out until right at the reception! It is a wedding and larger quantities of food are required and there will be guest who do not bring dishes or bring very small dishes. I have had to do a last minute food run on more than one occasion.

    That being said I have seen some incredible pot luck weddings too! So if pot luck is the way to go for you keep a few things in mind. Smaller guest list, open communication about food types and quantities (not necessarily on invitation). I usually suggest doing a half and half to make sure it goes off without a hitch. So the couple supplies a basic staple and everyone else brings the extras, such as supply a variety of sandwiches, lasagne, burgers and fixings etc and ask guest to bring side dishes! This way you are guaranteed to have enough food and help ease the budget restraints at the same time!

    BTW love the last comment about considering out of town guest! After all they did travel all that way just for you at their own expense!

  39. Ok something totally new to me as an event coordinator! I have a wedding this summer that is registered with a local bakery and gourmet deli. Instead of gifts they registered for reception food! They even have a registry list!
    The invitation wording was carefully chosen to be polite and leave a "choice" to guest. I really can't wait to start hearing feedback (invitations were just sent out as it is the end of September). This may be an option too!….plus you will at least know ahead of time if there is enough food!

  40. If you ever look up how weddings were held back in the "good ole days", that is how it was originally done. The community came together with dishes of food from the families celebrating the wedding. The gift giving started with the same families bringing items from their own homes to "donate" to the newlyweds so they could start setting up housekeeping in their new home together. So in my opinion, to say it is tacky is just ridiculous. It is traditional, but not tacky.

  41. I think it's a bit too simplistic to just say "oh pot luck is how they did it back in the day, so it's not tacky!! The world has changed quite a bit since then. Many families have two working parents, live far from extended family and no one to watch their children. People are shuffling their kids to soccer, ballet, karate, and a plethora of extra curricular activities. Even a lot of singles are working long hours or two jobs to make ends meet. IMHO, it's quite burdensome to ask your guests to cook a dish to feed your entire guest list. Fair enough if you are providing an option to give a gift in lieu of a dish, but I do think it's not appropriate to expect both. Etiquette exists not to be "stuffy" but to be considerate of others.

  42. I think it's wrong to judge others and say it's tacky. Just because it's not what you want or what you would do, doesn't make it tacky. It just means it's not for you. Especially in this situation where they don't have much options for their time frame. It would be even more wrong to judge them over something they really can't help, you know? I just really dislike saying mean things about people and their wedding choices. If they want a potluck, that's great! I don't see an issue with that at all!

  43. We're having a potluck. We included an insert with the invitations that had a link to a website where guests could sign up to bring something if they wanted to. We made sure to word it so it was clear that bringing a dish was optional. The wedding is less than two weeks away and so far our friends and family seem totally cool with the potluck idea and have signed up to bring all kinds of awesome stuff.

  44. You would not believe how some on line folks attacked me on a forum for having a pot luck reception. It actually made me cry. As a 43 year old woman you would think I wouldn't give a damn about what a bunch of mean girls online say. My friends and family think it's a great idea. Pot lucks are a tradition in the south and we do them up right. We put on the invitations that we ask the guests bring a dish to share in lieu of a gift. We've both got a house full of stuff we're trying to combine into one household and we don't need one more towel 🙂 I think it's a fun idea, gives people a chance to show off their cooking skills and bring their best dishes. There's even a pot luck registry website where I set up a list and folks can log on and list what they're bringing. I'm so glad I saw this…I feel better now 🙂

  45. We just had a potluck BBQ camping wedding a couple weeks ago, and it was so good!! I used PerfectPotluck.com and researched catering sites to see what I should list as needs. I am a vegetarian sober bride, so we provided veggie burgers, a limited signature cocktail and a flavored soda bar. We let guests know that participating in the potluck was a really cool thing to do, but optional (and we also requested no gifts). Meat and booze was BYO. We had plenty of food and drinks for all. If people were traveling far and still wanted to bring things, we checked our list of supplies a day or two before and requested that they grab a couple bags of ice, sliced cheese, napkins, whatever last minute thing we could think of. One thing I will recommend – either hire a day of wedding coordinator or get someone REALLY RESPONSIBLE and AWESOME to be in charge of taking in food, labeling, and setting up.

  46. Here's some wording I came up with. The main text could go on an elegant card or sheet enclosed with the invitation. The response card is a variation on the traditional formal wording.

    One Family, One Table

    On this day we join not just two people in marriage, but two families, together with our dearest friends and loved ones.

    Let us gather at one table and share offerings from our treasured recipes, favorite things from our own traditions of meals shared at special occasions, handed down from one generation to the next, as we reflect with joy and love on those who have shared our table and been a part of our family.

    If (and only if) your circumstances allow, in lieu of a gift we invite you to bring to the reception a dish to share that resonates with your own tradition of favorite hors d’oeuvres, entrées, side dishes, or sweets—home made or store bought—accompanied by a signed 4 x 6 recipe card that will be gratefully incorporated into a Family Recipe Collection for [Bride] and [Groom]. Meats, beverages, condiments, and serving supplies will be provided.

    Lord, we ask your blessing on the food before us,
    the family and friends around us,
    and the love between us.

    ************************************
    ?
    The favour of a reply is requested by August 16.

    M__________________________________________________

    ___ Accepts with pleasure
    ___ Declines with regret

    ___ Number attending

    ___ YES, I think it would be a fun adventure to participate in the potluck reception and I am not concerned about whether or not it’s tacky. No promises, but I would like to bring __________________________________ to serve ____

    ___ NO, I am overwhelmed at the prospect of participating in the potluck reception for logistical and / or other reasons, but I know you love me anyway. And I just might contribute a recipe card …

  47. I am getting married this June . Second for me and first for him. We are in our mid 50's. It will be at a lodge in our hometown park system and all family. About 50. I decided to do potluck because our families always want to bring something and we are in no need for gifts. We will be providing the main course ….wedding cake and all beverages. I am so excited about this and so is my family!

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