There’s no doubt about it, hosting a wedding is stressful and expensive. One of the major issues with weddings is trying to figure out what you want to serve for the reception meal. Catering can be incredibly pricey, especially when you’re looking at serving traditional foods like seafood, pricey cuts of beef and the numerous side dishes, appetizers and drinks. Luckily, there’s a few alternatives that won’t just help your budget out but will also allow you to put a little bit of your personality into your wedding meal. So, don’t stress about the size of the cake or printing our chicken or beef tickets just yet, as you may soon want to change your mind about what you’re going to serve after reading these cheaper suggestions.
1. Skip the Cake
Hands down, the wedding cake can be one of the most expensive items on the menu. Not to mention, it takes a long time to plan out. Then, there’s always the stress of the cake being dropped or bumped into before you can even cut into it. You can really end the pain of the wedding cake blues by skipping this tradition altogether. A great alternative is to order cupcakes instead. With these, you can have a variety of flavors to appease a larger crowd. Plus, you can arrange them in such a way that people will forget all about the wedding cake. If you still long to have a touch of tradition, you might consider having an anniversary cake made for you to cut into and freeze for your first anniversary. This will help you feel like you’ve followed the reception rules, while still allowing you to save a whole lot of money and stress.
2. Pasta Buffet
If there’s one food that is absolutely filling that costs next to nothing to make, it’s pasta. You can spice up your reception meal by setting up a pasta bar for everyone enjoy. You can use all sorts of pastas to make the meal easy to customize. Even large portions of pasta won’t take away from your budget too much. Of course, you might have to spend a little more money on the sauces and accessories like meatballs, breads and salads. However, even this splurge won’t compare to the high price of hiring a caterer for traditional wedding foods. The best thing about this is sauces can be made in bulk at home the day before and pasta can be whipped up just before the reception begins. This food caters to a wide variety of people too, so complaining will be minimal.
3. Taco Bar
Spice your reception up with a taco bar for the meal plan. This can add so much fun to the day. Plus, taco bars will help people unwind from the formal occasion, so they will be more willing to loosen up and have a good time at the reception. Taco bars can be executed fairly cheaply when you look at the cost of food per person. It also allows you to appeal to a greater audience. You can have beef, chicken, fish and even vegetarian or vegan options. If you need to hire a caterer, you still can save big on the event. Usually, local caterers can offer you a reasonable price per head, opposed to the price you would pay for traditional foods. The best thing is tacos are entirely portable too. So, people will be able to mingle while enjoying their food.
4. Snow Cones
If you’re having a short reception or even one later in the evening, then you can easily get away with snow cones as your food of choice. These are an amazing choice in the summer time and will add some fun to the reception. You can easily set up an ice station for next to nothing, which will certainly make this food option a frugal choice you’ll love. Apart from that, you can make your own juices to go along with the treat. You won’t need more than a few pitchers to take care of this requirement, which can be fulfilled for less than a couple of dollars if you use powdered drink mixes. Apart from that, you can rent or even buy an ice shaver to make the snow cones without breaking your budget. You will be surprised how happy your guests will be with this unusual food option.
5. Grilled Cheese
Make life even simpler for yourself when you serve grilled cheese as your main dish. These sandwiches will go over great with most people as they are the perfect comfort food. You can really mix things up with a grilled cheese too. For instance, having a variety of breads and cheeses will allow everyone to satisfy their taste buds. You might want to bring in a vegan options too for those that can’t handle lactose or have animal products. Apart from this, you should have a variety of condiments to enhance the flavor of the sandwich. As far as sides are considered, you can easily enjoy light soups or chips.
One of the easiest meals to plan and cook for is actually breakfast. This cheap meal can help add a quaint touch to your wedding, which everyone will love. If you’re planning a rustic or western theme then this is a great option for you, but it will also work on any wedding you plan. Keep things simple by whipping up scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages and biscuits and gravy. These foods are all filling and will cost a whole lot less than you’d pay for a caterer. You can have your family help out with this meal too, as people can work on griddles to heat up the breakfast meats and eggs. If you’re looking to make things even more exciting, then set up a waffle or pancake bar. People will love adding fruits, whipped cream and a variety of syrups to their favorite breakfast foods.
If you want to appease most people at your reception then pizza is a quick, easy and delicious option. You can easily set up a pizza buffet to make life a lot easier during your reception. You might consider renting a pizza oven or using a large wood grill to help make your dish up in a hurry. If you’re willing to do the work for yourself then make and roll up your dough in advance. This will allow your helpers to toss on toppings and put it in the oven on the day of the big occasion. You can make pizzas that suit all of your guests too. Making your own pizza isn’t pricey either, especially when you break down the ingredients. Of course, if you want to cater the meal then you can get exceptional deals from local pizza places, which can save you big time. Make sure to let a shop know well in advance if you have a huge order coming up.
8. Baked Potatoes
One of the cheapest options around is baked potatoes. This can be a filling meal that will allow everyone to enjoy their own personal preferences with very little complaint. This is one of the easiest food options to execute on your own too. All you need to do is wash a bunch of potatoes, wrap them in foil and let them cook. You can even have someone begin this process the morning of the wedding and store them in the oven until it is time to serve them. Of course, you will definitely need things to go on the potato too. You will want to grab butter, sour cream, cheese, chives, chili, broccoli, bacon and anything else that comes to mind. People can decorate their own potato, which will save you even more time.
9. Smores Buffet
When it comes to desserts, you’ll be excited to share smores with the ones you love. This dessert is another great option for rustic, western or even nature inspired weddings. Smores are very cheap to make and will allow everyone to have more control over the desserts they are eating. You can set out a simple smores bar with a variety of different cookies, chocolates, flavored marshmallows and even some fillings. People will love trying different mixtures, which can be used as an activity as well as a dessert. Of course, you might design your smores bar so that children don’t have access to the flame used for the foods. Apart from that, the buffet is a simple and easy option for frugal budgets.
10. Finger Foods
Of course, finger foods are also one of the best options for a reception. This will show people you’re not really providing them with a full meal, so people will eat a lot less. Finger foods are perfect for afternoon weddings as they give everyone a chance to eat lunch after all of the fun is over. The first thing to consider is mini sandwiches, which can be made by hand before the party. You don’t have to get too fancy here, especially on a tight budget. Vegetable and fruit platters are also a simple option and will let everyone feel healthier at your gathering. Apart from that, you might consider mini corndogs, pretzel bites and other simple foods to eat with your hands. You can also make tiny desserts like cheesecake bites, fudge and other simple but delicious options.
Weddings are incredibly stressful when it comes to getting exactly what you want for less. Food is one area that you might not want to stress over as much. These ten ideas will help you keep the cost of your food budget down while satisfying your guests. So, have a little fun with the big day by taking pressure off yourself to serve foods that tradition says you should. Instead, embrace your personality and own personal preferences to offer an out of the box solution to your food needs.