Focus on Love, Not on Finances: Wedding Reception Food on a Budget

Between the dress, flowers, booking the venue, and music, weddings are already expensive. Add to that the price of having to feed a large group of people and the cost gets even higher. Before you start budgeting your retirement money to pay for a wedding now, don’t worry! There are several things you can do to lower the price of food and drink at your reception.


There are options your guests will love that won’t break your bank. When reflecting back on the event guests won’t be talking about what was served, rather they’ll remember how great it tasted.

Having a buffet is a great way to lower the cost. You won’t have to pay per person and your guests will be able to choose what they want to eat. Also, because you won’t have a set menu, you will have the opportunity to incorporate some of your favorite dishes into the buffet. Foods like vegetable trays, sandwich trays, and cold cuts are all inexpensive options.

Serving comfort foods at your reception is another fun way to lower the cost. Foods like barbecue, mashed potatoes, and macaroni-n-cheese are all relatively cost-efficient and can liven up the party. This tip works best if you are having a summer wedding or hosting a wedding in the South.

If you want a creative idea, try serving appetizers only. Guests can fill up on these little finger foods and they have the ability to eat and dance at the same time.


Food isn’t the only part of the meal that is important to a reception. Drinks serve several purposes at a party; from making the toast to washing down your meal. There are ways to trim some of your expenses here too.

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Instead of having an open bar, opt for beer and wine instead. Many guests will enjoy one or the other and not even notice they don’t have the liquor option.

Who says you need champagne to have a toast? If you skip the champagne and let the guests toast with whatever is in their glasses, you can save a good bit of money. It isn’t what they’re drinking that’s important, it’s that they all came out to celebrate with you.

Developing a signature cocktail is a creative way to express yourself and cut costs. With signature drinks you can limit the alcohol used to more cost-efficient options.


The cake is often seen as the heart and soul of the party, but there are ways to limit the expenses paid on this decadent dessert.

Instead of having a cake, have a tower of cupcakes. They can be decorated as beautifully as a traditional cake, but they are ready right away for serving. Each guest receives the same portion size and it’s an overall fun way to serve dessert.

Get your cake at a local grocery store instead of a wedding cake boutique. They often taste just as good, but can cost several hundred dollars instead of several thousand.

You can have a smaller cake with mostly fake layers and then behind the scenes, cut up a sheet cake to serve to your guests. It will taste delicious, but won’t have the same cost associated with it as a grand scale, tiered wedding cake.

Whether you are a wedding planner or planning your own wedding, there is no reason to scrimp on elegance to stay within a budget. The most important thing your guests take home from the wedding isn’t leftovers: it’s memories.

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