Save money on wedding food and provide a nice experience for your guests! These easy tips will help you plan your wedding menu without breaking the budget!
10 Ways To Save Money On Wedding Food
Planing your wedding menu can be a little bit stressful and very expensive if you’re not careful but it is possible to save money on wedding food and still provide a nice experience for your guests.
- Plan the time of your wedding so that it falls in between meals if possible. That way if your wedding is at 2:00 in the afternoon most people will have eaten lunch and will be leaving the wedding before dinner.
- Don’t worry if you can only afford to serve cake, punch, coffee, mints and nuts at your wedding. Having been a guest at many weddings, I have never given a second thought to what I was served. There is always that one person who will have something negative to say, but if you had had an expensive sit down dinner that person would have had something negative to say about it, too.
- Delegate, delegate, delegate. I could never have pulled off my wedding or my daughter’s wedding if I hadn’t had a lot of help from friends and family. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People love weddings and usually enjoy being a part of one. Pick one person to be in charge of the food, especially for the day of the wedding, and ask others to help you to prepare it.
Inexpensive Wedding Menus:
I will mostly be giving hints for what I call a “finger food buffet”. Finger foods are a good way to save money on wedding food, making a happy medium between just cake and punch and a sit-down dinner. Be sure to pick things that can be prepared in advance to make it easier.
The things I list are just a few ideas of things that you could use for your wedding menu. Some wedding foods will be more expensive than others. Use only what will fit into your budget.
Large platters of fruit with or without dips
- Use in-season fruit that can be prepared ahead of time without turning brown. Strawberries, kiwi, oranges and pineapple work well.
Large platters of veggies with or without dip
- Check out a garnish book at the library to learn how to make them special instead of just making the usual carrot sticks. You can also serve olives, pickles, pickled veggies, etcetera with your veggie platter.
- Sandwiches should be like “tea” sandwiches, with the crusts cut off and cut into shapes like triangles, circles or diamonds.
- Most sandwiches can be made way ahead of time and frozen. Spread each side of the bread with softened butter to prevent it from becoming soggy. This really works great. Wrap well before freezing.
Cheese and Cracker Platter
- Use a variety of cheeses. Once again, these should be cut into shapes like bells, hearts or cubes.
- Use a variety of crackers, too, not only in various shapes (round, square or rectangle), but also different colors.
Cold Cut Platter
- In place of sandwiches, you can have a platter of cold cuts (attractively arranged by rolling them up) and served with a variety of small rolls or breads.
Mints*, nuts or spiced nuts
Additional Wedding Food Tips:
If you want to go one step further than just finger foods, you can add in any number of different types of salads.
Everything you serve should be attractively cut, arranged on platters and garnished. You can buy some very nice silver or crystal like platters at party stores. Don’t forget to plan for decorations for the food table.
This all may seem like a lot of work but remember, you can do a good portion ahead of time, you don’t have to serve everything listed and enlist help. Also you can cut corners in some areas. For example I will be giving you a recipe for wedding mints to make but if you don’t have time for those, just substitute some of those pastel party mints that you can buy. In the same way if you don’t want the work of “tea” sandwiches, just have a cold cut platter.
Try this yummy Molded Party Mints Recipe!
Here are some tips to save on the cake. Find someone who bakes and decorates cakes at home. They will cheaper than the fancy bakery. Cakes ordered from your local supermarket or club store would be cheaper than a specialty bakery. Save more, by only ordering a small “wedding” style cake for the pictures and to have a top layer for the bride and groom, and ordering sheet cakes to serve the guests.
The simpler the cake the less expensive it is.The more elaborate the decorating the more the cakes cost. I have seen so many very plain and simple wedding cakes but have a beautiful elegant feel to them. Have a plain white cake made then you or a family member can tuck in a few fresh flowers here and there on it. Instant wedding cake.
I made my “wedding cake” from styrofoam blocks and Royal icing. Then we just purchased ordinary fruitcake, cut and wrapped it to give out to guests. So much of this stuff is just for show and do people really care or remember? Nothing wrong with the finger foods idea. It’s so crazy that couples will spend their down payment on a modest home on the big venue and fancy clothes
Purchase bulk fresh flowers at Costco, Sam’s or your local grocer, to arrange at home, if you know how. Order the type and color of flowers in advance. Check your local craft store for classes on making bouquets and corsages. Do not make your own corsages for the wedding unless you know how, they are not easy for a beginner.
For a simple bouquet gather flowers in bunches, bind with floral tape, and tie with a ribbon. Floral tape can be tricky for first time users, so practice in advance. Don’t expect to make more detailed bouquets if you don’t have experience. Keep it simple!
Silk flowers can be arranged well in advance, so you aren’t rushed at the last minute. They can also be re-arranged if they don’t come out right the first time. Good quality silks are more expensive than fresh flowers. But they can be taken apart after the wedding and re-used to make a beautiful centerpiece, wreath, or wall swag for your home.
If you can’t do your own flowers, most supermarket floral depts. do beautiful work for much less than a flower shop.
If you want flowers to decorate, use potted blooming plants at the church and then take to the reception. You will get more bang for your buck than with floral arrangements. Purchase them inexpensively at a plant nursery or home center. Wrap with pretty foil, and tie a bow around them. Reuse in your home or yard after the wedding, or give as gifts to friends who helped with the wedding.
Check out local horticulture schools. Tawra’s did all of her flowers for almost nothing just so they could have the practice.
My sister did my wedding cake…or I should say cakes. She is good at that type of thing and wanted to take care of that as her wedding gift to us.
She did a small, round cake just for us. She used white cake and decorator white frosting and did a simple burgundy piping and used rose petals to decorate.
For the cake for the guests, she did a sheet cake and used marble cake (white and chocolate) with decorator white frosting and again used a simple burgundy piping and rose petals. On the sheet cake, she also wrote congratulations and our names.
The cakes looked really simple and elegant. We got married in January and used white, black and burgundy as our colors. Almost all of our guests comments on how nice the cakes looked. Several of the guests commented on how good the marble cake tasted and said it was the best wedding cake they ever had.
I know my sister put her time into it but otherwise it was really inexpensive for her. It saved us a lot of money. It also meant more than any other cake we could have got because my sister made it. I took pictures of the cakes and will always remember!
Our food for the reception was really good and didn’t cost a lot. We had a small, simple wedding and reception so we kept our food simple.
We had several family members helping us. My mom makes great baked beans, cole slaw and fruit salad. She made those things for us as her wedding gift to us. My husband and I bought shredded bbq pork at Sam’s Club. It was frozen and we thawed it out the night before and put it in a crockpot the morning of the wedding. My husband’s grandma made a roast and shredded beef for sandwiches (not bbq). We bought several different types of buns and chips. We had a variety of soft drinks, nuts and pastel mints and of course the cake.
Great food and very little expense!
Grizzly Bear Mom
My girlfriend is weatlhy and feared people wouldn’t come to her wedding because they couldn’t afford a gift. Instead she invited the whole church, rented a fire hall, bought paper plates and disposable cuttlery and asked us all to bring a dish instead of a gift. Worked like a charm, and we all got something we liked to eat.
My husband and I got married in the morning and had a brunch buffet reception after. I made 3 kinds of quiche, homemade smoked salmon, bagels, cream cheese,deviled eggs, banana bread,strawberry bread and blueberry bread, fruit tray and vegetable tray, seafood pasta salad, homemade chicken and apple sausage, juice, coffee and sparkling apple juice for our toast. Our cakes were a white cake and chocolate cake from Costco. We had disposable cameras around so our guests were our photographers! We had beautiful hand tied bouquets, boutonnieres and corsages from the grocery store. We also had potted plants for decorations. Our wedding was at my parents house. They had a beautifully landscaped 1/3 acre back yard and it was free. We put up canopies to shade the tables including the food tables. We had a beautiful wedding and fun reception,one my husband and I could afford with no debt at the end of the day.
We had our wedding on Thanksgiving morning, at the home of hubby’s aunt, who always hosted Thanksgiving dinner. She was friends with the mayor, who officiated and refused to accept a gratuity. TG dinner served as our reception. I added a cake that I made. Cousins took photos. My dress was off the clearance rack at half the price I had budgeted. Instead of a veil, I wore a comb with silk flowers and pearls. I already had a lovely pair of silver sandals. Instead of a bouquet, I carried an heirloom fan. I didn’t need to toss one, because every female over the age of 9 was already married. The only flowers I bought were 4 corsages, a boutonniere, and a centerpiece for the table. My 2 bridesmaids, the groom, and the best man wore clothes they already owned. His parents gave us the rings. We’re still married, over 30 years later. A close friend spent $30,000 on a fancy dancy wedding at about the same time (mostly to immpress his snob family) and her marriage lasted 5 months.
My family has catered special events for years and years (close to 40). We do not have a shop nor do we advertise, but have received our referrals by word of mouth. We do usually cater 3 or 4 weddings a year, a couple of anniversaries, and several banquets. We are just down to earth people and people appreciate that. We have done everything thing from 4 course meals served on china and crystal to just punch and snacks. My best advice for folks looking to cut costs is set a menu and stick to it. If you want to do simple snacks buffet style, shop your vegetables and fruit that are in season cut into shapes (as suggested above). If you want something a little different that is on the cheap, go to the Sam’s Clubs or Costco’s or whatever is available. Head to the frozen food isle and check out the frozen meatballs. You can do those several ways and they are cheap. The 2 we do that are most requested are to cook the meatballs in brown gravy. You can add a jar of cut up mushrooms. We also make BBQ meatballs by taking the frozen meatballs and mixing your favorite BBQ sauce and a small jar of grape jelly together. Both are cooked in crockpots, so you fix it and forget it. Also found in the frozen section and are very reasonable are mini quiche. Pop them in the oven for a few minutes then they keep very well in a crockpot (with the lid cocked sideways so they don’t hold steam). Another cheap item that people love are chips. That may seem too simple, but they are always the 1st thing to go empty. We did a wedding this spring for a couple that wanted a chip and dip bar in addition to some mini sandwiches. We had cheese balls, wavy chips, plain chips, flavored chips, and tortilla chips. We had nice big bowls of salsa, ranch dip, and French onion dip. One last item to keep on your radar. If you are doing a food buffet and you want a potato casserole, look at Sam’s club for freeze dried shredded potatoes. They are outstanding! Plus you don’t need freezer space to keep them. Measure out what you need, put it in a roaster, add some boiling water, cover, wait a few minutes and you have ready to go hot shredded potatoes ready to mix with the rest of the ingredients for cheesy potato casserole. The cooking time is cut by 1/2 because the hashbrowns are not frozen, but rather soft, hot and are ready to go.
Not a wedding food trick, but a cheap wedding trick: We invited all of our friends to church and got married on Sunday morning during our church service. We posted the date in the church bulletin and didn’t have to send out many invitations. We had homemade cake (I decorated it with ribbons that matched my dress) and punch. We had a friend take pictures with a disposable camera and used gift cards to pay for the processing/developing. It was great!
Another great tips on how to save your money while wedding planning! Food is usually the biggest part of expenses, so to learn how to minimise your expenses is a great idea! Will definitely bookmark it for future, thanks!
Quite a few years ago, ham sandwiches/potato salad/jello for summer and ham/scalloped potatoes for winter was the norm for the meal. Then you had to have two choices for dinner meats and then three. It’s a wedding reception, not a restaurant. Keep the menu simple and do it well and have it look bountiful. Nothing worse than a skimpy looking expensive meal….everyone knows that you couldn’t afford it!
I belonged to a club that rented out a reception hall. Best cake? A small decorated one for pictures. They then baked cupcakes that were simply frosted with a swirl tip in white frosting. Cake mixes are ….what? $1.50 and they make 24 cupcakes? Cheap and easy…and frankly no one cares whether their piece of cake is square or round.
The best table centerpieces? The couple liked the beach and there was a framed picture on each table of depicting themselves and places they loved over their courtship. Add a couple votives and some seashells sprinkled. Done.
I now work for a wholesale floral warehouse. We can ship you any, and I mean any, flower you want at any time of the year. Worldwide and Fed Ex. What I most hear from the designers? Gals that come in with a bridal magazine and want THAT bouquet. Some of those featured bouquets are $5-700. Come up with a color scheme, budget and go talk to a florist. Don’t get set on something that is out of your means. There are also lots of folks that do flowers out of their home. They will be much less pricey than shops. We have silks too, but you are correct they are sometimes much more expensive than fresh. Occasionally, you can slip in some fake ones to help the price point of the fresh that are out of season.
Everyone seems to think they have to one up the last. I’m much more impressed with simple celebrations that show the couple has common sense.
Yes very good advice. One thing I might add that I did for my wedding flowers to keep the cost down was I loved gardenias and was having a winter wedding back before you could get flowers from anywhere or anytime, so I had a bouquet with only a couple of my favorite flower in it and the rest had less expensive. You could even do something like use your favorite in the grooms boutonniere.