Wedding Food Ideas on a Budget

Wedding Food Ideas…

I’m trying to plan a 200-250 person wedding on a small budget and I’m running into a little bit of a problem with the cost of a dinner reception.
Would it be inappropriate to have an evening wedding, say 7:30, with hors d’oeuvres, deserts, and dancing to follow at 8:30?

There’s no problem with having a reception with just hors d’oeuvres and desserts, but you won’t necessarily save much money that way. Preparing hundreds of little bite-size appetizers and displays of other cold food can be just as much work as a buffet dinner.
What you serve is usually determined by the time of the reception, and people will be hungry at 7:30, especially after sitting throught ceremony. This is dinner time and people need to be fed to be happy. If there is alcohol involved, it is even more important to feed people or you will have some seriously drunk guests to deal with.
Here are a few reception food options that can help you cut costs:

  • Have a reception at a different time of day. You can do a simple brunch for a midday wedding or an afternoon tea with little sandwiches, scones, and cookies.
  • Rather than a meal, have a dessert-only reception with candy bar displays, cupcakes, cookies and hot cocoa, make-your-own s’mores, etc. Again, be careful of the time of day. This works best with a very short reception since most people want some real food.
  • Get friends and family to help with the food and do a lot of food that can be made in advance. I’m not crazy about this idea myself, but I have been to a couple events where this was done by close friends. Extremely difficult for the number of people you want to have.
  • Keep the food very simple. The fancier you get, the higher the cost. Wraps, bagels, salads, and sandwich platters cost a lot less than filet mignon – obviously.
  • Stick to wine and soft drinks. Hard liquor costs more.

If you are talking to any caterers, get their input on what they have done before and how to keep the cost within your budget. Of course, you can always cut your guest list down.  It all depends on your priorities. If it is most important to you that all your friends and family are there to celebrate, cut the per person price of food to make it work.
My final bit of advice  is to make it very clear on the invitation what type of reception you are having – brunch, luncheon, afternoon tea, nibbles and treats, or even a picnic or barbecue.
Remember, so long as people are fed decent food and are not hungry it doesn’t really matter that much what you do. In terms of food, the only real disaster is to run out of food, so make sure you have enough!

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