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51 Wedding Food & Drinks Ideas on Budget in 2023

He proposed, and you said yes! As your big day approaches, you realize how expensive it is to plan a wedding. You just got the cost of food and drinks, which is outrageous! You know you are on a budget, so you are looking for wedding food ideas that would be cheap but also glamorous.

I faced the same dilemma just before my wedding. I wanted a bunch of colorful, tasty foods and drinks (of course, my dreams weren’t on a budget) on my big day. However, when I faced the cost of this dream, I honestly believed it was time to give up on my fairy tale.

But then I reconnected with an old friend who is an event planner (always and forever grateful, Steph!), and she shared some cheap wedding food ideas with me. I was shocked and amazed at the same time.

These ideas worked, and as a foodie, they were amazing, considering that I was on a budget.

Stay with me through this article as I share some fabulous wedding food ideas because, even on a budget, you can still get your dream wedding.

Table of contents

Wedding food ideas for small budgets

#1. Baked Potato Bar

baked potato bar is a buffet of baked potatoes and toppings. You can get creative with the toppings; however, I prefer salsa, black beans, and cheddar cheese for a Mexican-flavored potato. This food is a cheap wedding catering idea if you are on a budget.

#2. Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches 

A hot roast beef sandwich is an easy and affordable wedding food idea that works every time. All you need for this is a chuck roast, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and bread slices. You can decide to also serve it with salad or chips.

#3. Cracker, Cheese, and Fruit Tray

When it comes to stress-free, affordable entertaining, there is nothing easier than a cracker, cheese, and fruit tray. It differs by season, but it is always wonderful for wedding celebrations.

To make this wedding food idea more affordable, buy the cheese in bulk and slice it yourself – pre-sliced cheese is expensive.

#4. Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are a straightforward and cheap appetizer to prepare. With $20, you can serve about 72 wedding guests deviled egg halves. All you’d need is mayonnaise, eggs, vinegar, mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper.

#5. Cheese Star

The cheese star is perfect for Christmas weddings as it could symbolize the star. You only need bars of firm cheese cut into blocks, fresh bay leaves, roasted nuts, mixed olives or grape tomatoes, and fresh sage leaves.

#6. Grape Skewers

Almost anything can be put in a stick, and grapes are no exception. This cheap wedding food idea is accessible to the eye, transport, and colorful.

#7. Cake And Punch Bar

The cake and punch bar is only sometimes interpreted as the name suggests. Consequently, you can always switch to different drinks and healthier snacks. It can be served just after the ceremony before the reception while your guests are mingling.

#8. Bagel Extravaganza

Doughnuts and bagels have been served in various exciting ways. First, in paper bags, then boxes, then walls! Look at this cute, very affordable wedding food idea for your reception. In addition to making serving easier, it is also tidy and adds a specific architectural interest to your table.

#9. Bacon Bar

There are several types of bacon out there – Canadian bacon, bacon on a stick, applewood-smoked bacon, and many more. Let your guests have a taste of this affordable wedding food idea. However, don’t forget to offer a vegetarian alternative kept from the meat.

#10. Pierced Donut Holes

If grapes can be skewered, why not donut holes? You can serve your guests a bunch skewered on a stick. You can always mix it up by alternating it with fruits. It’s one of the numerous fantastic wedding food ideas if you are on a budget.

#11. Waffle Popsicles

Although they are tasty, they are not portable, except the kind that comes from the toaster – or this fantastic idea. Place the popsicle stick through the waffle with a delicious topping like a cup of syrup. This way, your guests can now pass it around.

#12. Mini Pancake Towers

This is another creative way to serve a mini pancake. Alternate pancake, Nutella, strawberry, and whipped cream, or you can create a more creative mix. Similar to a cake with different layers of sweet flavors, this mini pancake tower is one of the affordable wedding food ideas if you are on a budget.

#13. Fresh Fruit Platter With Wheat Or Bran Muffins

In all your wedding catering ideas, the fresh fruit platter with wheat or bran muffins is a sound choice if you are on a budget. In addition to offering immense health benefits, they are also very affordable.

#14. Macaroon Carriage

Macaroons are delightful pieces of goodness – well-made ones, though. Nevertheless, there is a way to make them look extra special. Serve them individually in a small gold carriage made from wire.

#15. Smoothie Or Juice Bar

Make plenty of fruit, spices, and veggies available, along with different types of milk and yogurt. This will allow the guests to choose their smoothies. Vanilla or caramel syrup will also be a great addition.

#16. Pretzel Station

Pretzel stations are one of the hottest wedding catering ideas if you are on a budget. This fun station allows guests to choose a pretzel and use their preferred topping.

#17. Booze-Free Cocktail Bar

Your wedding catering ideas should include the needs of different guests. With the growing health awareness, more people are going for alcohol-free drinks. Consequently, virgin cocktails are becoming the new big thing. Give your guests the thrill of having a cocktail void of hangovers.

#18. Tacos And Mini Margaritas

Your guests will surely appreciate these as they are usually so cute. It is a delightful and affordable wedding food idea if you are on a budget. Don’t be surprised if they take those adorable margarita bottles home with them.

#19. Portable Shrimp And Grits

Shrimp and grits are classic dishes popular in the American southeast made from starchy corn, milk, butter, cheese, and shrimp for that fresh seafood flavor. You can be more creative with the ingredients – with or without tomatoes, wine, sausage, or bacon.

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#20. Sushi Rainbow

A delicious sushi roll that marries the flavors of yellowtail jackfish, yellowfin tuna, and salmon, with sous-vide cooked ‘butterfly’ prawns and avocado, will make your guests forever grateful. The sushi rainbow shows off its colors in appealing designs.

#21. Champagne Jelly Cubes

These tipsy bites give a quick dessert taste with fresh fruit, champagne, and a pleasant feel. An oversized spoon or a glass cup is the perfect utensil for this grown-up treat.

#22. Crème Brulee Shooters

These bites are fashionable and flavorful. With only egg yolks, castor sugar, double cream, vanilla extract, and icing sugar or crushed honeycomb, you can make this fantastic wedding idea a reality. They’re just enough richness to top off a meal without being too much.

#23. Donut Wall

I’d earlier mentioned the donut wall in this list; well, here it is. It’s also affordable wedding food if you’re on a budget. It has now been adopted at several weddings; however, if you are unaware of this trend, it’s a thing!

It is not only an affordable wedding food idea but also very captivating.

 #24. Salads On The Go

Salads are an excellent addition to your wedding catering ideas, especially if you are on a budget. However, the major problem with salads was that they weren’t portable – until now. With the idea of serving it in a plastic cup, you can serve salads and not have to do the dishes afterward.

#25. Shave Ice

 Do you want a classy first-rate dessert bar at your wedding? Then the perfect solution is shaved ice! Shave ice, or Hawaiian shave ice is an ice-based dessert made by shaving a block of ice to the desired consistency and then pouring syrups, condensed milk, or any of your preferred toppings.

You can allow your guests to choose their toppings themselves.

#26. Strawberry Roses

These edible roses are made out of strawberries. The deep jewel color of the strawberry makes it a very appealing and affordable wedding food idea.

#27. Egg-Cups-Or-Walking-Quiche

This is perfect for a wedding ceremony made using eggs, heavy cream, cheese, flour, salt, pepper, bacon, and fresh chives. They can be served right out of the oven or at room temperature; either way, they’re still little bites of bliss.

#28. Spaghetti and Meatball Twirled Appetizers.

Satisfying, fun, and easy to eat (when you serve them on forks). Also, you can apply this idea to any other combination of cheap wedding foods you’d like to make bite-size. 

#29. BBQ

This is perfect for the summer months. You provide burgers, hot dogs, or other shredded meat of choice, plus buns and other condiments. And you can have your guests bring a side, drink, or dessert to share.

#30. Sparkling Italian Wines

Although champagne can be pretty pricey, it is preferred for making toast. If your wedding catering is on a budget, but you insist on something bubbly for your toast, I’d suggest sparkling Italian wines like Franciacorta.

It is just as bubbly and a lot more affordable.

#31. Serving Soda

When I want to serve something other than water, I often go for a soda. However, it would be wise to buy a case of water bottles or serve the soda in a can. That way, you don’t have to worry about spills and cups.

#32. Water

Rather than serving fancy, expensive drinks, give your water a face-lift! Slice up fruit in your water pitcher to make flavored water – always go for a cute pitcher. Dress it up with fancy ice cubes. All these are easy ideas to serve a nice drink with wedding food if you are on a budget.

#33. French Toast Sticks

Cut your French toast into uniformed sticks, put them in a colorful cup, and sprinkle your work of art with cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar. It is not only a very cheap wedding food idea but also a winner in these events.

#34. Fried Ramen Noodles

It is easy to prepare, tasty, and a fantastic food idea for a wedding on a budget. Ramen noodles only require a few ingredients and take a little time to prepare. Fix this meal, and your guests will thank you.

#35. Banana Bread In A Jar

I’m a massive fan of banana bread. There will always be various ways to be creative with it. The banana bread in a jar is one of many others. It is budget-friendly and easy to prepare.

#36. Macaroni And Cheese

These are the little morsels of heaven everyone will be fighting for. Crisp on the outside yet so soft, creamy, and cheesy on the inside. You only need salt, macaroni, milk, salted butter, flour, mustard powder, oil, panko, and eggs. There is no need for spoons with this mac dish!!

#37. Oatmeal Creme Pie

Oatmeal cookies are super soft, large, and delicate. They are full of brown sugar, molasses, and butter. The cookies melt in your mouth. You can sandwich them between a bright white vanilla creme center. 

#38. Grilled Cheese Bar

People like different add-ons to their grilled cheese. Some want tomato, others avocado slices or mushrooms. You can let your guests have it with a grilled cheese bar.

#39. Berry Banana Snake

This creative creature is a colorful, tasty, affordable wedding food idea if you are on a budget. You alternate between a slice of strawberry and a piece of banana, beginning and finishing with a strawberry.

#40. After Meal Mints

Chocolate mints are usually taken after a meal. They can be crushed into the water for a beverage or added to coffee or tea. But what if you go a lot more natural? You can dip the mint leaves in chocolate and serve. This way, the guests can chew on them.

#41. Fruity Iced Tea And Water

This is the perfect drink for wedding food ideas. This delightful beverage looks not only pleasing but also tastes delicious. 

Add tea, herbs, and water, and serve in a mason jar. Lemonade, other drinks, and wine can also be made in this jar.

#42. Caprese Bugs

These adorable bugs are the only kind of bugs gladly welcomed in any event. Caprese Appetizers are a fun way to serve everyone’s favorite – tomatoes and mozzarella; in single bite-sized deliciousness. 

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There’s no cooking or baking involved, and it can serve as an idea for a side dish or appetizer at your wedding.

#43. Waffle Bar

You can fix a waffle bar at your event and let your guests choose their preferred toppings, like syrup, fruit or yogurt, whipped cream, or ice cream. You can also offer different batters like blueberry, chocolate, and banana. This is a choice wedding catering idea if you are on a budget.

#44. Coffee Bar

This idea is straightforward and affordable. Just have a few flavors of coffee and add-ins like different flavored sugars, creams, and some adult beverages. Let your guests mix up their favorite coffee concoctions. Don’t leave out the ice and snacks that go well with coffee – cupcakes, bagels, and donuts.

#45. Rainbow Smoothie

Whether your wedding guests love to eat healthy with several veggies and fruits or not, rainbow smoothies are one of the best catering ideas if you are on a budget.

In addition to its fun look, it offers an exceptional layered taste and is a great way to show your guests new fruits they may not have tasted before and in a suitable format. Remember to use biodegradable straws or a great metal straw gift bag item!

#46. Yogurt Bar

A yogurt bar is a great wedding food idea because it allows your guests to customize their parfait — and they get to keep mingling while they fix their plates.

There are a variety of toppings for your yogurt bar, like plain nonfat yogurt, honey, fresh fruit jam, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, mini dark chocolate chips, granola, and fresh fruits like strawberries, kiwi, bananas, and raisins.

#47. Bánh Mì

Bánh mì is the Vietnamese word for wheat bread. It is usually short with a thin, crisp crust and a soft and airy texture. It is often split longitudinally and filled with several savory ingredients like meats and vegetables and chili and mayonnaise.

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#48. Mini Crab Cakes with Lime Chive Mayonnaise

Mini crab cakes make excellent, remarkable party food. You can also make them more significant as a special lunch at your wedding brunch.

Either way, you will have a definite winner if you offer your guests these delicate morsels. It is a fantastic wedding food idea served as hors d’oeuvres or as a starter course for that special occasion dinner.

#49. Wassail Punch

Wassail is a juice warmed with spices – often a mixture of orange and apple juice spiced with cinnamon, clove, allspice, and nutmeg. These are served at wedding celebrations and are a way of wishing for good health. This goes well with good wedding food ideas on a budget. 

#50. Apple Cider Mimosas

Apple Cider Mimosas are a great way to toast any occasion. It’s the perfect cocktail for a wedding celebration or brunch. You can also make it kid-friendly by replacing the champagne with sparkling white grape juice. Garnish the glass with a cinnamon-sugar rim and an apple slice.

#51. Spring Buzz

Perfect for those warmer nights when you want something refreshing and calming. Made from Whiskey, elderflower liqueur, chamomile tea (freshly steeped and cooled), honey, and lemon juice. It is a perfect combination of excellent wedding food ideas on a budget.

Tips To Reduce Wedding Food And Drinks Costs

These all-purpose ideas may not directly involve food, but they would help to reduce the wedding cost, especially if you are on a budget.

#1. Trim Your Guest List

This may be tough because you may have to omit some friends and family. However, there is no way around it. More guests equal more mouths to feed and more drinks to pour.

The first and best to start watching your budget is by trimming your guest list to very close family, friends, and well-wishers.

#2. Consider Electronic Invites

You can eliminate the cost of postage by sending electronic wedding invitations to your attendees. A simple email with a link to your wedding website will suffice.

This is a sound idea if you plan a cheap, eco-friendly wedding.

#3. Borrow A Friend’s Car As Transport

Your transportation from the house to the wedding venue or from the ceremony to the reception venue can be covered by a friend. 

You don’t have to hire vehicles or chauffeurs. Your friends could even be happy to drive you.

You would have to decorate the car. Think wildflowers and colorful ribbons! 

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#4. Eliminate Venues That Require In House Catering

This is a significant way to reduce the cost of your wedding celebration. You would need to call the venues you are considering and ask if they allow outside food. If they insist on in-house catering, strike them off your list.

#5. Research Ingredient Costs Ahead Of Time

Finding out the costs of the ingredient beforehand is very advisable. The prices of various items like fish, vegetables, meat, other condiments, and standard sides.

The more information you have, the better equipped you will be to negotiate the price per-serving costs. This will also help you swap out costly items for cheaper alternatives.

If you are building your menu from scratch rather than choosing from an already prepared list from your caterer, this is a wise wedding idea.

#6. Rent Plates In Smaller Sizes

When you leave guests to their devices, they almost always maximize plate space irrespective of the plate size.

A smaller plate size might subconsciously discourage them from wasting or taking too much of your carefully planned dishes.

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This is a crucial catering idea for a wedding on a budget.

#7. Write Your Menu On A Mirror

Rather than printing cards, you can write your menu for food, drinks, or both on an old vintage mirror.

You can write almost anything on the mirror – from the order of the day to the seating arrangements. It gives that old, traditional look to your event.

#8. Use Old Books As Centerpieces

Instead of renting centerpieces for every table, you could use old romance books. The more romantic, the better.

Take stacks of clean books, arrange them carefully on each table, and save yourself some money.

#9. Skip The Champagne Toast

Champagne toasts are very common at weddings, but they are expensive. The cost is not only limited to the purchase price but also to the labor required to pour and measure dozens of champagne servings.

You can skip the formalities and toast with whatever you and your guests have.

#10. Make Your Confetti

This is relatively easy and ideal if you’re hosting an eco-friendly wedding since they will biodegrade in no time. Pick the wildflowers a month before and dry the petals properly. Then, shred them carefully, and you have your confetti!

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#11. Make Your Wedding Sign

Collect scraps of wood from neighbors or friends and make your wedding signs in lovely calligraphy. Place beautiful wildflowers around the board, preferably the same as those of the day’s color.

#12. Wear A Second-Hand Wedding Dress

I used my mum’s wedding dress. Though it was a little old-fashioned, I got a tailor friend to adjust it. After a few lace and taffeta additions here and there, it looked brand new and fitted correctly.

You could do the same. If you can’t get any from your friends or family, there are places where you can buy a lovely second-hand wedding dress.

#13. Borrow Your Wedding Clutch Bag

Weddings require “something old,” “something new,” and “something borrowed.”

The clutch bag could serve as something borrowed. An old relative or friend could help you out there. 

It will add vintage flavor and, most importantly, save you some money.

#14. Borrow Your Veil And Jewelry

This was my “something old.” My mother-in-law gave me a set of finished jewelry, the family heirloom (it belonged to great-grandma Joan). It was the sweetest and most precious gift I got that day.

It can also double as “something borrowed.” You can borrow the veil and jewelry from friends and family.

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#15. Hold A Daytime Wedding

Reception venues charge cheaper for daytime weddings. Afternoon-into-evening gatherings are a lot more expensive. You won’t have to pay exorbitant prices if you round off your event in time for the evening engagements.

#16. Enlist The Help Of Music Students

Hiring a wedding band may be expensive if you’re on a wedding budget. An alternative to that will be reaching out to local universities or colleges to ask for any music students.

Students who sing or study a particular instrument would be eager to help out, as it is a great experience that would enhance their portfolio.

#17. Avoid Passed Appetizers

These are appetizers passed around by servers. Even though passing about the appetizers may reduce consumption compared to buffet-style appetizers, they could be more cost-effective in the long run.

The servers will have to be paid, and the passed-around appetizers are usually pricier since they require more preparation with expensive ingredients.

Do away with the servers and encourage guests to get their appetizers at strategic, well-spaced positions. This will also promote mingling amongst your guests.

#18. Set Up Your Photo Booth

Organize your photo booth against a wall. Arrange the setting to your taste with the props of your choosing. You may not need the services of a photographer. You could use an iPad or an iPhone.

#19. Ditch The DJ For A Spotify Playlist

How can you put the playlist together?

It’s simple. Ask your guests!

Ask them to write their favorite dance song on their RSVP. If your venue has a speaker system but can’t afford a DJ, use the requests to create a Spotify playlist with everyone’s favorite.

#20. End The Festivities Early

It is common knowledge – if your wedding food and drinks are on a budget, it will be in your best interest to end your festivities as soon as possible. An hour cut here and there will reduce the total time spent.

Remember, the longer you keep your guests, the more time they will have to eat and drink!


It is clear that in every wedding celebration, the food and drinks constitute a large portion of the expenses. This is why I’ve listed various wedding food and drink ideas that are not only affordable but also creative and tasty if you are on a budget.

The good news is the cuts don’t have to end there. There are other areas in you to size down your wedding budget. 

From your music cost to your wedding dress and accessories, as well as your wedding decoration, there are great ideas to keep your wedding on a budget.

Refrain from letting yourself think your wedding will surely break the bank. You can still have the affordable yet glamorous wedding of your dreams.

Writer’s Recommendations


Onwukwe Mina Chidiebube is a content marketer, scriptwriter, copywriter, and voiceover artist at Silicon Africa Technologies Limited.

Brought up in the sciences with a fundamental love for the arts, she wields a degree in Chemical Engineering and flexes her writing muscles, as seen in her articles at and

She sees movies, reads, or listens to music when she is not writing.

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