He proposed, and you said yes! Now, as your big day approaches, you realize how expensive it is to plan a wedding. You just got the cost for food and drinks and it 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 came face to face with 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, I must say that they were absolutely amazing considering the fact that I was on a budget.
Stay with me through this article as I would be sharing some of these awesome wedding food ideas, because trust me, even on a budget, you can still get your dream wedding.
Wedding food ideas for small budgets
#1. Baked Potato Bar
A baked potato bar is a buffet of baked potatoes and toppings. You can get creative with the toppings; however, I prefer to go for 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 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 really easy 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 Christmas star. For this, 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 exceptions. This cheap wedding food idea is easy on the eye, easy to transport, and are very colorful.
#7. Cake And Punch Bar
The cake and punch bar is not always interpreted as the name suggests. Consequently, you can always switch it up with 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 interesting ways. First, in paper bags, then boxes, then walls! Take a 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 certain 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 separate 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 with fruits. It’s one of the numerous amazing wedding food ideas if you are on a budget.
#11. Waffle Popsicles
Although they are very tasty, they are not portable, except the kind that comes out of the toaster – or this amazing idea. Place the popsicle stick through the waffle, and it 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 come up with 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 kinds of guests. With the growing awareness of health, 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. Just don’t be surprised if they start taking those adorable margarita bottles home with them.
#19. Portable Shrimp And Grits
Shrimp and grits are a classic dish 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.
#20. Sushi Rainbow
An appetizing sushi roll that marries the various 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 amazing 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 an affordable wedding food idea if you are on a budget. It has now been adopted at several weddings however if you are not aware of this trend, it’s a thing!
It is not only an affordable wedding food idea, but it is also very captivating.
#24. Salads On The Go
Salads are a good 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 the 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 or condensed milk or any of your preferred toppings on it.
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.
This is a perfect idea 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 temperatures, 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.
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 quite pricey, it is preferred for making toasts. 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 the can. That way you don’t have to worry about spills and cups.
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 foods 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, always a winner in these sorts of events.
#34. Fried Ramen Noodles
It is easy to prepare, tasty, and an amazing food idea for a wedding on a budget. Ramen noodles do not require too many ingredients and don’t take much time to prepare. Fix this meal and your guests will thank you.
#35. Banana Bread In A Jar
I’m a huge fan of banana bread, I must confess. 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 just melt in your mouth. You can sandwich them between a bright white vanilla creme center.
#38. Grilled Cheese Bar
People like different add-ons with their grilled cheese. Some want tomato, others avocado slices, or mushrooms. You can let your guests have it their way with a grilled cheese bar.
#39. Berry Banana Snake
This creative creature is a colorful, tasty, and affordable wedding food idea if you are on a budget. You just alternate between a slice of strawberry and a slice 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 simply chew on them.
#41. Fruity Iced Tea And Water
This is the perfect drink to go with any wedding food ideas if you are on a budget. This delightful beverage not only looks good but also, tastes delicious. Just add your tea, herbs, and water and serve in a mason jar. Lemonade, other beverages, and also wine can also be served 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 up everyone’s favorite – tomatoes and mozzarella; in single bite-sized deliciousness.
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 very easy and affordable. Just have a few flavors of coffee and add-ins like different flavored sugars, creams, maybe even some adult beverages. Let your guests mix up their favorite coffee concoctions. Don’t leave out the ice and a few snacks that go well with coffee – cupcakes, bagels, 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 a special layered taste and is a great way to show your guests new fruits they may not have tasted before and in a suitable format. Just 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 with a soft and airy texture inside. It is often split longitudinally and filled with several savory ingredients like meats and vegetables along with chili and mayonnaise.
#48. Mini Crab Cakes with Lime Chive Mayonnaise
Mini crab cakes make ideal, remarkable party food. You can also make them larger 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 an amazing 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 that is 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 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, lemon juice. It is a perfect combination with great wedding food ideas on a budget.
Tips To Reduce Wedding Food And Drinks Cost
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 a tough call to make 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 completely eliminate the cost of postage by sending electronic wedding invitations to your attendees. Just a simple email with a link to your wedding website will suffice.
If you are planning a cheap, eco-friendly wedding, this is certainly a sound idea.
#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 just have to decorate the car. Think wildflowers and colorful ribbons!
#4. Eliminate Venues That Require In House Catering
This is a major way to reduce the cost of your wedding celebration. All you would need to do is 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 common 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 the 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 own devices, they almost always maximize plate space irrespective of the plate size.
That is to say that a smaller plate size might subconsciously discourage them from wasting or taking too much of your carefully planned dishes.
This is an important 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 and arrange them carefully on each table and save yourself some money.
#9. Skip The Champagne Toast
I know champagne toasts are very common at weddings, but, they are very expensive. The cost is not only limited to the price of the purchase, but also to the cost of labor required to pour and measure dozens of champagne servings.
You can skip the formalities and toast with whatever you and your guests have at hand at that moment.
#10. Make Your Own Confetti
This is actually quite easy and would be 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!
#11. Make Your Wedding Sign
Collect scraps of wood from neighbors or friends and make your wedding signs in nice calligraphy. Place beautiful wildflowers around the board preferably the same as those of the color of the day.
#12. Wear A Second-Hand Wedding Dress
I used my mum’s wedding dress. Though it was a little out of fashion, I got a tailor friend to adjust it for me. After a few lace and taffeta additions here and there, it looked brand new and fitted properly.
You could do the same. if you can’t get any from your friends or family, there are places where you can buy a nice second-hand wedding dress.
#13. Borrow Your Wedding Clutch Bag
Weddings require “something old”, “something new”, and “something borrowed”.
The clutch bag could very well serve as your something borrowed. An old relative or friend could help you out there. It will add the 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 complete jewelry that was 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.
#15. Hold A Daytime Wedding
Reception venues charge cheaper for daytime weddings. Afternoon-into-evening gatherings are a lot more expensive. As long as you round off your event in time for the evening engagements, you won’t have to pay exorbitant prices.
#16. Enlist The Help Of Music Students
Hiring a wedding band may prove to 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 are studying a particular instrument would be eager to help out, as it is a great experience a would enhance their portfolio.
#17. Avoid Passed Appetizers
These are basically appetizers passed around by servers. Even though passing around the appetizers may reduce the consumption compared to buffet-style appetizers, they are not exactly 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 encourage 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 just use an iPad or an iPhone.
#19. Ditch The DJ For A Spotify Playlist
You are probably wondering how you can 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, you 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 surely reduce the total amount of 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 you size down your wedding budget. From your music cost to your wedding dress and accessories, and also your wedding decoration, there are great wedding ideas for you to keep your wedding on the budget.
Don’t let yourself think your wedding would surely break your bank. You can still have the affordable, yet glamorous wedding of your dreams.