Out of all the expenses that come with planning a perfect wedding, the food often takes over the budget. It’s understandable that you want your guests to leave your reception full and filled with great memories. The good news is, you can feed them well and still save on the spending.

Plan your wedding early in the day: Rather than serving a steak dinner, you can offer a light brunch to guests. Bonus: You will save on drinks, as simple champagne will pair perfectly with your meal.

Don’t be afraid to DIY: Do-it-yourself can go way beyond craft projects when you choose to serve simple hors d’oeuvres and snacks to family and friends. A nice spread of cheeses, crackers, cookies, fruits, and veggies makes for a great starter. Finger sandwiches can also be served, but don’t overthink it. Consider what you would love to dive into at a wedding, and go with your gut! More often than not, we remember simple and delicious over elaborate and tasteless.

Make it Interactive: If a fancy, multi-course meal is not in the cards (or the budget), opt to offer stations instead. Food stations allow your guests to build a meal that they’ll love; your only concern will be having a couple of friends or family members keep the stations stocked, fresh, and hot (or cold). Some fun ideas for food stations? A baked potato bar, burger bar, taco bar, sandwich bar, coffee bar, waffle/pancake bar, sundae station, candy station, etc. There is something whimsical about this approach to a meal. Replace the fine dining with fun dining!

Have Your (Cup)cake & Eat it Too: Some brides and grooms are forgoing cake altogether to make room for pies and other desserts. But if you prefer to keep the tradition alive, save lots of money by serving cupcakes. Cupcakes will allow you to offer a variety of flavors, and the displays can double as decorations.

Serve It Up with Love: One service many brides underutilize is help offered from family and friends. When someone meets your engagement announcement with, “let me know what I can help with,” be honest about your cost-saving plans, and assign them a simple job. People love to know they’re helping, and your wedding is not the time to shy away from generous offers. Let your “staff” know you’re thankful for them before, during, and after the big day, and let them know you’re happy to return the favor.

photo credit: Clem Onojeghuo

No matter how you decide to cut food costs, try not to stress. Your wedding will offer an overall experience, not just a meal; serve what you like, serve it with love, and you’re sure to have happy guests!

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