Budget Weddings Forum

Budget Food Ideas

randomsloverandomslove member
250 Love Its Third Anniversary 100 Comments Name Dropper
edited February 2016 in Budget Weddings Forum
Okay, so I had a little bit of a wake-up call when talking to a potential wedding caterer. We have a budget of about 3700 for food, drinks, booze for somewhere around 90 people (assuming everyone RSVPs) for a winter wedding. The caterer I talked to gave us two options to look at-- one was with everything we wanted for more than 6000 and the other was exactly our budget for one entree and some sides. No booze, no drinks at all. She suggested a cash bar, which is not an option.

We have a little more than ten months until the wedding, and we have a little (very little) wiggle room in the budget since I was lucky and won my wedding dress, and we are only doing bouquets for flowers. Still, I'm struggling to find someone who is within our budget.

I figured I'd post here because I've seen some awesome suggestions on these boards on proper hosting. I want alcohol at the wedding. Even if we have to start stock piling now and just do beer, wine, limited drink options. I've even thought of ordering pizza, or finding a restaurant willing to let us pick up enough food for everyone. However, I really want my guests to be properly hosted and wasn't sure if that would be inappropriate.

Does anyone have suggestions?

ETA: I know food is one of the most important aspects to guests. I'm willing "sacrifice" other, less important things to get it right. We are buying cheesecake and just adding a few little touches for the cake. There aren't going to be a lot of decorations. The food and booze are most of my budget.





Re: Budget Food Ideas

  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited February 2016
    Simple.  Move your ceremony to mid-afternoon and serve punch, coffee, tea, and cake.  Add little tea sandwiches and veggie trays if you want more.  Another alternative would be to have a morning ceremony with a lunch/brunch reception.

    You are planning backwards.  You have a vision in your mind of the reception that you want.  Forget it!  It obviously doesn't fit your budget or your guest list.  Plan something else that does.

    Why is alcohol so important to you?  It is pretty far down there on the list of "must haves".
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    MesmrEwe
  • Our ceremony is already at mid afternoon. I'd wanted to do an actual sit-down dinner, but maybe having a shorter cake-and-punch reception would be better.

    As for the alcohol... I'd rather not have a dry wedding. It's just a preference. If we did cake and punch, we'd probably go dry then.





  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited February 2016
    You could serve mimosas.  That is what we did at daughter's brunch reception.  Dinner in the middle of the afternoon is not appropriate.  Just have tea sandwiches and cake.  Very elegant!
    Do have something like a fruit plate for guests who are diabetic or lactose intolerant.  (I LOVE cheesecake!)
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    randomsloveSTARMOON44OurWildKingdom
  • That does sound lovely. Thanks for the advice. I'll discuss that with my FI once he gets home and start looking into it.





  • jacques27jacques27 member
    Knottie Warrior 500 Love Its 1000 Comments 5 Answers
    edited February 2016
    There are plenty of ways to host on a budget.  I assume you have a venue that doesn't restrict your catering to only certain vendors?  Keep in mind that some options might require you to do things like rent dishes and hire your own bartender and crew to handle your food and that means costs that can add up and may not necessarily end up cheaper. It will also mean more leg work on your part to find the best deals.  I would start with restaurants. Lots of family owned non-chain restaurants offer catering.  Italian, Mexican, and bbq tend to be reasonably priced.  A local Italian restaurant where I live offers dinners starting at 7.75 for up to 99 people or 7.25 for over 100. That includes a pasta, two meatballs, salad, and breadsticks.  So there are deals to be had if you dig.  If you have any technical schools around with culinary programs, you can check there and see if any students are willing to pick up some extra cash to setup and make sure the food is properly maintained.
    randomslovecowgirl8238OurWildKingdomcharlotte989875
  • wandajune6wandajune6 Chicago-ish member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    I can't offer a lot of advice but would recommend checking carefully with your venue. Many places won't let you bring your own booze. Or, if they do, they want you to hire a licensed bartender. Others require using their specific vendors for all catering.

    As others have mentioned, try local restaurants, etc. for cheaper options. Just be careful with how you keep things cheap- when you bring food in yourself, you still need people to serve, clear, etc. You also need to make sure that you have the facilities/equipment to keep food safe and at the required temperatures.

    Finally, consider posting on your local board for deals. There may be people who can recommend vendors with great prices!

    Good luck!
    Daisypath Anniversary tickers
  • All kinds of places cater.  It's almost SuperBowl time, look into the places that are busy now.  Go ahead and have pizza/salad/cheesy garlic bread, Coke, and beer.  Get party subs!  Get trays of mostaccolli and meatballs.  I'm sure there are plenty of places that can give you what you want at the price point you need.  You just need to be okay about a more laidback fare.
    MesmrEwe
  • Is cutting the guest list an option at all?
    image
  • spockforprezspockforprez Virginia member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Third Anniversary Name Dropper
    I know BBQ is totally overdone at weddings now, but it's cheap and delicious. The most expensive quote we got was $18pp. For ALL food for the wedding... rehearsal dinner, day-of lunch for WP, cocktail hour, supper, dessert, and s'mores... we are at about $2800 I think. Since you're having an afternoon wedding, I think it would fit in nicely. Maybe you can have it served a little more classy than the usual presentation, like little sliders or something. 
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    MobKaztigerlily6MesmrEwe
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited February 2016
    I know BBQ is totally overdone at weddings now, but it's cheap and delicious. The most expensive quote we got was $18pp. For ALL food for the wedding... rehearsal dinner, day-of lunch for WP, cocktail hour, supper, dessert, and s'mores... we are at about $2800 I think. Since you're having an afternoon wedding, I think it would fit in nicely. Maybe you can have it served a little more classy than the usual presentation, like little sliders or something. 
    Agreed.  Another variation would be Italian beef sandwiches, a side salad, a side pasta, and a side fruit.  This can be done for well under $15 pp in the Chicago area, where prices tend to run a tad high.  You could offer beer and wine for beverages.

    A chili bar with fixings and cornbread could be a delicious alternative.  You can easily have a vegetarian option with this.  A soup and salad bar, coupled with some delicious fresh breads could also be an affordable option.
  • First thing that popped into my head was BBQ.  That can usually be done cheaply.  Italian food could be another possibility - pasta trays, garlic bread, and salad would be a delicious yet affordable meal, too! 
    --

  • edited February 2016
    We had a budget wedding (it was winter and our venue was right on the beach) and chose to serve warm "comfort" foods; a hot Butternut & Orange soup as a starter, guests then had a choice of a Steak & Stout Hot Pot or Roast Chicken in honey & lime with sage & onion stuffing, these were served with a variety of baked or roasted vegetables and for dessert there was a choice of Sticky Toffee Pudding, Carrot Cake (our wedding cake) and/or vanilla ice cream.  We received so many compliments from our guests, they were all happy with the food and it fit our budget.
  • I can't recommend pasta/Italtian enough!  Ours was from a restaurant in the Philadelphia suburbs and our food and drink bill came to just under $5000.  But we had about 40 more people than you.  That was for full bar, apps, and a buffet with two meat dishes, two pastas and two sides.  The food was great; our one friend is a chef and he said it was some of the best wedding food he'd had:)

    Caveat:  This did not include set up, like chaffing racks, sterno cans or serving utensils.  I think that stuff came to about $125, though we'll actually reuse the racks.  The restaurant just brought the pans of food to the reception and put them in the racks we set up.   A more full service caterer will normally provide these things, which is part of what makes them more expensive.
  • Thank you all so much. I'm looking into all of these options and feel much better about being able to provide good food for my guests.





    scrunchythief
  • We did BBQ - I didn't realize it was an overdone trend but rather we like BBQ and it was cost efficient. It also worked for our casual outdoor event.

    We looked at 4 local restaurants (one is a local chain, the others are national or regional chains). Prices varied between about $10-15 pp for the food but the setup/delivery/serving etc varied wildly. I looked at our budget and we spent around $1200 to feed 65 with 3 meat selections, salad, 2 sides, plus bread. I think the food itself was under $1000 but their fees were high (and a bit unnecessary but alas H was being a pest about the other places so I stopped caring).

    KeyToHisHeart2017
  • How does a food item become an overdone trend if it's something people enjoy eating? Decor, apparel, etc... yes; but food? I'm not sure how that happens.
    STARMOON44lnixon8OurWildKingdom
  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited February 2016
    geebee908 said:
    How does a food item become an overdone trend if it's something people enjoy eating? Decor, apparel, etc... yes; but food? I'm not sure how that happens.

    or, if you're like me - and don't even know what's overdone or trendy since I can count on one hand how many weddings I've even gone to in the last 10 years!  I go with BBQ or Italian yes!

    edit: spelling


  • I went to a wedding recently that had a hog roast (there was a vege option too but I can't remember what it was), with fresh bread rolls, potato salad, veg and salad, pasta etc. The bride said it was really affordable and it went down a treat. 
    image
  • Subway caters...  KFC caters... Famous Dave's caters...  Green Mill caters...  Many local restaurants offer catering...  Provided you aren't locked into using specific caterers with your hall, you've got more options out there, keep looking - ask the hall for recommendations!!  Don't just check the places that do a lot of advertising, there are small caterers out there and they do have budget friendly options.  For $66/pp, I expect a lot (is that including taxes/gratuity?) - and exactly what's wrong with a "dry" reception if that's what you can afford?  There's not a gosh darn thing wrong with it!  It's also not as if you 've got to lock in a menu now, a lot can change with your budget once your guest count gets done from RSVP's being returned.


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    randomslove
  • spockforprezspockforprez Virginia member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Third Anniversary Name Dropper
    I made the overdone comment. I will eat BBQ 5x a week, it will never be overdone in my book. I guess it's just like the burlap stuff, I see a lot of stuff saying it's just a pinterest rustic cliche. And it definitely doesn't match with all wedding moods/aesthetics. 
    Daisypath Anniversary tickers
    geebee908
  • Are your venues booked? What time frame are you looking at for ceremony and reception?

    I agree to look into local catering. There is a lot more out there than you think. When I was helping plan a friends bridal shower, we weren't quite sure which route we'd go, so I started googling "catering" just to see what options there were- SO many places, either restaurant or independent catering companies have packages for lunch, dinner, snacks, etc. 

    You could also find a lot of good deals from a larger grocer- somewhere you can pick up pasta trays, salads, sandwiches, fruit & cheese/ cheese & crackers/ veggie trays, finger foods like Swedish meatballs and other hors d'oeuvres. 
    MesmrEwe
  • I know BBQ is totally overdone at weddings now, but it's cheap and delicious. The most expensive quote we got was $18pp. For ALL food for the wedding... rehearsal dinner, day-of lunch for WP, cocktail hour, supper, dessert, and s'mores... we are at about $2800 I think. Since you're having an afternoon wedding, I think it would fit in nicely. Maybe you can have it served a little more classy than the usual presentation, like little sliders or something. 
    i wish we lived in virginia..lol. we're having the same issues right now. glad you found an option!
     we are fortunate enough to have a really close knit family who offered to make us hor d'oeurves for our cocktail hour. we got lucky with our byob venue..a relative is providing us with our wine at a very low cost and we have a local craft beer store that is providing us a 15% bulk discount for good craft beer which is allowing us to do open bar..still freaking out on the catering scenario though..:) i never thought of pizza and itallian food...this is definitely something i'll look into...we have some great delivery places here in little italy.  
  • I know BBQ is totally overdone at weddings now, but it's cheap and delicious. The most expensive quote we got was $18pp. For ALL food for the wedding... rehearsal dinner, day-of lunch for WP, cocktail hour, supper, dessert, and s'mores... we are at about $2800 I think. Since you're having an afternoon wedding, I think it would fit in nicely. Maybe you can have it served a little more classy than the usual presentation, like little sliders or something. 
    i wish we lived in virginia..lol. we're having the same issues right now. glad you found an option!
     we are fortunate enough to have a really close knit family who offered to make us hor d'oeurves for our cocktail hour. we got lucky with our byob venue..a relative is providing us with our wine at a very low cost and we have a local craft beer store that is providing us a 15% bulk discount for good craft beer which is allowing us to do open bar..still freaking out on the catering scenario though..:) i never thought of pizza and itallian food...this is definitely something i'll look into...we have some great delivery places here in little italy.  
    As tempting as it might be, especially since they offered - please don't make your family work at your wedding! Don't you want your nearest and dearest to be able to enjoy your wedding day as much as yourself? 

    Plus, unless they're professional caterers and used to cooking for large amounts of people and keeping food at proper temperatures, there could be serious food safety issues. Please reconsider this! I know weddings can be very expensive but there are certain things worth spending money on. Like a caterer so your guests are guests and not staff.
    --

  • normally i would totally agree, but i shot their wedding for free when they got married  so i don't feel as terrible since it's their wedding gift and they insisted..i trust:) we have christmas with them every year and they make killer apps for our family parties.. i am hoping something terrible that we can get whatever caterer we find to take care of the food serving, but ugh....buffet style it may be. :'(
  • Pizza and Italian sounds like a great, affordable option. A good friend of mine was struggling with this because she had a tight budget, but her parents wanted a nicer meal than the cheap options she was looking at like BBQ and taco bars (which in my opinion was kind of crappy of them considering they set the budget and then didn't want what fit into it). She is going with Johnny Carino's, which I've heard great things about. Easy and cheap to feed a lot of people.
  • We have a very small food budget. We got a taco cart to serve a variety of mexican dishes for $9/pp and they supply the forks, napkins and plates. Hired a bartender to serve alcohol that we are purchasing (with a $300 liquor/beer/wine budget) and he is only charging $150 to tend bar for 5 hours.

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