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Tasteful Wedding Food Ideas on A Budget — Fill Your Guests’ Bellies Without Emptying Your Pockets

salad wedding food ideas on a budget

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There are many ways to save money on your wedding reception food, from the format to the choice of dishes served. The trick is to open your minds to homemade, local, or traditional food with the option of giving it a gourmet twist or just an offbeat one. We are talking about surprising combinations that unite traditional flavors with especially attractive innovative presentations.

When dealing with low budget wedding food ideas, the latest gastronomic trends are not only about satisfying the palate — they also seek to be quite a sight for sore eyes.

Time for your wedding menu preparation? Are you searching for something low-cost but original that will surprise your guests without sacrificing the quality and the taste of the dishes? To help you find what you are looking for, we have prepared a selection of wedding food ideas on a budget that will not leave anyone indifferent.

1. Build-your-own-salad station

Salads are the best starters and the perfect cheap wedding food idea for summer that will be light both on your stomach and on your wallet.

They come in great varieties and prices. They design a good mix of fruits, vegetables, seeds, seasonings, and extras, and are the most beautiful and flavorful way to start your wedding.

The idea behind the build-your-own-salad station is to create a table made out of different salad ingredients so your guests can create their own delicious piece of art. The more ingredients you include, the better. But remember that not everything in your salad station should be lettuce and vegetables — it is less likely that your guests need a constipation antidote.

The advantage of salads is that you can add different elements to have different flavors. Here are some ingredients that simply must appear on your list of affordable food ideas for wedding reception:

  • Fresh from the garden: include different types of raw vegetables to add a little crunchiness to the fresh salad like leafy green salads, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, all-colored peppers, radishes, carrots, onions, and so on — the most ideal summer wedding food idea on a budget!
  • Roasted vegetables: let your guests create the perfect mix of cauliflower, broccoli, garlic, bell peppers, corn, potato, brussels sprouts, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and more — this is considered a great cheap wedding food idea for fall.
  • Fruity zest: don’t forget to add a couple of plates with slices of apple, avocado, pomegranate, pear, melon, and other fruits you can find depending on the season. The result? A plate full of color, flavor, and health!
  • Extras for extra taste: you can offer everything from seeds to nuts, continue with croutons, feta cheese, parmesan cheese, different dressings, sauces, and seasonings. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar are a must for this guest DIY wedding food idea on a budget!

2. BBQ skewers

This option is the best fit for outdoor weddings as the finest cheap backyard wedding food idea. Vegetables will be your best friend on your wedding day because of most are affordable if they are in season and have great nutritional value.

Add chicken or pork along with some fresh, light, and colorful veggies (red onion, mushrooms, eggplant, and cherry tomatoes as a classic combo), season with garlic, lemon, salt, black pepper, and olive oil, and you will end up with the most full-flavored DIY wedding food idea on a budget that everyone will adore. Don’t forget the BBQ sauce!

3. Pasta bar

Even though it can be considered as one of the simple wedding food ideas on a budget, pasta can be both economical and delicious dish that will surprise and please almost all of your wedding invitees. It offers great versatility and it can be the perfect option for vegetarians.

Pasta is one of the cheapest wedding reception food ideas on a budget, and when well prepared, it can be an haute cuisine dish, so don’t hesitate to include it in your menu.

After having offered a starter and some appetizers, continue with some tagliatelle, penne, farfalle, or tortellini for an excellent main dish. Offer different kinds of sauces to satisfy all tastes — alfredo, carbonara, bolognese, and a classic tomato sauce.

A great vegetarian and low budget wedding food idea is the vegetable lasagna. You can absolutely afford to experiment and add as much color and flavor as you like with tomatoes, pumpkin, spinach, mushrooms, and of course, a good portion of cheese.

4. Mexican snacks

Mexican cuisine has hundreds of snacks that can be very inexpensive and, above all, exquisite.

Don’t think twice and offer these delicacies as super savory treats. Tacos, sopes, quesadillas, enchiladas, and other Mexican wedding food ideas on a budget will leave yearning for more food. Do not miss the guacamole, beans, pico de gallo, shredded chicken, ground beef, sour cream, hot sauce, and other toppings to accompany these cheap but good wedding food ideas.

5. Food trucks

Food trucks for weddings have become so popular in recent years and continue to be incorporated into celebrations that seek to move away from the traditional and opt for original events. The best part is that cheap wedding venues will have no problem with a food truck on sight.

Currently food trucks are used as an alternative to the classic reception. Some found a place for them among the desserts, or even during the final party, to offer the open bar some originality in combination with a fast food-based dinner.

This is a great proposal all for weddings with a small number of guests and in which young people predominate. It is about replacing the traditional reception, with tables and chairs, with different food trucks that function as free buffets.

You can fit them into the cocktail, offering typical appetizers like croquettes, cheese cones, and french fries. You can also integrate them into the reception itself as a complement, offering gourmet hamburgers, hot dogs, pizzas, sandwiches, fish & chips, etc. After several hours of dancing your guests may feel hungry again and this wedding reception food idea on a budget is ideal.

6. Charcuterie boards

Charcuterie boards are the buffet wedding food ideas on a budget that will give relish and liveliness to your menu. This is the new and improved way to do hors d’oeuvres. All you will need is a variety of cheeses and meats, crackers and pâtés, fruits and nuts, and some greenery for decoration to freshen up the whole picture.

Charcuterie boards wedding food ideas on a budget

These yummy-looking wedding food ideas on a budget require some bread fresh from the oven, and different types of jam to add some sugary taste. The saltiness of the meats and cheeses, and the sweetness of the jam and fruits is like yin and yang — two contrasting flavors that will be the match made in heaven in your mouth.

7. Potatoes in all of their forms

French fries, baked, boiled, mashed, sautéed with fine herbs… the truth is that this golden food is economical, tasty, and diverse. Do not hesitate to include a bar dedicated to potatoes in different formations and also add some ingredients that go well with them such as butter, cream, sauces, bacon, or whatever you fancy. It will be the most affordable food idea for wedding reception and high likely the most chosen side dish.

8.  Candy bar

The number one of all buffet wedding food ideas on a budget! This will be the most visited bar at your reception, especially for your sweet-tooth friends.

candy bar wedding food ideas on a budget

Get all the sugary treats you can think of and afford: cupcakes, brownies, cake pops, cookies, doughnuts, etc. Choose the icing in the shade of your wedding color palette to make the candy bar part of the wedding decoration.

As far as the wedding cake, in order to keep it within your budget limits, you can have a larger single-tier or a multi-tier wedding cake in a small format.


Now you know all tips and tricks on wedding food ideas on a budget to put together a menu that will have everything without breaking the bank. Do not forget about the presentation of the food, the utensils, and the assembly which will be the essence of your menu as they will provide elegance, modernity, and class to any dish regardless of the price.

I am Megan Nova, a wedding planner and Author based in New York City. My vast exposure in the wedding planning trade and my passion for storytelling has inspired me to share expert advice and creativity on this blog.

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