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DIY Wedding Food Ideas on a Budget

Updated on August 23, 2017

Tastier and Cheaper Than Catering!

DIY wedding food is certainly not for everyone. If you're serving hundreds of people, the logistics are kind of a nightmare. And if you don't know anyone who can cook, you're kind of stuck with paying to have food made for you. In addition, the preparation, cooking, serving, and clean up is a lot of work (which caterers usually take care of).

As long as you're willing to put up with all that, making your own wedding food can be a great choice that will keep you under budget. Especially if you know people who can make really good food!

If you're looking for more information about wedding costs, you might also like Backyard Wedding Budget: How Much Will One Cost?

Images by Emma Larkins.

Cooking Your Own Wedding Food Is Not as Crazy As It Sounds!

Trust Me, I Know!

After all, you can see a picture of me above, enjoying the fruits of the homemade-wedding-food labor taken on by my family and some very helpful neighbors (supplemented by some wise prepared purchases from our local grocery store).

Below you'll find tips for preparing food for your (or someone else's) wedding, along with some suggested dishes and recipes. If I've left anything out, be sure to let me know in the comments below! Bon appetit!

A DIY Wedding Food on a Budget Dish List - Simple Is Good... and Cheap!

Here's the Wedding Food Spread From My Sister's Wedding - Are You Feeling Hungry Yet?

Stick to things that you know will taste good, not fancy foods that take forever to prepare. It's not even like people are expecting complex dishes; why do you think steak and lobster are so popular at weddings?

Grilling or smoking foods at home is a great way to serve a lot of people at once, especially if the items don't take a lot of preparation, such as steaks and other meats.

A Book to Get You Started

Barefoot Contessa Parties! Ideas and Recipes for Easy Parties That Are Really Fun
Barefoot Contessa Parties! Ideas and Recipes for Easy Parties That Are Really Fun

Amazon has a great collection of cookbooks for party food. Search for "party cookbook" on the site to find more picks!


Tips For Making Your Own Wedding Food - Simple and Delicious Is Best

  1. Simplicity is best. Chances are you're going to be running around a lot on the day of the wedding, so don't make things more complicated than they have to be. Keep dishes simple, and supplement with prepared foods (such as chips and dips). Purchasing fruit or vegetable platters can also be a time saver.
  2. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Having a potluck event is great, but not everyone wants guest to worry about bringing food. Alternately, get family members, neighbors, or good friends to help with the cooking.
  3. Cook in bulk. Consider cooking one or two large items for the bulk of the food. For example, we marinated large sirloin steaks the night before the party. We also smoked a large pig in our smoker. These main dishes didn't take a lot of time to prepare or cook.
  4. Now is not the time to experiment! New recipes almost always take a few tries to get right. Even if someone else swears by the recipe, it may not work for you. Only prepare things for the wedding that you know will work. This is a great time to break out all of the "tried and true" family recipes.
  5. Plan, purchase, and prepare way ahead of time. Start to stock up on ingredients several weeks before the actual wedding, and finish the bulk of the shopping with a few days to spare. Sure, you may have to run to the store the day before, but you won't have a whole laundry list of things to buy. And make as much as you can (especially any desserts!) ahead of time.

DIY Wedding Food: Delightful or Disastrous? - It's Time for a Showdown!

Choose an option below, then give us your reasons! Anyone can participate :)

What Do You Say About Cooking Your Own Wedding Food?

Set of 4 Red Cherries/ Blue Background Reusable Melamine Plates-9"
Set of 4 Red Cherries/ Blue Background Reusable Melamine Plates-9"

Now's your chance to break out the colorful serveware!


This Is What You're Going For!

This Is What You're Going For!
This Is What You're Going For!

Don't Forget Dessert! - Homemade Wedding Cupcakes

If there's one thing that you really shouldn't feel bad about outsourcing, it's cake-making. Many people just aren't very good bakers (myself included!) My mom actually made these delicious little beauties - she's an all star when it comes to baked goods!

The funny thing was, though, that by the time the wedding cupcakes came out, everyone was so full of good food that it wasn't really a big deal. After all of our work, they were something of an afterthought! You should keep this in mind when deciding whether to splurge on expensive wedding cupcakes.

What Is Your Experience with DIY'ing Wedding Food? - Vote Here!

Was it fantastic? Or was it a flop?

See results

Or just stop by and say hello :)

Suggestions For Staying on Budget by DIYing Wedding Food? - Share Them Here!

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    • HayleylCanning250 profile image

      HayleylCanning250 4 years ago

      What an original way to save money for your wedding!

    • emmaklarkins profile image

      emmaklarkins 4 years ago

      @kurtkenobi: Right??? I like that it has a nice casual, comfortable feel to it. No stuffy catered food for me!

    • emmaklarkins profile image

      emmaklarkins 4 years ago

      @chat2vishakha: You're welcome :)

    • profile image

      kurtkenobi 4 years ago

      I may just go and start crashing weddings everything looks so goog. not really (about crashing)

    • profile image

      chat2vishakha 4 years ago

      Great ideas.Cupcakes are a good choice.A big thanks for sharing these ideas.

    • emmaklarkins profile image

      emmaklarkins 4 years ago

      @anonymous: That sounds amazing! And yummy :) I bet it will taste as good, if not better, than any fancy catered food you could get. Just make sure you have some help with cooking, serving, and cleaning!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I put pencil to paper today (actually mor like fingers to excel) and determined that I could do spaghetti with salad and bread for 300 or chicken fajitas with tortillas, toppings and beans for about the same number for roughly $2 per person or about $600 for a crowd of 300. That means thighs on the fajitas but, still, very reasonable prices, I think.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great ideas food looks yummy :9

    • profile image

      MichelleFriend 5 years ago

      Maybe an eco-freindly or green one

    • emmaklarkins profile image

      emmaklarkins 5 years ago

      @shellys-space: Hey, everyone likes hot dogs!

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 5 years ago

      I'm not actually planning a wedding, but scouting around for ideas for my best friend's potluck reception- I think I'll make the wedding cupcakes; they look lovely and people usually love cupcakes!

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 6 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Hot dogs? Ha :) Great lens and love your ideas!

    • PropheticBlogge1 profile image

      PropheticBlogge1 6 years ago

      In these difficult economic times anything to save money when planning a wedding must be good. Great lens and it looks like you enjoyed the grub. ;)

    • Winter52 LM profile image

      Winter52 LM 6 years ago

      What a great idea. My mom's church friends cooked our wedding dinner and we couldn't have asked for anything better and the cost was minimal!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      The wedding food looks delicious! We are thinking of having an outdoor reception. I am a bit worried about insects though. Did you have any problems with flies?

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 6 years ago from Australia

      This looks like such a great idea!

    • emmaklarkins profile image

      emmaklarkins 6 years ago

      @aquariann: Hope it works out well!

    • aquariann profile image

      aquariann 6 years ago

      Yummy ideas! We're thinking of going potluck for our wedding, so this lens will come in handy.

    • emmaklarkins profile image

      emmaklarkins 6 years ago

      @anonymous: I think the trick is to just prepare way more food than you'll need. Grilled meat especially makes for good leftovers!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Lovely lens and a lens idea! The only point is covering for shortage of food when a crowd comes in - more than the expected numbers! :)