DIY Wedding Food Ideas on a Budget

Updated on May 4, 2018

Cooking: Tastier and Cheaper Than Catering!

DIY wedding food is certainly not for everyone. If you're serving hundreds of people, the logistics are 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!


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!

Budget DIY Wedding Food Dish List

Stick to things that you know will taste good, not fancy foods that take forever to prepare. It's not 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.

Here is the wedding food spread from my sister's wedding—are you feeling hungry yet?
Here is the wedding food spread from my sister's wedding—are you feeling hungry yet? | Source

Tips for Making Your Own Wedding Food

  1. Simplicity is best. Chances are that 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 dip). 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 guests to worry about bringing food. Alternatively, 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 dishes 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.

Homemade Wedding Cupcakes

Don't forget to prepare dessert!
Don't forget to prepare dessert! | Source

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.

This is what you're going for!
This is what you're going for! | Source

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

Was it fantastic? Or was it a flop?

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Questions & Answers

    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 5 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 5 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 6 years ago

        Great ideas food looks yummy :9

      • profile image

        MichelleFriend 6 years ago

        Maybe an eco-freindly or green one

      • emmaklarkins profile image

        emmaklarkins 6 years ago

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

      • ismeedee profile image

        ismeedee 6 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! :)


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