Weddings on a Budget – Self Service Buffet

Weddings on a Budget – Self Service Buffet

Not everyone can afford to spend a huge amount on a big wedding with a lavish reception afterwards. Even those who might be able to afford it, sometimes prefer a smaller, more intimate wedding ceremony with a simple buffet reception where guests help themselves.

If this is your preference, you have three main options for the catering:  you can either cater the reception yourself, making as much as possible in advance and then freezing it;  you could use caterers to provide all the food, setting it up on the morning of the wedding or you could make some of the food yourself and then use store-bought, ready prepared food to supplement what you have made.

Cater Your Own Wedding, Revised

Cater Your Own Wedding, Revised from

A good guide for anyone wanting to save money by doing the catering for their wedding – or maybe it is for a son, daughter or friend who is getting married.

Suggestions for Food

  • Sausage rolls
  • Filled canapés
  • Small sandwiches
  • Quiche
  • A selection of salads
  • Small sausages on cocktails sticks
  • Small cubes of assorted cheese also on sticks
  • Assorted cooked meats and fish, eg smoked salmon, salami, Parma ham, baked ham, chicken
  • Selection of various cheeses plus crackers to eat with them
  • Roast chicken pieces
  • Paté
  • Cheese straws
  • Hard boiled eggs, cut in half
  • Egg mayonnaise
  • An assortment of fresh fruit
  • Fruit salad
  • Apple tart
  • Small fruit tartlets
  • A variety of cakes and desserts

Make sure there is a good selection of different types of wholemeal and white bread and bread rolls together with potato crisps, nuts, olives, crackers, etc.

There’s More to a Buffet Than Food

Remember that everybody will be wearing their best clothes so you should provide plenty of plates and good quality napkins. If you use paper or plastic plates, make sure they don’t bend too much when piled up with food – it’s best never to under-estimate the large quantity of food people will pile on plates when free to help themselves. If you are using paper napkins, these should also be large and thick and there should be plenty of them as people will use them for mopping up spills, wiping children’s faces amongst other things.

It’s also a good idea to provide enough tables and chairs so that everybody can sit down to eat. Nobody enjoys balancing a plate in one hand and a glass in the other, then trying to work out how to get the food off the plate and into their mouths.

If you are using caterers, arrange for them to bring in hot sausages and quiche and perhaps some other dish like a baked pasta soon after all the guests arrive. If you are doing your own catering, perhaps you know somebody reliable that you can pay to heat the food right through (make sure it’s piping hot because you don’t want everybody to remember your wedding for the food poisoning they got there). If not, then you will just have to serve cold food.

Even at an informal reception, make sure it’s obvious where the bride and groom and their parents are sitting. Any attempt to appear dignified is lost if the bride has to fight for a seat.

Just because you decide to go for this more economical and more informal reception, it won’t mean that the guests will not enjoy it. In fact, you may find that they enjoy it more than a traditional wedding reception.

Top Picture: Wedding Buffet with a wonderful selection of cheese, meat, vegetables and fruit. Copyright: Torsten Seiler – Creative Commons 2.0

Copyright © 2013 Carol Fisher – All Rights Reserved


I live in the UK, in the south of England, in a small country town. I've been writing for over 20 years, first for specialist magazines and then online since 1998. I have diverse interests from politics to food, antiques and collectables to animals and the environment. I enjoy doing crafts, reading, taking my dog for a walk and many other things.

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One comment

  • We had a buffet at our wedding and it was a great success. People can help themselves to food which means they have as little or as much as they want and it makes it less formal and stuffy which was exactly what we wanted. Friends and family helped out with food which made it more of a combined effort and we all had a fantastic day. We always say that if we could go back, we wouldn’t change a thing.


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