When you are planning your wedding on a budget, a self-catered wedding reception shows off your personality and keeps costs down. If you love to cook and are organized, preparing the food for your own wedding can be fun and thrifty. Your wedding day is your special day -- plan menus that do not require you to spend most of the reception in the kitchen. Enlist the help of friends and family members who enjoy cooking to make the process run smoothly.
A late morning or early afternoon reception calls for brunch instead of a full lunch or dinner menu. Self-catering a brunch is inexpensive and simple. Many brunch foods, such as quiche, can be prepared in advance. Make breakfast pastries the day before and warm them just before the reception. If there is room in your budget, you can purchase premade pastries such as croissants and muffins instead of baking them yourself. Serve the food as a buffet. Add a pretty fruit platter and recruit a friend to prepare omelets or other egg dishes to order for guests. Complete the offerings with coffee, fruit juices and mimosas.
Serve appetizers at a reception that takes place between lunch and dinner. Appetizers are easier to self-cater than a full meal. Many can be prepared a day or two in advance, such as cheese and tomato kebabs and mini-quiches. Some appetizers, such as crudités or fresh fruit, require almost no preparation. Along with the appetizers, serve prepared cocktails, such as pitchers of margaritas or sangria as well as alcohol-free fruit punch or lemonade.
Celebrate your sweet tooth by hosting a dessert-only reception. In Pittsburgh, a long-standing wedding reception tradition features plates and plates of cookies prepared by family members. You can go the dessert potluck route if you want or prepare several desserts yourself. Give guests variety by serving several flavors of cupcakes instead of a large wedding cake. Another option is to offer a sundae bar instead of or in addition to the traditional cake.
Choose the food wisely for your reception. Some foods, such as mayonnaise-based dips or salads, are not safe to sit out at warm temperatures for hours. Unless you can provide the proper refrigeration, serving sushi can be dangerous. Know what food needs to stay at which temperature. Create a list of what needs to be done and when for each food item so that the days leading up to the wedding are not filled with confusion.
Based in Pennsylvania, Emily Weller has been writing professionally since 2007, when she began writing theater reviews Off-Off Broadway productions. Since then, she has written for TheNest, ModernMom and Rhode Island Home and Design magazine, among others. Weller attended CUNY/Brooklyn college and Temple University.