A wedding does not have to mean paying $100 a head (or more!) to a caterer. When you are hoping to have a great wedding on a budget, going the DIY route might be the perfect answer. These are some easy and practical tips for DIY wedding dinners that you can be sure your guests will truly enjoy.

If you are considering having a DIY dinner, it is wise to plan a more casual wedding to make sure the dinner fits the vibe of the rest of the ceremony. When everything about the wedding is informal, from the gown to the silver wedding jewelry to the setting, a casual dinner will fit right in. Doing your own wedding food for a more formal wedding, however, is far more daunting, because guests will expect more haute cuisine. So do yourself a favor a host your wedding in a backyard, a state park, a beach, or similar site where downhome fare will be a big hit.

For a DIY wedding reception, barbeque is one of the most popular menus. A lot of the foods are easy to make ahead, so that means there is a lot less cooking to do on the actual wedding day. If you happen to know someone who is a skilled pitmaster, you are in luck! But even if you don’t, you can certainly pull off an awesome barbeque wedding dinner. It’s very easy to order the actual barbeque meat from a restaurant you love, and then you can provide all the tasty sides. It is an economical compromise, and you will know that the food will be great. Barbeque sides vary somewhat by geographic region, but great ideas include corn on the cob, seasoned collard greens, baked beans, black eyed peas, coleslaw, biscuits or cornbread, and fresh fruit. For an outside dinner, use citronella candles and food tents to repel bugs.

For the DIY bride, a picnic is another very doable dinner idea. The great thing about this menu theme is that you can make it very casual or dress it up a bit. If you picture yourself wearing a ’20s style wedding gown with pearl wedding jewelry, style your picnic reception like a Great Gatsby lawn party with croquet sets and mint juleps. Or use red checkered tablecloths and mason jar centerpieces for a more classic country picnic theme. As for the food, some great make-ahead options include fried chicken, sandwiches, fruit salad, German potato salad, bean salad, pasta salad – all the summer salads, in other words. Try to avoid foods that have mayonnaise and spoil quickly; instead choose vinaigrette bases that are lighter and keep better. For dessert, consider something like a fresh strawberry shortcake or fruit pies instead of an expensive tiered cake? Your guests are sure to love it!

Even for indoor weddingds DIY wedding receptions work well. The price per serving for Italian food is very reasonable, and it is one of the easiest types of food to make for a large group. With an Italian dinner, family style service is a good choice beacuse it both works great and is also conducive to conversation. Serve up heaping dishes of pasta, a few different choices of sauces, and platters of meatballs and sausages. Fresh green salad and warm garlic bread on the side will complete a delicious meal. The italian menu makes it very easy to accomodate your vegetarian guests, as long as you have at least once sauce that does not contain meat. Unlike a barbeque or picnic, this type of menu is a great choice for a more formal wedding, with the bride in an ornate gown and crystal jewelry.

One more great choice for a DIY wedding reception is a brunch menu following a late morning ceremony. Brunches are nice because they lend themselves to buffet service, and many of the foods are a breeze to make in large batches. Serve up waffles, eggs, fresh fruit, muffins, bacon, sausage, and fruit salad. The only special equipment necessary for this setup are chafing dishes to keep the food warm. Mix up batches of Bloody Marys and mimosas to avoid the cost of an open bar. For a smaller family celebration, this is a wonderful DIY wedding menu.

Tags: , ,