This is a guest post from Erin Reynolds of Erin is a single mom who taught herself how to do home improvement projects and repairs to save money. She created to help others find their spark to tackle home improvements too.

Everyone dreams of a wedding filled with love, laughter, and good food. However, weddings often have a hefty price tag, especially when it comes to the wedding reception catering. These days, more and more couples are looking to save money by embracing a DIY approach to wedding cuisine. While this is undoubtedly a budget-friendly option, DIY catering is also a fantastic way to add a personal touch to your special day. In this article, we’ll explore your DIY catering options and offer tips to help you make your culinary dreams a reality!


Why Cater Your Own Wedding?

According to WebstaurantStore, couples spend an average of $70 per head to feed their wedding reception guests, bringing most wedding catering fees to around $9,000. You can cut this cost significantly by self-catering your event. By planning a potluck and having your guests contribute to your wedding feast, you can bring costs down to nearly nothing! Plus, you’ll get complete control to craft a culinary experience that comes from the heart. Cooking is a labor of love that can create lasting memories for you and your guests. DIY catering also makes it easy to accommodate specific dietary preferences and restrictions, ensuring no guest leaves unsatisfied.


Planning Your DIY Menu 

Crafting a memorable wedding menu requires careful planning and a dash of creativity. Your reception menu should not only be a reflection of your personal tastes but also cater to the preferences of your guests. Brainstorm your favorite dishes, culinary traditions, or family recipes. Consider the season and theme of your wedding as well, as these factors can inspire your menu choices.


If you decide to plan a potluck for your wedding, you’ll need to communicate your idea clearly in your wedding invitations. Create a sign-up list with food categories to ensure the meal is balanced. Be sure to coordinate with your guests to prevent duplicate dishes and create a diverse menu with various options, some of which cater to dietary restrictions. It's also a good idea to provide guidelines on quantities, like the number of servings needed for the guest count. Online tools, such as POTLUCK™, make it easy to plan large-scale potlucks without back-and-forth emails or complicated spreadsheets. This intuitive potluck sign-up sheet even features built-in chat, so you and your guests can collaborate effortlessly.


Preparing for the Big Day 

In the lead-up to your wedding reception, preparation is key, especially if you’ll be doing a lot of the cooking yourself. Consider re-organizing your kitchen to maximize efficiency and allow several people to cook together. You may even want to make a few kitchen upgrades. If you go this route, be mindful of choices that not only enhance your cooking experience but also add value to your home. Renovations like improving countertop space and storage, while practical for your big day, can also positively impact your home's appraisal value.


Additionally, replacing your range hood may be a smart move. Choose a high-quality range hood to ensure excellent ventilation, which is crucial in reducing cooking odors and fumes. These upgrades will ensure a smooth and pleasant cooking experience when preparing food for your wedding.


Offering DIY Beverage Options

Setting up a self-serve beverage station for your wedding reception is another great way to cut costs and infuse personality into your celebration. Start by selecting a range of beverages to cater to different tastes and preferences, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. PassportToJoy suggests going BYOB to save money. For those who prefer a non-alcoholic alternative, craft a selection of refreshing mocktails that are just as delightful. Consider also including a coffee bar, offering both iced and hot coffee options. For iced coffee lovers, provide cold brew or iced espresso options along with a selection of syrups, milk, and whipped cream for customizing their drinks.


By choosing the DIY route to catering your wedding, you can save money and create a unique culinary experience for your guests. Craft a memorable menu, set up a beverage bar, take advantage of potluck planning tools, and consider renovating your kitchen and installing a new range hood to prepare for the big day. Your wedding reception will be a culinary journey filled with unique flavors, dishes cooked with love, and plenty of shared joy.


POTLUCK™ is a sign-up sheet tool designed to simplify potluck planning and create a smooth guest experience. Try it out to save time and ensure your guests have all the information they need to contribute to your big day!