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Wedding Celebration Menu on the Cheap

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A family member is struggling to come up with a menu for a belated wedding celebration. About 100-120 people, in an open air pavilion, late September in Ohio, there’s a kitchen with refrigeration, sinks and a small prep area, not sure about ovens. The budget is measly, the whole thing’s going to be very homegrown & they’re in over their heads. Think Costco/Sams/GFS. Ideas anyone?

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  1. Pasta is very inexpensive.If no ovens, it could be cooked off-site and be brought warm. Put in chafing dishes-these can be rented, cheap ones purchased from a party store, or if anyone belongs to a church or club that does regular dinners, you may be able to borrow some. Add salad, inexpensive roasted veggies, rolls. Costco sells spiral cut hams that are reasonable and can be served at room temp. A fruit and cheese display can be inexpensive and look pretty. Take a couple boxes of different heights and cover w/ a tablecloth. Put cheese, crackers and grapes on the different levels on pretty platters You could even use the silver colored plastic ones from the dollar store with a doily on them. Platters of cookies from Costco, etc. (or homemade if you have time) can be pretty. A few sprays of flowers or decorative leaves can go far to make the table look festive. Meatballs are easy and can go far. Also, tea sandwiches-chix salad, pimento cheese,etc. Chips and dip can be fancied up by adding attractive garnishes. Veggie platters are cheap and easy to make-use red leaf lettuce underneath as a base. Hollow out a pepper to put dip in in the middle of the tray. Salads such as macaroni or potato can be very cheap to make.

    1. We managed to do a fairly inexpensive large birthday party for my mom earlier this year, but we had access to a grill and stove to prep the food at the location.

      One of the big focus items for us was making sure that people didn't leave hungry, so we tried to pick foods that were filling (lots of bread and potato items!). Homemade biscuits or corn muffins are very inexpensive to prepare in high quantity, and potato side dishes also cut some of the expense. We supplemented with other vegetables (had some asparagus, some large salad bowls, raw veggies and dips, etc.). The entree was chicken kebabs -- these required a lot of assembly but they did a good job of stretching what we had. I made several large sheet cakes for dessert in various flavors.

      Some other low-cost options:
      - pasta bar (if they have access to a stove); they could do pasta and a few sauces and toppings for people to choose from, with a side salad and garlic bread, and I'm sure costco and the like have a large quantity tiramisu?
      - I know it's probably tacky, BUT if they're struggling that much with the budget, could they do a "share your favorite dish & recipe with the new bride and groom" kind of thing and have a potluck (even if it's just side dishes or desserts)?

      1. Wedding receptions did not always include a meal. Once upon a time it was perfectly respectable to serve cake and punch. Why does there have to be a meal? At a niece's recent wedding people actually brought cakes, showing off their specialty at a sort of cake potluck.

        1. Just do appetizers. Call them tapas. Very trendy.
          And then some "small bites" of dessert.

          1. Thanks for the ideas, everyone, I'll be seeing them later today and will pass them along.