Catering Ideas for a Small Wedding Reception

Tables decorated at a wedding reception. image by Gina Smith from

Food is often one of the most important decisions you have to make for your wedding. Your location and the resources you have available to you often determines the type and quality of food you serve. If you are having a small wedding reception you can choose to self-cater, professionally cater a portion of the meal or splurge on a fancy restaurant dinner.


If you love barbecue food and are having a summer wedding, you could choose to have a barbecue picnic-style reception. Use someone's backyard or rent a park venue and set up picnic tables with linens to use as the dining tables. Have a spit roast with a full pig, ducks or chickens on the spit. Have a couple barbecue's set up and serve steaks, pork chops or even hamburgers and hot dogs. If you can find barbecues with a burner plate you could also boil lobsters. Choose a variety of meats so that everyone will find something they like. Serve cold salads that can be made in advance: macaroni salad, coleslaw, potato salad, Caesar and garden salads. You can also serve other foods like roasted corn on the cob, baked potatoes, watermelon, cold fruit salads and fresh breads.


Depending on the size of your wedding reception, booking a table or two at your favorite restaurant may be an option for you. Many restaurants offer the option of booking space for larger parties but you will have to ask around and find a restaurant that is comfortable seating your party. If you have your reception at a restaurant it takes all of the stress off you because it takes care of the meal, alcohol and mess. Some restaurants allow you to select a couple of dishes that your guests can choose from for their meal and charge you a bulk price instead of having the entire menu open to your guests. This will typically keep your costs down and allow you to pay before the meal instead of having a surprise cost at the end of the meal.


Buffet-style meals are common at wedding receptions but can cause havoc with larger wedding receptions. If you are keeping your reception small then guests will be able to move through the buffet line quickly and not suffer the extra aggravation. Buffets allow you to have a variety of foods and enable your guests to take as little or as much as they like. If you have a buffet you can also choose whether to use an outside caterer or to cater the meal yourself to save money.