How to Plan Your Own Potluck Wedding Reception

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Couples in search of ways to reduce their wedding expenses can plan potluck wedding receptions. Typically reserved for weddings that are a bit more casual, potluck wedding receptions allow friends and family to contribute dishes to the bride and groom's celebratory day. You can't plan a potluck wedding reception overnight so you need to start preparing for this type of reception well before your wedding day.

Determine the theme of your wedding ceremony and reception, as this will help you determine what types of foods to serve at your potluck reception.

Make a list of foods that fit the theme of your ceremony. Include appetizers, entrees, side dishes and desserts. The bride-to-be, groom-to-be and both sets of parents should go through the list to determine if there are any items on the list family members or friends make well.

Write the appropriate names next to each item, if applicable. Use the list to determine which family members and friends to contact first about contributing dishes to your potluck. Focus on contacting local people first.

Decide whether you want to contact individuals by phone, email or through mailed letters. Gather their contact information, including phone numbers, email addresses and mailing addresses.

Ask family and friends on your list to contribute the specified dishes by contacting them, providing them with your request, the number of people you expect at your reception, the date, time and location of your ceremony. Contact them at least six months in advance. Thank them in advance for their consideration and ask them to reply back to you with their decision by a specified date.

Reach out to other family and friends who are local but who did not appear on your initial list. Rather than asking them to bring a specific dish, give them a category such as vegetable or cake. Ask them to let you know what they're bringing so you can keep track.

Use a spreadsheet to keep track of who has responded and what they plan to bring. Update it regularly, or delegate the responsibility to a member of your bridal party.

Contact family and friends at least a month before your event to remind them what they signed up to bring to your wedding reception and remind them again of the event date. Remind them where to drop off their food on the day of the event; mail a postcard as an extra reminder. Update your spreadsheet if any information has changed.

Ask a friend, family member or a member of your church to arrive at the food drop off location early to help set up the food and collect dishes from friends and family members who are contributing to the reception menu. Provide the person with a list of the foods being prepared and where they should be set on the tables.

Send thank-you notes to each person who helped pull off your potluck wedding reception. Thank them for their assistance, compliment their dishes and send them a small token of your appreciation.