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Choosing A Budget-Friendly Wedding Menu

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how to choose a budget-friendly wedding menu
Nisa Burns

 how to choose a budget-friendly wedding menu

Q&A with Nisa Burns

Bride-to-be, chef and author of Kitchenability 101


What are some ways that couples can infuse their personal tastes into their wedding menu in a unique way?

Some ways to infuse your own personal taste in a wedding menu are incorporating your favorite foods, knowing your risk tolerance and knowing what type of theme you will be having for your wedding. This is a great time to make it your own.

The food you choose or like reflects and highlights your own personality. Deciding between all of your favorite foods can be tough, but the key is to pick a few you love and stick with them. If you like mac and cheese, have mac and cheese! Does your partner have a favorite candy? Add that to your dessert! Spice it up a little bit and make it your own.

Having a theme is also a big factor in wedding planning. Whether your theme is rustic, modern, vintage, etc. –  this will all play a very big part when picking your wedding dishes. An example of a vintage-feel wedding menu would be taking classic 1950 diner dishes and spicing them up a bit, like having tomato bisque shooters with grilled cheese bites.

If you are a risk-taker in life, choose a few dishes that are a little different and maybe a out-of-the-ordinary – something that will really surprise your guests. If you are not much of a risk-taker, play it safe by choosing a menu that is traditional and is sure to satisfy your guests.

Lemon Cilantro Chicken LR

Are there any specific foods or genres of cuisine that you would recommend to couples that are on a budget?

As a chef I would choose chicken and pasta as two specific foods to recommend to couples that are on a budget. Why? Chicken is a very low cost protein that you can serve in many different ways to fit your budget. The same goes for pasta. They both are incredibly diverse and hold flavor well, so they lend themselves to a budget-friendly wedding menu.

As far as catering is concerned, any genre of food can be as expensive as you decide make it. For example; you can decide to have an Italian menu with fettuccini alfredo, which is generally inexpensive, or you can choose to have a lobster tail on a bed of truffle oil linguine, which is a more costly dish. They both have pasta incorporated into the dish, but one is less expensive than the other.

The cost of your menu is going to depend on what you decide from your caterer. In the end it all depends on what type of budget you have available to spend on food.

When it comes to preparing your menu – how many options is enough? Any suggestions for accommodating all dietary restrictions easily while keeping cost in mind?

I would say when planning and preparing your wedding menu having 3 options is plenty; have 2 proteins available to your guests including fish, chicken or beef, and a vegetarian option.

When accommodating guests with dietary restriction, this can be a bit challenging. If you already have an idea of what type of dietary restrictions you may be up against at your wedding, incorporate options into your hors d’oeuvres. Having about 5 hors d’oeuvre options is a good amount. This will allow you to have a few hors d’oeuvres that may be satisfying to your guest with dietary restrictions and a few for everyone else.

Talk to your caterer, don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask about dietary restrictions. They are there to accommodate you and your needs for your big day.

Related: Top 10 Inexpensive Foods for Your Wedding Menu

Many of our readers tend to lean towards rustic themes, what sort of foods would be appropriate without being too casual?

Rustic themed weddings are becoming much more popular, and it is getting harder to try to find unique ideas for weddings that have not been taken yet. The bottom line is that a good chef can make anything fancy! A few food ideas for a rustic wedding menu that come to my mind are pulled pork sliders, corn bread cake pops, fancy fried chicken served with 3 different dipping sauces, and truffle mac and cheese. All of these are southern classics, just dolled up a bit.

Marshmallow brownies LR

Professionally decorated wedding cakes can be SO expensive! Do you have any unique ideas for dessert alternatives that might be a bit more budget-friendly?

It’s not just about cake anymore. There are so many unique wedding dessert ideas to include on your big day. A few that come to mind are single mini pies, a classic French cream puff tower, and doughnuts. All of these can be created to your favorite flavors and styles. It also can be a great way to show off your personality in a different, fun way other than a wedding cake. Anything goes, have fun, enjoy it. It’s your day do what you want!!!! Be a little different.


[photo by Ben Boshart]

Excerpted from Kitchenability 101: The College Student’s Guide to Easy, Healthy, and Delicious Food by Nisa Burns. Photo by Patrick Onofre. More info at www.Kitchenability.com

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Nisa Burns

is the Chef of a New Generation and founder of Kitchenability.com appealing to novice cooks who want to make easy, healthy and delicious food. She is a chef, culinary graduate, author, and speaker. She lives in Virginia Beach.