While I was researching Potluck Weddings, I came across an article on CafeMom. A woman had posted her proposed potluck wedding menu, asking other members if they thought it was tacky. The plan was to provide the foundation for the meal and ask guests to bring their favorite dishes to go with it.
The responses ranged from things like, “that menu really sounds delicious – food that makes you feel good” to “I’m not going to lie – that is really tacky and I would talk about you behind your back.
Because there was such a mix of answers, it really made me think of all the fun and unique reception ideas I’ve seen on Pinterest and around the web lately. Are those only for the tackiest of brides, or are those who call potluck wedding receptions “tacky” simply stuck-up? As you’ll quickly see, the answer boils down to much more than a simple “yes” or “no.”
Planning a potluck wedding reception is for poor people!
I literally saw a statement very similar to this on that CafeMom post, and I cringed at the obvious ignorance packed into those few words. There are a variety of different reasons why a couple would decide to have it. For instance, when my cousin’s boyfriend proposed, it was quite difficult to spend months planning a wedding because he was deployed and they were never sure when he would be home for certain.
So, when they got news that he’d be home in a month, they both wanted to make sure they could get married during the time he was home. Hiring a caterer at that point was out of the question, so they decided to do a potluck reception. They informed family members that they would be cooking the main dishes – glazed honey ham, smoked brisket and lemon-pepper chicken.
They asked that in lieu of gifts, guests bring their signature dish to the reception to share. Everyone got incredibly excited about this idea; my aunts playfully talked about how their dishes would be the first to be eaten, and my mother pulled out my great grandmother’s hand-written recipe book to choose a few of her absolute favorite dishes.
The spread was absolutely wonderful, as the ham, chicken and brisket were surrounded by things like homemade macaroni and cheese, twice baked potatoes, broccoli and rice casserole, honey-ginger vegetables, peach cobbler, Cajun corn on the cob, crab-stuffed zucchini and fruit salad. A potluck wedding reception is helpful for those on a budget, sure, but it’s also a wonderful idea for a variety of other reasons.
Your Family’s Style and Taste
One thing you might want to consider when determining whether to plan a potluck wedding reception is your own family’s style and taste. With my family, it was a perfect fit because nearly everyone cooks (and has been cooking long enough to have developed at least a few signature dishes), and we often have get-togethers where every person will bring a dish. My best friend loved my cousin’s wedding, but I remember her making a comment as we were eating about how everyone would starve if someone in her family planned a potluck wedding.
Growing up, my friend’s parents rarely ever cooked at home. They almost always ate out and when they did eat around the dining room table, it was from takeout boxes. Her entire family was this way – aunts, uncles, grandparents. A potluck wedding reception in a family like this probably wouldn’t go over so well. This is why it’s important to gauge your own family and determine whether a potluck reception would work out or not.
Is it Practical?
Another important thing you want to think about is whether a potluck reception is practical. If all guests are coming from within a 50 mile radius, a potluck reception can be great, but if a huge number of guests are coming from out of state, it wouldn’t be easy for them to bring a dish.
How Not to Be Tacky
I honestly believe that a potluck wedding reception is a wonderful way to bring a family together and celebrate with one of the most ancient traditions known to humanity – the sharing of a meal. However, there are some unique cases when a potluck wedding reception can be tacky. If you’re planning a potluck reception, it’s important to ask guests to bring a dish instead of a gift. This means no bridal registry, no expectation of gifts. The dish is the gift.
Would you honestly ask your guests to bring a gift after they’ve cooked a dish for you? Come on now, greedy pants. Didn’t you learn the definition of gratitude? If you’re going to ask guests to bring a dish, that’s it – no dollar dances, no gifts, no honeymoon fund, etc. Also, “thank you” notes aren’t just for wedding guests that bring gifts. If you have a potluck reception, you need to send thank you notes to everyone who shows up, including those who opt out of bringing a dish.
You Must Provide Something
Make sure you and your groom provide the basis for the meal. This will act as a theme-setter and help individuals determine what kinds of dishes to bring. For instance, if you’d like an Asian-themed potluck, you could provide a few different types of meat and fried rice and allow guests to bring the additional sides. If you don’t provide anything, then it doesn’t really seem like a potluck meal – it seems like you’re trying to get a free meal. At that point, it could seem tacky.
Tips for Potluck Success
While many brides dream of a fancy, Cinderella-style wedding, others would prefer something much simpler. A potluck wedding is perfect for a small, intimate ceremony. Here are a few tips to help you plan a perfect potluck wedding get-together.
1. Seek Out the Chefs
You know the ladies or guys in your family and friends group that are always cooking up something new and delicious. Seek them out and ask them if they’d be willing to bring a signature dish instead of a wedding gift. Make sure you make notes of the dishes they’ve agreed to, so you can prepare a full meal.
2. Ask a Volunteer for Drinks
For the friends who may not be so handy with the baking dishes, why not ask them to make drinks? Whether it’s gallons of lemonade or fun mixed drinks, get a few different friends to make drinks so there’s a variety of options.
3. Create a Theme
Tell your friends about your theme idea and let them choose dishes and drinks that fit the theme. For instance, backyard barbecue is a fun theme, or a Tuscany night full of delicious Italian dishes. The sample menus below can help you plan a delicious themed potluck meal and make sure all the bases are covered. It can be fun for family to suggest fitting dishes they can prepare as well!
A Texas BBQ Potluck Wedding Sample Menu
- Grilled Slider Burgers on Garlic French Bread, provided by bride and groom.
- Grilled Franks on Artisan Bread, provided by bride and groom.
- Grilled Chicken, Bell Pepper, Onion and Squash Kebabs, provided by bride and groom.
- Cajun Deviled Eggs, potluck dish.
- Molasses and Brown Sugar Baked Beans, potluck dish.
- Baked Macaroni and Cheese, potluck dish.
- Southwestern Black Bean Salad, potluck dish.
- Fresh Fruit Salad, potluck dish.
- Choice of Beverages: Sweet Tea, Lemonade, Bottled Beer, potluck provided.
I don’t know about you, but this sample Texas BBQ potluck wedding menu sounds absolutely delicious, and guests will love the tasty comfort food the menu provides.
A Night in Italy Potluck Wedding Sample Menu
- Parmesan and Romano Spaghetti and Meatballs, provided by bride and groom.
- Chicken Parmesan, provided by bride and groom.
- Italian Sausage Served with Bell Peppers and Onions, provided by bride and groom.
- Fresh Pepperoni Yeast Rolls, potluck dish.
- Spinach and Cheese Cannelloni, potluck dish.
- Steamed Zucchini, Carrots and Squash, potluck dish.
- Baby Spinach Salad, potluck dish.
- Canolis, potluck dish.
- Choice of Beverages: Red Wine, Signature Cocktail, Coffee
This is another menu that sounds absolutely fantastic! While it’s not considered a “fancy” menu, it is definitely not tacky and absolutely appropriate for a wedding menu.
Country Cajun Wedding Sample Menu
- Spicy Shrimp Etoufee Served over Rice, provided by bride and groom.
- Crab Cakes with Hollandaise Sauce, provided by bride and groom.
- Blackened Catfish with Fresh Lemon and Turnip Greens, provided by bride and groom.
- Red Beans and Rice with Spicy Sausage, potluck dish.
- Louisiana Jambalaya, potluck dish.
- Cajun Cauliflower in Garlic Sauce, potluck dish.
- Fried Green Tomatoes with Cajun Remoulade Sauce, potluck dish.
- Sauteed Cabbage, Mushrooms and Onions, potluck dish.
- Choice of Beverage: Sweet Tea, Moonshine Cocktail, Bottled Beer
If this menu isn’t enough to tingle your taste buds, I don’t know what is!
Delicious Vegetarian Wedding Sample Menu
- Veggie Meat Loaf with Homemade Ketchup, provided by bride and groom.
- Roasted Tomato Penne Salad with Goat Cheese and Asparagus, provided by bride and groom.
- Eggplant and Smoked Mozzarella Tart, provided by bride and groom.
- Organic Hummus with Gourmet Crackers, potluck dish.
- Vegetable Curry, potluck dish.
- Mushroom Risotto, potluck dish.
- Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes, potluck dish.
- Spaghetti Squash with Butter and Garlic, potluck dish.
- Choice of Beverage: Sparkling Fruit Juice or Honey Meade.
This healthy and oh-so-yum menu caters to vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike – really anyone that just loves delicious dishes!
Gluten-Free, Whole Food Wedding Sample Menu
- Lightly Steamed Vegetable Medley Wraps, provided by the bride and groom.
- Roasted Garlic Brown Rice Quinoa Mix, provided by bride and groom.
- Spaghetti Squash with Summer or Winter Veggies, provided by bride and groom.
- Salt and Herb Kale Chips, potluck dish.
- Fresh Berry Medley, potluck dish.
- Butternut Squash Soup, potluck dish.
- Gluten-Free Squash Casserole, potluck dish.
- Beverage Choice: Berry Infused Water, Mango Smoothies
As you can see, with most of these menus, the bride and groom provide the “foundation” of the meal while guests bring along delicious side dishes that fill out the menu. The most important thing is to get the dishes people will bring in advance so you can provide guests with the menu at the reception, and so you can fill in any gaps that might occur (providing a vegetable dish if most guests want to bring meat dishes, etc).
4. Doing it Yourself
Even if you choose to do a small, intimate dinner all yourself, it will be cheaper than purchasing plated dinners or carving stations for your wedding. Simply plan out a themed menu and create foods that can be kept warm with buffet-style serving dishes.
Overall, a potluck wedding can be fun and romantic as well as delicious.
Some thoughts from folks who had experience regarding potluck weddings
If you’re still struggling on how to word your potluck wedding invitation then, one bride recommended a straightforward suggestion on how to approach your guests with this kind of request – just let your inhibitions go and make them feel that it’s not an ‘obligation’. Here’s a simple example:
You are invited to a wedding and potluck-style reception! Feel free to bring your favorite dish in lieu of a gift!
Another way to approach this is to know and have an idea who to include and exclude in this request. Heidi, who had just attended a wedding of this sort, shared that the couple only asked guests coming from the area and those who really enjoyed cooking to bring in food. Otherwise, they did not ask people who traveled from afar to burden themselves with bringing in dishes. The thing is people look at potluck weddings just on one angle – the extra effort required for it. I love how another user emphasized that food connects people and having people share meals like gives a sense of community within the event. Guests are usually grouped together with regards to their affiliations with the couple. The interaction with people outside their group is very minimal, so having a potluck wedding gives them the chance to start a conversation with somebody else like.
Hey, can I try your dish?
You have to send me the recipe on this!”
The connection between the important people in your life can then become deeper! And who doesn’t want that?! Speaking of recipes, you want to know how to make it more special? Another bride shared the idea on making a cookbook afterwards by asking guests to include a recipe card with their dish and then compiling it and sending it to everyone. Who knows, your aunt from your mom’s side might be dying to know how your groom’s grandma made her casserole. What a fun & creative idea!
The Overall Verdict on Planning a Potluck Wedding
So after exploring the topic of a potluck wedding reception, we’re still left with the question of whether or not it’s tacky. I personally believe that going into massive debt for a fancy dinner you can’t afford is tacky, whereas a wonderful sharing of different dishes made with love is… well, lovely. You certainly can’t deny that those sample menus sound delicious. However, as with anything else, it’s all in how it’s done. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments below!
I’m sorry, but I think this is totally tacky and inappropriate. If you can’t afford a big wedding, just do a punch and cake afternoon reception. That’s way better than asking your guests to pay for your celebration. People would definitely talk about you behind your back about this.
so what if people talk behind your back? if you are happy, and most of your guests love and get you, this won’t be an issue anyway. If people do talk behind your back, well … more power to them. the people who love you will love you anyway no matter what others are gossiping about.
I completely disagree with you. As a guest, I would have way more fun at a dinner and dancing reception than a lame afternoon punch reception (whatever that is). I would also be excited to make something for my friends and for everyone to enjoy. I would talk waaaaay more about some lackluster afternoon party where everything was provided than a warm, fun communal party that goes into the night. I love this idea!
We had a potluck reception and it was a blast!! Family gets more involved and you get to try new things. I can’t tell you how many recipes our grandparents swapped. It maybe tacky to some but I think it was a reasonable way to plan a wedding. It’s not just for ‘poor’ people.
I have a question, do guests give gifts also?
Inspired Bride says
Hi Colette. I think absolutely yes! You should register and keep everything the same way. I wouldn’t word it as “You better bring both the Food & the Gift” but keep it classy. Your close friends and family understand that a new bride & groom has a list of needs building their new nest together and how awesome would it be of them to come around the new family and celebrate this joyful event.
They say not to expect gifts if you are asking your guests to provide a dish for the reception. Personally, I think it would be a kind gesture to purchase a new serving dish to deliver the food item in and gift that along with a recipe card. Multi-purpose gift!
How many guests were at your wedding?
Following on my last question of # of guests. Where was your wedding held? Did you have someone designated to tell guests where to put food? Was there a prep/staging area for guests that brought food?
No, you’re wrong – simple as that. The past three weddings that I’ve been to have only had punch, cake, and a couple nibbles. I was starving, thirsty, and cranky by the end of all of them. I’m planning my own wedding now and so I completely understood why they chose to do it this way, but it did cut into the enjoyment of the day. At two of those weddings, all everyone could talk about towards the end was where they were going to go eat afterwards and looking for an exit time to be able to duck out early for food (especially all the men).
And, actually, since everyone tends to go out to eat after a cake-and-punch reception anyway, they are providing their own food for the day already. Why not just let them stay there and party?
I love to cook. I’d be totally and completely fine with being invited to a potluck wedding. In fact, I’d probably be so exited that I’d spend weeks planning what I was going to bring.
Not everyone can cook, obviously. So for those poor people, just bringing a bottle of wine or some cheese and cracker tray from Wal-Mart would suffice.
I think it would be great- especially if you have a family that loves to cook. The problem is, some people have huge families and (like mine) they will throw a hissy fit if every single great aunt and second cousin is not invited. Sometimes you either say, “Fine, you can come – but bring a dish,” or “Sorry, screw you. You’re not invited.”
We’re going somewhere in the middle of this. We’re providing all the drinks and alcohol. Some stuff will be bought. Some stuff I will be making myself. And then some stuff my (immediate) family is making. My mom, aunts, grandma, and great grandma pretty much decided that they would be bringing/making stuff before I had even given the food a single thought. But they will be the only ones making anything and that’s only because they volunteered. Cooking is a big thing in my family and they are all very proud of their skills.
But I’d much rather do a potluck wedding instead of gifts if it meant having people go hungry and making them skip half the party because they need to go eat at a restaurant.
And, quite frankly, you’re there as a guest to celebrate two people beginning their lives together. If you’re at a wedding for free food or alcohol, then you shouldn’t be there. They shouldn’t have invited you and you’re a horrible person. Why should they pay for you to eat when you don’t give a crap about them or the real reason the wedding is taking place?
I am getting married in November and am on a budget because I am not working much and the pot luck ideas sounds like fun and inexpensive and a way to get recipets from our family and friends. I am just stuck on a theme for the event. I like making chicken quiches, and chili mac, and pasta salads what kind of theme would this be? thanks for the ideas.
We are 65 & 70. We are having a small 50 family and friends potluck wedding. Our volunteer helpers will place all the food into either heated or chilled chafing dishes, large serving platters or serving bowls. They’ll wash the original pans and have them cleaned and ready to bring home when the party is over. We can’t wait! Oh we are supplying meatloaf, fried chicken and sloppy joes.
Could totally make the theme comfort food too. This way people can bring whatever dish is their favorite comfort food, nothing better than that…..
Whether it’s tacky or not depends on the culture you grew up in. In the south, it’s not that uncommon to have potluck weddings. We already have potluck church lunches so why not? In fact it used to be way more common for the whole family to get together and provide the food for a wedding. Catering is an extremely modern invention. So technically, potluck weddings are the most “traditional” way to do a wedding, especially if you both come from close-knit families.
I absolutely agree, Samantha! People don’t realize that potluck dinners are about so mush more than eating. I also believe that potluck receptions are a great way to show loved ones respect. You are telling them that you would rather have a meal prepared by them over a “professional” for your special day. Traditional weddings are becoming too much about “look at me and how much money I spent” and not about the joining of two people and their families as it should be. I feel it is way more “tacky” to ask your guests to view your registry, shop countless stores to find a gift that is usually too expensive for their budget, then pay extra to wrap that gift. Oh, and let’s not forget to grab a receipt so that you can return said gift a week later. I am not “poor” by any means (!!!), but will be celebrating my wedding day with friends and family at our potluck wedding reception. Keep your cold, expensive, catered wedding! I’ll be spending quality time with loved ones making wonderful memories… with a full belly of delicious FREE food.
patti p says
I have been to a potluck wedding and it was quite lovely. It was not tacky and not inappropriate. The bride and groom set the tone of the wedding. I would rather have many people together celebrating and sharing food they brought to be part of a community.
How did they word the invitation. I could sure use some ideas. Thanks
Well u must have great friends!!!! We did a potluck wedding and 4 couple friends of ours have done it since!!!!
I also disagree with this. You see, I’m from the south, and here that’s just what we do! Everyone pitches in on the food and drinks. And everyone loves hearing about how amazing their food is. And we don’t do a theme at all. One Aunt will bring smoked brisket, and my grandpa will bring pasta. You don’t even need a theme for a potluck. It’s really fun to have a mix of food. Why spend 4k or even $400 on a business to cater your wedding when you have a big family that loves to cook? That’s not tacky, that is a celebration!
Teri Corsaro says
Could we get your family to come north this summer? lol
Why would you invite people to your wedding that would judge you and talk behind your back ?
Exactly. Friends and family that would judge it as being ‘tacky’ should exclude themselves now. I don’t need friends like that.
So here is the cool thing – the wedding is not for you, it’s for me. I am merely inviting you to celebrate with me. And personally (along with roughly about 97% of the population), I think catered food taste like garbage and nothing makes me happier than home-cooked meals. If you think it is “tacky” for me to have a meal that brings my family/friends together and plan to “talk about me” behind my back, then you can leave your opinions and yourself at home 🙂
Weddings are not the place for judgement. They are a place for celebration.
Here, i’ll say it again for those of you in the back.
WEDDINGS ARE NOT THE PLACE FOR JUDGEMENT. THEY ARE A PLACE FOR CELEBRATION.
Mind your business, sis.
That is all.
I come from a really BIG family full of top notch cooks and barbecue party throwers – We Grill and make tender marinated steaks, Caesar Salad, baked potatoes with home made dressings and have family potluck birthdays with much the same tone … Our Holiday Dinners are like Royal Feasts – Tender Turkey, old secret family recipes, fruit salads, deviled eggs, rum candied yams and fluffy mashed potatoes … we regularly dine on Various Wild Game, red potatoes, home made casseroles and old fashioned macaroni and cheese… We even have a few super skilled Vegetarian cooks with long menus of vegetarian and vegan friendly diets … Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is…
I have been to dozens of weddings as a guest or attendee and I am sorry, the receptions are often horribly lacking in the food category- often overpriced puffery because somebody labeled the reception a “Wedding Reception”. $60 plates for overcooked shoe leather, a pouf of cheap iceberg salad and a lump of peanuts followed by sugary rubber cake? No thank you. All for the sake of oppulence? HA HA HA …. Sounds like a keeping up with the Joneses Movie plot …
I think the Family feast sounds much more appetizing. May the connections your fluffy wedding have be as well tended as that dry ham :/
Times have changed, and if the people in your life are not understanding of this, then maybe they shouldn’t be on your guest list. Just because a couple can’t afford to hire a caterer doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have food at their wedding — it’s their wedding day after all. What makes this not tacky is that it is in lieu of a gift. Plenty of people (in my life anyway) would probably prefer to bring a baked/cooked dish rather than a gift anyway. It’s more personable and less materialistic. If the couple doesn’t have everything they need, then maybe the potluck thing isn’t for them.
I agree with Nicole here, and am actually researching to do this with MY wedding, possibly.
I get the impression that people assume a potluck wedding is somehow because the couple can’t afford to pay for a caterer. This doesn’t have to be the case. In my case, we don’t want an over-the-top wedding. We do want a fun afternoon/evening party with the people we love. We’ve been together a long time, have lived on our own for a long time, and generally try to be eco friendly–not to mention that the people in our lives come from hugely varied backgrounds, including economic. This offers a solution to us not wanting any gifts (because people always want to bring something), it allows everyone to give and help to their own abilities, and ensures that everyone has something they can eat (a big deal when you have anaphylactics, vegans, and vegetarians included on your list).
People need to get over the idea that you need to drop thousands of dollars on a big fancy day to prove you love eachother. You have the rest of your lives to prove your love–buy a home with the money instead. Maybe if people cared about the marriage more than the wedding, there’d be less divorce.
Kara Neet-Marsh says
I LOVE this answer.💖
Mandy W says
We just got engaged a couple of weeks ago and we’re older (40s). I’ve been married before and when we were talking about wedding ideas at a family party (where everyone brought a dish and we provided burgers and hot dogs) and my mother-in-law to be jumped right in about the food and cake. Basically, all we have to do is pick a theme and cake design and that’s handled. It will be delicious food that everyone loves, it will be cost effective and our family will all feel like they were involved in our special day.
I think the idea of a potluck wedding is not tacky, as long as you take into consideration your guests. Do you have guests that are close friends and family that would be honored to pitch in? Talk to those people in person and make a plan. Don’t include that on the invitation, so your non-cooking friends/family don’t feel excluded in the fun. I’ve been to catered weddings where the food was good, but not a single kid in attendance ate anything (let’s face it, a lot of catered dinners are fancy foods that kids won’t even touch). I’ve also been to potluck weddings where everyone ate way too much, laughed way too hard and traded recipes until the wee hours. I really do think it depends on the people you’re inviting and how you want your day remembered. Catered, potluck, finger foods, afternoon tea…it’s your day to celebrate with people you love and even the food should be a part of that
We are having a potluck reception for my upcoming wedding in August. Everyone I’ve talked to about it raves about the idea – as a matter of fact I have an up and coming event designer offer to do my entire wedding for FREE and hire a photographer (also FREE for us) to publish on her blog. A potluck is economical, and eco-friendly. It adds a sentimental, personal touch. We will be donating any significant leftover food to a homeless shelter in our city. I wouldn’t call that tacky. Tactful, maybe.
Truth is, not everybody has $10,000 to spend on a wedding. Ours will be done for just under $4000. We are in our mid-twenties with young two daughters. We are still paying off our student loans, we don’t need to spend the next 5-10 years paying off a wedding too. Potluck was the smart choice for us. Not to mention that we have a lot of friends who are vegan or wheat sensitive. A potluck guarantees that there will be at least a few dishes for everyone to try.
It’s a community effort, a marriage. You need the support of your family and friends in times of hardship, which WILL happen inevitably. That’s why you invited them to your wedding to begin with. In my opinion, if you have friends who would talk about you behind your back about anything, let alone the choices you made for your own wedding day, than they aren’t true friends.
We are having a potluck wedding as well in August 2019. My fiance and I have decided to do a potluck reception. We are providing a taco bar and seafood boil along with a few sides. We do have a wedding registry…this is my first wedding and this would be his second. We have decided that our guests will have a choice of either brining a dish or gift. Or both it’s up to them. We are a very laid back couple and love a traditional family style cookout with family and closes friends. When I have told a few people what we are planning, people raved and even said they wished they had done that instead of paying thousands of dollars for one night. Our wedding is happening at the state park in SC….and the beach is just a few steps away for all of us to enjoy.
I can’t wait to have this sort of wedding. When April and Andy had a dinner party wedding on Parks and Recreation I wondered why more people didn’t do it. It’s really rude to call a potluck wedding tacky, Danielle. Besides, a punch and cake reception is a little boring, don’t you think?
I come from a family full of really good cooks who show their love by cooking special dishes. Their effort means more to me than their picking out some bs gift from a Target registry.
Nicole M says
I feel bad for the first poster: Danielle
Here’s why: If you have friends and family members that will be talking behind your back for having a potluck(not to mention that you actually care what people say about you), then I feel sorry for you. Have some pride, girl.
My fiancé and I are getting married in August and it is a potluck reception. The wedding style is informal and rustic. Many of our friends are wonderful cooks and in our invitation (which was a video by the way, not a formal I-just-killed-7-trees-two-envelope-embossed-cardstock invitation) we stated that in lieu of gifts, please bring your favorite dish and the recipe written on a 5×7 card so we can have them all. We also are providing beer, wine, and desserts. I, as well as the many friends and family members that will be attending, have expressed how amazing they think this event will be and consider that us providing drinks is more than fair. I do have quite a few “ladies” that are going to bring bigger-dish main courses just in case, and I am planning on keeping tabs of everything.
We love food, and to be honest, we cannot afford a catered meal. However, I have been to sooooooo many weddings where the food that was purchased for $15-$25 per person and consisted of dried out chicken with a 8 hour old sauce in a chafing dish or well done prime rib with what tastes like horsey-sauce from Arby’s on the side! This is just not what we want for our big day.
Anyways, I will come back and share our experience if I remember. By the way, a lot of our guests are going to be camping that night with us…. no drinking and driving!
Oh, I don’t think this is tacky at all! I LOVE this idea. I’m not the biggest fan of catered food & I MUCH prefer home-cooked meals! I have a large family that loves to get together for big dinners & many different family members have signature dishes. My dad’s smoked ribs, cousin’s coleslaw, soon-to-be mother-in-law’s baked beans, mom’s potato salad & grandmother’s macaroni and cheese are some of the best dishes I have ever had! Regardless of saving money (which just happens to be an awesome pro), we would rather have the best of the best for food at our wedding & that means asking our amazing families to make their signature dishes in lieu of a gift.
It isn’t always about the money, but rather sentiments and traditions.
This is a FANTASTIC idea! My fiance and I are just planning our wedding and from the start I had thought him and I would would do it all for our backyard wedding; he appy’s, BBQ meats and salads AND cupcakes. Our parents explained how much stress that would put on our big joy filled day and to let the families help out more. We are very do-it-yourself kind of people and don’t like to ask for help, and certainly can not afford catering. We weren’t sure about asking our guests to bring foods, but we realized they’ve all been offering to help this whole time. And as I already adore crafting, I don’t exactly need help on that front with the diy decorations. Your family and friends are going to be with you on that day to celebrate your union, and will be happy to help you in any way they can, and food is the easiest thing they could bring. Gifts and registries can be so stuffy, and puts a price on the gifts, and that is far tackier than a potluck could ever be. It’s all about the couple and the fact that two families are connecting, after all. 🙂
Due to the many food allergies and issues in our extremely large families and caterers not being understanding or wanting to almost double fees we have decided to do a potluck reception. We both come from families of excellent cooks !
Let ’em talk! It’s YOUR wedding and if you wanna have a potluck, that’s your choice and your right to do so. What do ya think the pioneers did back in the olden days? or the hippies back in the 60s and 70s? Not everyone wants to put all their money into the wedding. Better the money go into the marriage itself than some show-offy wedding where talkers will talk anyway simply because they can.
I am having a potluck wedding reception at a barn venue next month. I put instructions with my wedding invitations that we are kindly asking our guests to bring a dish instead of a gift. We are providing the smoked meats, drinks, and cake of course. We are both on our second marriage and have a mortage, blending families with 4 kids total, and are paying for our own wedding which still isn’t cheap even with doing potluck. We don’t need gifts, so this is a great way for our guests to feel like NOT doing a gift is okay. Not one person has scoffed and I’ve had only a handfull of people not respond with what they are bringing.
Would you be willing to share how you worded your invite?
Tracie Bates says
Same here Sheryl….We are getting married the end of October and also decided to have a BBQ potluck!! There will be the traditional cutting of the cake and all that, but I am also going to have a fire pit going with the makings for smores!!
No gifts needed because family and friends are the most important gift of all!!!!
Best of luck to you!!
This is pathetic. If you cant afford a wedding dont have one. Its enough hassle for people to take the day off, travel, and get dressed in proper attire for a wedding that asking them to now bring food is to much. Its not your guests fault you have a mortage, kids etc. If you cant afford to host it then you dont do it.
You do realize that you don’t have to attend every wedding that you get invited to if it is too much of a hassle for you to put on something other than sweatpants, right?
When did being invited to a wedding translate to “free meal ticket”?
Since when did having a wedding mean having an expensive wedding? Since when did it become EXPECTED that you MUST spend upwards of $10,000 on one day’s celebration. I find this to be extremely fake and not in the least intimate. no wonder why we have so many failed marriages in our society.
A wedding is supposed to be a celebration of the marriage of two people. And obviously if they are inviting you to it, you mean something in their lives, and they want you to be present for the celebration. If this offends you, and all you are interested in is free food and booze, then please don’t attend any wedding you are invited to, as it would be extremely shameful for you to do so.
If you choose to waste a bunch of money for your wedding on a single day, then you just go ahead and do so. When that debt adds stress to your marriage later, you will have only yourself to thank, and perhaps your fake friends who expected it of you.
Wow, Sentina. Way to be a pretentious asshole. It’s not your wedding first and foremost. And beyond that, as MANY other people have stated, SINCE WHEN did getting married become synonymous with putting yourself in debt so your so-called “friends” can attend a free party? You are not required to attend every wedding, and since you aren’t required to pay for it either, I really don’t think it’s up to you to decide what is or isn’t acceptable at someone else’s event. “Its not your guests fault you have a mortage, kids etc.”??? So having a life means they can’t also get married?My fiance and I are not rich, and yeah like any regular person we have financial obligations, but we deserve to get married just as much as anyone else does. OUT OF LOVE, not out of some stupid, twisted need to throw the party to end all parties. He has a VERY large family, and catering isn’t a realistic option for us. Since they are all Italian and all love to cook, no one saw any problem with us planning a potluck reception. All of them were thrilled that we wanted them to participate in such a meaningful way. And yes, food is very meaningful to a lot of people, though obviously not yourself. In my opinion, people like you are exactly what is wrong the world today. A wedding is a gathering of the people you care about to celebrate the union of two families and a loving couple that wants to spend the rest of their lives together. Big business has turned marriage into a pissing contest of who-spent-the-most-money. As a student of history, I can tell you that nearly every single one of the modern wedding “traditions” was thought up by an advertising guru to boost business. And as a person that has busted my ass for everything I have in my life (including my upcoming nuptials) I find it endlessly aggravating that people like you, with your pretension and obvious entitlement, seem to think things like a potluck are beneath you. You’re very lucky to have been born in this day and age, because not-so-far in the past things like this were commonplace. Potluck dinners are the origin of modern catering. I sincerely hope that no one in your life tries to “burden you” with wedding invitations ever again. And additionally I think you need to seriously re-evaluate the things you find important in life, lest you be swallowed up by your own materialistic bullshit.
Thank you for posting that. I ended up deleting my account from an online wedding forum because of the hateful attitude that almost all of the other posters took toward my potluck reception. They even followed me to other posts about reception decorations to haze me about my reception choice. They kept insisting that it would make everyone sick. My response was, if you don’t know how to keep food safe at a potluck, don’t have one. And, what do they think all of our parents, grandparents, etx did all the way down the line…and we’re all here to tell the tale 🙂 I can’t wait for our reception and all of our friends and family are excited and already joking about who’s going to have the best dish.
Why does it have to be a hassle to go to a wedding? If you think someone is so pathetic, for whatever reason, you probably shouldn’t be involved with them. Weddings have a horrible reputation for being a boring “sit-around-waiting-for-shit” event with disgusting food, so why not change that. Pot lucks give the guests the opportunity to have food they actually like, and he’ll, making a dish is cheaper than a lot of wedding gifts, so YOURE one of the ones being spared of this great “hassle” you feel obligated to. A wedding shouldn’t be about “if you can’t afford it then…” it’s about family.
Wow, Some people still want a nice day filled with friends and family- and yet can’t afford caterers. If you think its a hassle to bring a salad and be part of a full day of love- than you should just stay home. Weddings used to all be families coming together and making the meals. I am glad there is a renewed potluck idea for a wedding. At the end of the day, it is only a darn party and ways to keep it less stressful on a couple starting out should be welcomed and embraced. I think that with the costs of weddings these days, there are going to be more “alternatives” to a three-course dried up chicken meal.
colleen singh says
I am planning a wedding for early August 2014. My ceremony is taking place at a small art gallery for 50-65 guests, all of whom will be immediate family and very close friends. I have intended to serve a potluck meal immediately following the ceremony at the same location. There is a benefit of saving money, but my reasons for choosing this style meal are not that. I and my fiance have grown up in a mid western community where the milestones in our lives (out side of weddings) are often celebrated by families getting together and sharing food. Retirements, graduations, baby showers, even BRIDAL showers are often pot luck events and it is totally the norm. Now that I want to plan a pot luck meal for my wedding my family is completely against it and I can’t get any better explanation than “It’s just not how it’s done.”
I feel with a small ceremony in a non traditional venue a pot luck style meal suits the event and it suits us as a couple. I think it personalizes the event and shows that we care about each other by sharing an important day with food we bring and share.
And it certainly doesn’t get you off the hook for effort and expense. I intent to provide food and drink refreshment during the half hour it will take to break down the room from the ceremony and set it up again for dinner. I will be providing linens, pour service if wine is served, disposable (yet classy) plates, cups, and flatware, and at least one large main dish if not two. I will also have to coordinate with family and friends as to what foods they can bring to make sure we have adequate variety and quantities.
For me it’s about what best suites me. And if I save some money on not having a caterer that’s great.
I am getting married this October, and here’s the thing… my fiance & I are both 25, both putting ourselves through college & are taking care of ourselves financially. We won’t be getting much [if any] help from either of our families financially, nor do we expect it, so we plan on paying for our wedding ourselves. While I have definitely thought about going to justice of the peace given our small budget and that we can’t wait to get married & start our life together, we want to share & celebrate our special day with our closest family & friends that we know want to be a part of it. So we are going through with a simple outdoor ceremony & reception.
When we were announcing our engagement to our family, we had quite a few SUGGEST we do a potluck reception & OFFER to help bring dishes to share. Knowing how much it will cost to have the food catered, and the fact that so many have made it known that they will be more than happy to help do so, I am seriously considering going the potluck route. It can be tastefully done, and if you invite those who truly care for you, they won’t find it to be a “hassle” & will gladly help out any way they can.
What makes me sad is that people have lost sight of what a wedding is… A wedding isn’t about how much a couple can or can’t spend, or how much they can put themselves in debt to kick-start their marriage. It isn’t about how fancy the wedding was or wasn’t, or how great the food was. A wedding is simply about two people making a lifelong commitment to each other & having their loved ones be a witness to it. Nothing more, nothing less.
So to those wondering if something you want to do for your wedding will be ill-received… Who cares what others think about how you decide to do YOUR WEDDING?! As long as you are getting married for the right reasons, who cares?! It’s YOUR wedding day, and if you’re happy, so should be those who truly love you, period.
I am shocked at the negative responses.
I think just because you may have less money, and dont have the privledge of having parents to pay, does not mean two people should not be able to get married and have the celebration. Having your family experience the first kiss, the dress, walking down the isle, the facial expressions is not something someone should miss out on by settling because others do not want to bring food.
If you are a person in someones life and this turns you off, check off decline and dont go. It would be better off for everyone. It is selfish for someone to refuse to spend maybe $25 on extra food to make a dish, but for some reason be okay with spending over $50 on a gift for the couple? Think of the appreciation and praise you would get when people try your dish. That doesnt beat anything.
Howard nailed it. People are accustomed to bringing registered gifts. If the type of gift a couple wants is food, then bring the food. I don’t see what the problem is. If you would rather bring a non-edible gift instead of food, then stay home. Easy.
I am invited to a potluck wedding and I feel insulted. Not only am I asked to bring food, but I am told what to bring.
There is a rented ceremony location, a rented reception hall, a hired professional photographer, a hired DJ, alcohol being served, but the guests have to bring the food? Sounds like the budget ran out and this idea come about due to lack of funds. Do we have to bring our own plates and utensils?
If you plan a potluck wedding from the beginning then the extra frills should have been cut also. Music can be played without a “DJ”, there is definitely at least one guest who would donate the photography and a good time can be had without alcohol.
A well planned event of this style is fine if other financial compromises are made.
Wow. I can’t believe this response. Did you ever think that maybe this couple is entirely capable of paying for catering (as it would seem from the list of vendors they’re using), but want to bring a level of involvement and community to their guests? That maybe they want to, for lack of better phrasing, “taste the love,” that their loved ones put into sharing food with them? On the one hand, if you are that offended by being asked to bring a dish, it seems like you are not that close with the bride and groom in the first place. Also, being asked to bring a specific dish is a bit iffy, but how else is one supposed to coordinate a menu, as this list suggests?
While reading your description a thought came to mind. I know it sounds somewhat strange, but I imagined a celebrity couple in this same situation. Say someone like, Idk, Reese Witherspoon or Sandra Bullock or something. Inviting her guests to her beautiful, all inclusive, rustic chic hometown wedding; excepting that she asks her guests to bring the food. No one would think that was tacky, it would be a fun, humorous way for her to involve her guests in her ceremony. Part of an almost kitschy theme. No one would think it a matter of taste, because everyone is quite aware that she could pay for catering if she wanted to. It would be sweet, and a way to invite a closeness with the guests that might not otherwise be there. See? Doesn’t that take the whole question of tactfulness right out of it? A potluck is a THEME, not an application for foodstamps.
And even if it was a matter of budget, wouldn’t you want to help your loved ones, anyway?
This article pretty well sold me on the idea – but I think it matters who you are inviting and how they feel about food and about you. If I were to do it I would probably only enlist the closest of my friends and family to participate (and obviously the food would be the gift).
Especially in the case that your friends and family are planners and want to help organize you could make sure everything is worked out with a google doc or something.
Growing up, I was raised to believe that “food is love” and sharing food is a way of showing your love for others. In that light, a potluck can be a really suitable choice for a wedding.
Inspired Bride says
Good insight and well put Emma! “Food is love” – Love it!
Thanks for sharing!
floral design says
I agree with Emma. “food is love” and sharing food is a way of showing your love for others.
Very nice article.
Wishes from greece
Question: These menus seem all fine and good, but how are you supposed to get, even a small wedding, say 50 people, to bring only a menu of ten things? Do you ask several people to bring the same dish, so there is more volume of one item? Practically speaking, most everyone wants to bring their famous “whatever,” so coordinating a themed menu of your choosing seems somewhat impossible, no? Also, there’s the matter of matching the serving dishes, as all of your beautiful images do? And the matter of heating/renting serving equipment, and plates and utensils? Has anyone done this and can speak from experience? Seems like a person would need to be hired day-of, if not a team, to coordinate your non-catered event, just as much as a catering team would. I would really like to know if a potluck can be pulled off so elegantly. Thank you.
Hi! Your comment raises some very valid points! Having 8 dishes of various family members’ famous potato salad and 2 dishes of coleslaw wouldn’t make for a very exciting or practical wedding menu. The thing to remember is that it’s a potluck wedding, which is meant to be informal and fun!. So you can pull your guests in on the planning phase. Presumably the individuals you ask are close friends or family. Remember, you don’t have to ask everybody to bring in dishes, so if you plan to ask 10 guests to bring a dish, invite those 10 friends over for dinner or drinks a month or two in advance. Tell them which dishes you need and confirm with each one which dish and how many servings they are making.
This will ensure that each guest will be bringing something different. As far as the larger parts of the meal (the meat, or what would be considered the main entree), most brides and grooms supply that. Schedule a day to drop off a dish for your family member or friend so that all of the food is in matching dishes. Also, enlisting some help for the day of the wedding isn’t a bad idea. Have someone be in charge of collecting the food, putting it out on display, setting up portable buffets, etc.
Most importantly, remember that you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself and having a great time! 🙂
I feel like, we just had the wedding, why do we have to pay for ALL the food? Let friends and family feel more involved by bringing a dish to share!
Therese Tucker says
Found this article by googling “potluck wedding!” We are planning an outdoor potluck wedding for this July and I’m still struggling with how to word the invitations. Any suggestions or past experience is absolutely welcome! I want to capture the “nourish our love” idea… thoughts?
Therese Tucker says
Found this article by googling “potluck wedding!” We are planning an outdoor potluck wedding for this July and I’m still struggling with how to word the invitations. Any suggestions or past experience is absolutely welcome! I want to capture the “nourish our love” idea… thoughts?
Therese – You can word it as “Cook and Share your favorite family recipe / dish with the happy couple” can work. You can also keep it short and sweet by limiting it to “Bring your favorite dish”. I personally like the first option since you get the menu and the dish, simply because;
1. You’ll know that these guests will put in extra effort in making the dishes delicious. They are representing the best of what their own family has to cook after all.
2. I bet you’ll walk away with 1 or 2 recipes that are to die for that are worthy to keep in your own family recipe book. Plus, you can cook it for your spouse in your own kitchen as you remember that special day.
Heads up, couscous isn’t gluten-free!
You are absolutely correct! Thanks for the observation. I think a Quinoa Mix is a great GR alternative.
i am doing a potluck reception; would it be ok if i wrote a suggestion, like salad, side-dish, beverage, etc…. i live in an area that im afraid everyone would bring green jello & “funeral” potatoes.
Sandra Terry says
My boyfriend and I are planning to do this for our wedding and when we mentioned it to his grandparents turns out their wedding had a potluck reception too and both of the weddings I attended for my family weren’t potluck but the food was created by certain family members and of course it was delicious food and both receptions were held in family homes/back yards. I’m trying to figure out the logistics though, when we figure out where we want to have the reception (it’ll be in one of our parents’ home most likely) when do guests bring the their dishes, prior to the ceremony? Do they bring it the same day? The day before? The ceremony will be in another location and it will be short. The plan is to ask family members to make dishes (I really want to make some of the desserts).
Sandra – Great question. It really depends on the type of dishes people will bring and whether it will be served hot or cold, but asking people to bring the food the morning of the reception usually works best. I suggest that you ask a friend or a family member to be the point person in organizing it and making sure the food is served the way it should be (you don’t want to serve it cold if it should be heated). Preferable you want your guests to drop off the dishes along with a note on how it should be heated (or mixed) right before serving. You’ll want to set expectations on what people should expect from the kitchen. The last thing you want is a kitchen rush.
Sandra Terry says
Thank-you so much for the quick response :).
You’re very welcome! Congrats to you and your boyfriend – soon to be hubby 🙂
Sandra Terry says
This is a fantastic idea!! And there are so many helpful comments here!! My fiancè are moving in 6 short months and want to have a wedding with all of our friends and family before we relocate, so potluck is both affordable and (in my opinion) the best idea EVER!! We are moving 11 hours away (military relocation), so if we received gifts from our guest it would add to what we already have to move… We combined our homes a year ago and truly have everything we could possibly need plus some. I truly love the idea of the potluck because it allows the guest to be involved in the planning and celebration of our love! Plus… Keeps people from having to spend money on a fancy gift. Thank you so much for this article and info! And congrats to all of the couples planning their weddings!!
Julie Landrum says
We have started a small rustic wedding venue at our vineyard in the Texas Hill Country and we specialize in potluck receptions (it isn’t the only type of reception we do, however). We think it is very romantic and hails of sweet by-gone times when family and a sense of community were at the center of daily life. It is a choice to be made that celebrates the Union of two people with the gift of food. It is a gift that represents prayers/wishes of sustenance for the new couple as they approach their new life together. Think of it as a harvest and abundance celebration! Other thoughts:
* Most couples these days have already established a home together and don’t need a registry anyway
*it is a way for everyone invited to participate in the event instead of just being a guest
*to each her own! It isn’t for everyone-but is totally acceptable as an option. These days really ANYTHING GOES!! Make it yours!
Our vineyard is called Finca de la Luna. We are in Lampasas, TX-one hour from Austin. We can host an event up to 100 people.
I’m doing a potluck wedding and can’t wait! So many weddings I’ve been to have had totally forgettable food at best, disgusting catering at worst. My friends and family can throw down with food and it’s going to be delicious! My biggest recommendation to bride’s doing this is don’t mention it on any online wedding forums. You will be roasted alive by snobby people who see potluck as trashy.
I’m pretty sure back in the days in farming villages and small communities, the town would get together and bring food to celebrate for the bride and groom. If anything, potluck parties are old traditions that will never die off.
As a bride-to-be planning a comfy semi-casual and semi-dressy BBQ party, I’d still be happy if a guest wants to bring chips and guacamole. I can save my guest some money, and they don’t have to go out and hunt for a gift. I’m quite certain other guests will appreciate it and clean up the dipping bowl of guacamole! However, I do have friends and relatives who loves to put effort in cooking… and I’m sure they would brag about their new recipes!
Note: I will have a private and fast ceremony in San Francisco’s City Hall. So all of that “I do” stuff will be done.
Lorien Frain says
We both come from close-knit families where potluck-style get-togethers happen several times a year, whether it be birthdays, holidays, baby showers, or weddings. Heck we did a potluck baby shower and every single person brought food AND a gift and everyone was happy to go home with a full belly and leftovers. No one ever complains about having to bring a dish, everyone always looks forward to Terry’s beans, Eric’s smoked meats, and my sister’s desserts, as well as whatever new recipes everyone is trying. The people who don’t cook usually bring gifts, drinks, alcohol, or cash. Both of our families are the type that would rather sit down to a home cooked meal than some stuffy catered plate. The idea of catering weddings is new, they use to all be potluck/picnic style where everyone brought their best dish and shared. There’s no better way to celebrate our day than bringing our families together to eat, and if anyone has a problem with that, then they can stay home.
Do u think it works for coming from other country guests or all them families and close friends live very far? Like 10 hours to get there by airplane.
Can I just say thank you to everyone who has posted so many positive comments on here? HW other day, I used NY weddingwire.com account to post a thread about planning a wedding with a 2k or less budget and I included pot luck in my description.
Well, I was mocked, teased, cyber bullied and trolled!!!! The post went viral and I had so many hateful comments, the thread got deleted before I could explain or defend myself.
Reading these comments has helped my poor bruised ego a bit. I’m still cautious about a pot luck wedding…. But I really want to do it! I’ve just lost all my passion and confidence about the idea….
So I’m getting married in Oct in my grandma’s backyard at her farm. Our family loves the idea, and I did too…until I was cyber bullied into thinking I was a “selfish, entitled, tacky, trashy moron” (some of the most common insults thrown at me). I was told my guests would hate it, talk behind my back, the food would be disgusting, cold, or worst case scenario poison and kill my guests!!!
Any tips for making it work to serve 80-100 people? We are thinking about having at least 3-5 dishes prepared by us, and only asking those who want to be included to call and set up and organize what to bring with my aunt or something like that. I like the idea of adding that if they bring food, no need to bring a gift.
Also, its an evening/night wedding on Oct 7th so hard to gauze weather and hot/cold. Should we rent or buy the little server burner candle thingies to keep dishes hot? Or try to keep food in the house? And should we hire servers or bartenders? We have concerns about those who drink driving home drunk….
Any advice would be appreciated. I feel so lost about this, when I used to be so sure and confident…
While I have only been to 4 receptions, overwhelmingly the ones I had the most fun were potlucks outside, at a farm. If you’re wanting to make sure the environment stays informal, or a bit more intimate it’s a great way to go. The trick is to keep the “hot” food somewhere it will stay hot – in the oven, covered with baking sheets, etc while you’re waiting to eat. Then run it like any other potluck – have somewhere for people to line up to get to the food, remind people to attempt to be orderly, and bring the food out in stages. Or ask that everyone bring a dish that can be served cold and provide a warm main course like BBQ or chili (what I’ll be doing at my October wedding) that can be easily made, and kept warm, in large quantities.
As far as the drunk driving is concerned, you can do a “key basket” at the bar and have someone you trust to remain sober man the alcohol and the keys then talk to your grandma about either allowing people to pitch tents or sleep in her house if they’re drinking, you could also talk to a few people you trust (and who won’t mind being DDs) to drive people home. Lots of options.
You do you! I’m sure it’ll be great.
Lucy Gardner Carson says
Here’s some wording I put together for my daughter’s wedding next fall. Not sure yet if she will do potluck because so many guests are traveling, but she loves this wording so much she told me I should post it.
The main text could go on a pretty card or sheet of paper enclosed with the invitation. The last part is a variation on a traditional response card.
One Family, One Table
On this day we join not just two people in marriage, but two families, together with our dearest friends and loved ones.
Let us gather at one table and share offerings from our treasured recipes, favorite things from our own traditions of meals shared at special occasions, handed down from one generation to the next, as we reflect with joy and love on those who have shared our table and been a part of our family.
If (and only if) your circumstances allow, in lieu of a gift we invite you to bring to the reception a dish to share that resonates with your own tradition of favorite hors d’oeuvres, entrées, side dishes, or sweets—home made or store bought—accompanied by a signed 4 x 6 recipe card that will be gratefully incorporated into a Family Recipe Collection for [Bride] and [Groom]. Meats, beverages, condiments, and serving supplies will be provided.
Lord, we ask your blessing on the food before us,
the family and friends around us,
and the love between us.
The favour of a reply is requested by August 16.
___ Accepts with pleasure
___ Declines with regret
___ Number attending
___ YES, I think it would be a fun adventure to participate in the potluck reception and I am not concerned about whether or not it’s tacky. No promises, but I would like to bring __________________________________ to serve ____
___ NO, I am overwhelmed at the prospect of participating in the potluck reception for logistical and / or other reasons, but I know you love me anyway. And I just might contribute a recipe card …
Please tell your daughter that I love this wording so much I’m going to steal it for my wedding…
Thank you for this post!
A backyard BBQ/Potluck wedding is exactly what we are planning. Yes, it is partially to save money (I have enough to pay off in student loans), but it is also because neither of us wants something big and fancy. To us it is more fun to bring the family and friends who are important to us together, and a potluck is a great way to do that. If we have family or friends that wouldn’t approve of this type of wedding we would probably know not to invite them-they would probably ruin the day no matter what kind of wedding we have. I like the idea of asking them to also share recipes (whether they bring a dish, bag of chips, or just themselves) and creating a recipe book (someone mentioned this idea above), to keep and share with people who came. With this idea, I could probably find out who would want one, print off the pages, and create the book myself. Could still be a lot of work but it would be fun and a memorable thank you gift.
For gifts, I have seen a couple potluck wedding posts, and they all differ on the approach to this. I would probably note that it is not required but here is where we are registered if you would like to get something anyways.
Inspired Bride says
That’s exactly the way to do it well. It becomes more about the family getting together and less about saving money. Who can say no to a good family get together. You go girl!
Oh good grief. Your reception is a thank-you to your friends and family for their support. You don’t thank someone by making them pay for your party, and that’s exactly what you’re doing by asking people to bring food. This is pretty much the worst wedding advice I’ve ever seen.
I disagree Julie! I am from NY, my husband is from CT. We met in SC 28 years ago and had a small potluck wedding at my parents home. The wedding is a feast for all to enjoy and celebrate the couple. It’s not a thank you to your friends. My friends would have been horrified if they had NOT been allowed to cook and contribute something to the celebration.
Riff Goodes says
Your reception is a party, to which you invite the people you love and who love you. Making and sharing food is an expression of love.
A thank you card is a thank you!
Potluck was the traditional wedding for a very long time, this having a huge catered event is fairly modern. In the south it is still very common to have a potluck wedding.
I love it!
It lets families share a pice of themselves, their heritage & traditions, if done correctly. We recently had a potluck wedding in the family & they asked that we bring our favorite/signature dish but we also typed out the recipe & sent to the brides mom. She then printed them all out & it was giving as a memento to everyone. It was a great way to see the blending of two families by way of food.
At another wedding we was asked to bring a dish representing our heritage. Now that was AMAZING! It was delicious trying foods from other countries that a lot of us hadn’t before.
There is so many ways to personalize a potluck wedding and make it unique.
To me, a wedding is a community event. There is celebration and partying but I will also be inviting loved ones to attend as witnesses, a very important role in any ceremony, and as supporters as we take this huge step in our lives. I’ve been to a wedding where witnesses also took a vow to support and protect the marriage, and I loved that idea and it made me feel more connected to the couple. Community is deeply rooted in a marriage as we begin to form a family. And the more you can do to bring your little village together in the process would make for a more meaningful day I think. My fiancée is a cook and both our families are foodies so for us it’s a good fit and a way to involve our loved ones. As far as logistics, I was thinking of providing the entree/protein and then having categories: sides, appetizers, drinks, desserts. Last names A-G would provide sides, H-M appetizers, and so on. Has anyone seen it done that way?
Oh my goodness. Do whatever you want, its your wedding. Love the heck out of your partner – no one else’s opinion matters unless they are chalking up the $ for it. It doesn’t make the marriage any better if you spend little or a lot. I have been married for 34 years and am a wedding event planner/designer. Weddings are just the beginning – its how much TIME YOU SPEND ON YOUR MARRIAGE that matters, not how much money you spend on the wedding.
Amen. Well said!
I had a potluck wedding, and 32 years later my son’s wedding will be a potluck wedding.
I’m sad for the young ladies who do not have family and friends who would enjoy an intimate wedding like this.
If you actually do your research, you will find that pretty much all of the “traditions” we have now are very silly and based on marketing or superstition. For example, white wedding dresses started as copying royalty. Dresses used to just be your best dress, owned or made new.. any color!
I’m not against modern weddings, or the wedding industry making their money, but I wish some people wouldn’t judge everyone else so harshly based on their preferences and biases.
Best wishes to all and just do your best with what works for your families.
So, my friend is getting married, large bridal party. The bride isn’t well to do but also not poor. The wedding is about 9 months away. In the bridesmaid group text, after the dresses and shoes were hashed out, she sent a piece of paper with all of her bridesmaids names and a few family members names. Next to a couple of the names were food items, the rest had blank spaces. At the bottom of the page was a list of almost everything needed for the reception, followed by a message stating people can split stuff but this is what I need. I signed up for something and then read later that the guest count was 200 people! We are southern so I didn’t mind the initial concept. But 200 people! Shouldn’t that be explained? How can I tactfully address this with her? I will have a small wedding of 50 because I can only afford 50. I would love to have a 200 count wedding, and have other people pay for it but it doesn’t sit well with me.
I am absolutely having a potluck wedding, but several people on the groom’s side are probably not the type to cook. I’d like the invitations to include a few statements but I’m not sure how to word it without rambling on. We’ll have been together for over a decade by the time the wedding happens, and we have two kids already in elementary school, so we don’t really need any of the traditional starter gifts. So any suggestions on how to be classy and convey the following:
Please bring a favorite dish OR check out our Amazon wish list, but feel free not to bring anything because we have everything we need and the gifts are frivolous.
Thanks for any advice!
Potluck or BBQ over catered any day!
My cousins spent oodles on catering, nobody liked the supper, the cake was dry and they are about 100k in debt from it all.
When the wife asked ‘you’re having a big beautiful wedding like we did right’…
I said ‘Heck no, potluck or BBQ. Debt isn’t our thing.’
I can see both sides of this. I’ve been to only one potluck wedding and it turned out great. There were about 100 people and the invitation was careful to state that it wasn’t necessary to bring a dish. But the majority of people did and there was way more than enough food. The only downside was that a few of us had been asked to sort of handle organizing all the dishes and it turned into a big job that we spent the entire reception doing. Just something to keep in mind if you have a lot of guests!
But personally I wouldn’t do it. I don’t want to expect guests to get dressed up, travel, maybe find and pay for childcare, and also buy, prepare and transport your wedding food? I’m not from the South. Maybe it is cultural and I can see the ‘community’ part of it but where I’m from I feel it’s more of ‘thank you for coming to celebrate with us, here is dinner as our treat and to commemorate the day’.
I absolutely love this idea! My MIL to be suggested this. We are young and in love, why put ourselves in debt for a party to celebrate this love. The people you invite to your wedding will be ones that support you and raise you! and of COURSE! i want to eat my families amazing food on our wedding day. We love the idea of a wedding cook book! we are sold on our potluck wedding!
I was worried that doing a potluck reception would be frowned upon by my guests to my wedding this coming November, but after reading some of the responses, I can confidently say that I am BEYOND excited to have this kind of reception. My fiance and I don’t need any monetary gifts. We combined two households and have all the essentials we could ever ask for. I want my wedding day to be something that is special for me and my family to rave about for years and years. The way I see it, there’s no better way to celebrate the joining of two families than sitting around with those that love you with food you love that was prepared out of love for me and my future husband. If the people I invite to share my special day with choose to believe that this is tacky, poor, tasteless, classless, etc., then they can show themselves out. My wedding day isn’t to appease everyone. It’s MY wedding day and it only has enough room for those who truly sought to be there out love and happiness for my own happiness. Hopefully those who have differing opinions can at least step back and see the whole picture before placing negative views on something that is meant to bond a family in more ways than one.