(Closed) Anyone else doing a potluck wedding?

posted 5 years ago in Food
Post # 3
823 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

@jbbs1222:  I personally do not feel that wedding is an appropriate event at which to do a potluck. Asking guests to bring food to feed themselves is something I would never do.  If you can’t afford to feed your guests, then do a simple drinks and dessert reception, but do not ask guests at your wedding to provide their own meal. 

Post # 4
748 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

I had a friend that did this at her church, and my FI’s parents did this back in the day. If you are saying, “Bring a dish, not a gift” I think it is okay… this is what both of these couples did. Otherwise it is a bit odd for your guests to bring food and gifts, IMO.

Post # 5
1902 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

We didn’t really do a potluck (I wanted to, though!), but the caterers we hired were friends of the family (local CWA) and they did an afternoon tea style reception for us (only $22/head!). After that, we had a BBQ and some pizzas in our pizza oven, which were all cooked by any friends or family that wanted to man the BBQ or oven!

I think, logistically, potluck can be a little tricky – guests bring food for the ceremony, which will need to be stored somehow until the reception (could be a few hours!), and it needs to be kept warm or cool, served, etc. It would probably be easier if you got a few of the closer friends/family to make larger portions (e.g. one person do a few roasts, someone else make a few salads, etc.), so that all of the different dishes are easier to coordinate.

Post # 6
1253 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

If you are already providing the main dish then I really think your budget could extend to provding some sides as well, surely? You could get close family to help you make them up and store them in the fridges you mention.  Making up batches of potato/pasta salad, green salad, veggies, bread rolls etc. would be pretty cheap.  I just think pot-luck for a wedding would be too hard to organise, particularly if you have a large guest list. In order to ensure you had enough of everything you would need to pretty much dictate to people what they needed to bring, otherwise you’d end up with a little bit of everything and it would all run out before everyone had been served.   Everything would have to be cold unless you were also going to have heating capabilities on site.   This is in addition to the whole etiquette issue of asking guests to byo their own food that others have raised. 


Post # 7
1158 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

Why not just serve what you can afford? I don’t see anything wrong with pizza and salad for a casual wedding. I would totally do that before I asked guests to bring food. You could also do the sandwich platters, have fruit and salad. 

Post # 8
5986 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2013

Hmm, I think it’ll be tough to pull off, but you can do it.  Why not?  A wedding doesn’t necessarily have to be fancier than a normal party you’d throw.

That said, I would definetly put a “Bring a dish, not a gift” message on the RSVP, and I’d be prepared that everything is not going to “go together” perfectly.  

Post # 9
2775 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: April 2010

I don’t think potlucks are appropriate for weddings.  A wedding reception should be fully hosted because it is supposed to be a thank-you to your guests for attending your ceremony.  Asking for a dish in lieu of a gift doesn’t make it okay from an etiquette standpoint because gifts are not mandatory to begin with.

There are also the logistical issues PPs have brought up – keeping the food at proper temperature (I know you said there are refrigerators on-site but what about during transport and during the event while everything is sitting out) and making sure there is enough quantity and variety to feed everybody a meal.

Pizza or sub platters would be fine for a casual, inexpensive wedding.

Post # 10
9414 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2013

It might be more trouble than it’s worth IMO…why don’t you just go with the pizzas?  That sounds better to me than a lot of random dishes.

You can do it but you need to ask everyone what they can bring and then organize everything.  You want to make sure you are covering all your food bases and you need to make sure everything can be kept heated or cooled as appropriate.  So you need to make sure you have another space and plug ins for crock-pots, etc. 

Just make sure to tell them to bring food instead of a gift.

Post # 11
866 posts
Busy bee

You are likely to get a lot of negative responses from people but don’t necessarily let them disaude you. I was at a potluck wedding last year and it was one of my favorite weddings ever and it truly had the best food of any wedding I have been to, everyone went above and beyond for their dishes.

Only you know the crowd you are dealing with and how this will go over. My worry for potluck is all the organizing it takes but if you plan all the details I think it can work just fine.

Post # 12
1293 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2018

@TattedNYBride:  +1. It is incredibly inappropriate. So I take time out of my life to attend a wedding, spend money on a gift, AND pay for the food too? I just wouldn’t go.

Of course I wouldn’t advocate breaking your budget and spending money you don’t have, but a pot luck wedding is just tacky, rude, and cheap in my opinion. I would stick to appetizers, cocktails, desserts, or anything that is cheaper that you guys can afford (even if that means cutting down on numbers). The logistics of bringing food to a wedding and having it stay hot would be a nightmare too. There are other threads like this one that received similar feedback.

Post # 13
1071 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@jbbs1222:  I would love to go to a potluck wedding, I think that sounds awesome.  Perhaps you could use a website and/or facebook to help corrdinate who brings what?  However, I think the sucess of this project really depends on the number and the type of people coming to your wedding.  I think you could totally do cheap catering, for example I bet this place:




which is a cheap local greek restaurant would cater for around $10 a head and people could just serve themselves buffet style, and then you could ask everyone to bring their favorite dessert!




Post # 14
514 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

@jbbs1222:  I think if you are going to do potluck, you shouldn’t ask guests to bring food, but try to ask close people to you (aunts, parents, bridal party, grandparents) to help. Maybe you provide the main course and each provides a side dish/desert. This way, it may be more of a planned meal than your guests showing up and everyone made deviled eggs or mashed potatoes. It’s very hard to request your guests to make something specific and I think it may be off-putting to guests.

Post # 15
4524 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

@kellmerr:  +10 same here: would we love a seated reception? You  bet! Can we swing it? No way in hell…but we CAN provide some killer BBQ, wings and Mexican food 🙂

@jbbs1222:  Sorry, OP: I’m of the school of “if I host it, I don’t ask for anything.” I would be STOKED to attend a reception with pizza and subs instead of rubbery chicken and lukewarm veggies. I think this is a great oppertunity to go outside the box with food people won’t expect.

Post # 16
1863 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

I’m Maid/Matron of Honor in a wedding next year where the family of the couple is doing a potluck style reception.  Each aunt/sister/cousin/uncle/grandma etc is being assigned 1 dish and they will make enough of it to feed all of the guests.  That way, the bride and her mom can control the food a little more and they’ll save money.  The family did it for her cousin’s wedding and apparently, it worked great.  They’re doing BBQ style food. 

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