I’m going to self cater my own reception and wedding events, but my situation’s a little different. I have a culinary background, a small guest list (hopefully 50), and a rustic/casual theme. What kind of reception are you having (formal, casual, day time, evening)?
I strongly suggest keeping it simple and within your regular cooking abilities. Some cost cutting options could be:
-Making boxed lunches–here more variety in sandwiches is both do-able and inexpensive
-Buying only the entrees pre-made/catered, and make the sides and salad yourself
-Pot luck (depends on the vibe and guests)
-All pre-made appetizers/h’or dourves–phyllo dough stuffed with spinach and cheese, satays, meatballs, bread, olives, cheeses, fruit, dips, spreads…. Choosing things that can be served cold or room temperature is less maintainance than things that must be kept hot, which may degrade in quality as the meal goes on. Also avoid things that are fried or hot & crispy (become soggy from steam).
-Taco bar. Set out fixings (chicken or beef could be in crock pots or chafing dishes over sternos) and let your guests make their own. Put hard taco shells under a heat lamp (often attached to a wooden cutting board) to keep warm and crunchy.
Also, if you’re doing buffet style, remember to have lots of extra plates (never reuse dirty plates!) and more than one food station to prevent long lines. Having multiple stations all over your venue can also encourage mingling.
Don’t forget to consider the costs of rentals and any hired servers/food maintainers, which may cause your "per head" costs to change as well.