The casual, rustic/romantic wedding trend is definitely still going strong. If you are incorporating this kind of theme, DIY barbecue for your big day will fit perfectly and can even save you some serious cash on food costs. We had the chance to get tips for creating a budget-friendly, Pinterest-worthy BBQ spread from Tony Roma’s Pitmaster, Jack Vogt. Not planning a wedding reception? These ideas are also terrific for any party from 4th of July to Labor Day and more!


Getting Started: DIY Barbecue Strategies

All wedding receptions require planning and prep work, but it’s even more essential when you’re going the DIY route. Jack recommends first deciding what you’re going to serve (more on that later!) and then letting that dictate how. A lot of the elements you’ll serve with barbecue can even be made days or weeks in advance, making it a far more manageable menu than most. Freeze what you can — things like bread, pastries and sauces — and save the chopping, dicing and marinating for a day or so before your big day.

Hopefully, you can enlist the help of friends and family members to help tend to the grill — ideally in shifts throughout the reception so no one misses out on the fun — instead of hiring staff. Those folks who’d like to lend a hand but aren’t so comfortable working with food can be put to use keeping platters well-stocked and assisting the grillmasters as needed.

Sourcing Equipment

Whether you buy, rent or borrow equipment depends a lot on the size of your reception. If you’re going the purchase route, Jack recommends taking a look at this list from to help narrow down your picks. Just think: You’ll be reminded of wedding day memories every time you light up the grill, as newlyweds and for many years to come!

Larger parties may require you to go the rental route, which gives you the chance to ask your assigned grillmasters whether they prefer cooking with charcoal or gas. Like any wedding vendor, it’s important to not just search for rental companies but also vet them. Jack encourages you speak with anyone you know that’s hosted a backyard BBQ or wedding reception to get their feedback before you make your final choice.


Keep It Simple

Barbecue really helps you stick to Jack’s number one piece of advice: Keep it simple. It’s casual and comforting in its own right, so you don’t need to spend a lot of time fussing to get a great result. And if you do go all out — say, choosing more complicated cuts or preparations — he proposes that you should consider other places where you can reduce your workload. A great idea that’s certainly popular nowadays is using a serve-yourself type of setup in lieu of individually plated meals.

The Cuts

Designing the menu can be a whole lot of fun, even if you’re working with a tight budget. Jack suggests skipping the filet mignon, and opting for flank steak instead. It’s not only a FAR less expensive cut, but also takes well to a variety of marinades — a great way to customize the flavor and let your personality shine through. Chicken is another great, crowd-pleasing option; take your pick between breasts, thighs and drumsticks, or offer a little bit of everything. As an added bonus, both flank steak and chicken pieces cook up quickly and easily, meaning less stress and time behind the grill.


Food Bars FTW

Food bars are a great way to streamline serving, while also allowing your guests to tailor the offerings to their own tastes. Use these three savory ideas from Jack as a launching-off point for developing your very own personalized menu!

1) Classic Macaroni and Cheese


– 4 pounds elbow macaroni

– 8 tablespoons unsalted butter

– 8 tablespoons flour

– 8 cups whole milk, warmed

– 16 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

– 1 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs

Assorted topping ideas:

Tony Roma’s Pulled Pork

– kettle chips

– minced chives

– bacon bits

– cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese), shredded

– caramelized onions

– sun-dried tomatoes

– sautéed broccoli

– ranch drizzle


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray four 9×13-inch casserole dishes with nonstick spray.

2. Bring a large pot filled with salted water to a boil over high heat.

3. Stir in elbow macaroni and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and set aside while you prepare the cheese sauce.

4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add butter. Once butter is melted, whisk in flour.

5. Slowly whisk milk into butter-flour mixture until smooth. Reduce the heat to low and whisk slowly until the sauce becomes thick and creamy.

6. Add the shredded cheese, and stir until completely melted. Turn off the heat and mix in pasta.

7. Divide the macaroni and cheese between the prepared dishes.

8. Sprinkle each dish with bread crumbs and bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbling around the edges.

9. Serve hot with assorted toppings, if desired.

2) Pulled Pork and Chicken Slider Bar


For the quick pickled onion topping:

– 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

– 1/4 cup water

– 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

– 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

– 1/2 teaspoon salt

– 1/2 teaspoon sugar

– pinch crushed red pepper

For the toppings:

Tony Roma’s Sweet Hickory or Sweet + Spicy Pulled Pork, warmed

– Tony Roma’s Sweet Hickory Pulled Chicken, warmed

– coleslaw

– assorted pickles

– BBQ sauce

– sliced red onions

– pineapple slices, fresh or grilled

– pickled jalapeño slices

– hHabaneros, finely diced

– roasted garlic spread

– buns


1. For pickled onions, combine water, vinegar, salt and sugar in a bowl; stir until dissolved. Add sliced onions and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

2. Serve pickled onions along with the other toppings and buns.

3) Spud Bar


– 24 large baking potatoes

– olive oil to coat

– kosher salt, to taste

For the toppings:

Tony Roma’s Pulled Pork

– butter

– sour cream

– cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese), shredded

– bacon bits

– chives

– toasted bread crumbs

– fried onions

– sautéed broccoli

– ham


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Wash and dry potatoes thoroughly, then use a fork to poke 8-12 deep holes all over each one.

3. Place spuds in a bowl a few at a time and lightly coat with oil.

4. Sprinkle with kosher salt and place on a baking sheet in the oven.

5. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes until the skin feels crisp but inside of potato feels soft.

We’d love to hear about what menus you’d enjoy serving or sitting down to at a wedding, and any tips for making DIY food doable. Let’s talk in the comments!