Post # 1
As I’m sure many of you know, the cost of catering is getting absolutely nuts. We’re doing buffet style meal and are expecting somewhere around 170. We found a place to cater (local restaurant, AMAZING FOOD, and lowest local price) but it’s still more than I want to spend per head. The restaurant also does “bulk orders” – by simply ordering the meat from them and doing our own sides, we’re looking at saving over $2,000.00 (and yes, I’ve priced everything out, including disposable plates & silverware). The menu would be:
BBQ/meat sandwiches (pulled pork, ham, turkey, chicken) provided by restaurant.
White Mac & Cheese
Apple pie Baked Beans
Maybe some kind of roll I would buy in bulk or order.
My question is . . . is this a crazy undertaking? I wouldn’t have even thought about it, except my aunts all volunteered to help make food if I wanted to go that route, so I started pricing it out. The venue has a kitchen, no restriction on catering, and between my family members we have around 10 chafing/warming dishes. I have also planned weddings for 2 of my friends for free – their mothers have volunteered to help however I’d like – my thought was that maybe I could have them handle the food details of the day (switching out pans, etc) as they’re also amazing cooks. My aunts and grandma also routinely cook for their church and recently did a graduation party for about 100.
So am I nuts for wanting to save $2,000? Essentially, do I want to pay $2,000 to have 4 people bus the buffet table, and make the sides? I’m sure it’s one less thing I would be worrying about, but as our budget is about $7,000, that’s a big chunk of change that we could do something else with.
Thoughts, horror stories, recipes, and tips are welcome.
Post # 3
@lala3005: We are only having 54 people, and we hired a caterer for a full meal at $17pp lol (yay self liquor license and bulk discount ordering!), so I am not in your shoes.
That said, where do you plan to cook this food? And store it? And when? Are you going to pre-make it and then warm it? Are you expecting people to have it freshly made the day of? That is a lot of work. Do you have that much fridge space between you? Who would be transporting it and setting it up? Would you cook it in batches? Would all three of you cook it (thus risking it tasting slightly different from each person)?
I feel like that would be too much of an undertaking for me, but if you are up to it and plan it well, I don’t see why you couldn’t do it.
Post # 4
I wouldn’t do it. Not worth the stress.
Post # 5
@lala3005: “My aunts and grandma also routinely cook for their church and recently did a graduation party for about 100“
I’m not a grandmother (or even a mother) but I’d love to sit down and enjoy watching my granddaughter get married.
Would she be able to see the ceremony? They’d all have to either skip it or leave early to go start setting up for everything.
Post # 6
I don’t think it’s insane! It will take planning, but you can do it. But I would plan it so that you have no responsibility on the day of. Aunts and grandmas could help out the day before or early that morning. But you’re right that you’ll need someone not directly involved in the weddingot be in charge of food at the reception. You’ll also need someone to bus tables as most people aren’t used to bussing their own able at a wedding. And have you thought about drinks yet? So there are a fair number of things to do. Perhaps consider a DOC to help orgaize all this? And maybe hire some high schol kids to help with running and bussing and such?
Post # 7
- Wedding: June 2014 - British Columbia
OP, if I was in your position, given budgetary constraints, I’d be looking at providing our own food too.
It will take a lot of meal planning, prep work and help coordination, but it is completely do-able. Oven and slow-cooker friendly recipes are your best go to. Example: pot roasts, turkey to feed many people. If you can make freezer-friendly meals like lasagna, that would be less stressful too.
Mac and Cheese is really easy; my version is:
Cheeses of your liking (different kinds)
Canned creamy cheddar soup
If you are looking into catering, you probably wouldn’t want to worry about the cake. Cake decorating on top of catering would be pretty stressful.
If you are looking to save money, you could also look into getting candles/desserts as centre-pieces.
ETA: Could you see if the venue you are renting will provide long tables to set up as a buffet-style? Buffet-style is great if you’d like your guests to mingle with one another before they sit down and eat.
Post # 8
I dont think its completely ridiculous. My mom and her friends offered to cook for our wedding and we thought about it for a while, but ultimately decided not to go that route. We’re only having about 70 guests and we found a pretty cheap caterer, so it would be about the same price anyways.
But yeah, if it would save $2000, I’d do it. I’d rather save that much money than be a bit stressed.
Post # 9
Not crazy, especially since you’ve had so many offer to help. My only suggestion is this: DO AS MUCH AS YOU CAN AHEAD OF TIME!!! Go ahead and shred the chicken and pork; make the potato salad the night before; have the beans ready to throw in a crock pot. You will save sooo much stress if pretty much all that’s left is to warm the food up and put it out on the day of. Also, food safety. It may seem tempting to put out a huge pan of potato salad at once, but it may be safer to divide it into two batches and keep one in the fridge. Don’t let food sit. Look up “growlies” on google- there’s a wonderful website called something like “dayles growlies for groups” (the url is something like lotsofinfo.tripod) that is absolutely amazing. Everything from food/beverage amounts, recipes to feed 100 (most of which you can make ahead), food safety tips, menu ideas, buffet ideas. Even if you know your menu, check it out- it’s such a valuble resource!
Post # 10
Just to clarify a couple of things raised in some of your replies:
1. The thought is to have as much prepped before the day as possible – probably using family kitchens. For example, if we did potato salad the potatoes and eggs could easily be boiled 2 days before, peeled and prepped and put together the day before without compromising quality. The same goes with the apple pie baked beans – can easily be made beforehand and reheated in crock pots or in the oven day of. From my perspective, everything can be made the day before except for maybe the green beans (nobody likes mushy beans!) and those will be simple – just throw in a pan and season. My thought was each aunt or two of them could handle one dish, since they’re not complicated.
2. The meat comes fully prepped. All we need to do is pick it up and set it out with buns. Yay!
3. The kitchen has a fridge and a normal sized stove/oven. We have access to it the entire day before and the day after, so we could even make some of the stuff there, alleviating any transport issues. Our ceremony is going to be a short 15 minute deal, and is in the same location. Venue only has the 8 ft. long tables, so that’s what we’re using to set up. I’m thinking of maybe even setting up 2 buffet lines due to the number of people we have.
4. Aunties and gma will be doing the PRE-day prep, or earlier that day. The thought is to have the friend mama’s manage things during the ceremony and reception so that my family can enjoy themselves. The thought of hiring a kid or two to help isnt a bad one. I’m not going to worry about bussing though – I’ve been to several weddings where people have to throw away their own plates, and if I see disposable plates, I assume as much.
5. Cake is already sorted out. One of my friends owns a cupcake shop, and we’re getting amazing cupcakes at cost and premaking mints.
We’re also doing your basic appetizer stuff (cheeses, crackers, veggies, dips) so that will provide some extra time for prep if needed. . . or at least that’s my thought.
Post # 11
In a word YES! But, it really all depends on your personality and how many people you have to help. I’m anxious, so I wouldn’t be able to do it.. If you can handle it, go for it.
Post # 12
@lala3005: My sister’s wedding was self-catered, and it was totally fine! She had the reception at my mom’s church, and several of my mom’s church friends volunteered to help with the buffet (switching out dishes into the chafing dishes, etc). They were happy to help out (and still got to enjoy a lot of the festivities). If you’ve already got volunteers (your friends’ moms who want to return a favor to you), then I think you’re golden!
Post # 13
I think you can do it as long as you stick to a regimented schedule as far as advance prep is concerned. As you have already said, you could make the baked beans ahead and reheat them in Crockpots, and I think you would be fine making the potato salad start to finish a day ahead. The only item that gives me pause is the macaroni and cheese – bechamel is pretty temperamental and once you have added the cheese, it does not take well to reheating or sitting around. Unless you do several large pans of baked macaroni and cheese, have the oven capacity to simultaneously reheat them all, and can serve them immediately, I would be cautious.
Post # 14
@daisyfay: That’s really the one thing I was concerned about . . . . but I sooo LOVE mac & cheese! My thought was that if we pre-cook the noodles (undercook them slightly), and get the “cheese” ingredients fully prepped, they could be “fridged” overnight with plenty of oil so they don’t get sticky . . . then cheese them the day of, and throw a couple of pans in the oven to cook . . . and then keep the extra mac & cheese and green beans in the oven on warm until needed?
Fam only lives 15 minutes away also, so we can utilize extra oven space for cooking there the day of as well . . . then we’d only be warming up.
Or, I’ve done mac & cheese only on the stove before and it’s turned out to be gooey and cheesy deliciousness. That would solve the oven problem for cooking – oven would just be for holding.
Post # 15
We bought all the food for our 150+ guest wedding. Our moms and some family members helped with the prep in the days leading up to the wedding and on the day of the wedding MIL had this awesome group of friends who took over the kitchen and set up the food. We had met with this group of ladies a few weeks before and talked about everything. Everything went incredibly smoothly!
We served pulled pork and chicken salad sandwiches. We had the usual baked beans, potato salad, veggie trays and dip. I can’t remember what else but it was a lot of food and we had leftovers forever.
We even saved enough on catering that we were able to rent a chocolate fountain from a local catering company. It came with all of the food to dip and a caterer to run it all night.
I was very pleased that we did it ourselves. Good luck! Hope it turns out wonderfully!
Post # 16
You have no idea how relieved I was to read this!!!!!! I have been battling with the idea of self catering too because I just cannot afford a caterer unless I cut the guest list down much further than Im comfortable with. Our venue holds 225 and though my MOH self catered her wedding of 300 people, I’ve still been wondering if Im crazy.
What I’m trying to do is keep it really simple by sticking with foods that just need to be heated. Ive been told about these frozen chicken kiev entrees they sell at Sam’s Club that are pretty good so I think we may try those. Im also considering lasagna as another option. Im trying to avoid a ton of prep (because I dont want this wedding to be extremely stressful for anybody helping me) while still being able to serve decent food.
As long as you’re extremely organized, I think you can definitely pull this off! Best of luck to you and thank you for letting me know that Im not alone 🙂