Post # 1
So in the middle of all the planning… I am considering self catering yet again. I am on a limited budget and want it all (I know we all do) and the caterers I like will take almost half of my budget. Cutting the guest list is not an option – we only have 120 people attending.
I have the option of the greatest wedding coordinator ever. She will actually warm the food and make it all look pretty for me. So it really would be as simple as preparing days ahead and then having someone get it all to her the day of the event. I am consering a very simple meal if I self cater of heavy appetizers.
So, I want to hear from the pro’s. Who has done it? Did you regret? What was awesome? What was a nightmare?
Post # 3
My dad catered ours. The only thing I regret was that while they made sure to enjoy the evening, it was time consuming. I know that’s a little different than catering yourselves but that’s where I am coming from with my questions.
Who will be in charge of refilling food trays? What about coffee and tea? Who is going to make sure those are full? Who will be in charge of cleanup? Do you have the warming dishes?
Post # 4
We considered doing most of our own (FI is an experienced wedding caterer). I believe this could have worked if we made things in batches and froze them. However, we chose a venue without a kitchen, so there’s no place to heat things and everything must be served cold/room temp. Those types of foods really need to be prepared and assembled at the last minute instead of frozen in advance and heated the day of. So, we have a caterer doing grilled meal + cold appetizers and we’re doing cake plus chocolate-dipped strawberries.
I think it’s possible to do your own catering if:
- you’re very organized and/or experienced cooking for large groups.
- you get most of it done in advance.
- you both have calm/good under pressue personalities.
- you aren’t having a huge wedding.
Having a good wedding coordinator will help a lot. I’ve heard some people say they’re so glad they did their own while others say it was a huge headache and they hardly saved any money.
Post # 5
@pendola:My coordinator would work with her team to refill everything, clean up, set up, etc. So I would only have to ensure I (or family) prepare what is needed in advance and it gets to my coordinator the day of.
Post # 6
@jadeblue:Thank you for the input. I am fairly calm under pressure and we definitely are not having a large wedding. And the stuff I would do would be easily prepared in advance.
Post # 7
My DREAM wedding was centred around me catering it myself with the help of my immediate family… Then i started the actual planning and i had to tweak my dream. My summery beach with italian sandwiches and crisp salads turned into a March cocktail dessert reception. It’s a good thing i have many dreams 😛
Post # 8
We couldn’t afford our caterer but asked if he’d be willing to prepare the food for pick up. He agreed and that’s what we’re doing. More affordable even with the servers that we’re hiring, my mom’s red hat society friends. I’ve never met them so I don’t feel guilty that they’re not invited but we’re hiring them to serve.
Post # 9
You will have to hire servers and kitchen crew if you do so that your family and friends are actually able to attend the ceremony and enjoy themselves at the reception.
If you can’t afford a wedding caterer (and understandably many can’t), go with your favorite restaurant since most offer catering much cheaper. Plus you get much more food and you know what the taste and quality of the food are before you order, which you don’t at all with a regular caterer.
Personally, calling up a restaurant to cater would be my first option. If that was too expensive (which it should not be unless you have 300+ guests during a meal time, and a meal is not a requirement at a reception unless it is during a regular meal period), then I would be picking up various desserts at a local grocery store and having a simple dessert reception. I have helped other people self-cater various events and it is a headache at best. As a bride, you will have too many other things going on to do this yourself and your relatives want to enjoy your day rather than stuck in the kitchen which they will be the entire time if they are given the job.
Post # 10
i wish!!! my venue only gave me 3 catering options to choose from! i could save sooooooooooooo much if i could do it myself… oh well. if your coordinator is willing to be so involved then i say go for it!
Post # 11
I catered my own wedding. Well, sort of.
Our wedding was very small – about 30 people. And our food budget was $300 and the wedding was in the early afternoon. I decided to go for a brunch/lunch buffet set-up.
What I did was this: ordered pinwheels and a meat/cheese tray from Walmart, cooked up some of those frozen savory puff pastries from Costco, made muffins from the jiffy mixes and made some cookies. My father-in-law baked everything up for me the night before which was very nice. I put them all on silver serving platters that I found at thrift stores. For drinks I had several pitchers of tea and lemonade. My sister-in-law and the best man helped keep them full.
It turned out decently. I heard the food was good (although I didn’t get to eat anything) and it looked nice.
I really wanted to make up all sorts of delicious pastries and things, but honestly I would not of had enough time. I diy’ed my cake, flowers, decorations, music, and set up with the help of family so I just didn’t have time to cook and get ready. If you are going to cater and want to make a bunch of special hand-made things then try not to over do any other diy projects that day. Or get a big team of people to help out. But you can’t do it with 2-4 people and a million other things happening.
Post # 12
We’re doing the planning and prep up til Friday ourselves (mostly my mom, sister, and I), but we asked a friend of the family to be in charge of the kitchen on the actual day. She and my mom have had a couple meetings, and she’s a school cook, so she knows how to cook quickly for a crowd 🙂 We have 3 or 4 others helping her out so my mom or sisters don’t end up in the kitchen during the reception.
Post # 13
So…. not sure what your budget is, but I would definitely look into a restaurant catering your wedding buffet style. We’re having Indian food buffet at our wedding and the prices I’ve been quoted for a very complete and elaborate menu is from $12-17 per person, which I think is pretty awesome. Just an idea if you back out of the self catering plan…
Post # 14
OK we had someone who was just getting into the catering business. A friend of my MIL. So she gave us a good rate, I mean she made a nice amount but dcharged us at cost for the food. So I would look for a good cook that’s a friend to help. Give them a $$ and it sounds like it will work out. We also had to hire servers, which still was lower cost than doing most caterers. My sisters have been servers at weddings when they were in high school and they enjoyed it except for the couple that paid her $50 when she was running around like crazy for 6 hours and it was a decently fancy wedding. If you do hire people, don’t go to the other extreme and rip them off.
Post # 15
I am probably going to have to cater our wedding myself due to my FIs allergies. I have been mulling over and over in my head what I am going to do. I think it is totally possible but I am kind of a type A crazy personality. And I don’t want to be a princess at my wedding so I don’t mind re-filling trays and cooking food on my big day.
Post # 16
i did it for 50 people and it turned out great, lots of compliments on the food.
the only regret was not having my first choice caterer there the heat up the food and set up the buffet. after he had to back out i went with the second choice and he was not as professional or competent. just make sure your coordinator knows what to do with food and will follow instructions. if you do ALL buffet style, including drinks this will save you money. we set out big jars of ice tea and mojito, ice buckets with wine and had beer/water/soda in coolers. my bridesmaids cut up and distributed the cake for us.
i wrote a post on this with execution tips here: