Post # 1
Yes, before you say it I am completely out of my mind to not hire a caterer.
Unfortunately we are on a shoe string budget, until a month ago we were going to do the court house thing. Now that we are doing a big family reception we need to feed everyone for $300. I’ve got a buffet menu in mind: braised beef short ribs in red wine, chedder mashed potatoes, stuffed shells in marinara, tossed salad and bread. For appetizers I am doing the fruit tray, cheese and cracker route. I might do 1 savory stuffed phyllo dough appy too, we’ll see. My sister is making 2 huge trays of her famous tiramisu for our ‘cake.’
We are lucky enough to have found a huge inn that we can rent for the whole weekend, the ceremony and reception will be there, it has two kitchens, 2 sets of the major appliances, and a huge dining room steps from the tent location that can house the buffet tables. Mother of the bride and groom can cook very well, there will be lots of aunts and other family members to help us who will be staying with us at the inn.
So my question to the bees: can any bride here give me some advice on pulling this off? We will be making a lot of things in advance and heating them up day of, I’ve made shells tons of times, freezing and baking turns out perfect. The biggest challenge will be the meat dish. The dinner won’t be served until 6pm at the earliest so there will be lots of time that day to do stuff, but I’m worried my close family will be too busy cooking to enjoy the day. The plan is to have everything done 2 hours before the ceremony, then just heat up and set up the spread to have dinner 1 hour after. We will have catering display equipment with sternos, etc to keep warm. Is this a good plan? Help my maid of honor thinks I’m nuts!
Post # 3
- Wedding: August 2009 - St. Thomas of Villanova Church & the F.U.E.L. House
First off, your menu sounds delish! And secondly, have you checked in with local restaurants and caterers to see about negotating costs? Chafing dishes and/or slow cookers would be the way to keep the meat heated, I’d think.
I hope other hive members have more suggestions for you — good luck!
Post # 4
I cater so if you need to pick a brain I am here for you. That said there are a couple of fundemental things you can do
One make a list of EVERYTHING you plan to put into the food, I know this sounds silly but do it! everything from Salt to Pepper
Figure out what you will need to take with you (lettuce to garnish the plates, chopped chives to garnish, stuff like that (put an O or something else that will tell you where that is on the list)
Also make a list of EVERY KIND of equipment you are going to use, from spoons to Mixiers and ovens.
Call the site/Inn up and see if they have catering/buffet equipment you can borrow from them Chaffing dishes, sternos, tongs, serving platters, etc.
Once you do all that then the fun begins, if you have made the food before, do you have a time frame of how long it takes? If not, do a dry run with a smaller amount of food and add about 1/2 hour of cooking/prep time for each 50 ppl.
Also see if you can find some highschool students or family friends that can do the day of catering (like platters being filled and whatnot.)
I have TONS more, but that should help you (I hope)
Post # 5
thanks for the advice ladies!
Post # 6
I friend of mine recently threw an anniversary party for 50-60 and she bbq’d tri tip the day before and undercooked it. The day off, I trimmed the fat and sliced it. She made an au jus to keep it moist and then we covered it and heated it in the oven. It went on the tables in the chafing dishes and was moist and tender. It was cooked all the way through and I think she wanted to keep some of it rare, but no one seemed to care.
If there is anyone you could hire to help in the kitchen, I’d STRONGLY recommend that. I was my friend’s right hand person. We prepped for days and even trying to do things beforehand I was SO exhausted I just wanted to sit down during the entire party. Many hands make light work, so if you can’t go the hiring route, get as many people to help and know you (or someone) will need to be directing them (so they aren’t standing there, wondering what to do). Make lists and give people very specific jobs. The nice thing is friends are always willing to help! Some just need more direction than others!
Post # 7
Your menu sounds delish! Slow cooking the braised ribs would be ideal and could be done early. Maybe you can borrow several slow cookers from family and friends along with chafing dishes or platters? Instead of adding dressing to salads in case they wilt, maybe set the dressing on the side so people can add it themselves to their tastes. In case you don’t want to deal with phyllo dough, Costco and Trader Joe’s have great phyllo squares you can pop in the oven. You will also need to share the oven with the shells though- so maybe an alternative cold appetizer would work.
Please also make sure you have someone else do the clean up! No cleaning on wedding night!
Post # 8
Maybe slightly crazy but it’s still totally doable. 😉
We did a milk can dinner for 150 people. A family friend was in charge of cooking and a few other people chipped in chopping and whatnot. One of the reasons it was so successful is because once everything was in the pot nothing much needed to be done after that. I second making a list of everything that will be used and only doing dishes that can be prepared well ahead of time. Oh, and DELEGATE. I didn’t take into account how much time was needed to get ready and so I didn’t get to do as much as I would have liked. The more organized you can be beforehand the better. People will tease you about it but just ignore them. Having everything put together day of is worth being made fun of and they will appreciate it too.
Have you seen $2000 wedding? If not, check out these posts:
Post # 9
Short ribs are even better the next day – If you can, I would make them the day before, then you can skim some of the fat off before reheating… And butter and cream can do wonders for reheated mashed potatoes.
Post # 10
I second caitlanc, $2000 Wedding has some really great tips.
Post # 11
Thanks everyone for giving me solid tips! To Rico- you are absolutely right, the plan now is to prepare the mashed potatoes and shells a week in advance and freeze (both come back extremely well after baking) and make the ribs the day before. I scored a noon check-in at our inn (day before ceremony) so we’ll have all day pretty much to make them.
I am buying 3 wire chafing stands with tons of pans and steam pans tonight for $10!!! I even came up with a clever way to have a ‘lid’ on the disposable aluminum pans. This is gonna be great! We have now embarked on the $3000 wedding trail. Anyone else have a budget like this?
Post # 12
Question: Did you mean 300 or 3000? Makes a big difference. And how many people do you have coming?
Post # 13
Hi. Where did you buy your chafing stands, etc.?
I’m also thinking about going the route of self-catering “plus” — my venue allows any vendors so I’m thinking about getting appetizers from various places and setting them up, then having a local meat carver come to have a station of meats, etc. For dessert we will have an ice cream shop come and create sundaes for people (at $2.50 ea). By splitting up the vendors, we’re able to come out ahead in terms of costs (actually 2x cheaper than a caterer).
Post # 14
j.grossman12, i am very interested in your clever plan to make lids for the disposable pans? ive been going between renting some to using disposable and it seems disposable would be way more cheap but i wanted a lid of some sort.
Post # 15
wow, i totally forgot about this thread. thanks again to all who gave advice!
@caborrett-honestly, i forgot the plan. in the end i ended up hiring a caterer to just set up the buffet and put out my food, and he brought nice steel chafers for us to use.
anyone interested, i wrote the post-op here:
it went great and everything was delicious!